First Hitch-hiking experience.

07 – 10 August
First hitch-hiking experience.
Augsburg -> Murnau am Staffelsee
+ Bavarian Mountains

On the Monday morning, 7th of August,
after having a breakfast together with my friend, Emil,
we started our journey to his home town – Murnau.

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I am really grateful for having such an amazing and skilful partner and guide for my first hitch-hiking experience. 

07 August

In Augsburg, around 2pm we took the tram 3 all the way to its last stop: Haunstetten West. There we discovered a huge shop called “Alnatura Super Natur Markt” where we bought some vegan snacks for the road. We stopped next to a traffic light with a petrol station not far from us. We wrote on a piece of paper: “Süden” (south). Within the first minute of me showing the paper to the cars, a man stopped and picked us up to somewhere near Landsberg am Lech. When we got in the car I was over the top excited about how fast we got a ride as I was expecting 1-2 hours of wait. We both took the seats on the back of the car even if there was a child’s seat we fit in perfectly. I remember the washed out blue eyes of the driver that sometimes were looking at us through the car’s front mirror. At the exact place and moment we got off his car we approached a car parked just next to us. It turned out to be an American couple celebrating their 30th anniversary that were happy to share their ride with us and just get some navigation help as they were heading towards Neuschwanstein Castle. We followed the 17th Landstraße all the way to Peiting.

There, after a few minutes with unsuccessful attempts to get another ride towards Garmish Partenkirchen we decided to make a small stop in a beautiful open field. We ate some nuts and some bread with spinach-walnut spread.

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After that we decided to try again and very fast one of the cars that we tried to stop returned to us (there was no space for them to turn so they could pick us up, that is why they had to return). They suggested that this was a wrong spot to get a ride for Garmish and advised us to go in the centre of the town and that is what we did.
I stole two apples from a tree inside someone’s garden. I remember that I was annoying Emil with this song: I’m a cat, I’m a kitty cat, And I meaw-meaw-meaw meaw-meaw-meaw-meaw, I’m a cat, I’m a kitty cat, And I da-da-dance da-da-da-dance! It was funny and also nice to see him trying to calm me down. Sometimes his attempts were successful but they weren’t for a long while, tho. 😀
Amongst the beautiful houses and gardens we noticed an “invisible” bench. Here is a photo of me sitting on it & a photo of Emil on a normal bench.

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From next to a supermarket called Lidl we managed to get a ride to the next town in our direction with a lady that had flowers in her front seat. She said she took the plants with her from her office because she was worried that nobody will take care of them while she is on holiday. From Rottenbuch, within a few minutes a guy with a stunning burgundy car took us all the way to Murnau train station. While Emil was having a great conversation with the driver I was enjoying the loud metal music, the opened windows with the wind playing in my hair, with speed and beautiful mountain and wild nature views. This ride was the most awesome one. The final destination wasn’t on Jan’s way but I guess he really enjoyed our company and that is why he drove his car all the way to Murnau am Staffelsee.

For comparison of our travel route and train travel: ( 25-34 € train/pers )
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Once we got out of the car Emil had a very fast paced walk while I was taking longer to catch up with him because I found everything so beautiful. I was very happy that I see the town where he grew up, the town of his childhood. Also I was excited to see mountains at the horizon and so many beautiful gardens. I saw for the first time in my life black tomatoes.

He asked if I would like to see the city centre and I said that it might be better to go at his parent’s house first, leave our heavy bags there and then, when it will get darker outside to go on a walk through the centre of Murnau am Staffelsee. He agreed and that’s what we did. After I saw the city centre he surprised me with a beautiful place that he called “Water-tower”. It was a hill that once you get on the top of it you can see the whole city. Emil told me that inside the hill there is water and that’s where it got the name. The sky was so clear, we can see each star. It was full moon and also a partial eclipse that night as well. There was a bench inside a fenced terrace and another one a bit on the left in the wilderness. Through both benches were facing opposite towards the moon, you could enjoy the bright tiny warm light from the houses and streets of Murnau. It was a very beautiful night. I had tears in my eyes – it was incredible that I am there with all my senses, it felt like a dream… through I still couldn’t believe that I could have such a dream.

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I saw Emil’s music school and we walked next to a graveyard. I was really happy.

