Hitchhiking with a caravan
Hitchhiking with a caravan seems slightly insane, but apparently it's very well possible, as has been proven by Utrecht musician Tjerk Ridder, who traveled through Europe, hitchhiking with a caravan, but without a car.
Birth of the idea in 2008
The concept of caravan hitchhiking was invented by Utrecht cultural entrepreneur Dennis Nolte, who regularly uses his own caravan for creative projects. He wondered if adventure ends when luxury begins. To get an answer to this question, he hitchhiked to the theatre festival Oerol at the Dutch island Terschelling with an old caravan. It took him and his girlfriend 3 long (but sunny) days to cover the 200 kilometer distance, including a ferry-trip from the mainland to the Island of Terschelling.
In September 2008, Berlin-based cultural entrepreneur Peter Bijl took the idea across the border, hitchhiking from Utrecht to Berlin, using a theatre caravan which would be used as a promotion tool for the first Flachlandfest in Berlin, a Dutch-Flemisch cultural festival Peter initiated. It took him, and a friend, four days to cover the approximate 650 kilometers. Along the way, where they dodn't leave the German highway, they learned that on their particular route a Polish-language cardboard sign works even better than a German-language text: out of the seven drivers three were Polish, only one was German. During the festival the caravan was used both as a stage and as a symbol. The first ride, which took off at Utrecht based pop festival De Beschaving, was given by Dennis Nolte.
The Caravan Hitchhiking Project from 2010
In 2010 Dennis Nolte, Peter Bijl, Tjerk Ridder and a few others took the basic principle of caravan hitchhiking and created the 'Tow Bar Needed' project. Their aim: Hitchhiking from their hometown Utrecht to all three European Capitals of Culture in 2010: Essen in Germany, Pecs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey. The first stage of the project, going from Utrecht via Essen to Pecs, a distance of over 1600 kilometers, was covered in January and February 2010. The hitchhiking trip required 33 different rides through 4 countries. Important lesson learned: It can get cold in central Europe in January! And the lower the temperature, the more difficult to find people willing to take the caravan over slippery and snowy roads.
The second stage of The Caravan Hitchhiking Project will therefore be in summer, taking Tjerk Ridder and Peter Bijl from Pecs in Hungary, through Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria to Istanbul in Turkey. A distance of again 1600 kilometers, through a less well travelled and potentially less-towbar-dense part of Europe. They will depart from Pecs on June 10th 2010.