Our apologies for the lack of recent updates — apparently, wireless internet is scarcer than expected in Central/Eastern Europe. Sorry, mom(s)!
Anyway, we write to you from Slavonski Brod, Croatia, after four incredible yet entirely different days. Let’s begin with Monday: we arrived in Prague in the early evening, after enduring several hours of thunderstorms and stop-and-go Autobahn traffic. While we only had time for one night in the city, for Nick and Cooper (who studied here in 2012), these 16 hours were a whirlwind of nostalgia and rememberance. It was tough to say our goodbyes come Tuesday morning, but our tears were dried by prospect of the Mongol Rally “Czech Out Party” located at a castle in southern Bohemia. While the location proved to be more field then castle, we had a blast with the other Ralliers, eating, drinking, being merry, and sharing stories from the road. Additionally, our exhaust had been rattling against the chassis since the Battersea launch, so a helpful Aussie helped us patch up our as-yet unnamed steed.
While we enjoyed sleeping in our too-tall tent for the first time, we had planned to reach Zadar, Croatia, by Wednesday evening (to meet our good friend Isaac for dinner), and so we had to wake up at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning to hit the road. Fortunately, we were treated to eleven hours of some of the most diverse and spectacular landscapes we’ll ever encounter. Beginning in the hilltop towns and golden fields of the southern Czech Republic, we gradually progressed headed into the distinctively Bavarian borderlands of Germany, replete with old timber halls and (we imagine) lederhosen-clad beer maids. Shortly after, we traversed the eastern reaches of the Austrian Alps, before descending into Mediterranean Slovenia, and then cruising across Croatia just in time to catch a spectacular sunset over the Adriatic. And we made our dinner with Isaac (as well as his ever-present sister).
A thoroughly enjoyable night out in Zadar somehow reenergized us, and we awoke at a reasonable hour Thursday morning, excited to make the famous drive down the Dalmatian Coast to Dubrovnik. The drive took longer than expected, but was just as spectacular as the previous day’s: for nearly six hours we hugged the beaches and cliffs overlooking the crystal-clear Adriatic, while faster cars waited (not-so) patiently behind. Benjie videoed himself woo-ing out the window while Nick learned manual in a sort of trial-by-fire manner and Cooper took pictures of Benjie videoing himself and of Nick repeatedly stalling out next to a crowded beach.
We arrived in Dubrovnik in time for a seafood extravaganza dinner in the old city. While Game of Thrones fans may recognize Dubrovnik as the primary inspiration for King’s Landing, we recognized it as too crowded, and much preferred the quiet Adriatic beach by our campsite, where we bathed in the azure waters before falling asleep to the not-so-gentle sounds of Benjie’s sonorous snoring.
While the drive down to Dubrovnik was stunning, we realized somewhere along the way that we had kind of cornered ourselves, as the only ways out were either back the way we came or across the slow and potentially dangerous roads of Bosnia or Montenegro. After much deliberation, we decided on an indirect Bosnian route that took us through the picturesque town of Mostar before leading us up the center of the country, past the war-torn capital of Sarajevo, and finally spitting us out on Croatia’s northern fork.
This turned out to be the best decision we could have made, as Bosnia (and, lest we forget, Herzegovina) was unexpectedly gorgeous. Dramatic mountain landscapes, turquoise rivers, and cool winds accompanied us along the winding roads leading to Sarajevo – not to mention a picturesque
Bruce Lee statue bridge and a delicious meat-and-bread lunch in Mostar. Aside from an unfortunate Sarajevo traffic jam (smoggy grey rain included), which ultimately precluded a visit into the center of the city, we steadily crawled our way up the country and made it safely back across the Croatian border. We may only be an hour past where we were two days ago, as the crow flies, but this was certainly a worthy detour. And if we were looking for the most direct way, we would’ve flown to Mongolia.
We arrived in Slavonski Brod utterly famished — although Nick, having already eaten one meat-and-bread meal today, rejected his teammates’ pleas for a quick and easy kebab dinner, instead opting for a vegetable-less fish meal at the riverside. Now, we’re looking forward to a good night’s rest before we set off for Serbia and Bulgaria tomorrow morn.
Lastly, we have some exciting news: our satellite tracking device is finally up and running, so you can now monitor our progress in real-time! Click here to view the tracking map on a new page.
Thanks for reading!
The beer journal: Czech Republic
Rainy Prague at night
Zipping through Bohemia
Flight Chief Jenkins prepares the drone at the Czech Out party. (Note our palatial tent in the background.)
Using our Goal Zero solar panels to charge our phones.
Tossing a frisbee in a Czech field
Fire dancers at the Czech Out party
Our “repaired” exhaust
One of Austria’s countless mountain peaks…
Followed by one of Austria’s countless mountain tunnels
Safe and sound in Zadar, Croatia
Look who we found! (Hint: it’s Isaac)
A roadside vendor’s wares, somewhere along the Dalmatian Coast
Dubrovnik, Croatia, from above
Celebratory team beers in Dubrovnik
Tourists. Lots and lots of them
Caught in a massive traffic jam in northern Bosnia