We’ve been hitchhiking for two hours.
A black, compact, two-door hatchback slows and parks on the side of the road.
A short, stocky guy gets out of the driver’s side and approaches us. I greet him with a smile and handshake. He says something in French. He’s smiling. Then, a girl on the passenger side exits, stands there, smiles, greets us.
We thank him and get in the car.
Raegan dislodges her backpack, gets in, I hand her her backpack, shoulder bag, the sleeping bag, the bag of food, then I get in and reach out to the street, where I had sit my backpack, and pull it in the car, sitting it beside me on the backseat.
The driver guy did not speak English, but his girlfriend spoke some, and translated for him and for us. He worked at Euro Disney, near the train stop, bus stop we had just left. She was on holiday. She offered cigarettes all around. Raegan accepted.
Politely declining the cigarette, I almost felt left out when they all seemed to enjoy the smoke, while he drove through the winding streets of hamlets (small villages in the countryside) and small farms on the outskirts of small towns.
“Do you like music?” He asked. Okay, maybe he did speak English. And better
than us at that.
“Yes,” we said. “Wi.”
He turns on his stereo and the music sounds like that band that plays that song
“Wake me up inside” who is that Evanesence? Sounds like a cologne more than a band. And a cheap cologne at that … Evansesence, for the goth in you. You could meet the girl or guy of your dreams, or maybe go home with a vampire bat following you.
The girl, Tiffany, asks: “Will it be good for you if we take you to (town name, forgot) that is halfway to Reims?” We say yes, great, and thank her. They take us
to this small town, park near a roundabout, we get out, and then they give us 2 slips of paper, coupons, worth $8 euros each, that you can use to buy food at restaurants or maybe even grocery stores. They were so nice. We thank them. They give us their contact information. Then, they drive off.
We walk to the roundabout, hold the sign for Reims, and start hitchhiking. It starts lightly raining. After about 15 minutes, a car slows to a stop. It’s a compact car, 2-door hatchback, with a young blonde girl driving and an older gentleman (dad maybe) in the passenger side. Neither speak french but they’re asking us something and I’m like “wi, merci” (yes, thank you) to pretty much everything they are saying. They might have been saying, “Is it okay if I take you home and eat you?” and I would have been answering “yes, thank you”.
We load into their car, they drive us to a toll booth, and we hitchhike there. By now, it’s raining, so we stand underneath the toll booth covering. Thankfully, it’s automated, so no toll people to tell us to get moving. After about 30 minutes, a 4-door hatchback slows to a stop and they wave for us to get in. We do. It’s a guy and his son. They drive us to a convenient store for a coffee break, then hand us $2 euro coins so we can purchase a drink. Raegan gets a coffee or an espresso. I buy hot chocolate. We thank him and give him his change. We stand around a small red table, the 15-year old son, the father, Raegan and I, drinking the hot beverages and doing our best to maintain the conservation. The son speaks some English and acts as the translator for the dad.
At one point, the dad says: “He’s my baby” while looking at his son.
And the son replies: “I’m not your baby. I’m your son.”
They take us to Reims, France, since they’re headed there, according to the son, “to look for my Mom”. Okay. I think the dad mentions ex-wife and then talks more in french. At this point, Raegan and I are nodding. I’m watching for their cues, their facial expressions so I can match them in order to appear like I know what they are saying, even trying to see what their facial expression might be before it happens.
If body language and the way something is said is important, I’m doing my best to
maintain that kind of communication.
When they get near Reims, the son asks us if we want to be dropped off at the highway, to continue hitchhiking to Germany, or to Reims. Raegan and I discuss our options. She wants to be taken to the train and I want to continue hitchhiking.
Her reasons are good, as she explains that Meitz, Germany is far and the train will get us to Frankfurt, which is near Weisbaden. I want to continue hitchhiking, reasoning that, so far, it has been good and we should continue. Besides, I say, we don’t know when the train is leaving and we don’t know how much it is. I tell her that I want her to be comfortable, and if that means taking the train, let’s do it.
Raegan tells the son that we would like to be dropped off at the train station. He mentions this to his dad. They talk in french. Then, he says that there are 2 trains, a fast one that is expensive, and a slow one, that is cheaper. We opt for the slow one.
They drive us into town and drop us off at the train station. We wander the halls and find a clerk to find out the schedules. Turns out that it’s about $224 euros tickets to Frankfurt. When Raegan asks about a cheaper train, the clerk, this fat guy, explains that there’s a train that leaves Paris. Obviously, we don’t want to take a train from Paris since that’s 2 hours away. Perhaps there was a communications barrier, but the clerk kept referring to a train in Paris. Due to the price, we decide to hitchhike.
We wander to an intersection, put our thumbs out, sign out, and stand there in the cold for about 2 hours. People wave and are friendly for the most part, a lot of them are curious like they have not seen hitchhikers or hitchhikers there anyway, in Reims, a quaint little town that seems to be en expensive little cultural hub that spreads out into narrow streets with first floor retail shops and apartments above them.
