Tag Archives: Hitchhiking

Orgelet

So two days just passed in which I was once again lost on big and smaller roads in France, carried along by well willing locals with their innate stories and perspectives, while I tried to shake off the worries and concerns of my little life in the Netherlands, meeting them all the more in their contrast with the nature and freedom I viewed from a very close distance.

It’s remarkable how differently time passes by when one hops from spot to spot. Is it a mind-set thing? With only three hours on the road, how many sites have passed by today that would totally be worth further examination? Have fragments of myself perhaps remained behind, still hovering around to perceive the local beauty? Have pieces of my soul remained in conversation with the beautiful people I’ve met along the way? Is there a realm somewhere, where what has happened is still taking place? Is that why all those lifetimes have passed since I left Barcelona? In this state, stronger than in others, the feeling seems so real…

In the same way in which this lifestyle is exhausting, it is extremely energizing. Massive amounts of inspiration get sucked through my existence like water through narrowing river banks. It is impossible to guide it all into shapes, yet I experience things vividly, and am right here to digest it all at once. I feel the space and the strength to accomplish anything I want, but the need to do little more than flow. But more than last time I travelled, I am carrying a burden. It is here with me, in between all beautiful voices. To survive in a Metropolitan world, you need to push things at the cost of others.

Was it a mistake to surrender to the city life? Or was the mistake,  that I chose to grow up? That I did not arrest time before my twenty-fifth? That I did not manage to place myself outside of the big bad wild West? Did not find the loophole?

Friendhopping – Part IV: Ein suuberes Züri

The holidays are nearing and it seems that there is some hitchhiking in store for me. In memory of past trips, I decided to work through my old travellers’ blogs, take the mistakes out, change the names where necessary and post them here piece by piece, on Wednesdays. I’m starting with the final trip I took so far, written just after I finished my studies. The series contains a storyline about love and friendship. It has six parts. This is part four.

August 17th, 2011
Zürich is nice but too rich. High tech hand dryers, automatically moving plastic foils under the toilet seats… Let me sketch a toilet in a funky bar. You get downstairs and it looks messy. Ugly tags on the grey wall. Yet the distances between the tags are regular. Instead of urine, you smell the synthetic scent of a flower which is just too pink and fluffy for the grim ambience they try to set. Zürich is full of such examples. The streets are to tidy, the trams too shiny, the old buildings are cleaned to recently. Even the river is crystal clear. What’s fun to do there is price checking. Supermarkets, show windows, restaurants… I recommend you visit a train station and ask for the price for a trip to the nearest village. Hilarious experience. Or you can just go drink a coffee and pretend you’re a millionaire.

I am here to visit R. Of all my study mates I have known her longest and from most different sides. Seven years of partying, cooking and talking together. Irregular at first, but our friendship grew into a set of rituals: fixed daily and weekly meetings which could be cancelled only with a very good excuse. For how I know her, R. has two main behavioural ways. On the one hand she highly appreciates the known, where she likes to stick to the same regular and overseeable pattern as much as possible. I recognize that side of her in myself. But at the same time she continuously looks for new worlds to explore, new daring activities and new thrills. A loneliness in her accentuates a need for deep recognition by friends and family. It is a need to be carried away by a love to which she feels revolt. I have that same revolt. Yet we slowly learned to rely on this friendship.

R. has lived in her new house for a week. In a posh neighbourhood. I find it equally sterile as the city. Slightly uncomfortable in its contrast to the outside life I lived in the previous weeks. The housemates here are disconnected from each other. I can tell by R.’s confusion that she is not yet entirely settled. Yet she wants stay here for now. Her room looks good. Spacious and light and filled with her items. I presume it just takes time before her spirit occupies this place.

While she works during daytime, I explore the city and find myself drawing and writing along the glowing turquoise river. I drink a good old non-light Rivella. A girl from Romania gives me company. She is sad, because her boyfriend broke up with her yesterday. Beautiful meeting between the two sides of a coin.

At night we celebrate old and new meetings with diamond beers. France awaits.

Friendhopping – Part III: The Road to Vienna

The holidays are nearing and it seems that there is some hitchhiking in store for me. In memory of past trips, I decided to work through my old travellers’ blogs, take the mistakes out, abbreviate the names where necessary and post them here piece by piece: on Wednesdays. I’m starting with the final trip I took so far, written just after I finished my studies. The series contains a storyline about love and friendship. It has six parts. This is part three. What I like about this one is that I remember being super fascinated about this girl with Google maps on his mobile. Just three years ago…

August 2nd 2011
Hitchhikers’ law # 1 is : Nothing is for certain
Law # 2: The more people pass by, the less pick you up
Law # 3: The smaller the car, the more space for hitchhiker
Law # 4: The nicer the spot, the sooner you’ll be picked up
Law # 5: The better the weather, the sooner you’re gone
Law # 6: Doing yoga and singing increase your chance to be picked up, even if you don’t know yoga and don’t know how to sing
Law # 7: When you’ve lost all hope, that’s when salvation comes

Vienna is a beautiful city. High buildings, big buildings, but beautiful buildings. Trees. Big parks. The feeling of space.
After crossing the park in front of the main train station in the east of Vienna, I ask a random cool looking guy on the street if he knows a good place to go.
“I don’t know, I have only worked here for four days”.
Ok then. I walk. Straight. Left. Right again. Catholic church with golden roof. Time for an internet café. T. might have replied.
“Weis ich nicht, aber es gibt doch Google, oder?”
Short red hair, open blue eyes and a black suit. The man takes his phone out of his pocket and materializes a miniature map on the tiny screen. No internet cafes around. The centre will be a half an hour walk.

