And Into the Balkans We Go!

Under the late afternoon sun Monday, our bus cast long shadows along the sunflower fields and rolling hills of Bohemia. The hilltops were still saturated in the afternoon light as we buzzed through Klatovy on our way to the Klenova Castle, the 13th century site of the Mongol Rally Czechout Party. 320 teams turned up for the Arabian Nights themed party, and it was quite a sight to see a thousand men and women fraternizing on a picturesque Czech hilltop dressed as Bedouin men and variations of Princess Jasmine. We arrived blaring the very un-Czech tunes of Amr Diab from our sound system and promptly set up our croquet set.

After a mélange of medieval/arab/drum-n-bass themed dancing, we departed Klenova the next morning with three more teammates than we arrived with. Matt, Chief of India for the Adventurist’s Rickshaw Run, and his girlfriend were looking for a ride to Budapest and we happily obliged. Tommy, Viceroy of Content for the Adventurists, decided to come along as an embedded journalist of sorts through to Istanbul. This decision was made at 4:15 in the morning while he was wearing a djalaba and a fez which was cocked slightly to the left.

We made it about 1,000 miles from the UK before our first run in with the authorities on Tuesday morning. Headed southeast from Prague around noon, we were promptly pulled over for failing to use our headlights in a tunnel. Two officers approached the bus to see the nine of us patiently seated, most of us wearing novelty hats of some sort. One officer took out his English language translation book, and asked Jamie for her ID. “Mah-sah-chew-setts,” one officer skeptically proclaimed. After a quick breathalyzer we got a thumbs up and were on our way in the direction of Brno. Dipping through Slovakia around dusk on Tuesday, we made it to a friend’s house in Budapest by evening.

While the bus has given us a few headaches navigating inner cities, all in all it has proven to be a fabulous vehicle thus far. We pull in to cities before nightfall and a group of people immediately congregate around our bus asking what we are doing, where we are headed, etc. In Heidelberg, DE two college students asked if we could drive them around and listen to Sting’s “Englishman in New York.” We obliged. In Plzen, CZ, a Mongolian woman gave us her sister’s contact information in Ulaanbaatar while her daughter played around on the bus. On the Hungarian/Croatian border Wednesday morning, a team of eight or so border police boarded the bus just to look around and inquire about the trip. As I write this, a Croatian toll booth operator is holding us at his booth while he plays “Sweet Home Alabama” on his stereo. Looking beyond the toll plaza, we can see the highway begin to curve downwards to the Adriatic far below, where the last glimmers of sunlight scatter across the water. We are headed to Split, HR and very much looking forward to our fifth night and some hopeful sun tomorrow for our day off on the Dalmatian Coast.


About Grif

Going to Mongolia
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