When I lived for three months this spring in Gainesville, Florida, I only made one friend. Brian kept me sane while in my sedentary state, and we always had a million stories to share. You see, while we both travel constantly, we do it in extremely different ways; I hitchhike around and live in my tent, and Brian works with the band Less Than Jake touring the world.
When we said goodbye in Florida, Brian gave me a list of all the tour dates this summer – in Europe. I was determined to find him somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be a 20 hour (driving time) detour to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Brian and the band arrived at the venue, and he told me he was still setting up, but I could come hang if I was bored. I pranced over, gave Brian several giant hugs, and sipped on a beer while watching Anti Flag and Less Than Jake do their sound check. It was like my own private show. At one point one of the guys from Less Than Jake was chilling backstage, and there were these bars separating him from where I was sitting, like he was in jail. He slipped me a banana through the bars.
I watched Less Than Jake’s set, loving every minute, and realizing that I hadn’t been to a concert since I saw NOFX in Honolulu… Two and a half years ago. While Brian was getting things packed up, banana man (aka Roger) grabbed me and brought me backstage to hang out. I was feeling pretty damn special, and ate some cookies.
I was supposed to spend the next couple of days hitchhiking to Berlin, which I was positively dreading – the weather forecast told me it was going to be a whopping 37C aka definite heat stroke weather. I wasn’t excited.
Less Than Jake was headed to Innsbruck in Austria, which while not on my way was also not out of my way, with the driving times to Berlin from Bratislava and Innsbruck both being seven hours. As Brian was setting up for the show, I had a stroke of genius: surely the bus would be cheaper once already inside of Germany, and Innsbruck was less than two hours from Munich. Sure enough, the internet revealed cheap bus tickets from Munich to Berlin. Shit. Yes. Heat stroke could be avoided.
Once he was done working and ready to drink and listen to Anti Flag, I asked Brian if I could tag along, and thankfully everyone agreed. Off to Austria!
So I caught a ride with Less Than Jake, drinking and snacking on pizza on the most beautiful bus I’ve ever been on. I was told right away by Chris, one of the vocalists and the guitarist, that pretty much the only rule was don’t shit in the toilet. Duly noted.
When we arrived in Innsbruck I hit the road, but not before Brian made me a couple cheese sandwiches to keep me nourished while I awaited a ride. Cause that’s what friends are for.
The day started off motivated, sure that I’d catch an easy ride to Munich. Things deteriorated quickly.
To get to the highway I wound up having to walk for about 45 minutes, but it took me significantly longer. Finally my feet weren’t sore. My backpack and I are friends, and although I walk slowly with her, she doesn’t hurt me very much. But the heat. That sweltering, unforgiving heat. I stopped many times along the way, finding shade to sit in for a few minutes before trekking on.
At long last I got to a gas station next to the highway, and sat there with my sign for Munich. I waited. And I waited. I’d approach cars with German license plates, but otherwise didn’t bother. There were oddly few Germans despite being so close to the border.
I was sitting in shade, but it wasn’t good enough. I started to feel very, very unwell, and decided to seek shelter in McDonald’s for a bit. Unfortunately the McDonald’s did not understand the need to crank the air conditioning in this foul weather from hell.
I got weaker.
And light headed.
And then mildly nauseous.
Hello heat exhaustion, how do you do?
I couldn’t go back to the gas station to hitchhike. I couldn’t stay at McDonald’s for the rest of my life. I couldn’t afford an expensive bus. And I really couldn’t think. I just couldn’t figure out what to do, and had a wee cry while realizing the absurdity of the tears. I wasn’t actually sad or mad or distraught in any way. I was happy, life was good, this was a totally solvable problem, but my brain had left on vacation and I rather wished it would return to help me escape this heat.
Fortunately I have the best mother in the world, and she was online. After a couple hours of struggling, she managed to find me a bus to Berlin. I was ready to pay for it as it was reasonably priced, but then she surprised me buying it for me.
My mom kinda rocks.
Now excuse me while I die on the bus and pray that I feel better in the morning… And that Berlin is at least a tiny bit cooler. I’m far too excited for all the cool and alternative things to do in Berlin for the weather not to cooperate!