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Wild and without a clue how to hitchhike

Hitchhiking for over three months, carrying all of your belongings and shelter in your rucksack requires a lot preparation and money. After spending many, many smackers on equipment, from a tent to a french press (Girl needs her coffee!), only to discover in the process that so many more items are needed, you have to put an end to the spending spree and say a final NO! to that €30 lighter. At this point you begin to realise that you haven’t actually planned your trip any further than “We’ll camp and try to hitchhike whenever possible” and spend the last few days furiously creating Google docs for each destination (preferably with 90’s themed fonts).

The evening before our departure, I went to bed at 9pm, feeling safe since I managed to fit all the stuff in my rucksack, while Aydin stayed awake until the middle of the night searching for birthday presents for his sisters and ending up going to bed without even packing. Oh, how the tables turned the morning after, when we handed over the key to our subtenant and shouldered our rucksacks… except that I didn’t and fell over while trying to put it on. Vanity weighs a lot when you’re carrying it on your back. As a cherry on top of the stressful departure morning, some of Ayd’s stuff was supposed to be delivered and would have been, if the postie only would have rang the bell instead of leaving a note in the mailbox. It only got worse walking down Triester Straße in Vienna in the burning Friday morning sun with over 50kgs on our backs altogether to finally get to the point we wanted to hitchhike from (which we could have just taken a tram to if we only looked). It was TENSE.

Riding without hitching

In a desperate attempt to turn the admittedly less than pleasant situation around, I started writing our destination Bruck/Mur on our sign. After B R U C, I heard footsteps behind me and turned around to a voice saying: “Okay, I’ll take ya.” Flabbergasted, all I managed to splutter was “To Bruck?” Already walking away, Wolfi turns around and casually says “Yeah, sure, I’m just getting a drink real quick. My car is the Audi over there”, and this, peeps, is the story about our first hitchhike without actually hitching just yet.

Caroline paddling in Grüner See

You honestly couldn’t wish for a better first ride, with the nicest dude in the nicest car. He’s a construction engineer, hilariously from a family of humanities scholars (Shouldn’t it be the other way around?!) with a great sense of humour and a fondness for drones and Australia. As we’re driving, he asks if we’d mind if he’d smoke one. Nah dude, your car, your cigarette, it’s fine obv. Next thing you know, he pulls out a massive joint, not without offering his guest a puff – Nah dude, thanks though, it’s cool. As if that wouldn’t be memorable enough already, he actually grew up in the area we want to go to and gives us lots of advice, one of the tips being that Grüner See is so cold that you can’t have a paddle in it. Sorry Wolfi, I’m a rebel.

We’re parting ways in Bruck an der Mur, grabbing a quick coffee at the hospital (GIRL NEEDS HER COFFEE OKAY) and getting our second sign for the day ready. This time, we really have to do it!

Time to improve my handwriting…

Caroline attempting to hitchhike in Bruck an der Mur
Aydin cooking dinner with the camping knife

Some people signal they have no space or that they live here and are going no further, truck drivers honk to say “Hi, I’m not going there, sorry”, the majority speed up their cars which completely beats me cause let’s be real, we’re CUTE. Not dangerous. Like, this is Aydin trying to look dangerous with a knife in his hand.

Each to their own though. 23 minutes in, we reconsider and start writing a closer village on the sign as a car pulls up and lovely mountain lady takes us with her: “Ah, I’m taking you all the way there anyway. I already drove past you but I couldn’t read the sign so I turned around again”. Bless! Lovely mountain lady is on her way to Tragöß for a three day hut-to-hut hike on her own to party with the cows (It’s a thing, more about Almabtrieb in the next post). She tells us about her nephew who rode his bike from Unzmarkt to Denmark on his own this summer and camped in people’s front gardens, without much preparation. She also says how important it is for young people to make these experiences, elaborates on how much she hates mass tourism and drives us right to the front door of our campsite. Lovely mountain lady, if I could rate your ride, I’d give you 12/10 for kindness and no bullshit talking. At the campsite, the only life form to greet us is a kitty but let’s be real, there could be worse welcomes.

Kitties and campsites

Caroline petting the campsite Kitty

Campsite kitty guards our tent and is always available for snuggles.

 The nights are chilly on the lake but waking up to this spectacular view does make up for it!

A view of the campsite: Camping Freizeitsee Zenz
Camping Freizeitsee Zenz

Check out our next post if you want to read more about Grüner See and it’s surroundings, and the struggle of getting a beer in Pichl-Großdorf on a Saturday night!

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