It starts to rain lightly, and we go to a hotel to get directions to a hostel. We decide to buy the tickets to Frankfurt, the train leaves tomorrow. The tickets are $224 euros for 2 tickets, but we decide it’s our only option, as hitchhiking wasn’t working in Reims. We go to Subway, use the coupon the first hitchhiking couple or friends gave us, buy 2 meals, eat, talk, say we love each other, then walk to the hostel a mile or two away. We’re at the hostel now. I’m about to wake
Raegan so we can eat breakfast then start walking to the train to take it to Frankfurt. I checked the e-mail and Ryan sent his phone number and said to call when we arrive. He’ll pick us up and take us to Weisbaden, where he stays, and where we’ll be staying with him for a week.
Although it took a while for me to fall asleep, since the people in the room next to ours were loud and even playing music at one point, so loud that, when I heard a door slam for the 5th or 6th or 7th time, I quickly put on my shorts and peeked outside of our room door to see who it was but did not see anyone, my intention was to spot the culprit and tell them to be quiet, we’re trying to sleep, despite all the noise and falling asleep late, I woke up early. I suppose this was good, however, since we had to get an early start for breakfast and the long walk (about a mile and half, to the train station).
I awoke and quietly assembled my clothes and then cuddled some with Raegan, who was curled up in a beautiful ball, her long legs bent at the knees and her back curved in an arch, her hair a tangled surprise, her pale pretty face, those delightful eyes, button nose and her soft skin, she’s just cute and pretty and smart and I love her.
Once she woke and dressed, we walked downstairs, past the front desk clerk, through the glass walled hallway which had foldered, temporary walls that were comprised of crisscrossed wire and which held drawings and illustrations of actors and musicians, including Jack Nicholson, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop and walking past them I pointed to Jack Nicholson’s face and said: “I always like my bacon crispy and my eggs runny,” with a Jack Nicholson voice, and Raegan laughed lightly.
The hallway with the art took us to another building with spiral stairs that we walked that led to a small room with couches and a flat screen TV and a fuseball table and we walked through there into the dinring room, a large room with lots of windows and food sitting in pans, buffet style for self service, and assorted groups, mostly guys in their twenties or thirties, some by themselves, some in groups of two, sitting at tables. The single people sat silently, munching their cereal. The groups were in conversations, talking quietly, between sleepy bites of the baguette or spoonfuls of cereal or sips of their orange juice. At some point, two familes entered, the parents dressed in shorts and light traveling clothing and the their kids appearing to be 15, 12, 10, 8. Seeing them, I thought what a cool experience to be travelling with parents as a kid and staying in hostels along the way. Money saving with also the ability to meet other travelers in the common areas and exchange stories and traveling tips.
Raegan and I looked over the buffet, which was in 3 sections, one for cereal, one for food, one for beverages. On the left, there was cereal in these plastic bins, where you turn a handle and it falls out into your bowl or in your hand or, if you want to take a bag with you, in a bag if you have one. Nearby, cartons of lait (milk) stood in a small flock. In the middle, there were pans of food–baguette bread, slices of angel food cake, apple sauce, containers of yogurt. On the right side section were the beverages, aluminum machines that dispensed coffee, orange juice and, probably, water, too.
Raegan and I got chocolate cereal with milk, apple sauce and yogurt. I also got a
baguette, broke it in half along the middle, and opened up the gold colored wrapped wafers of butter and smeared the butter in the middle. Later, Raegan squished avacado in the middle of this and we ate it on the train. It was delicious.
After breakfast, we returned to the room, packed our gear, and left the hostel. Outside, the weather was cool and the streets were quiet as it was early Sunday. I
felt healthy and good and the world was full of promise, for I was with someone who loves me and someone who I loved, and we had train tickets to Frankfurt, Germany. It is August and we’re traveling Europe and it’s great. I’m enjoying this trip.
We walk through the streets of Reim, France, the beautifully quaint town with its old streets and old architecture, mostly first floor retail with apartments above, the morning sunlight dancing through the alleys and over the rooftops. After 30 minutes, we arrive at the train station. There, we sat and I checked with the clerk a few times about our train, which was scheduled to leave at 10:52am. Since we had one food coupon worth $8 euros that was remaining from the 2 coupons given to us by Tiffany, the first girl who picked us up with her boyfriend for a ride at the Truffaut garden stop in France the day earlier, we decided to use the coupon to buy some food. Nearby where we sat in the lobby of the train station was a pastry, sandwich, coffee shop. We purchased a thon (tuna) baguette which had boiled eggs (quartered) and tomatoes in it, an apple pastry and a water for $7 euros and change, almost 8 euros. It was a meal and later when we ate it on the train, it proved to be worth buying as it was delicious.