08 August

We had an amazing breakfast with muesli, cereals, loooots of different nuts and fruits that Emil’s parents bought for us. By adding a bit of soy milk and some tasty natural soya yoghurt it made it even more delicious. Plus, now I knew where I could buy those soft plums, cranberries, apricots and tasty crunchy nuts. We also used a half of the apple that I took form a tree the other day. A cat visited us. I understood that she is visiting the house owners regularly.

As the sun was up and it was very warm outside we decided to go for a swim in the warm water of Froschhausener See – a lake within the Murnau city.

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Emil wanted to take me there with his scooter. It had a pink seat and flowers all over it. He was so cute and funny while trying start the vehicle, with the toothbrush still in his mouth. 😀 The scooter didn’t want to work so we were debating whether to hitch-hike there or just to walk. We decided the second one will be better and I don’t regret this choice as on our way we saw cows, alive, beautiful cows. It felt like when I was younger and I saw horses, they were so close to us.

At the lake were more people than we expected to see but we had a lot of fun and we stayed really long in the water as it was very warm and pleasant. Emil told me that this lake is under nature protection so it was actually a wild lake but under control at the same time, I liked it. As the wind got stronger we decided to pack our stuff and maybe stay at another part of the lake. It felt amazing to walk barefoot on the ground as sometimes it was warm and wet and sometimes cold and sharp-edged because of the multiple little stones.


While walking, my camera fell down so from now on only pictures taken with our mobile phones. I felt bad for the camera as it wouldn’t take pictures any-more but I remember the time when me and my family were on holiday in Crimea and my brother forgot both of our professional cameras on his seat in a bus. I remember that most of the photos that we took afterwards were beyond amazing and it felt like this was meant to happen. Maybe it’s weird but I actually felt relieved that the camera wasn’t functional any-more. I think Emil was surprised by my calm reaction as well since I had to repeatedly assure him that this can happen and it’s not a that big deal to get upset about.  

The other side of the lake was even more crowded as next to it you could park cars, so we decided to slowly get back home. The wind became violent and it started to rain so we hitch-hiked with a lady’s car back home.

20170808-DSC00054semnAs it was a bank holiday and everything was closed we decided to cook something together from what we bought with us and what was in the house. We used a very good olive oil and the potatoes got a golden crust, just like they do when I am home, in Moldova, just how my dad fries them, yoomy 😛 . I never achieved this result since I started studying my bachelors degree. We spiced them and at the end we mixed them with the amazing taste of mustard. Separate from the potatoes we tempered some onions, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, thyme and home grown tomatoes (we left the little ones for decoration). Emil also made some water with cuts

1of lemon and lime. It was delicious! This is the outcome:

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L11ater we planned to go camping but as it darkened outside – it started raining heavily. I loved the flash-lights and the thunders as it made our long conversation to have a deeper effect for me.

09 August

Around 7-8 in the still rainy morning we went to Emil’s childhood bakery and bought some bread. It was very tasty with no doubt but I didn’t see any difference from the other buns that I have tried before. Later, in the afternoon, when it wasn’t raining that hard, we packed the stuff for hiking, went to a petrol station on the outskirts of Murnau and hitch-hiked with a Bavarian elderly man that served in US Army all the way to Garmish Paternkirchen.

As we arrived in the town, Emil had a nostalgia for the food he used to eat after his classes. We ended up having a long walk in search for some traditional Bavarian food for Emil, then, we gave up and started looking for the a place where he used to buy kebab as after-school lunch and falafel for me. The place was totally renovated and the shop wasn’t there any-more. After a while he decided that he will have “the best” (it was saying on the chalkboard in front of the shop) Leberkäse. We sat outside and I had some bread rolls with tomato and chilli spread (that we brought with us) while Emil was munching on the stuff that he didn’t even want to describe me what it’s made of, I supposed that this is because it is far from being vegan. I liked that somehow we both knew that I wouldn’t like it yet I didn’t overreact nor smash the meat out of Emil’s hands :D.  I liked the way that he somehow “protected” me by not leaving me to be in that horrible meat shop with him while he was buying what he wanted and that he choose to not to tell me the ingredients of what was looking like a mixture of animal flesh. We also piked some blueberries from a bush nearby. The ones he collected were ripe and very delicious. Emil was eager to pick the higher ones as they were the biggest… unfortunately it wasn’t possible so we went on our journey towards Partnachklamm. On our way I picked two lavender stems, one for me and one for Emil. I carried mine all the time next to my body while Emil was really charmed by the intense scent of the plant and kept playing with it. We saw Emil’s dream future house… houses and I cried when I saw the horse carriages and everyone looking happy, admiring and proud of it.

