I am writing to you from the Autobahn in Germany, sitting on the passenger side and serving as co-pilot to Alex, who has driven the first 600km from Bodiam Castle in the UK to our current position, somewhere close to Öhringen, Germany. We are on day two of the Mongol Rally, but before I move on, I must rewind to let you know what happened in the last few weeks of planning and during the StartUp Party in Bodiam Castle.
As you might have noticed if you’ve followed the social media updates, we are now a team of three. Leif had to drop out of the team at the last minute. Without much time, we didn’t even bother to look for another teammate and settled on three teammates.
Just 5 days before the StartUp Party on the 13th of July, I flew to Miami from Brazil to pick up a few packs from our sponsors: ExOfficio, OneSimCard, and XCOM Global. And after that long layover, I was London bound!
Once in London, I checked in our GowithOh apartment in Camden, where we would spend a few nights before the party. I have to tell you, this one bedroom apartment is SWEET! It’s all modern, with a nice kitchen (not that we cooked much) and a comfy living space. It’s in a really cool area in London where there are a lot of bars, restaurants, and it’s quite close to most major sights in the center of London.
Stephen and I had sort of a send off party at the apartment with some of our friends in London, and the following morning we were off to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex to meet with the rest of the team departing from the UK and to have the official StartUp Party!
It was quite an experience arriving at the castle ruins, and seeing over 170 small, shitty cars parked in front of it – all covered in vinyl decals, markers, flags, and everything in between. We quickly dressed our car, Lizzy, with her Drama of Llama decals and our sponsor decals before heading out to registration and partying!
I have to tell you that the party at Bodiam Castle has been one of the most surreal parties I’ve been. You’re inside the ruins of a castle surrounded by a moat, being served mead and other alcohols by medieval peasant characters, with a classical band playing beautiful music, and an arrange of crazy rally people dressed in all fashions and non-fashions. The night continued with all sort of craziness and ended with a hay fight… yes, hay!
On the morning of the 14th, we had a quick ceremony and around 11:30am, we crossed the start up stage with our car, and we were waved off to our adventure.
Since Stephen and I are too chicken to drive on the right side of the car (yet!) we left Alex to drive for us in the UK and the first few countries until we hit an empty spot to practice our right hand driving on the right side of the street, and most importantly, our manual shift skills! (we are on day two and we still haven’t done it! That’s how chicken we’ve been… but also, we are pressed to get to Czech Republic today, so Alex would be a faster driver… for now).
In summary, our first day driving went excellent and it looked like this:
- Breakfast in Bodiam, UK
- A quick drive to take the ferry from Dover, UK to Calais, France
- A waffles and beer stop in Brugge, Belgium
- Dinner stop in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (New country for me!)
- And finally we slept in the car in a park area along the Autobahn close to Mannheim, Germany. We knew the chances of sleeping in the car during the rally were high, but we were not expecting to do it on the VERY FIRST NIGHT!!! The hostels in Mannheim were too expensive, and since we are cheap bastards, the car looked very appealing to us.
On another note… that was FIVE countries in ONE day!! New Record!
Along the way we updated our location on the Adventurists map through text messaging, thanks to our international sim cards from OneSimCard, and stayed connected (and cheated with Google maps… ooops!) thanks to our international mobile WiFi hotspot from XCOM Global.
We are currently in the Czech Republic, where we met again most teams on the Czechout Party at Klenova Castle -that party was too crazy!- and from here everyone starts spreading out to their own routes. Also at the castle grounds we had our first bubu of the rally… we drove our left rear tire into a ditch!! Ha! It was no big deal, though, since we managed to pull it out easily. A bit of practice for the rougher roads ahead!
The next post will be from Prague!