As of writing it is now Launch Day +8. But before I’ll have you read this wall of text, check out our two latest video roundups from our eastern European leg of the Mongol Rally! Both of them feature our new best friends and convoy members Antoine and Coco from Team Khan you Keep https://www.facebook.com/4ltrophyepfl/?fref=tsUp, and the Prague footage also features our good friend Spyros who was nice enough to host us for a night.
So we left off the previous blog on July 17th, the Launch Day, when we crossed the channel to France. Our day in France I really have nothing special to write about. We stayed in Epernay, bought some way overpriced calamaris that tasted like nothing, and that was about it. Mandatory photo of our shitty food.
The next day we drove to Heidelberg in southwest Germany to refuel at the first party/pit-stop of the Mongol Rally. Other than having a drink or two this really wasn’t that special either, except for this guy who took the refueling part very seriously. Basically he was drinking a one liter can of beer (what I’ve never seen before really) with 10% alcohol. That’s one way to make sure you leave with a delay the next morning.
We did decide to cook some stuff and got in a fiery food debate. Luca’s clearly a quality and Italian tradition kind of guy, whereas I really don’t care as long as there is a lot of stuff (especially meat) in the pan. So I wanted to just cook some veggies, add some tuna and spread, when Luca informed me that I could really not call that “pasta,” and he was adamant about not having any tuna in his. I then insinuated that such food habits as not putting tons of meat/fish in dishes and despising me for drinking milk with basically everything may explain why Italians don’t grow as tall as Dutch people do. That didn’t really go over well either. Anyway, he basically took out his portion of just veggies and some pasta, while I then enjoyed some quality “junkyard minutes” where I just dumped everything in the pan and continued cooking.
I guess future cooking arrangements are going to be interesting.
On the 19th we drove off to Prague to meet with our good friend Spyros. When I was driving in the morning Luca decided to take a nap once we were on a highway that we’d have to follow for 330km according to Luca’s google maps. When he woke up we turned out to have driven the wrong way completely, where I blame Luca’s phone really. His google maps has lead us to quite some interesting and unnecessary long routes already, so yeaa… Must be the phone. I totally followed the big road everywhere.. I think.
We drove the Spyros’ house, who moved to Prague a few months back for work and who we knew from our time in Groningen. Here he is checking out the digs.
We had some beers with a view. Not too shabby
The name of the place where we bought beers was a bit dubious
The bar was right on the hill overlooking Prague that used to feature a Stalin statue in the Soviet Union days that has since been demolished. But, you know, he did kill a couple of people? So calling your bar after him is a bit odd? Ah well, eastern Europe.
We also did touristy stuff.
The next morning we drove off to Budapest for the second Mongol Rally party/pit-stop. First thing we did once we got in was to go for one of the spa’s, obviously. Unfortunately we couldn’t take a photo inside the baths itself so all the proof we have is this lame shot
Then again, some other people have taken photos of it in the past I guess. The place is called Kiraly baths if anyone fancies a stay there. We’d highly recommend it.
Then… the party. What more can I say than just check out the first video at the top. This morning after picture should sum up how our night went!
From Budapest onward we started convoying with our two French friends Antoine and Coco. Funny story, Coco is the roommate of one of Luca’s best friends, which is how we all met. Basically they can make their 1.1liter Peugeot 205 go 160km/h, which really doesn’t make any sense. I mean, physics. How does that even work? Then again they are engineers so who knows what they’ve done to the thing. Basically, we’re just barely hanging on whenever they’re on the highway and we are totally slowing them down really.
Oh and they have a proper catchphrase on the back
While the French guys may have some funny slogans on their car, we aren’t without text either! So Luca suggested to put our names as well as a nationality flag on the driver side window. Rally style. He also insisted to include our blood type in case of emergence, and this is where it gets a little tricky… I don’t know mine. The week before leaving I called my doctor if he knew my blood type, but he basically laughed at me for not remembering whether I ever had my blood tested or not. I guess I hadn’t. Anyway, we figured we could turn this small issue into something funny instead.
As we left Budapest on 21st of July not so early in the morning, we knew we’d have a meetup and party on the east coast of Romania right on the Black Sea. Rather than go for the fastest route over two days, we decided to camp out just beyond Sibiu, Romania, so we could do the Transfagarasan Highway on the morning of the 22nd. Just before dark we drove up to a field owned by some unaware farmer, who soon later had 20-30 Mongol Rally cars camping out on his small camping area. As there 4 were roughly 4 non-Mongol Rally tents and campers out there, this must have been this guys’ Christmas.
The next morning we drove up the highway in a convoy full of old model Fiat Panda’s. Check the second video up top for some awesome shots!
The Mongol Rally organization arranged six camera(wo)men to follow around some teams during the trip, and it just so happened that the lead Panda in our convoy had one of those six documentary makers with them. The guy basically shot the entire way up and down the highway from the roof-deck of the car, so our brightly colored Fiat may even get some cameo attention if the Mongol Rally documentary/mini-series ever hits!
Anyway, here are some shots from the Bandit Cam that we had on the roof-deck for the trip up and down!
Oh and we found the moose head guys again!
We also met the boys of Team AWOL Rascals who had this phenomenal sticker on their windshield. They may want to remove that before they head into some of the next countries of the trip though… just sayin’
After all that awesomeness in the morning we drove to Constanta, Romania, which really felt like a poor-man’s Lloret de Mar. While the beach was pretty sweet, some 5km to either side you just saw huge industrial harbors or something of the sort. Not exactly enticing. We don’t really have photo footage since we didn’t feel the place was worthy really, so just have a look at the Romania round-up video up top instead!
Oh yea then we also had this beach party there that night. Let’s just say I had a really good time at the beach party which resulted in me having a really not good time at the beach camping the morning after. Snapchat mood
On the 23rd we set out for Bulgaria, as we eventually decided to just go through Turkey as initially planned. By all means it seems more than stable and safe enough for us as tourists to go in, so we decided to just roll with it. Before we got to Bulgaria though, we decided to do some roadside barbecue in the middle of nowhere in Southeast Romania to kill the hangover a little bit. Gorgeous place isn’t it?
We finished up our semi-hungover days with a small visit to Nessebar, Bulgaria, where we were treated to this view over dinner,
After crashing at a camping we crossed into Turkey on the 24th and spent the night and the day after in Istanbul. But that’s another story for another blog, hopefully coming before the end of the coming weekend!
Luca & Abel