My Style of Travel (When Alone)
I like climbing mountains, I like people, I like learning and I like sharing stories…
After two gorgeous amazing weeks of travel with my beautiful girlfriend through Ecuador and Colombia with the highlight being a poo test date for both of us at the laboratory in Quito, I have rolled into Germany for a taste of Europe and to spend time with my best friend in Berlin.
I went with my old method of travel to seek as much of the ‘I likes’ above and it seemed to work a treat in its usual unusual way. My flight dropped me in Frankfurt while Rach debriefed in Paris and I had two days and about 600km to get to Berlin however I choose…
I found a decent map, then a mountain, then a small village as close to that mountain as possible and lastly how to get to the village. So it was a train ride from the airport to downtownFrankfurtand quickly on to the connecting train to get out into the countryside so I could find a plot of land to settle my tent on for the night.
As my stop loomed I noticed the mountain on my map was actually a large salt mine that is unclimbable and an open cut salt mine – no thanks. Not to worry a small hill on the outskirts of the small Neuhof village would make do.
Up the top a soccer ground and some forest. A nice walk in the forest but the attraction of the soccer field with sunset view was the winner to place a tent. Consent from the strange face expression of the soccer coach leaving and I sussed out a not too public spot between fence and pitch. As I was setting up a bemused German and his Chihuahua came for an enquiring chat. Realising I was a – not too crazy person we had a chat (in my three German words and his basic level of English which most German people are born with and is of very high conversation level). He was enthused to hear I was fromAustraliaas he and his wife watch the TV show McCloud’s Daughters and me enthused to learn about the village and area I was being adopted by for the night.
A walk around town to discover one of what must be thousands of small villages scattered every 5km around the country. Later a slight interruption from the returning soccer team and the slightly dumbfounded belief I was sleeping in their soccer arena for the night.
Awake after a juttered strange jetlagged but deep sleep to the friendly German man and his unfriendlyChihuahua. Havensi goot gish slafen? (did you have a good sleep?) my only German phrase and then an invite to join him and his family for breakfast.
Breakfast in the three story place was a spread of juice, jams, breads, meat and cheese! I met his wife and daughter and spent the next three hours learning about their lives and small village German perspectives from Neuhof on the world. They then offered me a shower, maps, internet and continued food and drink as we shared photos, hobbies, experiences and stories that suited the conversation – brilliant. Some sceptics might say nice way to get a free brekkie and shower but it in this that a beautiful exchange happens. I receive no doubt and very gratefully and humbly but they also receive the gift of giving and interacting with some Australian culture and nomadic tendencies that they don’t get most morning (if ever before or ever after).
The last of their never ending hospitality was a packed lunch and a lift 20km to the highway and a spot I could search out a ride towardsBerlin. Human exchange at its beautiful best.
Thumb out at the petrol station but no takers so a 1km walk to the turn off for the highway. Another 30 minutes of thumb tanning (hitchhiking) and then a lift with a commuting car factory worker who car was in good nick as we went speeding up the highway… At the junction a drop off, quick sign writing and not soon after my next hitch towards Berlin.
My chauffer was Michael Schumacher’s sister as we hit speeds of 200km on the free range autobahn. Karin was on her way to a job at the blood bank half way to Leipzig and where I hoped to make by the end of the day. We then got to know about each other and quickly fell in trust. She said she was going on to Leipzig later in the day and she could drop me off while she did her work for a few hours and then pick me up again and take me all the way to Leipzig – bril!
My drop off point was McDonalds and I used their roof to finish my final report fromPeruand eat left over chips of people who didn’t finish theirs! (and save my packed lunch for dinner). Report 90% there and back in the car to hyper-speed our way in Leipzig.
A beautiful warm German summer day and I asked about camping and was suggested by a lake on the outskirts of the city – lovely. Writing from here now and been for a 10km walk around the lake and being very reflective and grateful of how wonderful humans are and our amazing in-built hospitality and care for people that I get to receive with each travel I partake in.
I believe it is not about being a scab and asking for it, for me it is about having my own resources and being in the position to accept hospitality if it is offered and give back a different cultural perspective of the world and how we mash together learning more and having a story to tell for the day and in some cases continued contact for the rest of our lives.
Yes I have lived on the hospitality of others but never demanded or asked for it and in return I hope I have played the role as a genuine gracious grateful guest.
Let the world spin and throw us into wonderful human exchanges – those with strangers (like today) and those with the ones we know (like the two weeks with my girlfriend).