Travel Blog France #5 – Going up, up and away

I’m home, in Budapest. Lyon was not the kind mistress to me as I hoped she would. Even there, all the jobs offered were starting from end of September or beginning of October. Pretty city though, full of lovely rivers, mouth-watering restaurants and life. But how would I get home, with no jobs and very little cash? Hitchhike, of course, was obvious but which way to take? Go up north through Germany and Austria, or maybe south via Italy and Slovenia?

A recently made friend was taking a citybreak in the town or Arosa, Switzerland. He told me his friend was driving back to Budapest from there in two days and if I got there in time, they could take me along – that’d make my life immensely easier, so the goal was set. Through Switzerland, via Geneva, Zürich, Chur and Arosa.

It all started very well, found out where to go to get a ride (I have to give the most honourable mentions to hitchwiki for all the help), and off I was to Geneva after 30 minutes. The guy who took me was quite a character, security consultant and private investigator. License for a gun, knows Krav Maga and loves to dive. We were happily chatting, when suddenly, not long after the border, a huge explosion and wobbly steering. Fucking flat tire, or so we thought. Drove to the side, got the tools but the screws were rusted in. We had to wait for his brother to come with the heavy-duty equipment, which didn’t help either. So after an hour of trying and prying his brother offered me to take me down to at least Geneva, which I happily accepted.

I arrived later than I’d liked, it was getting dark and my hopes to get a ride to Zürich were fast dwindling – already scouted out an emergency camping area too. And then this amazing couple stops, takes me and after a while even offer up their place for me to sleep at. Turns out they were big hitchers back in the day, all through Europe. Not even that, they spent a year in India playing music and helping the kids in slums by sharing with them the joy of music – now they play shows and teach kids in Switzerland but already planning their next India jump.

A great night sleep later and full of gratitude, I bade them farewell. After came the most horrible 5 hours of the whole journey. It started to rain, the cold wind was blowing and I didn’t get a single ride. Freezing and hungry, I cheated a bit and took a train to Düdingen, at least for a change of scenery if nothing else. The second passing car picked me up – and they were going to Zürich! Amazing luck once again and a good decision to leave Freiburg.

They were film students, back from some shooting with their van full of scrap metal. Pretty cool people, Elias was full of knowledge and enthusiasm for Bollywood movies and the weird ones, Anna was telling me what music I have to listen to and driving like a champ. After telling me my story and my plans, I was, once again, offered a night on her couch in Zürich – is this common practice among people picking up hitchers? It certainly beats the train station, so of course I accepted. We grabbed a beer, did a little city watching – I would not rate Zürich among the liveliest cities in the night, and finally sleep. And a hot shower!

From Zürich down to Chur I shared a car (Mercedes SLR, bitch) with a young guy who was playing the tuba in orchestras and a love of classical music – classy trip indeed. Oh, I left out an important thing! The scenery, that breathtaking sights that open up to you on the highway. Giant mountains rising out from the nowhere, with snow-capped peaks and lakes like mirrors at the bases. I can’t do justice to the awe I’ve felt by writing. Everyone has to go there, no questions.

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Happy with my progress so far, I celebrated my arrival to Chur with some lovely pastries and a coffee, a little breather before the last journey. Once again a quick hitch, second car pulls over – this time she’s a four-star hotel owner in Arosa, tells me all about the city during the climb. Climb, yes, because the town of Arosa lies some 1800 meters above sealevel, high up in the mountains. Chur sits at 600m. The steep road takes you along the mountain path, with 360 bends and a vista that truly gives you vertigo as you look down to Chur and the land below. Next time I’ll be surely taking a video of it.

Met up with my friend Attila in the local watering hole, we talked (finally some Hungarian), we drank and met Sanyi, who’s lived in Arosa for the past 5 years. Sadly we didn’t have as much time to hike around, so we just sat out by Untersee, one of the local lake, with some beers. I know I’ve said it before, but Arosa trumps every other place I’ve been to in terms of beauty. A couple of beers later we had a short nap and left, back to Hungary, in an epic 12 hour drive.

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And so, I’ve come home. But I don’t really know what to do now. I just want to pack my bag again and start off somewhere again. The French Chapters are finished, but I’ve been infected, so expect more travels, more writing and more pictures 🙂

Even though my original plan was foiled, I came back from the whole ordeal with amazing adventures, new friends, more resilient and with my mind unleashed to new ideas. And this feeling is priceless. I urge all of you, take the jump. Don’t hesitate. Do something you never thought you could or would. You’ll come out of it changed, a different person. For better or for worse? That remains to be seen, but for me, I’d have to say it shaped me to be better.

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