‘I’m not sure I really like hitch-hiking,’ Josh decides. ‘I mean, I’m not sure whether I like the person who finally stops more than I focus on the ten thousand people, most of whom are by themselves with four spare seats, who drive past without even looking at you. What is it you really feel when someone picks you up anyway? Genuinely appreciating the experience of being in their car, or simply relief that someone has finally picked you up?’

Whilst sometimes I would be more inclined to agree, our ride most of the way from Wrocław to Kraków really does fit into the ‘bizarre and incredible experience’ category.

We were stood at the petrol station, sipping the coffee that the attendant had kindly handed to us on the chilly afternoon, when a car roared up. Out leapt a man – ‘Kraków? Tak! Vamos, vamos!’

He tired different languages on us, since Polish doesn’t get us very far – ‘Deutsch?’ German? Sure. I definitely speak more German than I do Polish, so let’s try that.

‘Meine Frau, she has eine Kinde, ein Son! 1 this morning!’

‘Congratulations!’ We shake his hand and he bundles us into his car.

Suddenly he has second thoughts – ‘Was Sie trinkend? Drink? What?’ We shrug our shoulders, ‘We’re fine, no worries!’

‘Vodka! Celebrate? Kein problem!’ We are bundled back out of the car, and find ourselves standing at a counter with this very excited man, wondering if we will survive the journey, as he demands of us what sort of vodka we like.

When we’re finally on the road, we are knocking back shots with orange juice chasers at 3 in the afternoon as the joyous new father beamingly demonstrates how fast his little Fiat can go, and how enormous his son was when he was born, through the sugary bouncing beat of Polish disco. He then promptly fell asleep.

Luckily, ‘Ich habe eine Driver!’ He slaps the shoulder of the stocky man at the wheel. So our mangled remains didn’t need to be extricated from the Fiat’s crumpled wreck after some brutal drink-driving accident. Which is good. The driver did seem to spend a remarkable amount of time in the middle of two lanes on the motorway, but I guess that’s just his style…

 

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