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|Population:||102,494 (31 Dec 2006)|
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Jena is a city in Germany, in the region of Thuringia. It is a university city with around 100.000 inhabitants.
Hitching out of Jena is not easy, but neither is it impossible. It really depends on what direction you want to go. Essentially there are two motorways from which to start, the A9 going north-south from Berlin to Munich, and the A4 going east-west from Frankfurt to Dresden.
The A4 passes Jena straight at its eastern style southern edge, Lobeda. You can either start hitching directly here or take the train and a 3 km walk to Rasthof Teufelstal (~20 km from Jena). If you want to start hitching straight from Jena there are several places to start. There is an ARAL gas station directly at the on-ramp towards Dresden.
Starting in Jena
Starting straight from Jena is not very easy but not impossible either, all is starting from the eastern style Lobeda. For all following options take the tram until "Emil Wölk Straße" in Lobeda.
1. Petrol Station
If you prefer the option to ask folks at petrol stations you can try the Aral station close to the Mc Donalds in the "Gewerbegebiet Lobeda Süd". To get here walk along the small footpath besides the Stadtrodaer Straße (5 min from the tram station). Be aware that even though the stations is quite busy, most of the traffic seems to go to villages nearby so you may have to wait for a while until you get a lift (for example for 4h on a Saturday afternoon).
For those trying their luck via thumb and sign, I would suggest waiting straight at the pedestrian traffic lights directly on the on-ramp in direction Frankfurt. Cars will stop at the red light (possibly induced by you ;-) ) and have time to think about picking you up. Hitching east (Gera, A9,...) your best option is the on-ramp opposite the Aral station. Even though the cars from Jena will not use it, there is a good place to stop here for cars in contrast to the route used by cars from Jena.
3. Bus station
There is a big bus station ("Arbeitsamt") straight on the "Stadtrodaer Straße "so cars can stop here easily. Everybody leaving Jena for the A4 will pass you and the traffic lights will cause cars to stop and think about picking you up. Its 2 minutes from the tram station "Emil Wölk Straße" directly at the bridge of "Erlanger Alle" over "Stadtrodaer Straße". Make sure that you carry a sign!
All these options may involve long waiting times (>1h) so, especially if you are not female, you should consider the other options described that get you straight to rest places on the highway.
Trainride to Rasthof Teufelstal
If you are generally not that lucky thumbing down cars and you would like to start your journey straight at the motorway, the easiest option is to travel to Rasthof Teufelstal which is located at the A4 approx. 15 km east of Jena. From here it should be no problem to ask people for lifts east or west. To get there either take the local train from Jena West towards Gera and get off at "Papiermühle". From here it is a (scenic) 3 km hike first east along the valley and then south to the small village of Bollberg. From here you either cross the fields directly to the Rasthof if heading west or cross the motorway (walk towards Mörsdorf after Böllberg) and head east at the other side for hitching east.
The A9 as a main north south motorway passes Jena approx. 25 km east of the city. As it is probably difficult (though still an option) to use the above described options to start on the A4 and then change on the A9 you are probably better off aiming at the A9 straight away. You could either travel to the petrol station "Hermsdorfer Kreuz" straight on the motorway, start at a petrol station in Eisenberg or hitch towards the A9 on local roads.
Starting from Jena
If you are a die hard hitchhiker and want to start hitching in Jena you can hitch along local roads towards the A9. This makes sense as many locals (especially if heading north at the A9) also take the local roads instead of the A4 to get to the A9. You should aim at getting a lift as far as Eisenberg as here is a good petrol station really close to the A9.
It should be easy to get a lift at this busy service station. The tricky bit is how to get here from Jena. Either take the local train from Jena West towards Gera and get off in Hermsdorf. From here take the 3-4 km/45 minute walk south through the whole village, past the A4, and finally turning right into the bushes at the Busstop onto the hiking trail towards the Teufelstal. Alternatively you can take bus 200 (direction Gera), 444 (direction Stadtroda) or 427 (direction Jena/Stadtroda) from the station in Hermsdorf (they go approx. every 30 minutes) and get off at Hermsdorf Fußweg Rasthof. From here it is a 5 minute walk through the forest. Another option is to take bus 444 straight from Jena (or 427 from Stadtroda) towards Hermsdorf and get off at the same station.
Unlucky hitchhikers who get stuck at Rasthof Teufelstal on the A4 but want to change to the A9 can also do the scenic hike from Teufelstal to Hermsdorfer Kreuz (~4km/1h) Just follow the hiking trail marked with a green stripe which passes south of the service station at Teufelsthal south into the valley and head east uphill at a small junction following the same marks. In case you find a helpful driver ask him/her if he could turn south at the A4/A9 junction (Hermsdorfer Kreuz) onto the A9 towards München, drop you off at the service station, turn around at the ramp "Hermsdorf Süd" and get back onto the A4. This may take him 5-10 minutes.
Eisenberg lies ~25km east of Jena straight at the A9.There is a good petrol station directly at the motorway in a commercial area which is a good start to ask for lifts. To get here by public transport take bus 431 from Jena and get off at Gewerbegebiet, Petersberg bei Eisenberg (45 minutes). You can also hitch along the Bundesstraße from Jena.
Ask you driver to get off at the off-ramp "Jena-Zentrum", afterwards turn towards "Zenrum" on "Stadtrodaer Straße" and to turn right on the first turn off (towards "Klinikum"). You will immediately reach the tram station "Platanenstraße" (3-5 minutes detour).
There is a youth hostel in Jena, the cheapest bed is 18€ a night (Jan 2019). Be sure to get there early, because there's no other cheap accommodation in the city. The tram heads there, you should ask somebody for directions. If you get really stuck, the McD's at the service station, although not 24h is open until midnight, and opens again 7 the next morning. If you leave McD's at midnight, cross the road, and climb the stairs opposite the car dealership on the back of the warehouse, there's a sheltered area where you can camp for the night. It's not warm, but if you go into McD's the next morning, you can use the bathroom to wash, and somebody behind the counter might recognize you and sort you out with a cup of tea. Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club are also very active in Jena. The only shop open 24/7 in Jena is a "Backwerk" right at Löbdergraben in the city centre.