Tuesday, 2 August 2016

First time sharing a ride with strangers: 8-hour journey, Darmstadt to Berlin

BEC's challenge this week is about "first time". I was thinking of writing about my first times in various airports around the world, but didn't really feel like doing it until this idea popped up.

It was motivated by two true stories that I came across in the internet about two weeks ago. The first one is about someone who was sexually harassed by her airbnb host. This young lady booked a place through airbnb with a listing mentioning "the guest will be sharing a room with the host", which turned out to be a daunting "sharing the bed with the host" instead the day she got there.  
The other one is about a rape attempt in Oslo, Norway. Another young lady left the T Bane (Norwegian train?) stop, at around 8 PM when a man followed her and later tried to rape her. I felt sorry for both of them -both happened to be Indonesian- and of course for others who experienced similar incidents, and I hope they can stay strong after these incidents. On the other hand, when I read the story for the first time, I still had this kind of thinking like "Well she should not have done that in the first place...". I mean, the booking the lady made through airbnb.. She already knew the host was a man. Sharing a flat with this stranger seems still okay..but sharing a room? Didn't she have any concerns when finally she decided to book that place? Didn't any thoughts of bad things that might happen come to her mind?

....well, maybe no.
....because suddenly I remember myself ten years ago.

I wasn't even twenty five at that time. I was in Germany for my master and that was my first time travelling and living abroad. Everything was new and so exciting. It was a semester holiday and I planned to travel to Barcelona with a friend of mine. She lived in Berlin, and since I've never been there, I wanted to visit her first and then go together from there.

I soon discovered that going by train was quite pricey, so I started to look at an option that I've heard often: Carsharing. Sharing a car journey with other people, reducing each person's travel cost. The popular "provider" at that time was mitfahrergelegenheit or we used to call it mitfahrer. I checked through their website and found out that I just needed to pay 15 to 25 Euros instead of around 70 Euros if I went by train. I consulted a close friend who was a student tutor (a "helper" for the students in the dorm) and he said he frequently used this service. No need to worry. With him backing me up finally I signed up for a ride from Darmstadt to Berlin in a guy's Opel for 15 Euros. 

So it was the day. The meeting point was in Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof's (main station) parking lot. It was quite similar to a blind date when you finally met your date and he said "Hi.", and then you said "Hi." and then he opened the passenger's door for you, let you sit, and then he sat on the driver's seat, went driving, and started a conversation. 

So that morning I let a stranger take me in his car with him driving, taking route that I totally had no idea of. 

So what happened? 
I was so grateful now that nothing bad happened. We took other two mitfahrer -passengers- in Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof then continued our journey. What can be considered bad was the fact that there were a lot of traffic jams, the guy who drove the car had never been to Berlin before, so I had to hold the map and navigate him almost the whole journey (and still got lost in the way) and it took almost eight hours to Berlin instead of the expected six hours. 

When another friend of mine knew about this (we're three close friends from the intensive language program), she was really surprised and started to remind me in a motherly way. "I couldn't believe you went by mitfahrer! Don't you know there were news about rape and robbery of people using this mitfahrer! Steffen (her German fiancé) said you must be either very brave...or clueless.. that you used that service..Next time please be more careful."
So I guess my first time sharing a ride might be my last time too...

So, yeah. That kind of thing could also happen. The thoughts that something terrible might happen didn't come to my mind. So it's also good that people are sharing those kind of experiences (e.g. first and second stories I mentioned) to raise awareness and to be more cautious. 

Well, I don't know if now I seem to be less daring than several years ago. Maybe age and becoming a mother do matter? :D
Uhm, maybe next time I should tell the rest of this Barcelona story. Hint: My flight back to Frankfurt was delayed until late night, making me taking the last Frankfurt - Darmstadt train and arriving in Darmstadt Hbf at 2 AM in the morning (!!). Then a guy followed me, just like the second story. No kidding. Thankfully nothing bad happened to me. Well, that's another story for another time...

(If interested; I did post the Barcelona trip in this blog back in 2007.. the post which I don't feel like reading again now.. It could make me cringe :S)


  1. I forgot my first-time mitfahren experience (i went too many times with it), but you got me remembering one of the guy who i took mitfahren with from Koblenz to München. We ended up with a meet-up the week after and went to visit photo exhibition and talking over coffee. Just one of a nice experience, i guess...

    1. wow, that's nice! did somebody make a movie already based on this nice experience? hahaha...

    2. ooh come on now, gurl.. don't mock me :p hahaha! I had my wish at that time, if only I had stay longer then I could probably get to know him better. But hey it's all in the past..

    3. no it's not mocking, i'm serious. I like those kind of movies (Serendipity, Just Like Heaven, etc. :D what else?? ... )

    4. Hahaha, should I continue the list here :p Hhmm.. I'm a hopeless romantic here. care to join the club? :D

  2. Reading the two true stories you shared, I'm speechless. Hmmm... so sorry for them.

    Your first time traveling / living abroad and all your experience was so exiting and challenging. You were so young. If I have a teenager-daughter, I will warn her not to talk to strangers esp. when she's abroad. Hahahaha.
    I wonder how it would be if I was your parent at that time. Alhamdulillah Everything was just fine, mba Vitaaa...

    I'm waiting for the rest of your Barcelona story. :)

    1. I know right?! Now that I am a parent myself, I wonder how my parents could let me wander in that foreign place.. Trust and pray I think..

    2. Couldn't agree more. Trust and pray is the key. :*

  3. We are young... we are... (lupa lirik lagunya lagi....)
    Selagi muda ya bu guru, nikmati semuanya...

    I would be terrified also if I have to share a car with a stranger though, especially on a country that I never been visit before. But do you know that a Taxi in Liberia is using this same concept? If you took a taxi there, the driver would stop frequently - taking and dropping (don't know the better word) passengers along the way.

    1. Walah tapi gitu kok dinamain taxi ya? hahaha... jd kayak angkot
      kalo yg carsharing ini tempat tujuan penumpangnya sama

  4. Belum pernah ke Berlin, tapi kok bisa jadi supir travel agency ya, Mbak ckckck

    Btw, jadi ingat kata Bang Napi, "Waspadalah, waspadalah!" :D

  5. Wow, this is interesting. Especially now that we have something like uber pool here in Jakarta haha. I guess it's always 50-50 when you're doing this kind of things, like the couchsurfing incident, it's probably one negative out of many positives. But yes it never hurts to be cautious :)

    1. So they have car pooling now in Jakarta? Wow :D
      I wonder what else have changed in Indonesia now :D

    2. ..and this can give us idea for a writing: Tips to car pooling safely :D
      ..or something like that.. (e.g. remember the license plate, the car's model, if necessary call someone once you get in the car (?), etc... :D)