First blog from the road! And it starts with paying a parking ticket… great start team!
We set off from London on Sunday after a police escorted convoy round Battersea Park and Central London. But in the true spirit of the Mongol Rally everyone soon got lost and so we made our own way out. We said an emotional goodbye to Will (he’s re-joining us in Istanbul on Friday) and his seat then hit the motorway to Dover and Europe.
After a very uneventful ferry Lexi got her wheels onto Continental soil/tarmac and we were off! France, Belgium and after a last minute decision Netherlands (a Rallier mentioned that we were possibly on to set the record for the most countries visited but we don’t actually know if this is true) passed us by with little to note other than seeing some other Rally cars. . Germany welcomed us as day became night and we got our ﬁrst taste of the Autobahn. Lexi sure can ﬂy – 140kmph and only 1,000 revs! What a car we have! We went onto our ﬁrst campsite and realised that we’d left behind all our utensils, cutlery and mugs (no tea for us!) so had to fashion something out of tin foil that would let us eat our Super Noodles!
Beautiful European weather….yeah….stormy rainclouds turned into torrential rain just as we packed up our camp. Brilliant. That didn’t dampen our spirits though as we quickly returned to the Autobahn and the hunt for the mysterious German town of Ausfahrt continued. Seriously every junction in Germany seems to leads to this town.
We never did find Ausfahrt, must be a magical place
At a service station in on the road, we met a lovely couple who were intrigued by our journey and in Turk-lish, Sadik and ‘his Frau’ also on their way to Turkey must have taken pity on us and loaded our car full of snacks! Thank you both!
The first of many random acts of kindness on our adventure
We got honked at on Autobahn and ﬁrst thought it was because Ash was going 150kmph (90mph), which is about the limit on a level road, but turned out it was another Rallier on their way past
Nuremberg. Apparently Austria is quite hilly and old cars, including poor Lexi, struggles with anything over about a 6 degree gradient.…Pamir highway is going to be fun – luckily Will is going to be there to help us push. Not even joking!! After a nice dinner of meat (for Henry) and potato (again!) we realised that where we’d set up camp happened to be in one of the red light districts of Vienna…oops!
We hit the 1000 mile milestone today, a tenth of the trip complete in two and half days, the easy part of the journey done, only going to get tougher/more fun from now.
And shortly after at the, Slovakian-Hungarian border we were stopped by the police, ﬁned for not having a Slovakian highway sticker. He went onto showing us photos of the signs at the border crossing telling us where to collect a ticket from….they weren’t very obvious! We were not best pleased. We used our charm and persuaded the police officer that as this was partly for charity and how our Czech Skoda was easily going to make the 10,000 mile trip, rather than the ﬁne he was quite adamant on giving us, we slipped him a few euros in between some paper and drove on not looking back. Lesson learnt though and we now have more highway stickers than you could shake a stick at. Assuming of course you couldn’t shake a stick at more than two.
Entering Croatia was entertaining, we must have been mistaken by the border guards as to marijuana drug smugglers, wearing a t-shirt/shirt, shorts combo in flip-flops in the rain and our story of traveling 16,000 km in this particularly old looking car seemed to amuse them and an unlikely story, as you can imagine a chat in a back room and a baggage check proceeded. Thankfully no cavity search. We just kept telling him about our trip, whether he wanted to hear or not (I am sure many of you reading this felt the same when being around one of us in the run up to this trip), it worked though… he reconsidered searching the full car (thankfully!) and then happily crossed off Croatia on the bonnet….he did change his tune a very quickly when Henry took a photo of him. He really did not appreciate this and made Henry delete any photos, as it was ‘highly illegal’… little did he know, our mounted GoPro picked him up, we really are such rebels! He wished us ‘Good Luck’ and we were off.
It’s been hard to pick favourite countries as all have been genuinely beautiful but Croatia has offered a great variation from majestic tree covered mountains and valleys to wide open flats and we are now enjoying late evening views of the Adriatic Sea from the Dalmatian coast line in Split, Croatia. The owner of the guesthouse we’re staying did a bit of Facebook stalking of Henry before we arrived and told her husband that he’s going to have competition tonight. Never has Henry looked so scared!
Well, from all of us here at 5 camels 1 chameleon you stay classy planet Earth.