Wednesday, 13 May 2009

20 Years On: Part 3 of Account of Hitch-hiking through southern West Germany

On this day I finally got to Augsburg, a town I had missed the previous September and I was pleased I did. I remember my underwear being strapped to the back of my rucksack smelling so much that I had to shove it inside as the woman offering us the 'Mitfahr' had read the slip wrong and had expected three women and was unimpressed by having to take one ugly-looking foreign man (she had expected Germans) who had to have everything translated for him by the others. She wanted to abandon me but Becky persuaded her and, of course, I paid up as agreed. I sat silently in the back of the car while Becky kept her entertained with her usual very jolly manner in good German.

I remember the youth hostel being very clean and surprisingly empty. I guess most people do not stop in Augsburg but go on to Munich. I remember the South African woman staying there had the principle when visiting towns of seeing one thing in each, but a different thing in consecutive towns, e.g. a cathedral in the first, a castle in the second, a museum in the third. Of course to fill my days I always saw as much as I could of everything in every town.

In contrast to the student halls in Augsburg, in Köln I was paying about DM247,- per month for just a room (no balcony) with two showers, two toilet cubicles and a kitchen shared between 12 students. This was the first time I had had Weizer beer with a tiny piece of lemon in it from which bubbles stream. In Köln they drank from 0.2 litre glasses or 0.5 litre only if you were drinking Guinness in a specialist pub.

I am reminded by the photo I have uploaded that I always used to be fascinated by taking photos of roads disappearing off into the distance and when cycling northern France was always trying to capture the perfect French tree-lined road. In part I blame the television series 'Secret Army' (1978-9) which started and ended with vistas across the Belgian countryside. It was only in the mid-1990s that someone pointed out to me how dreary this kind of shot was, it showed nothing, not an interesting building or a beautiful landscape. However, I include this photo for completeness and to show the kind of view that, for some reason, fascinated me at the time.

Saturday 13th May 1989
Today I woke promptly again. The youth hostel was filling up with Italians for a function. I went round to Sara's room then we caught the tram into town and met up with the woman who was giving us a lift to Augsburg. We stopped once. It cost DM24,- to register originally and then DM60,- for the petrol.

In Augsburg I walked to the youth hostel which is almost empty and in a pleasant part of town. I had to wait until 17.00 to occupy my room so chatted with a South African woman and a German woman. Then I walked through the centre of the town and got the tram and a bus to the South of the city and went to the hall where Becky's friends are living. Each room has a shower, toilet, cooker, sink and balcony for DM128,- per month. We had a good Mexican meal in the function room. There was an American, a Dane, a German and seven British. After that we went to town, to a quiet pub and drunk half litres of beer and played table football. It was near the youth hostel so I was able to get back in time to have a shower and re-pack my rucksack. Becky seemed much happier this evening, she must be desperate to see Ashley [her boyfriend] but is having a pleasant time now.

Weather: Dull and mild.

Road leading to Youth Hostel in Augsburg, West Germany in May 1989

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