|Ich fahre schnell…|
Note that this is an as yet incomplete overview of what happened in 2015. I sadly have to deal with more pressing matters right now. Come back in a few weeks, and the story will be complete, the tenses will be consistent and the spelling errors will (hopefully) be gone!
It's 27 May 2015, just after 6:00 and I'm standing next to the petrol station on Raststätte Fränkische Schweiz/Pegnitz Ost having spent the night folded up on a bench. Traffic is light, not all that surprisingly given the time of the day, and I've only asked three drivers for a ride in the past 30 or so minutes, without getting one. Then a very nice car, an Audi Quattro RS6, stops, and when I ask the driver for a ride, he tells me that I can come along, but warns me with the words, "Ich fahre schnell!". Having had plenty of rides with top-speeds well over 200 km/h, with a highest ever recorded top-speed of 269 km/h in a brand new Porsche 911 GT3 only a few months earlier (on 3 October 2014, a ride from Raststätte Michendorf Nord to a petrol station near Eindhoven, see A long look back), I tell him I don't mind, to which he replies "Wirklich schnell!"…
We leave at 6:05 and after a short interruption to fill up, again(!), from 6:58 to 7:09, we arrive at Raststätte Fläming Ost at 7:49. The counter shows that we've covered 304 km, Google Maps later tells me that the distance is 308 km… At times the speedo hits the 290 mark, and if it hadn't been for sadly too many Baustelles, where the driver reduces his speed to a more "reasonable" 120 km/h, this would have been my first ride with an average speed in excess of 200 km/h, but as it is, 196.1 km/h (or 198.7 km/h based on the Google distance) is also quite pleasing!
But let's go back a few months, to
It's 4 January 2015 and I'm standing at my usual "Gariunai" spot on the A1 just outside Vilnius, on my way to, where else, Oostende. It's around zero, which wouldn't have been too bad if there hadn't been any wind, but wind there is plenty. Eventually a car with three young guys stops. Communication is difficult, they speak only very basic English, and it turns out they're from Kyrgyzstan, which means that I've now had rides with people of 83 different nationalities, while only having hitched in 33 countries - actually, I've only passed through AND, BG and SK without having hitched inside these three. They're on their way to Kaunas to buy second-hand cars and I'm dropped at the exit for Petrašiūnai. Three further rides take me to Marijampolė and from here I get my first 1,000+ km ride of the year, to Raststätte Lappwald Nord, where I spend the night in one of the comfy chairs. The next day seven more rides, including another one with someone from the ex-USSR, an Armenian guy, take me to Nieuwpoort, from where I lazily take the coastal tram back home, experienced old hitchhikers know when to take public transport. On 6 January I do what I need to do, and a day later I'm on my way back to Vilnius, a city I will not reach by thumb. It takes me 10 rides to get to Raststätte Michendorf Süd, where I spend a pretty much sleepless night in the hamburger joint. The next day I get as far as Warszawa, in just two rides, but with a horrible 3:10 wait between them on MOP Sosna! When we arrive in Warszawa it's cold and snowing, and I ask the driver if he can drop me next to Warszawa Central, which he does. A eur 16.00 overnight bus-ride, experienced old hitchhikers know when to take public transport, takes me to Vilnius…
The second trip of the year starts exactly one calendar month after the first, and although I expect it to be nothing more than a bit of Raststätte Hopping, it does take me into Italy. Not having been there for a while, I get out at Area Servizio Paganella Ovest, only to find out that it's not the one I wanted to get out, and worse, that the tunnel to the other side is locked. However, there is a bridge, and it turns out that it's not too hard to climb past the fence. After having climbed into Paganella Est, I do what needs to be done in Italy, eat a plate of spaghetti, before continuing. I get one more ride (the police car that stops never pays any attention to me) and spend the night 33 kilometres closer to Austria on AS Laimburg Est. The hitching later that day isn't too bad, but in the end I'm forced to spend a second night without much sleep just 13 km from home, on the Jabbeke petrol station, bringing to an end a series of 145 days with a distance over 100 km - I probably should have walked home the ~15 km, it might have been faster!
Trip three, it's still February, takes me to Raststätte Michendorf on day one, and back to Oostende on day two, in just two (783 & 13.3 km) rides, I'm ever so happy that so many Poles live and work in the UK!
Trips four and five are two trips to fill in five (16, 17, 23, 24 and 25) never hitched-on days in March, the second also takes me to Luxembourg where I spend a night at Inga's place. When I generate my statistics after getting home from trip five, I'm pleasantly surprised to find out that my total-to-date for the year now exceeds the same for 2014 by more than 1,000 km…
The sixth trip is the second one starting in Vilnius, and it's the second with a 1,000+ km ride, this time from MOP Osiecza II to Brussels. Less than 24 hours after arriving in Oostende I'm hitching again, trying to get to Lewedorp in Zeeland, for the birthday of my youngest brother. I never get there.
It takes me just over an hour to get to Antwerpen, but after a fruitless 3+ hours trying to get further, I return home. The trip back to Vilnius is OK, well sort of. In Germany I get a long ride from a Polish guy who tells me that he can drop me on MOP Sosna, but in the end he drops me, at 2:47, on the petrol station at the entrance of Słubice. The next 1:27 is spent walking back to the A2 and walking through the forest at the side of the A2 to MOP Sosna, in the, it makes me ever so happy, pouring rain… On the MOP I eventually get a ride to MOP Brwinów, 437 km further, with a Dutch guy taking a second-hand car to Ukraine and telling me all about the troubles and tribulations involved in doing so. After Brwinów three more rides take me to Białystok, and here someone tells me he can give me a ride of "Around 15 or so km…". It turns out to be just 3.6 km and to an exit that looks very hitchhiker-unfriendly, but just six minutes later another car stops and takes me, and the two girls we later pick up just before Augustów, to Szyplisky. Here the wait is an unbearable three minutes longer. The Slovenian(!) guy that picks us up is on his way to Daugavpils in Latvia, but graciously drops the two girls at a bus-stop in Kaunas, and yours truly in Sudervė, a short walk from our old house in Buiniskių km.
Trips seven and eight both in May are unremarkable tours through Germany, although the last of these two includes the ride that is described at the start of this epistle…
After that trip the statistics for the year are red-hot, after five months I am nearly 6,000 km ahead of 2014, the year in which I made my first virtual circumnavigation of the planet! Will I manage to do back to back virtual circumnavigations?
The ninth trip of the year is just as unremarkable as numbers seven and eight, a two-day slightly less than 2,000 km circle through Germany, and trip 10 takes me to Luxembourg for the second and last time of 2015, and at 678.9 km it's also the shortest, in fact all but 14 (out of the total 55) days of 2015 are longer than this two-day trip.
After trip 10 we drive to Vilnius and there the fun (Oh yes!) starts, between 29 June and 10 September I hitch no less than four times from Vilnius to Oostende and back! So let's pull out some numbers, my other favourite subject ;)
Last updated on 11 August 2016 for move to Neocities