Currently fanging it down the M1 in Hungary, on our way to Budapest. We are now officially out of the Euro zone, our satnav’s coverage (we forgot to load the extra maps in, whoops), and the special part of Europe where saying English words in a German accent will get pitying Germans to respond in flawless English. We’re not quite at the point where we’ll need our passports and visas, but we should be hitting Turkey tomorrow.
The official rally start was Saturday, called the Festival of Slow at the Goodwood Speedway. We decided the day before to pop over to Wales – a 5-hour drive away – to visit the only shop in the UK that sold spotlights. They cheerfully sold us two spotties and about 10km of cabling and switches and absolutely no instructions. Cue the local B&Q (Bunnings), a cheap cordless drill (which Adon jiggered to run off the car battery), some experimental cabling and some judicious use of The Big Hammer, and the spotlights were both mounted on the bonnet and functional. Though the switches are in the glovebox – being the easiest place to run cables – which is apparently inconvenient for the driver to operate. Personally, I think they’re mounted particularly snazzily, if I do say so myself.
Installing spotlights meant that we got to the pre-launch camping at about 4am, so we got a few hours sleep and headed to the Goodwood Speedway for the rally launch. It was a huge event – hundreds of cars. Mongolian wrestling. Almost everyone had decorated their car more than us – one team had an enormous bull strapped to their roof. We lapped Goodwood, then headed to Dover to get to France. Arrived in France about midnight, and I practiced my rudimentary French to get us into the hostel we had book. Conveniently, we met a Norwegian rallier called Kit on the ferry, who spoke excellent French and was able to translate. We’ve then spent the last few days cruising across Europe with Kit, stumbling our way through four different languages and slowly destroying the clutch and suspension in our poor overloaded Fabia.
We stopped in Klatovy in the Czech Republic for the Mongol Rally Czechout party, which is run by the race organisers. It was a huge event, held in a castle high up in the hills; the view was absolutely amazing, and food and alcohol super cheap. We left Kit (who had to fly back to Brussels to sort out his visas) and headed on to Austria somewhat hungover.
Last night we met up with three other teams – Hit the road, Yak, Ghengis Carnage and another team in a Toyota Yaris – who saw us stopped at a servo and linked up with us. We passed on the official campsite at 50 euros a night, found a patch of grass in a national park near a lake and camped (apparently somewhat illegally). Unfortunately, while we’d purchased some pasta for dinner, it had occurred to anyone to get anything to put on it. Fortunately, being Australian we had some vegemite, so dinner was vegemite, pasta and beer, woo.
We were awoken at about 7am by a park ranger very politely shouting GOOD MORNING, TIME TO WAKE UP, GET OUT OF YOUR TENT, GOOD MORNING and explaining that camping in national parks was verboten, and we had to move on immediately, so we packed up our stuff and headed on the motorway towards Hungary. We plan to hit Romania this evening, and then Turkey tomorrow with luck. Looking forward to Istanbul!
Until next time,