It doesn’t take long before I conclude that Vienna is cool. But as it turns out I’m not in a city mood, I forget shimmering hostal ideas and leave westwards with metro and tram. I hitchhike further. First car picks me up. Vienna broke hitchhiking law # 2. And I didn’t even do yoga. Not that I can… I sleep just outside the city but in high grass on the edge of a forest. Thunder and rain come comfort me.

The road to Linz is rainy and slow. No broken rules this time. It’s my own fault. I chose to stand in front of the roundabout instead of sitting under a roof in front of the restaurant to ask people to take me along. Like Tomas did. Tomas is bold, except for a little round tail on the back of his head. Orange brown white clothes. A good combination. Clear blue eyes, round nose. He is tall. Hitchhiking as well, headed home. He’s German, so he does the talking and I do the drumming. I earn my first euro with music, and we’re picked up within five minutes. Tomas converses with the driver. They discuss spiritual topics in all directions the mind can wander off to. Meditation of course. 2012. Did you know that radioactivity is a strong fire power? The fire gods can diminish it if you do a ritual for them. Solar radiation destroys electromagnetic devices. One should like what one’s doing, without getting stuck to it. Singing frees the soul. He has friends in Vienna. I could stay at their place whenever I want. Chill, since I decided I’ll live there. Our roads part with a sunny shine upon a good hug. To the west, to Zürich. Austrian and Spanish drivers. Oh… R. is in Brig instead. Change of direction. Southwards it is.

Stergliz is a pittoresque Tirol-Italian village higher up in the mountains. No hostels. A restaurant reminds me of old times. We often used to go to a white Italian place close to where my dad lived in Luxembourg town. Rather boring atmosphere, but it was cheap and the food was good. The owner filled the place with his presence, but I didn’t understand him at the time. I used to fall asleep on my moms lap and would be carried to the car. Sometimes I just pretended so that I didn’t have to walk. I think she knew. It’s the smell of this place that puts me back in those times. I order a wine and a Quattro Fromaggi, asking the beautiful waitress if she knows a garden where I can put up my tent.

She answers nervous mystery.
I finish my delicious pizza, order another wine and write a little. She finishes her duty and asks me to follow her into a dark alley, where we take a car to her house.
“You have to promise me that you will be gone at 7 am”
She puzzles me. On the one side I feel a deep basic trust. But she seems agitated by my presence. I resist asking.
We arrive. She explains that my behaviour is frowned upon here. Not by her. People aren’t used to it. But I am pretty sure her parents and her grandma and her neighbours hear her speak out loud to me. The automatic light switches on and off again. She travelled through Australia, and will move to Vienna in October. Facebook exchange and she’s gone. Back to the centre to meet a friend. Tomorrows trip through mountain passes will be amazing, but I won’t reach Brig on time.

Freedom

Today is Dutch liberation day. It is exactly 68 years ago that the Americans hunted the Germans of these lands. An occasion to contemplate what freedom means, if not “being able to live in peace”. It is an interesting concept about which I still think quite often. Is that typical for men?

Some say the West is free. Is that the same as saying that the people living in the West are free? If we are indeed free, then what does that mean? That we have money? That we are able to choose whatever we do with our lives? To be the navigator of our own ships? Reach our Dreams?

Okay, so one way to explain freedom, is by the extent to which we can reach our dreams. But we can go deeper. Who chooses our dreams? Say a person’s dream is to earn money. Then having a lousy job would make that person free, right? The boss would be the liberator. But often, when a person has money, he or she would like to have more. The same is true for meaning. There is a point when our dreams become our prison. At that point, freedom means letting the dream go. It means to be satisfied.

So is a satisfied citizen a free citizen? I wouldn’t always say so. I have met many people who slowly but gradually grew trapped in their satisfied lives. People on a comfortable position, whose light seemed to be dimming. They wouldn’t always admit it, but sometimes you can tell. Then again, how do you break out of satisfaction? By losing everything, perhaps?

I’ve personally always felt freest while hitchhiking. But I know that if I’d do that all the time, it would not feel the same. So I need balance. My girlfriend recently asked me what freedom means. To my own surprise, I answered quite quickly. “To not be guided by fears”. I think I’ll stick with that definition for now. Until it becomes my mask.

Playing mind games with Soul