We got stuck in Prague. Our destination a mere three and a half hours away, an easy hitch for us veterans, and we were stuck at our starting point. The beginning of the day’s hitching venture was exceptionally entertaining. We made it to our hitchwiki-recommended spot and found three other group/individual hitchers. It was humorous seeing literally a line of hitchhikers. We took our place at the back and set up shop. It was difficult to say what would work best – we had never encountered contenders before. We opted not to use the sign, as a couple ahead of us was going to the same place. Before an hour had passed we were striking one ridiculous pose after the next, in attempt to stand out from the other hitchers, and to entertain both ourselves and the passing drivers. We definitely received more reactions than usual, but ultimately failed in the ride-acquiring aspect of our antics. It was a hot and sunny day, and I’ve come to the realization that heat is my personal kryptonite. My mood was hanging on by a thread.
Surprisingly enough, it was the police who brought hope. A patrol car pulled up to each group (to what I assume was a symphony of groans, and in one case was a stealthy fleeing). But they weren’t there to reprimand us. They reminded us to drink plenty of water! What wonderful people. I asked about walking to the nearest petrol station. It was a two kilometer walk. After hours and hours, the birthright team decided to make the trek. It was a miserable walk. I was literally dripping with sweat upon arrival. With no hesitation, my normally ‘umm…thrifty’ brain purchased a ginormous bottle of peach green tea. Best decision ever. We ping pinged about the place. From the petrol station, to the McDonalds, and back. Hitchers we had seen at our earlier spot were here, too. Once they disappeared we took their place at the exit. And waited. For hours. In scorching sun and light hail. Today was not our day. We discussed plans for camping in the field behind us. We pretty much reserved ourselves to that and hitching was a mere formality when finally, finally two guys stopped for us. Two blessed Czechs and their dog. They could take us to Brno, more or less our halfway point. It was a pleasant ride, and they were really cool guys. Unfortunately I needed to use the toilet before we even got in the car. Curse that overly-large green tea and my liter of water. It’s times like this when I fully understand my phobia of needing to use the toilet while traveling. They dropped us at a shopping center seemingly in the middle of nowhere important. It was still light, but it was getting late. I used the toilet and purchased bread, cheese, and a tomato at Tesco. For some reason this has become the most delicious food combination in my mind. I find myself craving it. Weird. Anyways, there was no decent place to hitchhike. The so-called petrol station had a car or two every fifteen minutes, and the cars on the highway were going far too fast to stop.
At 10:30pm it was determined that we would sleep under the stars in just our sleeping bags. It was a nice night for it, warm and dry, though with no promise of remaining as such. Still, in no hurry, we sat outside of our pseudo-gas station with our sign for ‘Wien’. It was the most casual of hitching, with a very infrequent flow of traffic. Earlier I had what I called ‘a freak spurt of hope (which doesn’t always come to fruition)’, but now I wasn’t especially hopeful of acquiring that ride. We had no way of knowing if the few cars that passed us were even going to Vienna. And if they were ordinary, non-creepy night dwellers. Wouldn’t normal civilians be hesitant to pick up hitchhikers nearing midnight? Still, we sat. Praise God, a non-creepy and in fact, entirely normal couple hesitatingly slowed and stopped. They would be passing through Vienna, did we want a ride? Yes. We squeezed into their tiny, non-air conditioned car and rode to Vienna in the dark of night. We passed a moonlit lake, and villages dotted with glowing specks that were ever so reminiscent of the E.T. ride at Universal Studios. The windows were down and the conversation ebbed and flowed comfortably.
It was 1pm by the time we arrived and met up with Onur, our Turkish host. I wasn’t a fan of this last minute, late night city arrival trend that was emerging. But despite our exhausting day, we joined him and his friends, flatmates, and additional couchsurfers in a museum courtyard where dozens of people were enjoying the summer night. I was glad for it. It was a nice evening, and we had arrived.
Our only day in Vienna unfurled lazily. We slept till midday. Onur took us for a casual tour of the city, along with his Croatian friend, whose name I can’t even attempt to spell, but sort of rhymes with Vladimir. It was a humorous and relaxed afternoon. We had amazing ice cream. I got poppy seed and elderflower, but the goat cheese was also incredible. We also visited multiple Starbucks for free water, interspersed throughout our [what I suspect was almost entirely fallacious] tour of Vienna. Well, our guides were Turkish and Croatian, I guess you get what you pay for. But it was honestly as enjoyable, if not more so, than some of our official walking tours. And why do I need to know the actual history of some random building in Vienna?
That night was the Euro 2012 final: Italy vs Spain. We went to a public viewing beside the river. Well, Onur and I did. Valerie and Christy went off in search of food and didn’t return for almost two hours. It was lovely weather, and there were tons of people watching the game. Everyone was happy and energetic. Onur was…thrilled about Spain’s victory. I didn’t mind either way. Afterwards, after we accumulated his flatmates and my travelmates, we all chilled back at his place.
We made it to Salzburg in two rides, sans ado. The difficulty came after arrival, because I had forgotten to get our host’s number and address. But in hindsight I don’t mind. If I hadn’t neglected to get Chris’s contact info in advance, we wouldn’t have spent a portion of our time in Salzburg quietly reading by the river. I wouldn’t have written these exact words, for pleasure, and not for the sake of writing before four days go by and I forget everything because a slew of other events and faces have filled my brain.
It worked out, as these things do (by God’s grace and not at all my effort). Chris messaged us back, and we speed-walked to the bus station just in time to catch the last bus to his place. So began our epic days in Salzburg.