Friends, I am sad to report some very bad news. We've had to stop the journey after only two days. We had an accident yesterday in Serbia and Pandora cannot continue the journey. Fortunately, David and I are safe and no one was hurt, but the car was damaged in such a way that makes repair impractical, if not impossible. The cost to repair the car is more than its value and it could take as long as a week or more to fix, which would make reaching Mongolia in a timely way that works for all team members impossible. It was also made clear to us that even if the car were fixed, the repairs might not survive the trip to Mongolia. read more »
Spoke too soon. Traffic is at a dead standstill. All cars are off. Everyone is out of their vehicles having a smoke and just hanging out. Bridge is closed for the next hour, so things will hopefully start moving again soon. The real concern is the ground in the median strip, which has lots of little holes in it and is making rattling sounds. Anyone know if Serbia has rattle snakes?
Were in Serbia and on the way to Sofia. Driving down the highway through corn, sunflower, kale and lavender fields. Very pretty.
Serbia was our first real international border crossing. Officially left the EU. After a pointless detour to a very depressing Hungarian border town, where we thought we had to go to get out vehicle import bond released, we think we sorted it all out at the actual highway border. The check should hopefully be on the way. Sadly, though, we had to buy expensive car insurance for the 3 hours we'll be driving across Serbia. It's a big racket; necessary to drive through Serbia and bypass Romania, which could add hours to the drive , if not a whole day; and I'm sure it won't cover anything if we need it. read more »
We made it to Budapest! In classic rally spirit, we hauled today. 789 miles in 12 hours, crossing 4 countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary), and arriving before midnight (11:59:34 to be precise). Pandora was a champ and really hit her groove Competition for worst radio was a toss-up between Slovakia with "Rhinestone Cowboy" and Hungary with Ace of Base playing simultaneously on 2 stations. Though Hungary redeemed itself with a great New Orleans jazz station. Car snacks today included currywurst flavored chips and haribo gummy bears - the best of Germany! Tomorrow: another long drive from Budapest to Sofia, Bulgaria via Serbia.
Success! Pandora was unloaded off the boat finally and we are now racing down the autobahn to Budapest. It's a 10 to 12 hour drive, but we think we can make it there before midnight. Getting the car was actually relatively painless, though going through customs was a bit slow. They were a little confused that the final destination was Mongolia. Now all I have to do us make sure I get my import bond refunded when I depart from the EU.
As today is a massive drive day, we don't have any cultural, political, etc. observations for this entry. However, we've been shocked by the number of trailers/lorries on the road; proof that the German economy is still very healthy. There's also tons of windmills, showing how far ahead Germany and Europe is than America with renewable energy. read more »
The car failed to unload today and we are still stuck in Bremerhaven. Bremerhaven is a nice town with lovely people who have been very nice, but at this point it feels like a massive airport terminal. We have walked the length of town a dozen times and being here is some unique purgatory. Hopefully the car comes off early tomorrow. Were going to try to make up time and get to Budapest as quick as we can.