Travelling: 28th of July-24th of August – Part 2; Munich and hitching to Innsbruck

I flew into Munich, Germany, on the 29th of July, arriving at 11am local time (GMT+1). The weather was beautiful, and the country views on the train from the airport into the centre are lovely.

I Googled camp-sites in Munich while on the train and found Campingplatz München Thalkirchen (Thalkirchen Campsite Munich). It was within walking distance of my train stop so after getting off I tried my hand at my minimal German asking people “Wo ist der Campingplatz?”. I found it eventually, booked in for two nights (€25: showers cost extra, no WiFi), then found a wee supermarkt, and then took a nap. And that was the theme of my three days in Munich.

I had NOTHING I needed to do or felt obligated to do while there and it was glorious. I decided to stay off caffeine for the duration of my trip so Munich involved a lot of naps. I left one day to take a wander around the town.

On the 31st I got up at 8am, packed up my tent and got ready to leave Munich. I thought I lost my red-square marking my tent and almost got fined €25. Cue un-packing and re-packing montage. As I left I asked for directions to the main road to hitch hike to Italy. The cashier seemed very sceptical of my desire to hitch hike. I had the idea in my head from the EJC the year before in Ireland when all attendees from mainland Europe asked for card on the last day to hitch.

I got directions anyway – which turned out to be rather optimistic in their assessment of how far a walk it was. But it was nice out so I couldn’t complain too much.

After taking a few wrong turns (And realising I could’ve come a MUCH faster way…) I found a petrol station on the main road and stood there for a while. People were friendly as they drove by, even waving, and one person passing said I was very lucky to be travelling to Italy and to have a lovely time. After about a half hour a delivery person driving to Innsbruck, Austria, who didn’t have much English offered me a lift.

The driver and I chatted fairly minimally – through their broken English and my terrible German. But we managed to discuss out jobs and I talked about the EJC and working as a stilt-walker (including pointing out I had once worked for the company that made the van’s refrigerator unit, Thermoking).

The journey should’ve taken just short of two hours but took closer to three because of traffic. Later in the journey the driver started to get a somewhat too familiar, patting my knee an awful lot. My first time hitch hiking alone I would’ve been a lot more concerned, but fortunately there’s only so much a delivery driver can do while driving on the autobahn. I also had a friend in Berlin up to date on my travels to the EJC.

Upon arriving in Innsbruck I was pretty happy to jump out of the van. I immediately went to the nearest petrol station planning on asking about the best place to continue hitch hiking on to Italy. I was met by three very unhelpful workers who eventually passed me off to their manager who impatiently told me I should go back the way I came and stand there.

I stood for about an hour as people drove by and gave me very sceptical looks, some even going as far as giving me rude hand gestures. I became concerned that hitch hiking might be illegal here, and sat to try and look it up on my phone. Suddenly a jeep pulled up and beeped. I was sat down with my sign on the ground beside me so I ignored them. They beeped again so over I wandered. Upon opening the door I was asked
“Where are you going?”
“Where are you going?”
Where are you going?
“It doesn’t matter, just tell me where you’re going.”
I’m not telling you where I’m going until you tell me where you’re going!
“*sigh* I’m just driving out of Innsbruck. I do this myself, I don’t mind giving you a lift.”
I’m going to Italy.
“OH! Well then you should let me give you a lift to the station because you won’t get picked up here.”
Is hitch hiking illegal here?
“No, but people don’t really like outsiders. You can stay here if you want, but you could be four, five hours waiting. I’m not going near Italy but I can give you a lift to the station.”

So I accepted the lift to the station – during which I got a telling off; “Hitch hiking? In a foreign country? Are you mad? On your own! A young woman! I’m dropping you right off at the train station, you’re gonna get a train ticket, go straight to Italy, no more hitch hiking… And go straight inside, don’t hang around outside, there’s a lot of strange people that hang around there…”

I would’ve been more upset but it turned out that – after knowing the train from Munich to Bruneck was €60 – the train from Innsbruck to Bruneck was only €18. So the journey continued.

Published by Blue Hanley

Galway-based Theatre-maker who loves circus, conventions and travelling.

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