Thursday, 5 June 2014

Hitchhiking to Tampere

Thursday the 5th of June 2014. I have always wanted to try hitchhiking since I met my Polish friend Kasia Nowicka, who has hitchhiked around Iceland, through Finland to Lapland and back through Norway and Sweden, through Italy to Sicily and back through Greece and Macedonia to Poland! But when I told my parents that I wanted to go hitchhiking this summer they forbid me to do it, and because I respect my parents and understand how appalling it would be for them (and me) if something would happen I have given up that plan. Partly. I won’t hitchhike around Europe that is.

But now my friend and I are two moneyless students who wanted to come from Helsinki to Tampere on undetermined time on a sunny June morning, so we decided to try hitchhiking, as Finland is (quite) a safe country.

We chose the bus stop at the crossing where the Mannerheimintie ends and the motorway to Tampere begins. We had planned to meet as early as possible, but both of us were late, so we actually started hitchhiking first at about 9 AM, which is far to late because we had already missed all the people who were going to go to work in the morning from Helsinki to Tampere.

Preparing the sign... June 5th 2014.

We took turns at holding the sign and holding up the thumb. To both of our surprise it was actually quite straining to keep your thumb up for a long time, our right thumb and arm got quite sore from that. For about 45 minutes we waited and by the time that we were already getting a bit sunburnt FINALLY a car stopped! We at first didn’t even notice, before the driver honked at us.

Hitchhiking to Tampere 5th of June 2014.

The thing about hitchhiking that fascinates me so much is that you never know what kind of people you will meet. Also this time I was taken by surprise. The small car that had stopped for us was driven by a friendly woman in her late fifties, on her way to a garden party in Tampere. She had worked in a bank as a young girl, fallen in love with a taxi driver who often came to the bank, and then started working as a taxi driver her self. As a hobby she and her boyfriend (still the same one as when she was a young girl) had motorcycles and were going to drive through Germany during their vacation. And she was an absolutely excellent driver! She moreover was delighted to hear I spoke Swedish and asked if it was okay with me if she could practise her Swedish with me, and I was delighted by her enthusiasm. So all the two-hour drive we talked in Swedish about her travels and about motorcycles, because there were a lot of Harley-Davidsons driving in the opposite direction, which made her very excited. And we got a perfect ride all the way to the city centre of Tampere. A great experience!

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