West, Central Europe (blog)

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Nov 18, 2007

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Hello there people.

The first two days of the trip were solid driving (Belgium and Germany) with camping in very cold weather, forming frost on part of my tent one morning. However the first night I slept solidly - sleeping bags are so cozy, especially when I am fully dressed with a fleece on as well!

After a pleasant drive through the hills of East Germany we hit the Czech border, literally. On passing under the check point roof our 4m high vehicle broke the border sign that hung from the 4.5m check point roof. The check point police were not happy to say the least, contacting the transport police who realised upon their arrival that the sign shouldn't have been hung there in the first place. After 2.5hrs of bearucracy (and a pee in a police cell, it was the only available toilet!) we headed to Prague, escorted part of the way as an apology by the Czech police for holding us up.

In Prague I met up with Lukas, a Czech exchange student from the 3rd year of my studies. That eve Lukas showed me around the utterly deserted and beautiful Prague castle followed by a few beers in a favourite pub of his. 50p for half a litre of Staropraman aint bad.

The accomodation Lukas stays in is part of a stadium complex built last century during communist rule. The stadium is the largest in Europe but because of its size it is no longer used and a Sparta Prague FC training building sits within it. Staying here was like stepping into the past, utilitarian communist architecture, nice to experience this part of Prague's history.

The following day Lukas acted as a guide, showing me more places I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Czech cuisine was very nice but quite odd - I was eating beef stew accompanied with squirty cream! It doesn't sound too appetizing but the cream complemented the extremely sweet sauce very well. No dessert required!

After spending two nights in Prague we travelled to Vienna, across the flat plains of Southern Czech Rep. I sat up front in the cab with our driver Iain which was a very nice change from sitting in the back. Luckily the tomtom works up to the Austrian - Hungary border so no navigating needed on my behalf, all I was doing was help look out for height and weight restrictions (our truck is 16 tonnes, even when empty!).

Vienna is a stunningly grand city with an extensive amount of baroque (I think) architecture throughout its centre, showing Austria's powerful past. After a walk past cathedral's, various government buildings and pristine parks three of us grabbed bikes and cycled out to some modern architecture called 'Gasometer'.

The next day we drove to Budapest. We took a trip to the open-air thermal baths where I had a massage. It was agony! The guy decided I had a problem (a knotted muscle) on my back, dug his elbow in really heavily, repeatedly for 5 minutes. Not as bad as Dave's massage - some huge, fat Hungarian massager who tried to put his legs upto his ears. It wouldn't have phased me though!

Bush camping through Romania now, heading to Transylvania. Muhahahahaha (Dracula reference).

The group of 34 people is extremely diverse but there are more people in there 20's than other age groups. Starting to get to know people really well and enjoying there company. As a whole the trip so far has been excellent, so for those of you who were worried (namely family!) dont be!

Every town we drive through the truck becomes more and more of a spectacle: people stopping to look, pointing etc. The truck windows are relatively blacked out so they only see our silhouttes. The site of a huge orange 6 by 6 truck/coach looking machine isn't something they see everyday.

Hope you are all doing well and it would be nice to hear from you!

Until next time,


PS photos will be added, but i forgot my camera cable in the truck.
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