Hitchhiking Contest: Amsterdam to the Ardennes

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Jul 02, 2012

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Flag of Belgium  , Walloon Region,
Friday, April 13, 2012

Over the weekend I took a leap of faith and took part in the Hitchhiking Contest put on my the student dorms. If you are like me, you are probably asking "what is a Hitchhiking Contest?" In short, teams of one guy and one girl have to make it all the way to a destination only by hitchhiking. The destination is only revealed right before the contest starts and the team that arrives in the shortest amount of time wins. Along the ride, teams can do funny activities like "take a picture kissing the driver" to take time off of your end time. 

I'd never hitchhiked before and neither had Sharlene, my partner, so we were a little apprehensive before we started out. After starting off a bit late because my alarm didn't go off that morning, we arrived at the starting point and found out the destination was the Belgian border of Luxembourg, close to Bertogne. They gave us an egg we had to try to get safely to the endpoint for extra time off.

Overall, our experiences with the drivers were really good. We started off at a gas station and just went around asking people who looked nice. Our first driver was a Dutch businessman who drove us to another gas station north of Maastricht. Driver number two was by far the nicest. He drove us into Maastricht, showed us around the city, bought us ice cream, and then went out of his way to drive us outside of Liege. When he bought us ice cream, the story of Hansel and Gretel did pop into my head, and I wondered if he might be a serial killer trying to fatten us up before throwing us into an oven, but alas I was (thankfully) overly paranoid. The tour of Maastricht was definitely a nice diversion and I was happy I got to see the southernmost city in the Netherlands. 

At the next gas station, we were in the French speaking area of Belgium, so I had to whip out my excellent (sarcasm) French-speaking skills. I asked a few people and they all said they weren't going where we needed to go. We did find another businessman type who gave us a ride to our final destination. The drive in through the Ardennes was beautiful, with rolling hills and little towns and villages.

Our final destination was a cabin in the middle of the countryside close to the city of Bertogne, in the southeast of Belgium. I had a great time at the cabin with everyone. The day after we arrived we went kayaking and it was nice to be outside of the hustle and bustle of a big city. We docked at the end in a small city with a castle overlooking it. We just don't have that in the US. The second night we had a party and at the end we ended up singing around a campfire, which might be somewhat cliche, but I loved it. Overall, I was so glad I did the Hitchhiking Contest and it opened up my eyes to the fact that hitchhiking (in Europe, at least) is really safe if you know what you are doing.
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