Meeting Norbert for the first time felt like greeting an old friend. Through all the Mongol Rally planning, updating, and drama; we had talked a lot, which made us both feel that we had already known one another for years.
Throwing down my backpack, in our comfortable Go With Oh Apartment, we started talking about the upcoming adventure.
Yep, in one day, we would start the journey of a life time, covering 10,000 miles, 19 countries, and 2 continents in only six short, action packed weeks!
The next morning, I met our final team member, Alex, and saw our chariot, a 2005 Hyundai Gezt, named Lizy.
I’m relieved to say that our team clicks well. Alex used to produce video games, which also used to be a massive hobby of mine, a subject which we could both talk about for hours.
Of course, Norbert and I are both travel bloggers, so we have an infinite amount of things to discuss. The best thing is that we are all seasoned travelers. The world is a vast place, and we have all explored different parts of it. A lot of the conversation reverts to one of us sharing their favorite places and experiences on this beautiful planet while the other two sit back and eagerly listen.
Of course, this always leads to questions which lead to another story and on and on we go. Travelers can talk about travel forever. This gives me confidence that we will make it through the next five or six weeks without murdering one another while driving in the Gobi desert in a cramped car. One thing is for sure, for the next month it will be close quarters.
So what have we been doing so far?
Day 1: The first night was the launch party at Bodiam Castle. The Adventurist know how to put on quite a show. The party was full of music, sword-fighting, and Mead.
My personal highlight was the jousting matches. There was even a jousting match between a knight on a horse and a knight on top of a car.
Day 2: We got a late start to Mongolia due to the vast number of raillers leaving. We had to race to catch our 1 o’clock ferry across the English Channel. Alex had to put the pedal to the metal, gunning the car up to 110 miles an hour. We made it to the ferry with a few minutes to spare.
From France, we crossed into Belgium and had waffles in Bruges before heading on to Luxembourg. We decided to cross into Germany before stopping for the night.
Unfortunately, we had difficulty finding a place to sleep and walked around a small German town where every single hotel was priced at 99 Euros. All of us are too cheap to pay that price so eventually we opted to sleep in the car.
Day 3: We drove and drove and by we, I mean Alex. At this point Norbert and I still hadn’t driven, both being a little timid to get behind the wheel with the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car.
We finally arrived in Czech. It was another night to gather and meet fellow ralliers, aka the people who will be pulling us out of a ditch in a couple weeks.
Day 4: Alex drove us to Prague, a city I never want to leave and never get enough time in. We spent the evening wandering the city, seeing the sights and taking it all in before calling it an early night to get an early morning start (which didn’t happen).
Day 5: Norbert took the plunge and started driving! He picked up driving on the other side of the street like a charm. As I’m typing this, he just drove us out of the Czech Republic and over the Hungarian border where we had to pay our first bribe of the trip – 20 Euros.
Day 6: We took the day to explore Budapest. It was my first time here, and I was really impressed with the city. That night Norbert went back to take a nap and Alex, and I went out for a few drinks.
After stumbling in at 3:30 a.m. in the morning, we decided that Alex and I could sleep in the car, and Norbert could drive us to Romania in time to get to the beach party.
Day 7: Have you ever been the in the car 20 hours? Yesterday (which is day seven) we were. We drove through the Transfăgărășan, which is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges I’ve ever been.
After that, I started driving! I drove the last 6 hours to a beach where we slept. Driving on the right side of the car in the right lane was not nearly as hard as I excepted, although I need to work on driving in roundabouts.
Tomorrow the route is up in the air. However it looks like Istanbul is the top contender.
One thing we decided for sure is that we are going to Moscow when we enter Russia. It is a city we all want to see, and let’s be honest; who knows when any of us will be in Russia again.
In short, the first week of the rally has gone smoothly and without incident (knock on wood). Wish us luck, for soon the route will get more remote and barren. Things could get entertaining. Stay tuned for more.