Through the fields
Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
332Trip End Ongoing
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It starts reasonably well, in spite of something of a slog to get to the first spot. After fifteen minutes on a bus out of town, peering through the glass so as not to miss the stop, I'm walking in hot sunshine through a field towards a petrol station on the motorway. I must have looked a picture, and I chuckled to myself at the bizarre oddity of the situation.
It's not a good stop. People are not pulling in, and those who are there already are not buying. I feel I'm getting pretty good at spotting who will pick me up though, so I've got my eye on this young guy in wrap around shades smoking a cigarette. As everyone else is speeding away, he's the last on the forecourt, finishing up some plastic motorway snack at a picnic table. Here he comes, crawling out to the exit ramp in his VW estate. Sure enough his window is lowered and I'm in. My third wrap around shades dude. He can take me to within 30Km of my destination.
The next stop seems much more promising, but I'm actually waiting longer. More vehicles pull in, and there is a large proportion of truckers getting ready for the off., but I'm not having much luck. I'm also getting a little tired of the sarcastic 'cheerio' grin n ' wave combo some buffoons like to produce. I pray I can get my revenge when I see them a few miles down the road wrapped around a tree.
Just when it seems to be really bleak, I'm overjoyed to achieve my first ride in a truck. A Polish driver waves me over and in broken but passable English informs me he's heading home and can drop me at Olomouc. I heave my belongings up the three steps and into the cab. This is my first time in one of these things, and I have to admit I was more than a little excited. You're so high up, it's no wonder these guys own the road. Everything else can get the fuck out of your way.
He's unfortunately missed the turning for the centre, and drops me by the side of the motorway on the outer ring road. I have to walk back some distance to services and a diner, almost along the hard shoulder. This doesn't look promising as nobody stopping at this gas station is likely to be going into the town. We're on the by-pass for goodness sake! No wonder my sign is getting some odd looks. I curse the fact that I didn't just ask him to take me to Poland, and I retreat into the Autogrill to nurse my wounds and come up with a new plan. This basically involves walking into the city.
It's actually not as far as I thought, as I stride through fields loaded with all my gear, sweating from the high sun. It's a scorcher, the air thick and close, with the dust from a motor-cross track not helping the matter. I'm in good spirits though, and I imagine how it must have been for soldiers crossing European pastures piled high with equipment and weapons. I would have been a strange site emerging from the bushes in a little hamlet on the edge of the city, where I thankfully spy a welcoming bus stop. It's not long before I'm finally climbing hostel stairs.