During the months of September and October, Rémi stayed in Grenoble in order to work on a website, it allowed him to smoothly prepare himself for the trip. Arthur did a bit of grape picking and some small jobs for his relatives. By the way I would like to thank all my sponsors, Auntie Anne-Marie, respect to granddaddy, Florence the best godmother (sorry again for the holes in you wall…), and of course my dad and mom without whom I wouldn’t be here today.
Rémi couldn’t take any more the legendary slowness of Arthur and decided to leave at the beginning of the week (the 3rd of November 2014) by a sunny day that shortly turned grey after crossing the border of Grenoble. Arthur joined him on Friday the 7th of November after having destroyed a piece of wall at her aunt´s place trying to install a shelf. Not intentionally I precise.
So both of us left in direction of Leipzig, a city that already had the pleasure of hosting us in the past. In fact we have good friends there, 20 people living in one big and old house they repaired themselves and are carrying a project of living in collectivity (Hausprojekt in the local language). The program: cheap beers, vegan cakes, unexpected evenings, field work, aweesomly cute nutrias, immersion into the germanic culture… We will talk to you about this in the next episode.
The week end before the departure was very busy. All week was full with the last preparation. Friday and Saturday night, we had a last party with parents and friends. My parents and Arthur´s got to know eachother a bit more. The Monday morning I joined my mother and my father in the city center after preparing my backpack, rather heavy. I bought a bit of food for the road, I saw a last time my parents, took a picture with them, my backpack on the shoulders. There are smiling, I think they understand.
It is already shortly after noon when I start hitchhiking at Porte de France, the starting point to leave Grenoble. I am goin in direction of Leipzig, Germany. It is not the first time I do this trip. This time I decided to have no board, only my thumb to prove to myself that Grenoble is really THE hitchhiking city. 5 minutes later a women takes me with a baby on the back seat. I told her that she is the first driver of my world tour, rather cool to say, and I gave her the address of our website. As usual I got easily several cars with a little struggle in L’Isle-d’Abeau to get to Bourg-en-Bresse. I ended up in a car to Paris and stop in Beaune. Small snack and let´s go again. I find a car with a cosmetic sales representative and seeing her at first, I´d never had thought she would take me. That goes to show that one should always try! She dropedd me in Mulhouse, it is 6pm and already dark, that´s the problem with winter. I find a last car to cross the border until Karlsruhe. Unfortunately this rest area is not very busy, too bad I wanted to continue as late as possible. I waited until a bit after midnight, and then decided I will spend the night here. I started pitching my tent not far from the petrol station, too lazy to go further away and there the police comes, yahoo! In the end, they just wanted to check my papers in case I am an illegal migrant or a wanted person. To all so-called “illegal” migrants, pitch your tent a bit away from the petrol station. The next morning everything went fine until I´m dropped in one of the famous german Autohof, a petrol station not directly on the highway. There was a lot of local traffic, I jumped from the service station to the McDonald´s, asking everybody I could see, and assisting to a strange show of an entire bus full of American soldiers rushing in the McDonald´s. After two unsuccesful hours, I finally find someone going in my direction who was willing to take me. I drove half of what was left to Leipzig at about 200km/h (125 miles/h). He couldn´t go faster because he had snow tyres, that´s too bad. Dropped on a rest area, I found the last driver, sympathic environmental friendly business man in a wheelchair, with whom I talked a lot and who brought me into Leipzig. From there I found my way, took a bus, a tram and finally got into the “Leipzig house” where I joined my German friends, and I felt like home.
For my departure, Mummy and Daddy came with me and brought me to “Porte de France”, the hitchhiking spot direction Lyon or Marseille. I added to my two backpacks the ukulele cover Rémi´s Mum gave me, full of different stuff, some useful and others a bit less. I also took my chocolat chicken “because you weren´t with us at Easter to look for the eggs”. As usual, the waiting time to get out of Grenoble is less than 5 minutes. “You are the first car that takes me in my world tour”, rather hyper cool to say… Thus here I am at the gaz station before the toll and I quickly find a firm manager to bring me at the petrol station a bit before Lyon.
Serious stuff starts now! I wait an hour and a half without much success. I start to believe that no one wants to go to Bourg-en-Bresse, that´s weird… Fortunately, the Michelin road map with all the French petrol station is here to save me: I´ll join the next toll, stop there and walk 3-4km to join a servo on the highway I want to take. Night has fallen and I have almost no chance to be taken on this unlighted countryside street. After a 10 minutes walk, I see a car going out of a house and I wave to it : jackpot, it is a roumanian lady bringing me at the aimed petrol station! I´m back in da game!!
I arrive in Mulhouse, it is a bit before midnight. I send my last free text messages and wait. At 00:20, I ask a relaxed polish guy with a nice big empty 4WD if he drives to Karlsruhe. He tells me yes. I ask if he goes to Nürnberg. He tells me yes. Excited, I ask if by chance he is passing by Leipzig?! He answers me yes!! However, when I ask if I can jump into the car, he tells me it is not possible… I don´t know whether it is a joke or not so I gently insist. But no way he takes me, so I found myself waiting again. At 00:45 it is a totally unexpected group of three guys from Berlfort going to “Karlstrou” that take me (Karlstrou is apparently the Belfortian way of pronouncing Karlsruhe). I then spend an hour and a half pretending drinking vodka-red bull with a nice compilation of Jul, a french rapper, doted of incredible music skills and beautiful songs such a “Sors le cross volé”, “J´oublie tout”, “Briganter” or in a featuring with Kenzah Farah on the track “Problèmes”. Mama, don´t worry, the driver was not drinking. I remember what we talked about: if the driver drives like an asshole, I pretend I´m about to throw up to get out of the car.
I thus spend my first night with my new sleeping bag at the petrol station before Karlstrou, alarm is put at 7am. Now, for some unexplained reason, I only woke up at 10… The way to Leipzig goes without problem thanks to 5 cars driving not less than 130km/h (viva Allemania and the no speed limits!!).
It is 5pm, I found the great atmosphere of the “Leipzig house” again and I already feel like home! Yes, I say exactly the same as Rémi ´cause I´ve got no creativity. Actually, I wrote his text before him, so he is the one that copied me.