| ||Enjoy reading!
When it comes to the pools in Konstanz and St Gallen, they're both totally worth it. I should definetly do this again, but plan better, take at least three days for each pool. Anyway, here's the piece of log:
Thursday, 20th of june
Kreuzlingen - St Gallen
Saying goodbye to Kreuzlingen. Nine nights I've stayed at Leo and Joe's, giving my knee the rest it needed, sleeping in the same room as what they call a Leguan in german, going to a goa party on friday, skating in the Wollmatingen bowl on tuesday, being invited to a concert afterwards by Alex, a local rollerskater and sharing a piece of the life of my hosts. I had a great time there, and I would definetly like to return there one day.
All the couchsurf requests I've sent in St Gallen didn't get me a positive response, despite sending out a lot and sending them ahead this time. I decided to go anyway. This time I was better prepared than when I went to Konstanz. If I couldn't find a source of internet, there was one in a monastic library, according to hitchwiki. So I went. My plan B for finding shelter was better than the one I had in Konstanz. According to google maps, just a two kilometer hike south of the skatepark there was a piece of forest where I could set up my hammock. I was perfectly prepared. It didn't take long to hitch a ride from the roundabout in Kreuzlingen, and off I was, on a ride 60 km further into Switzerland. The ride's destination was the Kantonsspital. Switzerland is divided into 26 so-called cantons, as the country is a bit small to divide into parts you would call provinces or states. As I sat there, with my pack on my lap in a small car, carrying already three people, two women and a guy my age, the guy told me about his hiphop band and the clubs in St Gallen. They were nice people.
They parked at the hospital and gave me the directions to the bus stop. A short ticketless ride later (I didn't have any Swiss franks on me to feed the machine) I was in the city center. Disoriented, I walked to the train station to snag a map. My sense of orientation made me look to the direction south of the skatepark, which is located right behind the train station. There is something google maps didn't tell me about and I learned another lesson. If a town has a peculiar shape, it's for a reason. In Holland, you can't see what's ahead, behind houses. St Gallen is a city built in an alley, and I could stare right up that "mere" two kilometer hike. So far for plan B. The game you could call "look for internet" could begin.
According to the lady at the tourist information office, there was wifi everywhere in the city center. Not that it worked. After walking around pretty much aimlessly, trying to find a stronger signal, using the restroom at the Gemeindeverwaltung, the city council, and filling up my water bottles there, I decided to find the Stiftsbibliothek, the library. It was still open for a quarter of an hour, but I could still use their computer until five. I logged into couchsurfing and of the dozen of messages I've sent... just one more reply, a negative, a person writing me she was busy moving out of St Gallen, back to Denmark. Tough luck.
It was time to do something new. Asking people passing by in the city center whether they had a place to stay for a hitchhiker, in German you would say a "Tramper", from the Netherlands. And so I did. Once more the universe smiled at me, as the fifth person I asked told me to walk along. A dude with long, black hair and a guitar on his back. He thought long and hard, before he said that at his house would be too complicated and gave me a couple of phone numbers when we arrived at the train station. One for a christian WG and two of what he called an alternative WG. He told me to just call them and carried on going to where he was supposed to go. I called Marko. "Aha, und du brauchst jetzt halt ein Pennplatz?" He gave me the directions of how to go by bus and he told me to just ring the bell at the ugly house.
I didn't find a bell but the door was open and I was greeted by another door and a stairway. I rang up Marko to tell him I was in the hallway. He led me in as my pack bumped against the wind chime, welcoming me with its own song, a random pattern never to be repeated the same way again. Hippies and punks. Anarchy-symbols and anti-fascism stickers in the living room. I came home again.
Attempts to squat anything in St Gallen were always quickly dealt with by the system, so the would-be squatters scene here constitutes people living in and repairing cheap houses, forming WG's, Wohngemeinschaften, literally translated "living communities". If I wanted, I could make myself useful here, but there was no obligation. Marko showed me their basement, where one of his housemates was screwing planks onto a construction involving pads of foam. Sound isolation. They were busy transforming the basement into a political centre with room for bands to practice and for having small gigs.
The boy with the drill was getting hungry and the area I chose to make myself useful in that evening, it was already seven, was the kitchen. I could use anything they had lying around and they left me to cook for five people on my own. There was plenty of food, but it didn't seem quite coherent. Rice with red cabbage, carrots and chocolate. My experiment with chocolate was a success and they seemed to be glad to have me as a guest.
Marko gave me a bike and so I explored around a bit. He wouldn't go tonight himself anymore. I rode up a little hill and got a view of a part of the city, right down to the Bodensee. Someone seemed to have a little herd of black sheep in his backyard.
When I came back, Marko decided to go with a friend of his anyway and I was invited to tag along. I accepted and we got a little guided tour of St Gallen. Marko told that living here was his vacation. In Switzerland, he told me, you mostly get left to go about your business if you don't hurt anyone.
That a country is very conservative and right winged doesn't mean you can't feel at home being left winged, I started to understand. It's all about carving your little piece of existence in whatever environment you choose to live in.
Marko is forty years old and comes from Dresden. Living in the DDR has made him tough. Real chocolate was something you'd get once every six months and you were lucky to get two pieces. The packaging of the DDR chocolate often said "0% cocoa," being made from gross substitutes like pigs blood. The effects of the fall of the wall are still noticeable, as people are still bleeding out of the cities, leaving houses empty, ripe for the squatting fairy to come by with her magic wand. I could go on telling about Eastern Germany, but I'll see it all myself when I visit Dresden.
We went up a lift to Drei Weihern. A lift that used to be operated by two people, powered by the creek next to it, now electrical and automatic. Drei Weihern are three artificial lakes up the mountain. It was nighttime, but I could still see how beautiful it was. A bit further you could walk up stairs and get a real view of the city and see more of the Bodensee. It started to rain, though, so we headed back down. The lift was comparatively slow, as we rushed downhill in the middle of the night.
I put on my pajama and lay down on the bed that served as a couch in the daytime. Eyes closed. Good night.