It took us about another hour or maybe more to get to the start of The Partnach Gorge.
It is a “unique spectacle of nature” (Garmisch Partenkirchen, 2012), where you can see numerous waterfalls, rapids and ponds. The national geotope consists of 108 m long gallery, which was blasted into the rocks, passes along the rocks and the reservoir. This “tunnel” is illuminated by windows from which this natural monument can be watched without any danger. The name Partnach means passage or gateway + watercourse. The leaflet also says that in winter you can witness beautiful ice-cascades and have guided torchlight hikes.

Emil explained the route we will go and also said that it will take around 2 hours to walk through it. The entrance was 5 €/person. He checked if I’m ready to start our journey and we entered the beautiful wet, dark stone-tunnel. There were places where it was just a fence, so you could actually touch the waterfall, like I did… with my tongue (image in the middle). 😛

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We were told that we were very lucky because it was the best timing to see the Partnachklamm as it recently rained and the water flow was more intense. I was happy I didn’t have my big camera with me and didn’t actually have a backpack. I felt free and revived as I was walking through the gallery. The whole walk through the gorge, with occasional short stops required for a proper admiration took us about 15-30 minutes. As we got out of the stone tunnel a wide beautiful scenery was opening in front of our eyes. We decided to sit for a while on the stones next to the water and enjoy the sunlight warming us.

20170810-20793915_1419984731404296_678606644_o-2 After that we continued our hiking through the wildness to reach the highest achievable level of the Mountain. The path had wood-made occasional fences and steps, also there were weird boxes with metal cover. We were thinking of what they might contain, one of the ideas being stuff for when the path becomes slippery. We reached our destination point faster than we both expected, in about 15 minutes. There was a house or a storage space but it looked like a witch’s house. I liked it. We laid on the grass and watched the sky and the outstanding landscape for a while, it was soothing to feel tired yet refreshed at the same time, in the heart of nature. After that we went through a path that was very wet and even slippery at times. Emil told me that it usually isn’t like this and that it is caused by the recent storm that rose the water-level. I actually enjoyed the path as the danger that sometimes it was offering made my experiences more vivid. I found several stone’s shape funny. After running from other tourists, we got out of The Partnach. The whole route took us less time than we expected. Emil left his lavender stem inside a tree cork on a dense spider web.

We discussed whether to continue our hitch-hiking trip to Mittenwald medieval festival and we decided that it will be better to head home and instead go to the one that is in our town, Augsburg, later in the week.

A hippie-looking man drove us back to Murnau. We decided that it would be great to have a pint of Bavarian beer brewed in Emil’s home town… as, since I’m in Germany I had around 3 bottled beers.

20170815-DSC00098-2aWe went to Karg as it’s known for the best beer in town and also they had a bench in their backyard where it was written that the former President of United States of America – Barack Obama was there. Emil tried the new beer called Karg Staffelsee Gold and I had Karg Weißbier Hell, the one that he usually has. IT WAS SO TASTY. At start I was complaining that I don’t feel those 5 % of alcohol but then, I though that it was too much. When I finished the drink, everything made a perfect balance, the amount of beer, alcohol, smell, taste, the ambience. I think this was the best bier I have ever tried in my life. (Note: I haven’t drinken much beer over my life)  On our left was a table of Bavarian elderly man regulars that had a sort of a bell that was ringed when they wanted to be served another round of beers. Further of us there was a table of American family and on our right a couple enjoying their dinner. I was really happy when Emil said that he will have the food I will cook when we return to his parents house. We had a calm and cosy end of the day.

10 August

As I cooked too much food the other day (as always) we had some of it for breakfast. 😀
We watched some German news and in the midday started to clean up the house and pack our stuff for returning to Augsburg. The cat that greeted us came to “say” goodbye before we left the house. We visited Emil’s friend at his workplace and then we stopped a home-bus with two girls. One of them was super cute and had deep blue eyes. When we got off the car, after some time we agreed that it was a very wrong direction so… we stopped another car with a couple of designers based in Munich that drove us back exactly in the same spot where we picked up by the girls in Murnau.
An elderly man with painted folding chairs in the back of his car took us to Mittenwalt. Based on his recommendation we went to a bakery and had some food for the road. We walked a bit and luckily a car with two boys that were heading to Augsburg picked us up. I fell asleep. We arrived to Augsburg Railway Station and as soon as we got out of the car the cold wind and the rain awoken me. We walked to Königsplatz and took the tram 1 towards the Lechbrücke dormitory.

