Hitching Europe Blog #6 Team Thosji : “We Italians are a bit crazy…”
Hello everybody! Finally, we have the chance to reach you again. It has been a crazy few days, and there is a great lot to tell… After a (much needed) resting day in Geneva, we had another intense 24 hour hitchhiking adventure from Wednesday morning until Thursday morning, when we arrived in Venice. After a rewarding siesta in (finally) a real bed, we set out toexplore the city, which turned out to be more than worth it… Friday was the day we left Venice and got stuck at a gas station near Trieste that we afterwards named ‘Hitchhikers’ Hell’, which we finally left this morning. Now, we have just arrived at Ljubljana airport, where we will try to find a ride to Zagreb this evening still.
Below you can find some of the stories of our journey from Geneva to Venice. We hope to soon be able to update you on our experiences in Venice and Trieste as well!
After staying with a friend in Geneva Tuesday night, we got up early and reached the Swiss-French border within the metropolitan area around 9. There, we didn’t have much success at first, until a nice French lady called Giselle came up to us to offer a ride to the highway entrance.
There, after we tried for another half hour or so, Kevin brought us to Chamonix, at the foot of the impressive Mont Blanc . We thought at first that it wouldn’t be too hard to get a ride through the Mont Blanc tunnel from there, since there were quite some people and the only possible direction was Chamonix or the tunnel. However, many cars were full and it turned out that many people would end their travels close-by.
It took us 2.5 hours to find a ride, this time with Anais (German/French) and Guillaume (Canadian) , who were on their way to enjoy the Italian coast together. They had met in Canada, and this was the first time Guillaume saw Europe, as was illustrated by his amazement in driving by an old Italian castle. The couple brought us to an Autogrill just after Torino. It was late in the afternoon by then, and the Autogrill cuisine actually looked really appealing. It turned out to be not just appearance: the tiramisu , for instance, was very tasty.
After ‘dinner’ we started looking for a ride again. A middle-aged man told us that he was possibly going to Milano, but that he wasn’t sure yet. It seemed to depend on something he was texting about to someone. Half an hour later he decided to go and take us with him, still saying that he might have to turn back half-way… His car and outfit made us suspect he had no trouble getting around, and indeed, he turned out to have been ‘quite’ successful in the fashion business (for Burberry). He was on his way from a golf tournament near Mont Blanc to Milano, where he had a business meeting. But why was he so unsure about going there? We were soon to find out that it wasn’t a coincidence he had gone to this particular golf tournament… The person he was texting with was a 21-year old girl living close-by. Showing us his wedding ring he admitted “We Italians are a bit crazy, but life is this way…”
After some more interesting conversation (which caused us to miss the last gas station before Milano) with this actually very kind and friendly man, and some clear demonstration of the accelleration capability of a Jaguar car, we were dropped off in the city center. We made a quick picture together and said goodbye.
Night started to fall, but we decided to go on and to try to get to a gas station in the north part of Milano that we read about on hitchwiki. After a metroride and a three-kilometer walk we reached the highway. We had read that we would have to walk along it and find a hole in the fence, which we did, even though it was not the part of the highway we were meant to find. Shortly after we found the latter part anyway, and we started to walk along it. The path became smaller and smaller until at some point we had no choice but to climb the fence. So we did, and we finally reached the gas station (photo 10).
It was now about 11.00, and the station was nearly deserted. A nice truck driver who was having a break until 8 a.m. offered us the loading room of his truck as shelter for the rain and the police (hitchhiking is illegal along the Italian highway), but in the end we decided to take turns sleeping and asking people outside. Finally, around 00.30, we got a ride to just before Bergamo. There we were much luckier, as the first person we asked took us with him to a service area near Brescia. It was now 01.30, and after trying finding a ride for a short bit we decided to search for a place to sleep. We found a small patch of (unfortunately wet) grass behind the gas station, and used our ponchos to create a kind of ‘bed’ . We were very tired, and so we fell asleep, only to be brutely waken up by the rain on our heads two hours later… This was certainly the toughest time we had had so far.
We spent the next three-and-a-half hours ‘enjoying’ the night/morning inside the Autogrill. Finally, an Italian guy named Paulo could take us to Verona, where we arrived around 7.30 a.m.. There, after another one-and-a-half hour, we met Alberto, a kind and intelligent man of clearly more than moderate means. When we asked him how he made his living, he told us he was the CEO of the largest chain of book/cd/dvd stores in Italy (Feltrinelli). He loved books and reading himself, and when asked how he got to get his current position, he humbly admitted to us that he had been a very lucky man.
We arrived at Padova at 09.30, where we soon met the extremely nice old couple that would give us our twentieth ride since we left Utrecht. Maria and Antonio would bring us with them all the way into Venice , and even bought a boat ticket for us. Our day in this unique city would again be an interesting and fun experience; more about that will follow soon!
Groetjes uit Ljubljana!