Hitchhiking to Berlin

11th Oct 2014
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 1/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
En Route to Germany
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 2/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
These guys!
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 3/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
The toilet paper mummy
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 4/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
Berlin landmarks
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 5/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
The Holocaust Memorial
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 6/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
Pretzel in Berlin
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 7/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
Fellow Hitchhikers
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 8/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
At the Heart of Gold, Berlin
Photo of Hitchhiking to Berlin 9/9 by Aishwarya Suresh
I'm too small to fit into the mold.

It was my first time hitchhiking, Niels' too! Who knew it'd go so well? GEWIS, the study association for Computer Science and Mathematics students was organizing a GELIFT weekend to Berlin. It invloved finding someone crazy enough to hitchhike to Berlin with you. Niels and I, being the morons we are, thought this was a pretty great idea, even though neither of us had ever been hitchhiking before. We just hoped we had enough people skills to get to Berlin before night time. This was a whooping (approximately) 600km to get through! After meeting with the twenty other people that decided to go on this journey with us, at IKEA, we all ate a slice of pie while the rules were being explained to us.

To begin, this was a competition. We had to convince people to give us a ride, all the way to Berlin from Eindhoven. The pair to reach there first won the competition. To add to the excitement, we were asked to take a selfie with certain things on our route, each earning us some points. Points were then associated with time and this time then taken away from the time taken to reach Berlin. So you didn't necessarily have to be the first ones to reach Berlin to win. A selfie at an IKEA won you points, as did a selfie with the number 33 on a number plate on the highway. A selfie with a car that has the characters 'ö' and '5' and a selfie with a redhead at a gas station won you more points. So with these tasks on our minds, pie in our bellies and enthusiasm in our hearts, we began our adventure.

That enthusiasm that I just mentioned? That died out when the first car that stopped for our friend Guido picked his team up but the cars driving past Niels and me had drivers that didn't spare us a glance. We had a piece of cardboard with BERLIN written with a black marker and another reading Germany. We also had the art of having our thumbs sticking out down to a science, all of which was to no avail. We walked and walked some more before somebody finally picked us up and offered to drive us to a gas station. According to this heaven-sent soul, that was where we needed to be to get a ride to Germany. After spending some more time sticking our thumbs out at a gas station, another nice man offered to drive us to an even bigger gas station. It seemed like a good plan and so we went. 

It was at this spot that we caught our first lucky break. While we were skeptical about getting a ride at this spot(because there were already two other hitchhikers there, at the nice spot), we still had some cars slowing down to ask us where in Germany we wanted to be. One of these cars happened to be the property of two amazing German men. They were headed to Oberhausen, about a hundred kilometers away and offered to drive us there! We sat in their very comfortable car, eating jelly beans, listening to some great music, explaining our game to them. They were such good sports, they even took selfies with us! They dropped us off at a gas station at Oberhausen after making us promise we'd keep in touch. 

After some well deserved lunch, we set out to find somebody to take us to Berlin (or atleast towards Berlin). Taking some really good hitchhiking tips from our German friends, we set out to talk to people around us instead of sticking out our thumbs. The first attempt at doing so went pretty poorly, as did the second and the third. Eventually, we found a woman who was willing to hear us out. When we explained what we were looking for, she told us in broken English that she didn't speak much English and that her husband might be able to help. He patiently listened to our spiel before telling us that he couldn't do much, but he offered to drive us to a station that was 20km away. It took us 20km closer to Berlin so ofcourse, we said yes. We sat in the back with their adorable one year old girl while we explained that it was our first time and that we got pretty lucky so far! While Niels and I played peekaboo with the kid, the two of them were having a discussion in German. A minute later, they turn to us and tell us that since it was a weekend and since they were free, they'd take us a 100km away instead of just 20. This was great news and we were very grateful! A good ten minutes later, the lady made a phone call, all in German so we were clueless what the call was about. It could be of no importance to us anyway. Atleast that was what we thought until they turned to us and told us that we were in luck. They had just booked themselves a room in Berlin for the night and were going to take us all the way to the hostel! IMPROMPTU WEEKEND TRIPS ARE THE BEST. We stopped by their place so they could pick up some clothes and their pug, Hugo(which seemed to be the only word the little girl could say). 

About seven hours later, we arrived at Berlin, with our new friends dropping us off right in front of the hostel. It turns out that we were the first ones there (except for Bor and Rik who got there by train to welcome us). Even they had some trouble believing that we could get this lucky! Thankfully, we had a whole bunch of photos to show them.

The hostel was perfect for a bunch of college students staying in Berlin for a night. Clean showers and fresh sheets, a lobby riddled with references to "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", a pool table, some good beer, great company and some hilarious hitchhiking stories(this one pair was unfortunate enough to drive with what seemed to be an alcoholic Polish truch driver that listened to Justin Beiber). We ate falafels that night from a take away place about five minutes from there. When all the pairs(the ones that didn't give up on hitchhiking to Berlin) finally made it to the hostel, we walked to the city to experience the night life that Berlin has to offer.

This one place that called the Matrix made my night. Four parts of the club had four different music styles, each playing really good music. It was here that we found out exactly why you should never underestimate the German police, even if it is four in the morning and it doesn't look like they are anywhere in sight. That bodyguard really had it coming though. Two hours of sleep at the hostel later, we explored Berlin until the evening. The train ride back home involved sleepy, exhausted and content passengers. GELIFT did a pretty great job with the weekend to Berlin!