First time hitchhiking/Pandapand

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"But isn't that dangerous? I don't think that's a good idea. Especially, not for girls."

I had a few people tell me this before my first solo-hitchhiking experience. This was my first mental block. And you know, the image of a psycho-killer (Qu'est-ce que c'est ?) driver. I planned to hitchhike from Leipzig to Krakow and started the day with a sign, a quick look at this wiki, and some big expectations. But due to a case of the scatter-brains and ego, I got off at the recommended site but walked along trying to find a better spot for myself. I asked for directions on how to get on the A14 highway but got directed toward the A38 highway instead. Increasingly tired, I settled for a place with some sort of proximity to a highway.

My Sign/My Attitude

I had constructed my sign using a cereal box, white paper and clear tape. I think this first sign was too small as some of the drivers squinted to see more clearly. I was also a bit shy standing on the side of the road alone. I made only the vaguest attempt at eye contact. After two hours of waiting and one car headed toward the wrong town, I walked back to the bus stop where I first got off.

Defeat

Near the bus stop, after munching on some sort of würst, I tried communicating briefly with what little German I knew with the guy working at the gas station. I tried to tell him that I was headed to Dresden and was wondering where I could hitch a ride. He told me the area in front of the station could work. I stood there for about half an hour before losing faith in the process and heading to the train station.

Dresden

After paying 23 precious euros (not going to food & booze) for the train, I got to Dresden and feeling utterly wiped out crashed at a hostel (another 15 euros not going to f&b) too tired to set up something through Couchsurfing.

Attempt #2

The next morning, I got up and checked the Dresden website. This time I copied down the information word-for-word. I still had my size-too-small sign but I overlooked this fact at the time. I got to the hitchspot at noon and waited for the next two and a half hours with no luck. At this point, I was frustrated and a bit confused on what to do next. After wandering around the center of town, I went and bought a A4 notepad and marker. Not wanting to pay for another hostel and feeling defiant, I found a random place in the woods to pitch my tent.

File:SuccessfulSign.JPG
this one worked for dresden
File:Route66.JPG
goodies from a kind-hearted trucker

Fear-Be-Gone

The time in the woods was the turning point of my so-far-failed-experiment. After passing a bunch of verboten signs and unsure exactly what I was doing, I ended up alone in the woods. Once it got dark, all my fears set in. Every sound I heard sounded like a footstep and every flash of light felt like an approaching threat. I managed to will myself unconscious after a few hours of paranoia. When I woke up at 6 in the morning, I was strangely invigorated. What I had imagined to be threatening in pitch-black darkness, turned out to be a bunch of squirrels and birds. Later I found out I had a choice of couches to stay in Dresden, but so it goes.

Adventure Time

I tried the same location in Dresden again, and this time 15 minutes in I had a ride halfway to the German/Polish border. A succession of signs led me through Wroclaw, Katowice and Krakow. At the rest stops, I waited no more than 5 minutes for the next ride. Overall, the day was glorious...I was speeding down the autobahn, talking to an owner of a quarry, a trucker, a state attorney, a middle-aged couple and a leftist-magazine editor.

Final Words

For me, an apt analogy to hitchhiking is fishing...except here, you are the fish. Or something like that. I'm completely enthralled with this experience with its ups-and-downs and will be hitchhiking for the next month hardcore.

Hit the road Jackie!