Our return to Utrecht served as reordering period. It was a chance to take a few deep breaths, stock up on supplies while still in the Eurozone (we did the same before departing Czech Republic, because then we considered the euro really expensive. Ah, relativity!), and in general to just chill.
Christy and I worked some in Ruthie’s garden, then we (minus Valerie) went to the canal for a swim. We shared our swimming spot with large boat traffic, which made for fun waves. There were several cycles of swimming in the cold water, then drying in the warm sun before we returned to make dinner – a barbecue! We had grilled zucchini and goat cheese wraps, of course Swiss mushrooms, and Swiss grilled chocolate bananas, but this time with peanut butter. Because Holland believes in peanut butter. Cheap and natural peanut butter. You go, Holland! There were some difficulties actually starting the grill, but in the end Ruthie prevailed.
We also successfully dumpster dived. We brought in an impressive haul of quality, non-spoiled fruit and veg. Which the Ruthie and Christy then turned into a delicious meal. You may consider this gross, but I say what is free, delicious, and unspoiled is a-okay.
Christy decided to stay an extra day and meet up with Valerie and me in Hamburg. So Valerie and I set off alone. We went to an official hitchhiking location (to our delight), marked with a sign and everything. Again, you go Holland! We got a lift within minutes. At one point in the day another hitchhiker showed up at our low-traffic location. He acquired a ride before us, but his driver offered to let us join, since we were heading the same direction. We were dropped by this lift at a petrol station in heavyish rain. Upon arrival a group of three other hitchers sought cover. Our competition wasn’t a problem. We got a ride with a bright yellow and bright green car, both pulling caravans (one with an orange stripe – we still can’t decide if this counts as hitching an orange vehicle). Our drivers were Polish, and despite being in different cars, we really enjoyed the lift. Before the Polish guys departed we acquired a ride all the way to Hamburg. The barefoot and turquoise clad woman had to think about it when we asked, which I really respected. Usually people either say ‘no’ without consideration, or feel obligated to say ‘yes’. She said we could ride with her. But she warned us that she had a cold, as well as back issues which forced her to dance while she drove, and did we mind this? We didn’t.
So we arrived in Hamburg at a reasonable hour. Our hosts, Sarah and Sebastian, were in the midst of moving. I don’t know about their previous flat, but the one they were settling into was on the top (fifth) floor. Not a fun move. After hefting our own packs up the very long and winding stairs, Valerie and I helped them carry the last remains of their belongings. After which we all stayed up and talked far longer than anyone who had a day as long and tiring as any of ours had been should stay up and talk. But it was good conversation in good company.
The next morning commenced early with construction noises. They had never been there on a weekday morning, and this came as a surprise. Since they both had work, Valerie and I showed ourselves around the town. We saw the harbor, walked through a tunnel beneath the river, attempted to find the pepper storehouses (but only succeeded in getting rained on), located an infamous Starbucks and utilized their wi-fi, and made a final stop at old faithful: Lidl. I was craving creamy salmon pasta, so that’s what we made.
All this time Christy was meant to be making her way to join us, but she was unsuccessful in her venture, and returned instead to Utrecht.