Ten months after I started my Up North trip and 9 months in the Netherlands, it was time to move Down South again and face the next adventure. (part 1 , part 2, part 4, part 5, part 6)
You can also fallow the trip in Polarsteps.
Not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.
Down South – Besançon, France • 22-24 July 2022
After the delay due to the heat, I’m finally back on the road. The offer to stay in Dijon was no longer available, so I had to find another option. It turned out to be Besançon. 😉
I had another dilemma, though. The distance was over 400 km, which means about 4 hours by car. Apart from getting out of Paris, which will take me 2-3 hours minimum. Which means that I have to be incredibly lucky (well, I am, but let’s not exaggerate, huh…) to hitchhike and arrive within the day.
As a hitchhiker you never know who, when, to where and IF at all… So I decided not to test my luck that much and took Bla-Bla car for the first time. It’s like our shared travels, only with an official website, phone app, etc.
Well, it would be good to save the 26 euros (for comparison, a car/bus costs from 100 upwards, in rare cases with more luck, it can be found for 50), but I preferred to save myself the too high risk!
So at 5:45am I was in line at the entrance as agreed. This is not a common practice, but due to the lack of transport so early, the driver made an exception.
When 6 am passed by and no one with a red car showed up, I started to get a little worried. Not too much though – I’m a hitchhiker, I was just going to catch a bus out of town and from there would see what the cat will bring…
Carsten showed up a little late (due to maintenance work on the local road by the detour to my address) and looked at me in surprise. Hmmm yeah, the trip was on Bojo’s name (that friend of mine, who hosted me in Paris) as I wrote to the driver myself but got no reply and assumed the guy just doesn’t speak English….
Well, we cleared all out. Turns out he spoke passable English and was sure he answered my message – checked 3 times in disbelief at the app. It happens… 🤷♀️ He probably wrote the message, but hadn’t sent it.
But who cares, I was already in the car, wasn’t I?! 😆
The four hours of travel passed imperceptibly. Carsten was a great company and yes, I tried to speak more so he wouldn’t struggle with his English, but the conversation was worth it. In between we stopped at a petrol station for a coffee and a croissant (Thanks Carsten!) and he finally delivered me to my host’s doorstep in Besançon! As he said – You are a special case! 😆😁😜
I think those were one of my best spent 26 euros! 😎 Thanks Carsten, it was a pleasure traveling with you! 🙏😊
In Besançon I was going to stay with Christophe. I knew he was busy before lunch (I arrived around 10). So I installed myself to wait for him on the bench outside the apartment. (And yes, of course there will be a bench especially for my Majesty!)
Surprisingly, however, he appeared after 10-15 minutes with his son Mathias, took me to the apartment and then left for the appointment he had mentioned before.
Well, the first thing that surprised me (or the second, after its appearance) was to hear “Hello” in Bulgarian! It turned out that he had taken a book about Bulgaria from the library so that he would be prepared when I arrive.
Wow! That’s called a gesture!!
After returning, Chris prepared lunch, which, typically in French, started with watermelon, went through cheese and ended with a piece of chocolate and coffee. 😉
Thanks Chris! 🙏
Later we went for a short walk, and in the evening from 8 p.m. he took me to a horse show where we got also a bit of rain, but it was fun.
The next morning, especially because of me, Christoph got up at 7am and after a light breakfast and coffee, we headed down to the center to walk me around town.
We literally went down as the center is by the river, at the lowest point of course, and Chris lives by the end, soooo up the hill! 😁
It was a nice walk. We didn’t talk much, as he is one of the fast walkers and was 2 meters in front of me the whole time (that’s why he’s in almost all the photos and videos😆). We walked along the river and in the old part of the town. I also sneaked into a synagogue – out of pure curiosity.
There are no photos, because there was a service and I tried to be absolutely quiet, so as not to disturb it in any way. But there is a video (and a snapshot of course) – the GoPro doesn’t even make a sound! 😆😆
We came home for lunch and after a short siesta we sat together in the living room with cups of coffee, I took care of the photos, videos and the organisation of the route for the next days and Chris did his stuff.
Extremely pleasant friendly and unpretentious atmosphere! Thank you from the bottom of my heart Chris!!! 🙏🙏😊🙏🙏
Down South – Weil am Rhein, Germany • 24-25 July 2022
In the morning Chris got up even before me to see me off properly and on top of it – to drive me to the motorway 7-8 km away, so that I would have some chance of catching a ride on Sunday morning to Basel (close to my final destination).
Sunday morning! Again! Just yesterday I was thinking about a certain person who never learns from his mistakes, simply because, in his own opinion, he is absolutely flawless. Today I did the same, although I found out in Turkey that you just do NOT hitchhike on Sundays… 🤦♀️🤷♀️
Anyway, thanks to Christoph, I didn’t have to spend the night on the road. And I wasn’t alone. Someone was there before me. Right at the entrance to the highway, where I was about to stand, stood a smiling boy with what looked like an illegible sign in his hands and a small backpack at his feet. The colleague was new, obviously, so I made sure to give him one of my black markers and explain to him that a sign should not be written on a white sheet of paper with a red pen… 😎
An extremely nice and intelligent boy with perfect English, with whom we talked for hours. I left the communication with the driver to him in French, which was a relief – both for me and for the drivers. 😆😜
Pierre and I shared two journeys and on the third we parted ways as he had gone to Strasbourg. For no reason, just to see how far can he get by hitchhiking!
Well, according to my calculations more than 7 000 km… 😁
After our parting, which was in a rather remote place at the entrance to the highway, I stayed waiting for another hour and decided to go to the highway anyway. I knew the risks, but it was midday, the sun was burning fiercely, and there was no idea of shade in that place. So – I risked either heatstroke or a fine…
I hadn’t done 200 meters when a car stopped. If only I had left earlier… 😜 A sunny and radiant lady going to lunch with her parents (I sent them a special greeting for that) decided to take me as close as possible to the German border, then on the back of the sign “Basel” she wrote the exact place I was going to, as well as an alternate town on the border where I could pass through.
I ended up 12 km from my final destination with almost no water left. At the intersection there was a small roadside restaurant and I went in to ask the staff for a refill. I was hoping they could speak enough English. They did not.. But one of the girls was Spanish! So not only did they fill up my water, but they also laughed heartily at Roberto! 😁😎
So, I already had enough water. Was still far away, but at least I wasn’t on a highway. So instead of standing like a battered to sunbathe, I just walked along the narrow shady road. 12 km are doable, although not a piece of cake, but still manageable.
Well, I didn’t have to do so. Another 200 meters. And another smiling girl stopped. She also had very good English and declared that it is too hot to walk. I absolutely agreed and happily sat next to her! 😁
After only a few minutes she stopped the car. “Do you see that bridge over there – that’s Weil am Rhein across the way!“. Wow, I was almost at the finish line! Just another 3 km which was no problem even in about 33 degree heat.
Thank you ladies and please forgive me that, due to my brain liquefying in the heat, I forgot the names of both of you… 🤦♀️🙏
It took me about an hour to cover the 3 km… At the end I landed safely in front of Andreas’ home, who greeted me with a smile – showed me the room and the bathroom and left me to resuscitate.
Wonderful place! It was like I am in a movie! The yard was surrounded by a mini railway network. There was one in my room, as well as the necessary trains and wagons. As soon as you entered, the evidence of Andreas’ hobby was striking – paintings, artefacts and models of ships were everywhere.
All over the house, and especially in “my” room, it was full of antiques, a cassette player, a tape recorder, a typewriter, stereos, gramophones, hundreds of records, cassettes and discs, dozens of other items that give the whole place an incredible cosiness and beauty as well as a slight, pleasant sense of nostalgia. Just an amazing home! Greetings Andreas!!
After my soul had returned to the body, I went down (my room was in the garret). Found him in the yard for company and light conversation.
A little later his wife (who had worked all day even though it was a Sunday) and his son showed up. All together prepared the dinner and served, and I was only allowed to carry the utensils…
And so for two days. I felt quite awkward that I couldn’t do anything to thank for my stay. Yet I was also super grateful for the attitude and atmosphere created by Andreas and his family! 🙏💖🙏
The second day I went out alone in the morning as everyone was at work and got back for lunch. Had the idea of going out with Andreas afterwards. Well, at 34° heat, neither Andreas nor I felt like going out.
Even so, for the few hours before lunch, I managed to sunburn. Again… 🤦🏻♀️
And on top of it, I forgot my camera and did rely only on the GoPro to save my day. Well, it did it decently well, although it can’t be compared to the Nikon 7100.
They don’t look very alike in terms of weight either… 😜