What I am about to tell you is going to be very hard to believe. Our first lift was an Italian business man who not only took us about 50 kilometres but gave a very good donation in Lira and dropped us at a Motorway Gas station. This is a very good place to get our next lift from and we would very politely go up to the single business men sipping their coffee or having a light meal and ask them if they would take us in the direction of Southern Germany. The route we would take and of course we had an autobahn map would take us through Milan, Bergamo, Trento to Innsbruck. By midnight we were in Austria making very good time.
Then came the ride of our lives. We found a German business man, he was a famous lawyer and had a personal chauffeur driver. They were sipping coffee together and smiled as we approached them and before long we were all aboard. He sat in front while Irmgard and I hung on for grim death in the spacious back seat of a custom built Mercedes.
From time to time I would peer over the front seat to read the speedometer and it seemed fixed on 220 Kilometres an hour. Every slight curve in the Motorway felt like a hairpin bend and we were flung from side to side. What really freaked us both out was the fact that there was no room for error. At that continual speed any slight adjustment to miss another fool or a deer would mean certain death. We were really praying! However he assured us that he often made this trip from Austria to Hamburg and by early morning he dropped us off close to Nuremberg.
We were tired not having slept a wink but were now within about 10 kilometres of my wife's farm in a little village called Lind close to Zirndorf close to Fuerth close to Nuremburg. It took about three more lifts and we were standing outside Irmgard's old farm house. We were expected but not so soon. We had covered the distance in about 13 hours door to door so to speak.
The Father and the Mother were both very nice but were continually working on their farm which boasted 6000 chickens and acres of wheat land which were already sown and waving green in the wind.
Irmgard has a wonderful aunt, the brother of her Father and she had taken care of Irmgard and her elder brother Werner pronounced Vanner, when they were young. They all spoke a weird dialect of German called Frenkish and unless you know it it is pretty hard to understand. The country side was quite beautiful and we borrowed old bikes and made many trips into the woods and surrounding little villages.
Our donations were not all that hot. We had saved about 6 to 700 US$ equivalent in various currencies of Dollars Liras and Marks.
On one of the days we hitched into Nuremberg and wandered through the old city offering our English language Pandita Ramabais to the German folk. Being in English we were not so successful but received a few donations of Marks. We ended up at the train station to try and provision a free meal.
There was an Imbiss snack bar at the east entrance run by a very sweet old lady called Edeltraud Waltzell. We did not know but she had a reputation of being called the angel of the Bahnhof. She gave us a delicious meal and then asked us if we needed anything else. First she offered take away food but we explained that Irmgard's mother and aunt were in competition to feed us but if she would like to make a small contribution for our trip to India, that would be amazing.
She scuttled off and I thought to my self, if she gave 50 or 20 DM that would be awesome rounding of a really good day. When she came back she pressed a note into my hand and as I opened it I realised that it was 1000 DM the biggest donation we had ever received in cash. I started to weep with joy and amazement and thanked her so profusely that she ran off a second time and pressed a second 1000 DM note into my top shirt pocket.
When we got back again hitching all the way, Irmgard's aunt was visibly shocked by our success. "Nothing like that has ever happened to me!" she exclaimed.
One thing I forgot to mention was that at the end of any lift or benefit we not only thanked the driver or helper but also made a point of thanking our Spiritual leader and guide, Jesus Christ. I think that Thankfulness is a real virtue and helps God see that we take nothing for granted.
Now it was time to make our way back to Genoa to catch our Russian Cargo vessel traveling in convoy with an identical sister ship to Bombay. Irmgard's dad generously drove us about 50 kilometres down the motorway and dropped us in a gas station. He seemed sad to see us leave and we would not see him again for many years.
The trip back was quite different and we spent our first night in a hotel up in the Austrian Alps called Mozart. The lady owner a devout Catholic gave us a beautiful room with a delicious breakfast the next day. It was still quite early so we ventured off to the small village and met a famous Austrian Ski Champion who owned a pub and Hotel and he took us in his Jeep for a trip up one of the highest mountains in the area. He dropped us off and then we made our way down sliding on the lush grass slopes back to his Pub where he gave us a beautiful dinner with wine.
The next evening we arrived in Genoa in time to catch the Russian shipping office before it closed. Bad news. The twin vessels had left Greece and made their way straight to Suez without coming up the west coast of Italy to Genoa.