6. Neuchâtel!

Ah, what a perfect place to reach for the night – the first French speaking town in Switzerland.

I made it far as just before Zürich, and it was going dark, so, I was scouting the service station for a place to pitch my tent (suitably hidden). I asked round the service station for lifts for quite some time. The problem is, I was just before the city, not after, so everyone was on their way into the city rather than leaving. I met a German who asked ‘so, do people still hitch in Germany?’ He had hitched between Berlin and Munich more than 50 times, but now had a car and a job, and didn’t do it anymore. Then I told him it was part of an art project, and he was disappointed, slightly annoyed even – ‘das ist zu künstlich fur mich’ (that’s too artificial for me). I tried to persuade him I was still doing it all genuinely, but it didn’t matter.

Then I got a ride from an Italian Swiss guy to Neuchâtel, a couple of hours up the road, which was lucky as it was already dark. We spoke German again – after complaining about everyone in Germany speaking to me in English for years, it was now proving difficult to shift conversations into English, I’m so used to German and it seems unfair to try to push English (I wanted to for the sake of the recordings).

As we got closer to Neuchâtel, he called his sister, who he was going to visit, to ask where he should drop me, where I could pitch my tent or be close to the motorway to leave in the morning. It was all in Italian, and it wasn’t clear. I felt a bit like I was putting him in an uncomfortable position – I mean, would you know where to throw someone out for the night? It had started raining too. Anyway, we noticed a sign near the ‘port’ (it’s on a lake) which said ‘no camping’. which sounded good – if it says no camping, it means there is a place people would like to camp. So he dropped me and I wandered off towards the lake. Perfect! A quiet picnic site on the lakeside, complete with trees to hide my tent, and a toilet block. Couldn’t have asked for better.

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