Dresden – Praha Sun March 11

I love staying in hostels. They are warm and they have comfortable beds and hot showers in the morning. It was a 5 km walk to the highway. But it was OK since it passed

I love staying in hostels. They are warm and they have comfortable beds and hot showers in the morning. It was a 5 km walk to the highway. But it was OK since it passed through the city center. After experiencing Neustadt at night, it felt like walking through downtown at daytime would make the Dresden visit complete.

For being totally devastated in the second world war, Dresden has quite a historical city center; small but impressing. When I found the marvellous murals of Sweden’s mortal enemy August the Strong’s castle, accompanied by live flute music, I was literally trapped in history and had to force myself to continue to the highway.

After the historical city center there was a building from the DDR-period with a gigantic mosaic. It was the largest and most beautiful piece of Communist art I have ever seen. I am glad that they have kept it, it’s really a monument of history. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures though, since my batteries had died just when I had finally made the opera house, the Mercedes building and the mosque to stand on line. The DDR building following the castle of August the Strong really made the walk a walk through history. I thought that if a McDonalds restaurant would complete the picture. And there it was! What will be the next building?

The inner city street turned into highway in that sneaky fashion that is so common in Germany. There were no bus stops or other good hitching places. At 12:16 I found a thin highway entrance. I had no good feelings about the place, but tired as I was I gave it a chance. It was sunny and windy. After 34 minutes 104 cars had passed and I gave up and continued walking. The polizei doesn’t like when you walk along the highways. But it’s not my fault that I have to walk along it; they should have built a good hitchhiking spot and I would have stood there.

Highway systems are never built from a hitchhiker’s perspective. It’s not regarded as an legitimate way of travelling. Why? Because we don’t pay anything? Hitchhiking is beneficial for the world. Hitchhikers pollute very little when they travel, compared with all other modes of transportation, save walking and cycling. Hitchhiking use up excess capacity. If society was looked at as a company, then the hundreds of cars going in the same direction with one person in each would look like an outrageous waste of resources. Besides making better use of our resources, hitchhikers also create social capital. Go through your phone book and make a list of your 10 best friends. Are they men or women? What age are they? What level of education do they have? What’s their ethnicity and social background? What party are they voting for? Probably you’ll find that your ten best friends look like you on most of these points. And that means that you are living in a bubble. We all live in bubbles, floating next to each other. We are walking the same streets, but yet on different planets.

Hitchhiking pops these bubbles. When you get into a car, you enter another world. You talk. Or at least you try to talk. You exchange your views. You practice what you know of each other’s languages. You show each other that totally stranger are indeed nice people. You teach each other trust. You build and maintain the fabric of society. This is what hitchhiking do.

So why should the highway systems discriminate against hitchhikers? Why should I have to walk along this road for hours? All I’m asking for is a bus stop or the like at the end of the city. Give me that and I won’t walk where pedestrians shouldn’t.

At 13:22 I had come to the place where the cars from Dresden enter E55. There were little room for the cars to stop and in addition, cars entered from another direction as well, which gave the drivers little time to concentrate on me and my wish to join them for a ride and a chat. Nevertheless, I stood there for 18 minutes and 100 cars. Then I started walking along E55 to Praha, hoping that I would find a parking area.

Hitchhiking is not difficult. If you stand in the right place you’ll get a ride in a short time. It is finding the right spot that is difficult. It is a matter of intelligence. Therefore I am grateful for sites like hitchbase.com were hitchhikers share their information. I wished that everyone who has gone south from Dresden before would have wrote about their experiences (in English please), so that I wouldn’t have to spend hours out here.

At 13:58 I found a really small parking area. It was sunny and nice and after being rejected by the three cars that were there I sat down with some bread and wurst to enjoy life. At 14:09 car number 4 agreed to take me to the Czech border. It was an old German man who played old German music. We struggled with conversing in German for a while, until he asked me: “Do you speak English?”. Haha, if I do!

He drove me to the first service area after the border. There were plenty of trucks. For some silly reason, trucks are not allowed on German roads on Sundays, but I thought that perhaps in Czechia it would be different. I asked a few if they went to Pardubice, but I couldn’t make up my mind on what language to use, so soon I just went to the exit and raised my thumb. Or perhaps I should use the Polish flat hand now when in Czechia? But maybe the German drivers wouldn’t understand? I alternated between the thumb and the flat hand for 31 minutes during which 17 cars didn’t stop. Then I went to the gas pumps and asked a young guy where he was going. “Praha” he said.

“Can I go with you?”

“Eeh … where are you from?”

“Sweden” I said, hoping that it would be the right answer. And it was.

They were two German girls and one Czech guy and were studying in Praha. I don’t know if it was to avoid the highway toll, or to create more tourist experiences for me, but for some reason the driver went off the highway and took a road that dwindled along a small river lined with cute villages and one amazing medieval mountain castle.

They let me off in central Praha and I found a hostel that wanted 18 euro, and then a hostel that also wanted 18 euro and finally I found a hostel that wanted 11 euro. It was nice enough and turned out to be situated right next to Müztek subway station in the very center. After a short nap I went out and walked for hours to look for the pub I came to when I was 18. But it was nowhere to be found.

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