A new way of traveling: car pooling

Marie Damman
Marie Damman

December is a month really busy for all of us. During this holiday season, I decided to go to visit my German friends in Bavaria. But, December is also the last full month I am going to spend in my home country for years. To live in Belgium is really useful when we want to go traveling. We are close to everything. I also wanted to take this occasion to visit Berlin on my way to visit my friends, but how would I do that with the few budget I have? I remembered my French friends talking about car pooling.

It is led by a French guy, Frédéric Mazzella since 2006, Bla Bla Car was first covoiturage, which mean car pooling in French. With this company, I could travel from Berlin to Wurzburg, then back to Belgium through Frankfurt for around 50 euros. The crossed distance was 991 km. The website is really clear to book a trip. You mostly pay to the driver directly or online through your credit card for France and Belgium.

The first trip was from Berlin to Wurzburg, which was 484 km. I was really glad to find a girl who was my age to travel with for the first time. She drove well, without making any stop. The other passenger was another German girl. So, I didn’t talk so much with them but I was listening, and sometimes, trying to practice my German. Anyway, I could always ask them in English, they were really friendly.

The second ride was from Berlin to Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the driver I found didn’t write her phone number on the website so I couldn’t directly contact her, until the previous day when she told me she isn’t doing that road anymore. This is an advice for next time: always check if you can see the driver’s phone number. Likely, I found a bus a bit earlier and a bit more expensive, but it was okay.

Finally, I rode from Frankfurt to Brussels. That ride was amazingly funny. First of all, I wasn’t sure if I understood well the meeting point so I asked a couple, and the guy was actually taking the same ride as me. Then, we found the last passenger as well. Another girl, coming with her boyfriend to say goodbye. So we were five waiting for a guy. We were Spanish, Italian, and me Belgian. The driver was from Cameroun. Apparently, he said to one of us that a girl would take the car. It started already to get suspicious. Then, a guy came out, but he wasn’t the driver we talked to, he was his brother. I also forgot to mention that the car was an hour late, and we didn’t get information, but when we asked for them.

It started really badly, so the actual driver was really apologising. He also drove well, without stopping. On the way, we talked European politic, which was really interesting and funny with all of us, we spoke culture, debates about a lot of news. We drove around 4 hours, with the Spanish guy sitting in front and the driver, speaking the whole way, in French and in English.

This is why car pooling is a nice way to travel. It is not only about finding cheap rides. You meet people, you get to discuss with them. Both of the Spanish guy and the Italian girl were going to Frankfurt for the weekend, to visit their soulmates. They started to travel together then and to give each other advice about which driver to take or not. Of course, you need time to travel like this, when you’re on holiday, you take your time anyway, because, yes the car was an hour late and yes you don’t really know where it is going to drop you off. If it is nice one, like the Cameroun driver, he stops on the road, where it would closer for you.

At the end, we passed through the Belgian national strike, and everybody left the car one by one on the road, exchanging good experiences of traveling.


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