Thumbs up! And out!

This is a story about my first ever hitchhike. Prague to Vienna (about 400km) all by hitchhiking.

First off, let me allay all fears. Hitchhiking in Europe is a pretty common way to get around, especially for backpackers. There are also plenty of online networks and resources to help you along the way. And it’s highly unlikely anything bad is going to happen to you. Hitching was a way to save some money on transport, but was also a challenge for me since I’ve never hitched before. And I did it! Here’s how it went…

I took the metro and bus out of the city to a recommended hitching spot on the highway heading south. Hitchwiki is a website dedicated to hitching around the world and lists spots with comments by members. Green is good, yellow okay and red, well don’t bother. The green spot outside Prague was a petrol station with the obligatory McDonalds (I’m loving the free WIfi). I met a young Polish couple trying to catch a ride from there and we set up shop at the exit, each of us holding up our signs, sticking our thumbs out and smiling at drivers. Contrary to the info on Hitchwiki things were’t looking so good and we waited for quite a while before a Czech couple stopped and offered space for two to Brno, about 100km from Vienna.

I was the lucky hitcher and jumped into their with my very limited vocab of Czech words. Conversation was difficult so they soon left me to look out of the window and the green fir forests, and have a small nap (a no-no in hitching etiquette I gather).

In Brno they left me at some dodgy station where some guys were having a super hard time getting a ride. After more standing in the sun I packed it in and asked a guy filling up his car where he was heading. His stop was the next town, about 50km on and about 70km from Vienna. I said yes and joined him on a ride off the tolled highway and through some very pretty towns. We did try to chat but could only manage the basics. He did ask if I wasn’t scared to be hitching alone as a woman. I tried to explain to him how I feel so safe in Europe, but coming from SA with our precieved fears of so much danger, being here feels so free.

At his stop I tried the petrl station on the road out of town and stood in the baking sun for something like 40 minutes pleading with cars to stop for me. I was just starting to get despondent when a group of biys fresh out of colleage offered me a spot in the backseat. Yay. That invloved some loud hip-hop, a detour into the countryside to smoke a joint (them, not me), some conversation and a ride directly to the metro stop I needed to get to my next cs host’s house.

All in all, it took me the whole day to travel 400km, but I met some new people, saw some countryside, achieved my goal and spent about R10 on the road.


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