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By Thumb Express to Madrid

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It was a Sunday in August 2013 when Bimbino and Bambina started their big South America adventure. Bambina had found a cheap flight to South America via Holiday Pirates, a blog that is specialized on cheap offers for travelers: 306 Euros for an open-jaw flight, Madrid – Lima, Lima – Frankfurt. The only question remaining was how they would get from Germany?
You must understand that Bimbino and Bambina are not the usual kind of travelers. Where somebody else might choose comfort and quality, the monkeys always go for low budget adventures. Therefore the answer to that question was easy: hitchhiking!
It was 15:40 when the Bimbino and Bambina started hitchhiking at the Germany-Luxembourg border in Wasserbillig.
Service station in Wasserbillig
Luxembourg is famous in Germany for cheap gasoline and cigarettes. Therefore there is a huge amount of petrol-tourism at the service station in Wasserbillig. Probably 80% of all drivers stop here only for this reason. After several hours of walking from car to car the monkeys realized that the other 20% were made up of people travelling in other directions or who just didn’t like their looks. For Bimbino and Bambina it was literally impossible to find a lift going south in the direction of Metz.
Hitchhiking depends on decision-making, and making decisions is the easier the better you know your surroundings. Some hardcore hitchhikers would never choose a different form of transportation as an alternative, but that point of view is silly as you might end up standing at the same position for the rest of your life. Well, in fact one hitchhiking rule is that you always find a lift, that it is just a matter of time. But time can be precious.
The next possible hitchhiking spot on the road to Metz was the Aire de Berchem. According to Wikipedia, it is the biggest service station in Europe, therefore the monkey’s chances to find a lift from Berchem was much higher.
Local trains in Luxembourg cost only 2,50 € and the railroad net is connecting nearly all villages with each other. So Bimbino and Bambina decided to take the train. Three hours later the monkeys were in Berchem.
People who think that huge service stations like Berchem provide the best locations for hitchhikers are wrong. Small stations have the advantage that you can wait in one spot and will be able to talk to all drivers. Big stations are the contrary. Huge parking areas, restaurants with multiple entrances, and different exits to the motorway make you either walk around all the time or remain standing in the wrong spot.
As it was the better option to stand with a sign at the entrance to the motorway than running around talking to drivers the monkeys had to make a sign that was indicating which way they wanted to go. There are two ways to get from Luxembourg to Madrid. The shorter option goes via Paris, Bordeaux and the Basque Country. The second option is only slightly longer by the number of kilometers, but is probably quicker: Lyon – Marseille – Barcelona. Their decision fell on the shorter root: they made a sign "Paris".
After half an hour waiting - it was already half past nine - some truck driver slowed down and opened his window to talk to the monkeys.
Bimbino: Paris?
Truck driver: Sorry, but I go to Barcelona. Otherwise I would love to take you.
Bimbino: Barcelona? All the way? Perfect, we come with you!
The driver was quite surprised and happy. And the Travelling Monkeys had their first lift, all the way to Barcelona!
They couldn't believe their luck. Even the truck driver couldn't really believe it as he had seen the word "Paris" on the cardboard that Bimbino was holding up. After some explanation that their actual destination was Madrid the driver smiled and offered the monkeys to spend the night on the little bed in his driver’s cabin which they kindly accepted. Bimbino and Bambina both had hitchhiking experience but none of them had ever hitched a lift for such a long distance.
However, the story also had a downside. Going on one truck for such a long distance takes ages - but that didn't matter as the monkeys had time. Their plane to Peru was only departing on Friday the 16th. Two days on the truck would give them still enough time to explore Madrid, which neither of them had visited before.
And so the journey began.
After a few minutes they had crossed the border with France. Cities were passing by one after another: Thionville, Metz, Nancy… But Bimbino and Bambina noticed it only on GPS. Driving on motorways is quick way of transportation, even on a truck, but compared to travelling on countryside roads it is very unspectacular as motorways usually bypass all city centers.
Somewhere in France
The first night the monkeys spent in a secure parking area close by a little village called Langres in the department of Haute-Marne, some 80 km north of Dijon. It’s amazing how boring the life of a truck driver is. They drive throughout Europe but they see basically nothing. They spend the whole day in their vehicle and once they finally have free time in the evening they cannot even leave the service station because they are usually too far away from everything. What remains is eating, drinking, watching movies and sleeping. Yes sleeping – on a not very comfortable bed inside the truck that does not even give you enough space to properly turn around. That night Bimbino and Bambina had a once in a lifetime experience: sharing such a sleeping surface with each other. Good that they are monkeys and don’t need as much space as a human.
The second day brought the monkeys all the way through southern France to Figueres in Spain’s Catalunya where they spent another night in the truck’s cabin. Staying another night in the truck’s cabin was just about to have a place to sleep for the night as the driver was only about to go around 120 km the next day.
Continuing to Madrid was not as easy as getting the lift to Barcelona, but also not as hard as getting away from Wasserbillig. The monkeys needed some patience to find their lifts, but finally Bambina’s knowledge of the Russian language paid out. First they passed by Barcelona with a Russian couple and later they found a lift with two Ukrainians that had been travelling all the way from Dnipropetrovsk. Bimbino was happy he could leave all the talking to Bambina as he had been the only one speaking Spanish with the truck driver during the previous days.
Friendly Ukrainian drivers.
Roughly 50 hours after leaving Traben-Trarbach in Germany the monkeys arrived in a suburb of Madrid called Mostoles – exhausted, but happy!
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