16 June 2020, 40 years on the road

It's 16 June 1980, the time is 7:47, and I'm off for my first recorded ride, it will take me from De Bilt to the exit for Amersfoort, and at that time don't think I would ever have expected that on

16 June 2020, at around 6:45, I would again be standing at the side of the road, this time in Palanga. The road is pretty quiet, so I just start walking, sticking out my thumb whenever I hear a car approaching.

At 7:03 Marijan Marijan stops, and a mere 4 minutes later he stops again, next to the airport in Palanga, where he works, and I get out. At 5 km the ride is marginally longer than the first recorded ride in 1980, and even if it had been the only ride of the day, it would have fulfilled the objective of hitchhiking on the 40th anniversary of my first recorded ride. Before getting out I make a selfie, which is quite unusual, as most of the time it's the drivers who want to do so, frequently with me holding the worn-out copy of my "Guinness Book of Records" certificate in front of me. So why is it me this time taking the selfie?

Well, let's go back three days…

On 13 June I after "Labas rytas, Lietuva" is finished, I pull up its page on the web, and write the following email to Audrius Giržadas, the Vyriausiasis prodiuseris, aka chief producer:

Hi Andrius, [sic, oops…]

I don't know if it would interest any of your viewers, but on Tuesday 16 June I will (try to) hitchhike from Palanga to Liepaja to buy some apple pies for our grand-chidren, and flowers for my wife, who I met more than 20 years ago on the occasion of the 4th International Hitch-Hiking Congress, organised by the Vilnius Autostop Klubas,on 4 & 5 March 2000. I obviously came here by thumb, at the time from England.

Why 16 June? It will mark the day that, 40 year ago I started writing down every ride I've had, 4,685 at the moment, totalling nearly 620,000 km. If you've got a female reporter (and this is not meant to be sexist in any way, but two guys hitchhiking together tend to go at a snail's pace) who wants to come along and report on it, feel free to get in touch, either by email, or on +370 60549447.

The summer is approaching, and it might encourage others to take up this way of travel, or (more) drivers to pick up (young) people trying to get a ride.

And no hard feelings if you're not interested, I'm used to rejection. ;)

Kind regards,

Robert

PS: And yes, I know all too well about the dangers of hitchhiking, given that you've had this guy picking up hitchhikers between Vilnius and Kaunas, and killing them, and having had myself a ride with a driver who fell asleep, resulting in a rather unpleasant car crash…

and, two days later, on 15 June I receive the following email

Hello, Mr. Robert,

My name is Viktorija Lideikyte and I work as a journalist in the website of the Lithuanian public broadcaster www.lrt.lt . Audrius Giržadas sent me your contacts telling that you have a very interesting story about hitchhiking from Palanga to Liepaja. Maybe you could tell us more about your trip? I think our readers would be interested in your story ??

Would you have some time to answer the questions and send me some photos via e-mail? We could have a phone call too.

Thank you for answering and have a good day!

Viktorija Lideikyte
LRT.lt žurnaliste

I reply with a few more details, Viktorija replies, I send her two more emails with some "historical" information, and very early on 16 June she sends me a

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your story! It is very interesting and unique.

Could you text me when your trip will be over please? We could discuss the details and then share an article about an active and youthful 60-year old hitchhiking grandfather :)

Have a safe trip today!

after which I walk out of our appartment in Naglio alėja and walk to Klaipėdos plentas, where, at 7:03, I get the ride described earlier. So, let's continue with what happened next!

I walk from the airport to the A13, getting there at 7:13. It takes just 10 minutes to stop a car. Vidmantas Vidmantas is on his way to Šventoji, and he literally "goes the extra (three quarter of a) mile" to drop me off at the second exit for Šventoji, but at just 5.2 km the ride is just about 200 metre longer than the previous one, and with another 60(ish) km to go to Liepāja, I'm getting a bit worried.

Needlessly, as it turns out!

At 7:55 Audrius Audrius stops, we cross the LT-LV border at 8:00 and at 8:39, just 8 minutes short of exactly 40 year of recorded rides, he drops me off at the north-side of Liepāja.

I make my way to the Pētertirgus, on the way passing Liepāja's solution to bridges falling apart under the weight of "Just Married" locks, a metal "tree" Just Married next to the river, especially created for the purpose. In the market I buy three apple-pies for the grand-children, and flowers for Audronė, and after a quick bite in a burger bar with free WiFi, I buy a ticket for the tram. Jumping off at the Klaipēdas iela stop, and a mere three minutes later, not even close to the start of the A11, but with half a dozen cars approaching, I stick out my thumb. Peter Peter stops, and he's on his way to Klaipėda.

I don't even have to ask him to enter Palanga, he just drives in, and at 11:06 he drops me off on the way out, and I walk back to Naglio alėja, arriving back there at about 11:30.

It's taken me 1:37 driving time, 4:03 on-the-road time, and about 5:15 to get from door-to-door, time well spent, although you might think otherwise.

After a bit of rest, I copy the selfies and short videos I made to Viktorija, and in the evening I get an email from Viktorija, containing Nupirkti pyrago anūkams ir gėlių žmonai – autostopu iš Palangos į Liepoją ir atgal per 5 valandas, which translates, for those, including yours truly, less familiar with Lithianian, to "Buy cake for grandchildren and flowers for wife - by hitchhiking from Palanga to Leipaja and back in five hours". You'll need Google Chrome to get a complete translation, LRT.LT sadly blocks Google Translate.

Last updated on 25 June 2020 (Initial version)


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