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Claudia Klein-Hitpaß Claudia
Klein-Hitpass:

"I do not want to rush through the countries."

Why traveling?
I was 16 years old when I stood on top of the Empire State Building and I was deeply impressed with the huge and multicultural city of New York. I asked myself, what if the love of your life lives somewhere else in the world, you might never get there and meet him - romantic 16 years old.

In art class, at school, we were supposed to represent ourselves using a white paper and then take a picture with the paper representation. What a stupid idea, we thought back then. But today I remember it well. I made chains of people holding hands out of the paper, formed them into circles and placed myself in one of them and looked into the others. Would I ever be able to get an impression of other cultures?

And then I read the book of Elena Erat and Peter Materne. Finally two globetrotters that did not try to find an extreme experience, alone and against the rest of the world. They encountered the people they met with an open mind. Also they traveled by bicycle - the best possibility to travel. Great! I saw their book, bought it, read it and since then, it was clear: I want to do the same.

Since I found the love of my life, this won't be a reason to travel anymore. But the desire to get an impression of other cultures, to see other countries and the love of traveling is still a very big part of me and gets stronger after every trip.

I would love to visit every single country of the world but I do not want to rush through the countries. Instead I want to have time to really get to know each place.

Why an Album Amicorum?
Many people like to talk about themselves. During this trip I want to get an impression of other cultures in the world. So doesn't it make sense to ask as much as possible and to let people talk about themselves? What are their dreams, their wishes and their ideas?

In the news, we normally hear about countries if something horrible or extreme has happened. There is no room for the small, everyday nice things. They are not extraordinary enough. Often, this gives us a distorted view of people from other countries and cultures.

With our world book of friendship, we want to document our encounters and make them available for others.It would be great if this could be a small contribution to the understanding between the cultures.

Uwe Rotter Uwe Rotter:
"Breakout and open your senses."

Other cultures
A table, 9 people and 6 different nationalities. I will never forget this meeting on my first day at work. Because of my small knowledge of the English language back then, I was not able to participate very well in the conversation, but I enjoyed the different faces and personalities.It was fantastic, almost like in a schoolbook about European cultures.

Due to my work I not only traveled a lot through Europe, I also got an insight into different cultures that you won't get as a tourist. Despite these differences, there were a lot of things we had in common. But very often, these differences make the encounters so interesting.

Traveling by bicycle
After all our trips throughout Europe there is no question for Claudia and me that traveling by bicycle is the best way to meet people in other countries.We never tried to achieve fitness records. For us it is just the nicest way to travel and learn about countries and people.It would not be a taboo for us to travel through uninteresting parts of the route with other means of transportation. On the contrary, traveling by bus or train often gives you a chance for special encounters. Even if it is just the difficulty to get the bicycle in the train. But in the end, there must be enough room in your travel plans for spontaneous decisions. And that is easier traveling by bicycle.

Our dream
To leave Europe and continue riding the bicycle. At the moment, that is an exciting dream. But there is this thing about dreams; as soon as you live them they are no longer dreams. It's clear reality differs from the dream. It's possible that the dream gets tarnished or may hurt sometimes. We have to be prepared for that. Maybe not all encounters during our journey will be as pleasant as a business meeting. But I am sure there will be a lot of contacts that are deeper and even friendlier than a discussion about a research project.

What to do? It's clear, go for your dream and see how it feels. This is what we will do very soon.We'll "Breakout and open the senses".