Conclusion

Surprisingly for me, hitch hiking isn’t that  It may be exhausting and even dangerous but it will bring you new acquittances, friends, a new view towards the whole notion of travelling. It feels much more liberating and natural in a way. I feel really happy, as a student, that we saved a lot of money on this trip just because we hitch-hiked. The landscape views that I got to see from the cars that picked us up, I am sure that are much more stunning that the one we got to see from taking a train or a bus. We saw something exclusive and that makes me enjoy my experience even more.
This experience allowed me to be less scared of people and be able to talk to strangers, also, very important – to set the limits of what I can say and what I should keep for myself. The success of stopping the drivers, in my opinion is decided in the major part by the correct PLACE:

  • not in the city centre as lots of cars drive in many different directions
  • correct side of the street (direction of cars) with space where the driver can stop his car to pick you up. (sometimes petrol stations are the best)
  • pay attention to the signs that point at destinations and names of streets.
  • HAVE A MAP! – this is very helpful and I felt the impact of its importance when Emil was constantly checking our location with the map on his phone. That is how you know where is the closest shop, petrol station, where you actually were left and other important factors. With it we actually helped a couple that took us in their car to reach their destination. + know the city and don’t be afraid to ask if you need direction help.

After this come the other factors:

  • girl vs boy – I can’t really evaluate the experience on this matter but Emil told me that girls get cars to stop faster than boys do. I think the best hitch-hiking experience can be achieved when there is a girl and a boy as this perfectly combines all the stereotype characteristics. Not more than two persons, as this may become a very difficult task – some people won’t even bother to stop and ask where you need to go if they see a group of people. It may also represent a danger for them.
  • smile & cheerful vs “help me – most of the times worked the best when we were cheerful, at least I couldn’t really look unhappy when Emil was next to me. But I think, me, being short of stature, when I was stopping the cars it was a factor of “I really need you to stop” signature.
  • clothes – maybe it was just a coincidence but as soon as it got colder I zipped my jacket, thus covering the Mettalica T-shirt with inverse crosses on it. I am not really sure they could actually see the symbols in that 3-4 seconds while deciding to stop or drive by.
    colours & aspect  Colours definitely play a big unconscious impact. If you look dirty most of the drivers that will see it would not want to give you the seats in their car. I was thinking about that when we returned from our hiking in the as most of drivers would think that we are returning from a our trip in the mountains of Garmish Paternkirchen, with a backpack. Even if we were super clean, most of drivers won’t stop because of this assumption, that our clothes are dirty.
  • weather – a driver may be more susceptible to helping a stranger get a ride to where he needs when it’s raining or very cold.
  • time : nightime vs daytime – I can’t fully evaluate this as we haven’t hitch-hiked at night, but I think it is always a little more safer to do it while there is light plus in darkness less people will see you, and you may become a passenger of a not very friendly person.
  • plate of the car – the town of vehicle registration. The car that took us to Mittenwalt had MW (stands for Mittenwalt) and the boys that drove us all the way to Augsburg had their car registered in Augsburg.
  • drivers’ gesticulations –  One thing you should really pay attention to is the repeated gesticulations. You may be waving your hand on the wrong side of the road or they might suggest you that this place is totally a wrong spot to stop their cars. What I really liked were the happy and heart-warming gestures from the bikers and drivers of really big vehicles. Their signals that they would like to help me but they can’t made me super cheerful and usually soon after this type of encounter a driver actually stops. Some of the one’s who were gesticulating were trying to tell us that their car is full, and we could actually see it when they drove by us. Some drivers weren’t even giving any feedback. We also discussed with Emil on this matter, he said to not really get every gesture as something that they want to say. Sometimes their gesticulations are just a means of feeling less guilty for not stopping, sometimes those don’t really make any sense. I thought that one of the signals meant that they are already at their destination or that they aren’t going far or that are going to pick someone up. So many interpretations and we would never know the truth that triggered those gestures and I find it very interesting. I would like to do more research on this matter and actually develop this as a future design concept.

I would like everyone to acknowledge that there is always a risk of something going wrong when you are hitch-hiking. Knowledge is the power and trust your guts (intuition). + have a plan B, in case the night folds and you still didn’t get a ride.

I wish you a beautiful experience, hopefully my article will help.
Feedback is always welcomed and TAKE CARE. 😉

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