Europe has been great to Max and I. From Amsterdam we headed towards Berlin. How? Hitchhiking, friends. Don’t be worried….”Autostop” is very cultural here and there are many people, even girls, who do use it as a way of travel, even alone. Some cities actually have a designated hitchhiking area with a sign of a thumb to show the best place to stand.. We plan where to start using “HitchWIki”, an online guide to Hitchhiking in Europe.
We were lucky with the first guy to have picked us up. He had done the same route we were on many times so he had given us a ton of tips and tricks to the game.
From Amsterdam we landed in Cologne, Germany. Our original plan was to go to Berlin but after meeting a couple of great Americans who were going in that direction we thought we’d go for it, especially since Max has a Canadian friend who lives there. Liz was so nice to invite us in for a couple of days, hang out and show us around. It was really interesting getting to hear another Canadian’s perspective on living abroad, too. Cologne, or “Köln” is where the original Cologne company started. It also has a Church that took over a hundred years to build and was the only building left standing after the second world war. It is also allowed to drink outside in public places, along the streets, in parks, etc., in Germany, so after a long day hiking we loved grabbing a cheap beer in the corner store and parking it by a lake next to some swans. There are also parks everywhere and the people in general are extremely nice, and tall! For the first time in my life I did not feel out-of-place. Au contraire. I felt like Thumbelina finding her unknown land full of fairies
We made it to Berlin three days later, arriving at our hostel in the evening where we met two fellow travellers, both from the States. Crazy Americans! They became our travel buddies and friends during our stay and it was really nice having some other people to hang out with, especially our own age with similar interests.
Berlin is a beautiful city. It is massive but after spending time in France it felt like we were getting a deal everywhere; food, beer and metro tickets were extremely cheap in comparison. As per usual we spent the first couple of days aimlessly wandering the city, checking out the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery, the Holocaust memorial, Museum Square and the Television Tower where, despite the rain, we let out our inner child and jumped like it was nobody’s business on the trampolines built-in to the ground.
Our second day Max and I came across an amazingly talented tattoo artist who owns his own shop, Daniel Krause. It is a very long story about how and why I got it, but we both left with permanent souvenirs of our trip to this beautiful city. Maybe I will make a separate post about it some day but if you really want to know, ask me personally and I would love to share the story with you!
Hostel life while travelling is great because we meet other travellers, make travel friends and the youth atmosphere is chill, along with freedom to come and go as we please with keys to our room. Couchsurfing, however, is still the way to go. We stayed with a super chill dude for our last two nights in Berlin, also from the States, who showed us around for a day and chilled out with us in the evening. We went to a funky Jazz bar and then Max and I continued on to a karaoke club where we sang out hearts out until early in the morning.
The next afternoon we hit the road again making a short stop in Messein, a small town still in Germany about half way to Prague. We crossed the border and once we entered the Czech Republic it was like we were in a dream. The mountains surrounded by lakes, farms and fields was like a picture taken from a fairy tale. It really hit us when we went into a local gas station to ask for directions and nobody could speak English. We made it to the city in the evening, slightly scared that we wouldn’t find a place to sleep being Easter weekend and extremely populated with tourists. After being turned down by six hostels we let out a big breath of relief when we found one with two rooms left, located right in the city center.
Prague is definitely our favourite city to date. Walking outside is like walking in a gallery, except for the houses are real and lived in. Local food is delicious and beer is even cheaper than in Germany; one bottle in the corner store costs about 15 crown, or about 50 euro cents. Closer to the city it is about 25 crown, or 1 euro. Walking through the city had us gasping constantly at the beauty; The colorful architecture, the old black bridges in front of large castles sitting on top of the mountains in the distance, plus the multitude of swans swimming all around, paints a picture more beautiful than a dream. Despite being tired it was difficult to go inside knowing our time there would soon come to an end.
Back on the road again four days later and we made it to Vienna in no time. Hitchhiking in the Czech Republic has proved to be the easiest country so far. The longest we waited was an hour and then only five minutes each time after. Vienna is also a beautiful city but after falling in love with Prague, refusing to sleep and therefore being exhausted, it was hard to appreciate it as much. We walked around as much as we could before giving in to nap time and it ended up being just as beautiful as we had heard tell. The city is ancient and the architecture is filled with hand-made carvings of angels and gargoyles propped on every building and there are parks everywhere with fountains, ducks and swans. We are now in a small ferry on our way to Bratislava, Slovakia. I am not so familiar with this place but Max is ecstatic to see it as it was featured in The Amazing Race.
We are still not sure how long we will stay or where we will end up next but with this weather and our surroundings we have no doubt it will be just as much of a beautiful adventure as the last few places!
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou