I’m sure a lot of moms will relate to my desire to save money. You know, always sniffing out good deals, buying clothes off-season, using Groupon and coupons, and even buying Christmas presents on Boxing-Day when the prices have been slashed. Call us ‘mummy saving experts’!
I was really chuffed to discover BlaBla Car. It’s like online hitchhiking. You advertise your ride for a very reasonable price, and people interested will get in touch. It helps with the fuel costs!
Our adventure begins in Dusseldorf, where we meet our ‘hitchhiker’. Dressed in jeans and a long winter coat, he hurries to the car holding his bag in one hand and holding his coat closed with the other.
“Not a freaking knife!” I hope. I’ve read his online reviews and they’re good, but here he is in the flesh, hiding something in his coat.
He jumps into our little Skoda and sits in the passenger seat, on the left-side of the car, his head almost touching the top. “Hello!” he says very cheerily, “I’m Juan.” Then with a flash of his coat, which appears to me in slow-motion as our exit plan run through my mind, he says, “And this is Hawkun.”
My 7-month-old daughter bursts into tears at the sight of this…dog. Or Puppy. A Whippet puppy. It looks like someone has shrunk their greyhound. It’s tiny – and odd-looking – more so to us who don’t have pets.
“He is very friendly and he’ll be good as gold the whole way,” Juan says. The whole 6 hours! I dispair. With all the snow, it could be even longer.
We are driving to Dresden, but Juan and Hawken are going even further east, to Gorlitz, a little German town that boarders Poland. Juan is an Opera singer, on his way to watch a special production that his girl-friend is taking part in. Hopefully we’ll get to Dresden in good time for him to take the 40-minute train and make her performance.
We stop half way to grab a bite, stretch our legs and relieve ourselves. Much needed for all of us – including the dog! The German version of Spanish food is mediocre, though a lot better than the service.
We hit the road again, and the conversation does not run dry. Juan can talk the hind legs off a donkey! (Meaning he talks A LOT!) He speaks a lot about; Cuba where his parents are both from; Florida where he grew up; and many different countries that he’d travelled to sing, including Dubai where he was part of a group who sang for a Sheik.
He talks, we listen. We talk, he talks some more, and some more. Interesting talk, but in big portions. We laugh and joke and play some games with the kids. My 5-year-old son particularly enjoys I Spy. Then Juan sings Opera for us. Amazing! Beautiful operettic voice. One better heard in a Theatre than a little old Skoda. His Operettic version of Old McDonald is a hit with the kids.
Time goes by quickly, we should arrive in Dresden in time for his train. Except, our driver and father to my kids, decides to drive Juan to Gorlitz. WTF?! We’ve just completed a 10-hour journey from Surrey in England, and now we’re driving past our destination, to go and drop off a man and his dog at a theatre in Gorlitz when they can take the train?! I’m impressed by that, and a combination of my numb butt, annoyance and self-pity makes the next hour feel like the previous 6.
More talking, and much more listening. Time going by slowly. “Hey, how do you even drive a car sitting on the wrong side? I’ve never driven one like this. I must try it sometime – I’ll put it on my Bucket List.” Juan was intrigued, “When I first got in I didn’t feel safe, but it’s grown on me.” No way!
Finally, signs to Gorlitz! We’re going to make it. Juan will arrive in time for the show. He’s very grateful. I’m very stiff. But wait, did we just miss our turn?
“Don’t worry, the Satnav has re-routed.” Hurray for Satnav! 15 Minutes away.
We drive up a bridge and are stopped by Police. They’re checking everyone entering Germany from Poland. From Poland!
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