Setting off

We soon stopped at a local petrol station. We needed to buy Slovenian and Austrian vignette. Why? Well, we wanted to reach the starting point.

We applied the vignettes quickly and have taken off. And it immediately became apparent our Pierre isn’t as nippy as before we loaded it up. A steep hill confirmed it. We were, however, surprised at how Pierre kept up with everyone on a highway. Not everyone, obviously, but we were able to keep up with the trucks. We were enjoying the drive on this magnificent highway on a picturesque Saturday.

We were marveling on how comfortable Pierre felt and how well we were doing. But there was tension in the air. There was a good chance Pierre’s cooling system in not as leak free as it should be. We stopped in Maribor. Mateja went to get some shopping done and I made sure there was no air in the cooling system and have made it leak free at last. Or at least I hoped so. The stop was short and we were on our way in no time. At the next incline we heard some noise coming from the front left side. I kind of suspected the wheel bearing might be on it’s way out. As we wanted to reach the start we ignored the noise and were making good progress towards Prague.

Change

The time was passing by and so did the kilometres. And with every passing kilometre it became more and more obvious we wouldn’t make it to Prague in the same day. Who knew being late for a few hours would have such consequences? We were looking for an alternative place for the overnight stay while we were driving. After looking at the map we saw we’d be driving very close to Brno. I always wanted to go there. But not for the night life, architecture or luscious greenery. They host the MotoGP races at the Brno track. Although there were no such races on that weekend, and that we’d have no time to visit them, at least the name sounded familiar. With the help of the popular hotel booking app we found a hotel, booked it at set its location in the GPS app. But it still looked like we’d get there in the middle of the night.

And sure enough, we managed to reach the hotel at one in the morning. We went to get checked in. The receptionist told us it’s nice we dropped by, and that we need to go to the neighbouring hotel. We walked there with all our luggage. The sleep was nice and the breakfast was delicious.

We drove of in our Pierre towards Prague. We were full of energy and the spirits were high. Our progress was soon hindered by a traffic jam. The first traffic jam. We knew our Pierre doesn’t like waiting around and becomes quite impatient while doing so. After quite some time the traffic finally started moving again toward the starting point near Prague and I floored the accelerator with great relief. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long as we soon got stuck in another jam.

It looks like the Czech drivers like to admire other cars. Their enthusiasm sometimes causes them to take a look too close. At times like that they seem to rear end the other car… With Pierre still complaining with waiting we continued our drive on some B roads. Which also gave us the opportunity to look for an ATM. We really needed some local currency in cash. Of course we took some wrong turns and have ended up on some dead end roads, but we soon saw the most beautiful sight. A small castle on the hill and a picturesque street with an ATM.

We got on the road again, slightly heavier due to Check korunas in our pockets. Multiple accidents with traffic jams have dictated our path. We were driving on the highway and on the B roads. And the clock was marching towards noon. Towards the time the start would open. We still had a long way to go. With the accidents still being the most common pass time activity for the locals, we had our work cut out finding detours. We also made a few mistakes along the way. The most prominent one was when we finally got around one traffic jam and were on our way to re-join the motorway and we took a wrong ramp, going in an opposite direction. We drove by the whole thing knowing, we’d have to go there again. It was quite depressing.

The weather didn’t really know what it wants on that Sunday. We had some rain on our way, and some sunshine, and some clouds. With only half an hour to go all hell broke loose. There was wind, the day almost became night and the downpour almost flooded the road. But the mother nature only tried to help us with the testing of our roof bag. And it did a really great job.

We’ve arrived at the start point at 17:00. It was all wet and the amount of mud was just overwhelming. We were both thinking the same thing: “Great. First day of camping and we’ll have to raise the tent in mud…”. The rain became lighter and lighter. But it didn’t stop and we only managed to get one of the tents up. Oh… And the downpour test was great. Unfortunately, our waterproof roof bag proved not to be so waterproof. Almost everything was wet, but the sleeping bags were dry. Luckily.

The downpour resumed once the first tent was up. And being a well prepared team we had our covers and an umbrella in Pierre. Which wasn’t near the tent. I went to fetch the thing meant to keep us dry quite slowly, and Mateja was enjoying the tenting experience in the meantime. When the rain finally stopped we raised the other tent. With all of the choirs done we went to do some exploring. To see what’s going on and what cars other brought with them.

The start village was magnificent. It looked like something that would fit into the Mad Max franchise perfectly. Old modded cars, mannequins and sculptures. It suited the start shenanigans of the Mongol Rally 2019 perfectly. The official programme soon started followed by the party. The details of the night will not be described here. I will let them follow it’s course with the word of mouth or will let them perish in history. Some parts of it might even become a legend. But I will not write them down or show photos. Well, I will show some photos, but the camera wasn’t in my hand very long.

D Day

The morning was cold. Mateja and I later talked about how comfortable camping really is. But the morning wasn’t long for me as I started to annoy some unfortunate souls sleeping near Pierre quite early. I really wanted to find out what was causing the noise. I soon found out my energy level isn’t that great and I gave up on being a mechanic. Just for the morning. I transferred all my energy to some pleasant conversations with other participants always searching for coffee and food. As there was no smell of any of the food of coffee stuff I also put the search on hold. And then super-fresh Mateja came around the corner. Together we were having conversations with others and have been sniffing out coffee and food. It all became available after quite a wait. The breakfast was delicious, and coffee was delicious too.

I could sense the tension rising. The climax of the start shenanigans was approaching. The start. I could feel the care-free fun ending and something (at least slightly) more serious starting. After a start ceremony we went to our cars beginning the wait for each team to cross the start ramp.

It was lovely to see all the participants in one place. I could see worry, Joy, excitement, tiredness and lots of other thing on their faces. But foremost I could see a desire. What desire? Desire to live an adventure, making new friends, finding deadly roads on just finding parties. But I think we all had a desire for an adventure in common. And I think we were all wondering if our paths will ever cross again.

Our Mongol Rally 2019 started at around 14:00. It felt good finally getting going on an adventure we were waiting for so long. It felt great going over the start ramp and setting off. We were both enjoying the moment basking in the beautiful energy which radiated from the whole place.

And the next moment we were driving, searching for other participants, shopping and searching for an overnight stay. The Mongol Rally 2019 has begun. We knew we had to go south and east a bit. Where can we get to?

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