The Great Road Trip part 1; Nuremberg to Stuttgart; Freezing our butts off sleeping in the car; Stuttgart to Freiburg; Traffic hell; Freiburg hates us; Giving up and going to Titisee; Minor detours and expensive accommodations

Since I don’t drive, my role during road trips is always navigator. I was reasonably pleased at getting us out of Nuremberg and on the way to Stuttgart with only a little tourist map of the city centre for help. That success was short-lived, though. We left Nuremberg quite late in the day, and while the ultimate goal was Freiburg in the Black Forest, I didn’t think we’d be able to make it all the way there before we had to stop for the night. That turned out to be true - it started to rain like a bastard and driving conditions were terrible, so we had to sleep outside Stuttgart. We planned to stop insideStuttgart, but there was a failure in navigation - sort of. If we’d gone 2 mintues further, we’d have seen the signs for the centre, but we thought we were lost and decided to call it quits for the night because the weather was so terrible and there was a convenient rest-stop complex. It had a nice big parking lot, and we decided to sleep there. We weren’t sure if some security guard would come tapping at the windows but we were too tired to go any further. We folded the back seats down and laid out our sleeping pads and bags. My pad still had a hole in it so it couldn’t really be called a pad, per se - more of a groundsheet. It was a very damp, very cold, very unpleasant night we spent in that car, tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. The temperature got down to 4°C that I saw, and maybe colder. We weren’t in any danger of freezing but it wasn’t much fun at all.

We reached Freiburg around midday, still in the rain. Freiburg was one big exercise in frustration. It’s a town of only 200,000 people, bu tthe traffic was hideous. Traffic jams, huge numbers of cars, and no parking. We only had a map of the very centre of town, and where we got off the highway was far off it. We had a major detour through one of the suburbs, but got back on track and found ourselves on the map through sheer luck. The trouble was only beginning, though. All the bridges over the train tracks were under construction, so it took us ages to get to the right side of town. Then we took a wrong turn and had to drive slowly through a crowded pedestrian shopping area. I’ve never received so many filthy looks in my life. After that we’d got lost trying to find the hostel (which was off the map) and got stuck in a traffic jam. The hostel was full - there was nowhere for us to stay. Trying to find parking was a nightmare - according to the automatic display boards there were only five free spaces in all the parking garages in the city. We parked illegally somewhere and Sheryl stayed with the car while I went out to find the tourist information office. It took an hour to find it, and when I did I found it wasn’t open on Saturday afternoons. At that point we realized that ts town simply hated us and didn’t want us there. I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a city just because of the city itself. But we decided to give up and head away from Freiburg as quickly a possible. Sheryl was very upset about it. She only wanted to see some pretty things and have a nice visit to the Black Forest, and then all the horrible nonsense happened. And all still in the rain too, I might add. Me, I ws all right with leaving. I figured we’d have better scenic luck in some of the smaller towns anyway, and the traffic would certainly be better.

It was another hour of driving to the small town of Titisee. We knew nothing about it except that it had a hostel and we thought the name was funny. The hostel turned out to be (you guessed it) full, and none of the campgrounds had cabins to rent. We were looking at another night in the car, but we were up in the mountains and it was already cold. We knew it would go below freezing overnight and we knew we needed more blankets if we wanted to sleep in the car again. At this point we had just had enough of the day, and I snapped and decided to get us a guesthouse. We picked one more or less at random - nearly every building is a guesthouse in this part of the country. The woman who met us was the wife of the proprietor, very confused and flustered, and with only a few words of English. She checked us in by simply grabbing a key for a room she thought was free . She hd to find the room, and didn’t get our names or take payment or anything. I don’t think she’d ever set foot in her hsband’s guesthouse before, it was very strange. It would have been so easy to run off in the morning without paying. Sometimes it sucks having even the shrivelled remnants of a conscience. It wasn’t completely wasted money, though. We were able to warm up and clean up, wash some clothes and charge some batteries, get a very good night’s sleep - and fix my sleeping pad! Sheryl was nice and found the leak for me while I was dozing, so I used the repair kit I’ve been carrying around Europe. So the expense of a guesthouse hurt, but we needed it, so it was worth it.

Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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