Landed in Berlin exhausted after a wonderful day of hitching. Eventually found my friend at his work and went back to his fabulous inner-city apartment and chilled out with an Erdinger. My friend had a map on his wall that you could scratch off where you’d been, and I was envious looking at his travels.
My days in Berlin consisted of lounging around flea markets, wandering in sunsets wondering where on the planet I truly was. Thoughts often drifted around my head without any direction, but the most dominant was always, ‘What am I doing?’ I never found, and still haven’t found, an answer to that question.
One thing that stood out magnificently in Berlin was the graffiti. It was everywhere, and it truly contributes to a fabulous urban fabric, though I’m sure not everyone agrees. It just covers the walls endlessly. There are so many little tiny gems you can find in nooks and crannies, I was overjoyed. Strolling in the setting sun at my own pace staring at graffiti relics was beautiful. Aside from that, the wonder of seeing something in the distance, like the Town Hall, and thinking, ‘fuck it, I’ve no idea what that is, let’s go check it out’, then wandering along to discover it was amazing. It all relates back to the freedom of doing whatever, whenever.
Travelling alone showed me that it’s easy to get lonely, but it also showed unfiltered freedom, something that is hard to shake off once you realise you are never truly alone. Still, easier said than done.
My lovely friend showed me FroYo in Berlin, which you gotta check out some time you pass a dispensary. Fuck me, it’s like healthier, better, nicer, tastier, fuckin’ danker ice-cream. Shit is bomb. Last night in Berlin myself and herself had a couple of drinks and relaxed, it was a charming time. It’s always beautiful to feel at ease with someone new and just laugh. Nothing else, just laugh and laugh.
We said goodbye, I said I didn’t do goodbyes. Turns out I was right; we’ve seen each other since. Always lovely to keep in contact with people you’ve met travelling. Distance is only a number on a page, it’s important to remember that.
Woke up in the morning and got a dirty kebab. Said bye to my German friend and got the tram out to where Hitchwiki told me to stand to hitch out towards Poland (for anyone trying to hitch out of a city in Europe, or maybe a larger town, Hitchwiki is a wonderful resource). I was nervous and rattling as I stood in the heat, thumb out, wondering how odd I looked. Not long and a lad about my age pulled in, Andreas. There was me standing with a sign that read ‘PL’, and he rolls down his window and says he’s headed onto the motorway. He told me he was on his way to work and said he’d drop me up onto the motorway, which is more advantageous for hitching. The fucker ended up driving me over an hour up the road, right into Poland. As I like to say, it’s nice when people are nice.
It was then that I realised how scared I was alone. I was in a foreign country that I knew very little about, I didn’t even know the currency, couldn’t speak the language and had no one to really call on. As I later learned, people are lovely, but I was on the verge of a meltdown. However, after about fifteen minutes, a Polish guy picked me up and dropped me another hour or so up the road. He worked in Iceland selling tours and he gave me his wooden business card. It was sweet of him. As I got deeper into the great Poland, my anxieties subsided and conversation flowed. He dropped me near Poznań and another meltdown was forced down.
In Poznań I waited and wondered. Again, it wasn’t long until another fellow stopped and laughed at my sign that now read ‘W’ for Warsaw. He had no idea what it meant but stopped to ask, then told me he was going that way. He also had great English, so was easy to chat to. Told me stories of going to Woodstock with a bus he owned and how big a party it was. Woodstock, in recent years, has boasted over a million people attending. I called my friend from home who was doing an Erasmus year in Warsaw and told him I’d be there in two hours, he was like, ‘wait. What the fuck?’ I got his address and my lift dropped me (no joke) to my mate’s front door. My mate bursts out of the house, roaring laughing at the top of his lungs, hugs me and screams, ‘let’s get drunk’.
I slept well that night, thankful I didn’t have to sleep in the tent I had with me. Though I would have done it if I had to (which I realllly fucking didn’t want to) I was glad to be with my friend. Warsaw is an interesting place, but sleeping alone along the motorway would have been torturous as a first-timer. Though more recently I’ve no problem doing things like that, it’s always more enjoyable to ease yourself into these experiences.
And so I arrived in a country I knew little about, which was awesome, as I prefer forming my own ideas. We’ve all heard notions about countries and what they’re like, but most of the time from people who’ve never been there. I’ve been to Poland, it’s nice. So is Romania, but more on that later.
It truly was terrifying hitting the road alone, especially in a country I wasn’t familiar with. I always try have an open mind, which for the most part I do, but sometimes something catches your eye and you’re on the verge of a panic attack. And then, like always, you meet a genuine individual who’s there to help by bringing you down the road two hours right to your mate’s door. It was the only time on my European trip I hitch hiked alone, but it wasn’t the last time I hitched. I do often think of the drivers, and how nice it was of the first guy, Andreas, to drop me to the next country instead of the next petrol station. How many people can say that happened to them?
I, eh, like graffiti. Here’s a few photos from Berlin and that:
Polish reggae is fucking sick. Here’s an awesome track: