31st July – 6th August (Belgium)

Route : Dover- Dunkirk- De Pinte – Brussels – Spa

Kms :  490 kms (lowest kms driven in a week!)

Summary of event :

a) Meeting Anne again at De Pinte

b) Ghent town

c) VW event in Spa

d) Meeting Garry/Ian/Heddy and family in Holland

31st July  Dunkirk – Depinte (100kms). We arrived at De Pinte at 8am and we were staying with Terence’s sister’ MIL, Anne. She had coffee and breakfast ready for us. After chatting, we all went to bed. I slept for 1 hour and then followed her to get grocery. She took me of a stroll around the local village and showed me the running tracks, church and also castle. We then went to a strawberry farm to get the fresh. It was like a green house farm and you buy the strawberries from a vending machine! How cool! We then went to a supermarket chain in Belgium called “Okay!”. They have a good system at check out where they scan the items in the trolley itself and then transfer it to an empty trolley. You do not need to place your items on the conveyor belt (not sure if this is the right term). There was also a bread slicing machine where you can cut the loaf for free.. She is a good cook and we had salmon, mussels, fries and of course Belgian beer for dinner.

 

1st August Depinte/Ghent Anne helped me to write up on the places we visited and also the town of De Pinte as well. She drove us around and we took the tram to Ghent (“In the 1990s the tram system started to pick up again and heading for 2025 significant expansion is planned.We took number 1 from Flanders Expo to the historical city centre”) as you cannot drive in the town  ; its all cobbled and just walk paths. The town reminded me a little of Venice. You could spent a full day here feasting your eyes with all the architecture wonders and its not short of food too! We saw a Nepalise restaurant here too!

De Pinte

A suburb of Ghent, located between the rivers Leie and Scheldt with approx. 10,500 inhabitants. The name of the municipality is issued from an inn, which was called “Het Pijntken”. Probably the last inn on the road to Ghent coming either from Oudenaarde or from Kortrijk. It became independent from Nazareth in 1868. It has a train station (tracks built already in 1839 linking Ghent and in 1867 linking Oudenaarde) and some 100 trains stop daily. That’s why De Pinte is also called a dormitory city, with so many people shuttling every day, mainly between De Pinte and Brussels. In the centre is the St-Nicolas of Tolentijn church. Castles: “Viteux” also in the centre, now a restaurant, “Scheldevelde” now a nursing home and Grand Noble owned by the family of Baron de Giey. Recreationally around De Pinte, is Parkbos (park-wood), an area with young trees where it is agreeable to go for jogging or walking. Up till a few years ago, De Pinte was an horticultural producer mainly of begonia flowers.

University of Ghent

We had a quick look at the entrance of the Aula of the University: eight Corinthian pillars crowned with a triangular pediment. The auditorium hosts graduation ceremonies during which degrees and honorary doctorates are presented. On Sunday 8 October 2017, Ghent University will celebrate its 200th anniversary during a free, vibrant city festival for young and old. Ghent University consistently rates among the top universities not only in Belgium but also throughout the world.

Anne was kind enough to send me write ups on a little bit more on the important buildings and places that we visited in Ghent :-

St Nicholas Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church, construction continued through the rest of the century in the local Scheldt Gothic style (named after the nearby river). One of the treasures of the church is its organ, produced by the famous French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Belfry and Cloth Hall The 91-metre-tall belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre of Ghent, Belgium, the other two belonging to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church. Its height makes it the tallest belfry in Belgium. The belfry of Ghent, together with its attached buildings, belongs to the set of belfries of Belgium and France inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The bell is also the primary character in the city’s anthem, in which the bell warns of fire or calls upon the citizens of Ghent to defend the land. The rectangular hall adjoining the belfry was built to headquarter the affairs of the cloth trade that made the city rich during the Middle Ages. Inside, woollens were officially inspected and measured; transactions were negotiated. As the cloth industry lost importance, the hall drew new occupants, including a militia guild and a fencing school.
St Bavo Cathedral The Saint Bavo Cathedral is an 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It is the seat of the diocese of Ghent. It is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent.The cathedral is noted for the Ghent Altarpiece, originally in its Joost Vijd chapel. It is formally known as: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. This work is considered Van Eyck’s masterpiece and one of the most important works of the early Northern Renaissance, as well as one of the greatest artistic masterpieces of Belgium.
Town Hall Ghent’s town hall is a building with many faces. The flamboyant Gothic style of the façade in Hoogpoort contrasts sharply with the rather sober Renaissance style of the Botermarkt side. Inside, though we didn’t get there (!) you can also see many different styles: the Arsenal Hall with its wooden vaulting, the marvellous Wedding Chapel with the counts of Flanders immortalised in stained glass windows, the Pacification Hall with its white and black paved labyrinth, a symbol of the quest for justice and happiness, and many more.
Bridge – Sint-Michielshelling From here one can admire the touristic and medieval skyline of Ghent: the towers of St. Nicholas’ church, the Belfry and the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral. The stone bridge links the Korenlei and the Graslei on both sides of the river de Leie. Looking north one notices the shores of the old harbour and further away the Count’s Castle. And south-west, the St. Michael’s Church and the Dominican cloister.
St Michael’s Church is a Roman Catholic church, built in a late Gothic style. It has rich interior decoration.
Castle of the Counts The present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modelled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls were restored to their original condition. The castle has been repaired enough to allow people to travel through it and climb on top. Inside is a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent….
Patershol We took a walk through the charming and picturesque streets of the Patershol. It is like travelling back in time. Its street plan has remained intact since the Middle Ages and offers historical discoveries around every corner: the Caermersklooster (Caermers Monastery), the white House of Alijn (a remnant of the charity works of Ghent’s nobility) and the Gravensteen castle that looks out over Patershol. Very nice cafes and restaurants. Bruno’s (Anne’s son/Terence’s BIL) favourite is the Amadeus : famous for its ribs!
Friday market is a city square named after the weekly tradition to stage a market every Friday morning, a tradition dating back to 1199. As one of the oldest squares in Ghent, it played an important role in the city’s history. The place is surrounded with guildhalls, which currently house bars, restaurants and terraces. It was the place where people met for festivities but also for meetings. The Counts of Flanders held here their Joyous Entries and swore to respect the privileges of the city (oath they soon forgot!).The centerpiece of the plaza is the statue of Jacob van Artevelde, Ghent’s wise man who sided with England during the Hundred Years’ War and was murdered on the site in 1345.

We came home at 7pm and Terence wanted to cook us for the first time a chicken curry. We only ate at 9.30pm. Chicken curry was not bad..

2nd August Depinte  – Brussels (120kms) We had lunch with Anne’s son Yves’s family who came over. We had a typically Flanders dish; it was chicken and mushroom with white sauce and scooped into mini puff pastry pie base/top. It was delicious of course. Udhaya baked a yoghurt berry cake for dessert.  After saying goodbyes, we headed to Brussels to meet our friend Vimala and her kids. We arrived at 5.30pm and Udhaya headed straight to the kitchen to cook chicken and fish curry. Again, we Malaysians are all about food. It was good to catch up with Vimala who works in Brussels. We were telling our story to her 2 teenage kids and they were just amazed with the cars that we are travelling with as they are not really that comfortable and not fast.

3rd August Brussels – Spa (150kms) We left Vimala’s place after lunch and was heading to the event Spa. Well, I also found out that this is where Formula 1 event is held and we will be “racing” on the tracks. I am excited as we will be reunited with Fernando (Sabinh is not attending due to family matters) , Dokke and Paola! The event is on the weekend but we were invited by the organisers (John Marie and Paul) for the staff dinner today. Dinner was good and there was 3 chefs cooking various pastas on the go! They have been organising this event since the beginning and this year marks their 25th anniversary. Its been around longer than the other events that we have attended! It was all in French but they did talk about our journey as I heard the word “Malaysia”. Everyone who cannot remember our names, calls us by “you are the Malaysians”.  We are really proud to put Malaysia out there as everyone knows Thailand and Singapore but Malaysia is sometimes missed! Fabian, Cliften’s cousin from the UK also joined us for this event and its his first VW event; I don’t think he owns a VW.

4th -5th August Spa Photos below will do it justice! Driving on the F1 circuit was definitely an experience of a lifetime! I haven’t even been to a F1 racing event…

6th August Spa – Geleen (Holland) (120kms) We left Spa at 6pm and headed to Geleen in Limburg, Holland to meet our friend Garry, our childhood friend and his family.

 

24th-30th July Wales/England

Route : Cambridge – Bakewell – Sheffield – Liverpool – Snowdonia – Abergavenny – Bath – London – Dover

Kms :  1,465 kms

Summary of event :

a) Bakewell tarts are from BAKEWELL!

b) Ainfield stadium, Liverpool

c) Wales! Part of the UK that usually gets missed!

 

24 July Cambridge – Bakewell – Sheffield (300kms) It was pouring when we got up. Suzane cooked up hot breakfast for the boys and we headed off soon after that i.e. appx 11am. We headed to a town called Bakewell which is where the Bakewell tarts originated from. I love these tarts and was dumbfounded that it was from town in England. When we got there, there were many local tourists and we parked right in from on the curb of a bakery. Now, she told us that the pudding is what we should try so we bought that and the tarts. We then made our way to see Rob, Udhaya’s ex head pastry chef from Jones the Grocer who is English and has been back in England a year ago. He has his own self start up bakery and we were paying him a visit all the way from Australia! Now, I love the Bakewell tarts in Australia as its kind of fruity with lots of berries in it. The bakewell tart and pudding here was very sweet and lets say that I prefer the Australian version better. Sheffield is simply hilly and after having a chat at Rob’s place, we all took a walk to the city 40mins away. We had a few drinks at 2 local bars and then headed back. We were going to camp 20mins away in a national park. We headed there just before it got dark and set up camp in a parking area. Udhaya cooked instant noodle for dinner and we went to bed early at 10pm.

 

25 July Sheffield – Liverpool – WALES Snowdonia (300kms) We got up at 7.30am which is early as Terence wanted to call his bank back home in Malaysia.  Where we stayed there was no connection. We were going to Liverpool today as Terence is a big fan and he has been here before and done all the tours but this time is to take photo with the vehicles. The stadium is smack in the middle of a residential area which is where we parked. I cannot imagine how angry the neighbourhood will be when there is a game! After lunch, we were heading to Snowdonia in Wales. Wales was planned for. We actually wanted to visit Scotland but John and Suzane advised that we will need more time and you have drive past north of Edinburgh to see the real Scotland. And many locals were telling us to visit Wales. You will just need to cross your fingers with the weather as its usually raining and not much of sunshine.  This part of northern Wales was just scenic and the accent here is again another world. A lot of outdoor activities and biking with the locals. There is also the Welsh language as all the road signages is in English and Welsh. We parked for the night at a adventure park parking area. It was closed as when we got there at 9pm.There was a signage with no overnight camping but there was another camper van parked there and we will leave early in the morning.

26 July Snowdonia – Abergavenny (185kms) We got up and left close to 11am and the weather was pouring. Yesterday was so far the only sunny day since we arrived few days ago in Cambridge. Today we just drove and enjoyed the scenery of the country side and spent the night at a public carpark (free from 6pm-9am) near the castle at Abergavenny. It was a pretty town. Bought canned food from Tesco and basically had that for dinner with some wine and cheese.

27 July Abergavenny – Bath – Eaton Bray (300kms) We had to leave by 9am and we were heading to Bath. We got there and this is a busy town and we ended up parking in the centre at a public car park (3hrs 4.50GBP). I did check the weather before we left and it was not to rain. 1 hour later it rained and we didn’t have any umbrella or raincoats. It poured hard for 1 hour and then the blue skies gave way. Udhaya had run out of his mobile data that he bought 2 weeks ago from France. 3gig (20E) in 2 weeks! We ended up buying in Tesco which is much cheaper at 4gig for 20GBP. We also scrolled Poundland (99% items here are for a pound) and found Maggie noodles 5packets for a pound! When we had this for dinner later, it was 20gms smaller than the packets we buy in Malaysia… Makes sense why it was cheap.. Towards the end we were trying to get a camp site closer to London that we can drive and spend the night. Mind you, the last shower we had was on Monday at John and Suzane’s. My wet wipes are being used for now, but its not the same as having a shower.  Most of the campsites are fully booked and while we were driving out of Bath, Terence asked us to stop. I was worried as to what is wrong with Puch, but it was his classmate (whom he has not met since schooldays, but friends on Facebook) Lynnor who from Facebook noted that we are around London and invited us to come and stay with her and her husband, Robin 60kms north of London at Eaton Bray. We then headed to her place and parked at a pub closely as they were only going to be home at 9pm. We cooked our instant noodle at this pub which overlooks the river and there were river boats parked. Lynnor and Robin came by later to his pub and the boys and them had another round of dinner; fish & chips and pie ; simply English. They have a beautiful home with a big garden and a kitchen to die for… We slept on our rooms close to midnight.

 

28 -29 July  – Eaton Bray We chilled out today at the house and the boys slept in. I slept in a little too and was busy transferring all my photos from the laptop to the external drive. It took me the whole day. The boys went out to London city to meet up with Terence’s uncle and to have a night out. I decided to give it a miss and it will have its fair chance of rain and I don’t enjoy getting wet. The next day, Adele, another Malaysian and Lynnor’s friend came over in the morning to spend the day with us. We went to a Waffle House in St Alban and had waffles. For the first time, for me, they have savoury waffles! I still had a sweet waffle. We then went over to the open weekend markets to get grocery as there will be a big food party tonight. Lynnor is calling 5 of her friends and Udhaya was going to cook Malaysian food. Lynnor herself is a good cook and she loves her curries.. I have been told many times by the English that curry is their national dish! Well, the curry in England is not the same as the curry that we eat in Malaysia. Udhaya ended up cooking chicken, lamb, fish, shall and yellow cabbage. There were 2 mates from South India who also cooked chicken and raita. We had rice, chapati, naan and papadam too! After dinner, we all hung out in the living area and Terence was telling our journey in the world map hung on the wall.

 

 

30th July Eaton Bray-London-Dover (380kms) After having breakfast, we left for London city to meet our friend Anthony, Andrew and Phyllis. These are old friends from Malaysia that we used to hang out with back in school. We had lunch and headed to the centre to take photos with the cars. We also went to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, Udhaya’s a big fan of this club. By the time we got to Dover it was midnight. Our ferry is at 2am heading to Dunkirk in France. Bye bye London.. Will not miss the weather but definitely miss all our friends there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17th-23rd July (France/England)

Route : Thenay – Normandy region (Vandome/Airan) – Dieppe/Newhaven ferry transfer – Brighton – London – Cambridge 

Kms :  1,340 kms

Summary of event :

a) Small towns in France

b) First ferry crossing 

c) John cooking Indian food

17 July Thenay – Orleans (150 kms) After a good breakfast and shower, we left at 10am and was heading to Airan, near Coen. We didn’t take the toll road, so we passed many small towns. Cherverny was nice and we will definitely want to come back. There are lots of castles in this region. We visited Vendome as there was a reporter who is doing a story on Fernando and Sabinh’s 4 years travel around the world. This is also a nice town. By the time we left, we drove for a while and decided to stop at Orleans for the night and have dinner too by the lake. We slept at the car park area.

18 July Orleans – Agon Coutainville (330kms) After having a quick breakfast, we left for the town Airan. Terence wants to pay his respect to a Malaysian Indian fighter jet pilot who died in WWII. His name was Henry Tallala and there is a road in this town that is named after him. Terence saw this in the History Channel back home but its just a shame that none of his bravery was mentioned in our history books in Malaysian schools. After all, he was a Malaysian.  On another topic, phone lines;  the cheapest so far was in Poland where you pay Zlt40 for 10 gb. But, when you use it outside of Poland, your data reduced to 1.5gb. In Germany, its appx E40 for 1.5gb and this is the average price in Germany/France. Since June17, there is roaming in the EU countries, which is good, otherwise we would have to get a new number in each of the country like how we did in China, Mongolia and Russia. We were meeting up with Frank, Helen and Mario who are friends of Fernando and Sabihn; they have a few kombis themselves. We had a few drinks and snacks at a local joint and later at night, Frank took us to a hidden campsite where we had the place all to ourselves and we slept there for the night.

19 July Agon Coutainville – Dieppe (330kms) We slept in (againnnnn) and it was just windy when we got up. Terence and I decided to do a 10kms run in the along the coastline. When running against the wind, it was a challenge and the noise of the wind …just wow.. I couldn’t even hear the music that was playing on Terence’s iPhone.  When we got back, we had to pack up and leave. We went to a campsite closely where Frank knows the owner and we had free showers. We then headed to a coastal town called Mont St Michael. It was a pretty town. After saying our goodbyes to Frank and family and also Fernando and Sabinh, we headed to Dieppe for the ferry over to UK at midnight. When we arrived at the terminal, we didn’t find any petrol station to fill up our tanks. It started pouring at 10pm and we were in our cars as “check in” was 10pm.

20 July Newhaven – Brighton (100kms) We arrived at 4am after a 4 hours ferry ride. The whole ferry experience was decent and we used Direct Ferries  website to book our ferry.  It costs E150 for a return trip and we are returning in 2 weeks from Dover to Dunkirk. We drove straight to Brighton as we were visiting VW Heritage office where they were having a VW event with 200 cars this night. The office only opens at 9am and we hung out in McD closeby from 6am. We tried checking in to a hostel but parking was an issue. We were parked in McD there till 9am and we were told by the staff that there is a 2 hours time limit and the cameras tracks this and sends the fine to your home address.  Well, our vehicles are international, so I guess it will be ok? We then headed to VW Heritage and met with Andy who is part of the marketing team and he took us for a whole tour. VW Heritage sources VW spare parts from all over the world and ships it to anyone anywhere. We had Indian food at the city and it was different. Later we met the owner and he is a Bangladeshi which explains why the food did not taste like “Indian”. It was cheap at GBP11 and it was a lot of food but we struggled with our mains. We walked on the way back and it was a nice 30mins stroll. We went to our campsite 5kms away and the weather is still windy.. Its been so windy the whole day. It was a basic campsite with toilets and basin to wash your dishes. There was no kitchen. We then headed back to VW Heritage for the event and met lots of local with their VW. We headed to a local pub after this and had to leave at 11pm when it closed! Pretty early I say.

21 July Brighton-London-Santa Pod (250kms) After a good sleep, we woke up at 10am and it was still windy. We were in VW Heritage till 6pm and then headed to London city to take some photos. We got there when it was already dark and it was raining. Got a few shots and then headed up to Santa Pod Raceway up north for the Bug Jam event taking place tomorrow.  We arrived close to 2.30am and there was no place to park on the highway. The R&R stops have a 2 hours limit where you can park your car. If you park longer, there are cameras and you will get a fine..  England is pretty strict and I am sure its for a reason. We ended up going straight to the event place and parking closely.

22 July Santa Pod – Cambridge (180kms) We got up and we were told that it was E27 per person and not per car. And we were not allowed to bring in the car to the event. So we decided to give this a miss. We then headed to Cambridge as we were going to meet Terence’s uncle and his friends John and Suzane (whom stayed with Terence in Malaysia when they drove their bus from England). We met his uncle in town and we went to have Chinese food for lunch. There was no good Indian food in Cambridge and we didn’t want to drive down south to London to a place like Little India. It was raining today too.. Such bad luck with weather since we arrived in UK. We then went to meet John (Suzane was away and back tomorrow) and guess what? He cooked chicken and lamb curry with rice for us. For the first time, we have a European cooking us Indian food… I was impressed and it  was a little spicy for my liking but it was delicious. 100% better than the Indian food we had in Cambridge.

23 July Cambridge – I went for a walk with John and the 3 dogs in the morning.. Guess what was the weather? It was raining. We chilled the whole day, got some washing and drying done, updating my blog, paying some bills online, downloading photos. We had Terence’s uncle over and he brought chicken curry and biryani rice. Udhaya cooked cauliflower sodhi (coconut base with turmeric), raita and lamb curry. We had late lunch at 3pm and I was stuffed! We went to a friend’s home art gallery and it was just WOW!  We also drove around King’s College and took photo with the cars when the sun came out for a bit.

10th-16th July (France)

Route : Stuttgart – Ulm – La Chapelle Moutils – Villiers St Frederic – Thenay

Kms :  1,060 kms

Summary of event :

a) Reuniting with Fernando and Sabinh

b) Thenay VW event

10th July – Stuttgart – Ulm – La Chapelle Moutils (640 kms) We were heading to Liquid Molly office 70kms away at Ulm as Juergen works for them and he told them about us. We met the team there and they gave us the engine oil and some other products for our journey. They also told us that the highest church in the world, Ulm Minster is located just 7kms away, and we took a detour to visit this church. After being tourist for 10mins at the church, we started our journey to Paris to meet Fernando and Sabinh. It was going to be a long day 600kms… It was hot, rained a bit, hot again just crazy.. Now, in France there is the toll motorway and we plan to use the national road which is as good as the highway with the exceptions of passing through small towns and at times its 1 lane each direction. We arrived at 10pm to Fernando’s little ranch and dinner was ready!  Spag Bol!!!! We actually had dinner at the petrol station earlier as wasnt sure if we were going to have dinner with them as it will be pretty late when we arrive. Its the same with fuel here where its more expensive on the highways and you pay E0.30 more in average. Fuel from the supermarket operators  (Carrefour) averages around E1.35/ltr.

 

 

11 July La Chapelle Moutils – Coulimers – La Chapelle Moutils (50kms) It was raining and wet in the morning and we slept in. This is the first time in the trip that we have slept in a tent. It was a jumbo tent. I took a shower at this ranch and it was an outdoor shower which was really cool. Well, the boys decided not to shower here. We then headed to Fernando’s apartment to do some laundry, catch up on internet and for the boys to shower. Met his dog  Siaka (definitely not the right spelling), a black Labrador. Lunch was simple with baguette, pate, cheese and ham on the kitchen bench top and we were all on our feet. There is a dining table but it was a fast lunch. We then took a walk to town and its a real pretty and quaint village. This is what I love about France; the small villages are simply stunning with really old terraces with different brickwork. After dinner and guitar jamming session with Fernando’s kids and grandkids, we headed back to the ranch to sleep in the tent.

 

12 July La Chapelle Moutils – Coulimers to Villiers St Federic (160 kms) Today, after a light breakfast, we headed back to the apartment. After lunch at 4pm, we were heading west of Paris to a friend of the boys, K-reen. She was travelling in Malaysia and they bumped into her in a classic car event where they had a booth on Live2Drive and the trip. She insisted on us coming to visit her if we were in Paris. We want to drive into Paris at night and take photo of Eiffel Tower but there has been a new law in Paris where cars older than 20 years cannot drive in the centre. We arrived at K-reen’s place at 6.30pm and meeting her for the first time, she told me that she only visited Malaysia the last time. I was really surprised as most Europeans usually visit Thailand and Singapore and always miss Malaysia which is in the middle of these 2 countries. She said that there is so much to see in Malaysia, she is a smart one. Udhaya was cooking his chicken curry and cabbage lentil; it was all finger licking good ( we ate with our hands of course). We stayed late chatting with K-reen ( I went to bed at midnight and the boys came at 2am I think).

 

13 July Villiers St Federic to Thenay (210 kms) K-reen showed me last night a good 3kms loop with hill limb around her place and I got up at 7.30am and managed to do 2 loop. Happy days! After having breakfast, K-reen left for work and we stayed in her place till 2pm. She took some of last night’s dinner to work and also to share with her workmates..  We were heading south to Thenay for a VW classic car event. We will be meeting Stephen there as he is heading back from UK where he was spending some time with his wife Rose. We arrived at 6pm and we were like the few who arrived on this day so we could choose a good location. After parking the cars, setting up our tents, “dining area”, we had BBQ for dinner and lots of wine.

14 July – 16 July Thenay I went for a jog in this big camp ground for 2 days. Friday morning, the crowd started to come as its a public holiday in France and by 10am, the empty ground was full of kombis and tents. It has been really hot and a little humid; nothing compared to the rain we had at Bug In in Chimay, Belgium. Dokke and his wife Paula came on Saturday evening and Sabihn’s son Nicolai joined us too.  It was too hot during the day and evening; I spent most of my time under the tent or sleeping in our tent.. Most of them left on Sunday evening; but we stayed till Monday. The showers and toilets here were good and clean; long queues at times.

 

 

3rd – 9th July (Germany)

Route : Fuhlen – Schlangen – Theres – Ostfilden

Kms :  680 kms

Summary of event :

a) NANA’s engine broke..

b) Met the cutest 1yr9mths girl Sophie

3rd July Fuhlen – Schlangen (70 kms) I got up at 8am when I heard Mirco’s son, Len Luca. He is super adorable and and a carbon copy of Mirco. The boys woke up later and we had the news that Continental meeting tomorrow at Hannover is cancelled.  In all fairness, the meeting was scheduled for last week but we cancelled as there was too much going on last week at HO. Continental Malaysia is a sponsor and driving to their office in Hannover would be completing our drive. We then tried to brought forward our dinner plans for tomorrow with Christian Grundmann to today lunch since we are in HO. He was nice to agree to it, but at the end had to cancel due to an emergency (it was an alarming event, but all is fine now). We hung out with Mirco parents and did some washing at his place too. We then left at 6pm and was heading over to Christian’s place of VW. Since we promised that we will come to see him, we continued with this plan even when Continental is cancelled. He lives with Katja his wife and they live in a very nice cottage house; and we had BBQ for dinner and not forgetting cakes for dessert. We chatted till midnight (they are travellers themselves and have travelled around a fair bit).

4th July Schlangen – Theres (330 kms) We got up at 7.30am in time for breakfast as Katja was leaving at 9am and Chris will be hanging with us until we leave. Cliften needs to fix his suspension and Chris has been contacting workshops around. After a good breakfast and good coffee, and saying goodbye and thank you to Katja, we left to a workshop closely. They can’t take in as they are busy. Chris then managed to get hold of Bjoen (Wolfsburg) and arranged for him to help Cliften. We (Terence and us) said goodbye to Cliften as he was heading to Wolfsburg to send Rusty and will be taking a flight to London to visit a close family member. He will meet us in time for the VW event in Tenay, France next week. We were heading to David and Eva’s place and they are friends of Terence where he hosted them. They were travelling around in their Land Rover around Asia. When we arrived, WOW! they live in a Castle; in the old management quarters that have been converted into flats. The castle is a stone’s throw and I also met the Count who lives there. It has nice gardens too.. They have 2 adorable kids, Sophie who is 1yr9mo and Hannes 4mo. She is simple adorable. We went to see her parents and her dad farms bees for honey. Udhaya and Terence got into the suit of a bee farmer and went to the bee farm in their garden and got a lesson on bees and honey. They are leaving this Friday for a 5 weeks trip across Eastern Europe on their Land Rover. When we headed back, Evan and David were too nice to give up their room for us (Terence slept on the couch)  and they went to sleep at her mum’s place 500mtrs away.

5th July Theres (50kms) They came over to make us breakfast and good coffee too. We hung out with them till after lunch and then Udhaya and I were heading to Lausnitz to meet Mariana and her German husband and their 2 adorable daughters. We were 30kms away when Nana broke down on the autobahn 100mtr from Hallstadt turnoff . We had to call our road site assist, TERENCE and Puch. They came over straight away from Theres and Terence was checking Nana. Then came another Liquid Molly car and he recognises the cars from HO17 which he attended. He was on the opposite side of the highway and made a turn to come and see us. The support is simply crazy and we are so humbled with all the help that we are getting from complete strangers. David came too from work to check on us. Puch towed Nana off the highway for 2 kms. They were looking at the car and Jurgen (driving VW for 30 years) said that the engine is gone! I left with David as he had to return to work and I had no use being there. It was hot today at 33 degrees. I went home and spent the whole day with the kids and Eva.The boys only came home at midnight. We slept in the hall so that Eva and David could get their room back as we were suppose to be gone today..

Challenges with the vehicles : Jurgen had a mate with a workshop and he was coming 60kms to tow the car. Towing in Germany is bloody expensive. When they arrived at the workshop, the engine is definitely kaput. They were getting another engine with the help of Jurgen. Nana knows where to have a heart attack, in her birth town GERMANY! One of the connecting rod of the piston was jammed and there was debris inside the block from the connecting rod bearing… They will have to open the block to see if there is any damage to the crank shaft. All the 4 pistons and connecting rod will need to be replaced.

6th July Theres – After breakfast, Terence and Udhaya was heading to the workshop (Vintage Workshop owned by Daniel who is a cool guy) to help with Nana. We are trying to get the car complete latest by tomorrow as we need to leave for Stuttgart tomorrow. They have found a “new” 1.2 engine which was in Jurgen’s garage and not started for 10-15years. The engine works as they actually did start the engine. Alas, the exhaust was rusty and we have a new one but its for a 1.3 engine (didn’t know that the fitting is different for 0.1 difference in the engine). They went looking for a exhaust. They also pulled apart Nana’s engine and the cause for the engine malfunction (I found out from Facebook while typing this out!) was one of the bearing that gave way..  I had a good time at home with the kids and long chats with David and Eva on general stuffs.We even went to have afternoon tea at her mum’s Lydia’s place. She made poppy seed pastry and apple pastry. They are from poppy seed from the garden and its the first that I have seen the plant. There are wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, herbs, cucumber, potatoes, carrot, onions and many others in their garden. We then headed to the local supermarket Edeka and bought some ingredients for lunch tomorrow ; chef Udhaya is cooking his famous chicken curry and a special request for a lemon tart.. Eva is a good cook and we have been having good food with most of the vegetables from the garden.

7th July Theres – Ostfildern (230 kms)  After getting up, we had waffle for breakfast which is common in Germany. Udhaya cooked chicken curry for lunch (we went to the supermarket the night before which is 10mins walk away to get grocery). He also baked a lemon tart which is a favourite of David (it should be made the day before so that the lemon curd sets). We had her parents over for lunch as well. They were leaving today for a 5 week trip to Eastern Europe on their Land Rover which is equipped as a camper. After saying goodbye to David and Eva, we headed to pick Nana up. Now, I sat at the front with Terence in Puch while Udhaya was taking a nap on the bed at the back.. Chicken curry gets you sleepy. I finally got to meet Daniel who runs the Vintage Company garage, who is friends of Juergen. Now, Daniel has a strong resemblance with Ryan Gosling.. His garage was the cleanest and tidiest that I have seen. Every tool is hung, arranged and labelled. He even has a whiteboard and I believe its his “to do list”. There is also a small kitchen and laundry area in this place. I could sleep here basically.  Juergen’s friend also joined us. Juergen gave Udhaya the rack holder at the back of the engine as a gift as Udhaya has been looking for this. Juergen’s friend was so nice to give the old school luggage bag which is kind of a fashion statement for Udhaya to place it on the rack. We took a group photo before we left. We were heading to a town close to Stuttgart to meet Terence’s family friend Sanajan who married a German. We arrived just in time for dinner and Nana has been doing really well. We met them and guess what? Their 4 years old daughter is named Sayang! Sayang is a Malay word and it means love, and this is what I call Udhaya.. We had BBQ for dinner and Kai, Sanajan’s husband, made us Gin and Tonic with a few different flavours.. He is German but he was born in Australia and has been posted in various countries due to his job. That explains why he doesn’t sound German! But he speaks German of course.

8th July Ostfilden We slept in 1 room with the 3 of us and it was nice. I am having problems waking up even when the sun has been shining for the last few hours. 8 hours of sleep does not seem to be enough…  We had coffee made by Kai (he has a good coffee machine and he enjoys making coffee) and at 1pm, we were heading to a place where they was a Malaysian Hari Raya pot luck get together. We didn’t have anything to bring (food) so we went with our cars. We met many Malaysians there and their German spouse and there was a spread of Malaysian dishes… We spent some time talking to the group and they were so excited to see our cars.

We got home and Sanajan and Udhaya headed straight for the kitchen to cook dinner. Sardine sambal and chicken rendang with rice.. Kai loves spicy food and Malaysian food too..  Also, Sanajan talks to Sayang in Malay.. Simply amazing as she knows 3 languages, Malay, English and German of course.. We had a good dinner with lots of beer.

9th July Sunday Ostfilden Crepes by Kai for breakfast and coffee this time by Udhaya. We are spoilt. Sanajan organised with the local council for our cars to be showcased at the town hall at 1pm. She supports our cause and wanted everyone to know about our journey.  We met a lot of locals (met an Iraqi couple which is my first) and lots of photo taking of the cars. It was a really hot and humid day. We left at 3pm and had the neigbours and a few of Sanajan’s friends over. The kitchen was busy.. We didn’t have lunch so Udhaya and Sanajan cooked up friend Meehun with Ikan Bilis which was a hit. For dinner, there was going to be 3 types of veggies, dry chicken dish, tomato rassam and teh Tarik! We are having a really “heavy” weekend. Its all coming to an end tomorrow…

26th June – 2nd July (Germany and Belgium)

Route : Fuhlen – Hannover – Wolfsburg – Dortmund – Brussels – De Pinte – EUROPEAN BUG IN Chimay – Fuhlen

Kms : 1,650 kms

Summary of event :

a) 2nd embassy visit at Brussels 

b) visiting Nana’s birth place

c) European Bug In, Chimay Belgium

 

26th June Hessich Oldendorf  After a good sleep and a good big breakfast, we went to see Traugott as we were going to Hannover to visit the Transporter factory and the Kombi’s museum. When we arrived, Traugott suggested that we follow in one of their T5’s with Stephen (part of the HO17 team) . Nice to be sitting in a modern car and not driving! The factory was WOW and there was just machinery and robots doing all the work and felt like scenes in Transformer. The museums was WOW too with the different types of kombis.. I learnt the type called Barn Door which is pre 1950’s. When we got back to HO, we invited both of them over to Mirco’s for dinner as Udhaya was cooking chicken curry and lamb. Fernando didn’t follow us in the morning as he was at home with Mirco (took the day off) cleaning the house. We also got him to help us buy grocery for tonight. We asked for lamb not knowing the price. In Poland it was hard to get and people don’t eat it. Fernando bought lamb from a supermarket for E35/kilo and he said the good cut steaks in France is cheaper than this. Very expensive lamb. The Grundmann came over at 7pm and we had dinner with Mirco and his family too. I feel in a way that we brought the 2 family closer (they know each other of course). After everyone left, we were talking to Mirco before heading to bed as we had to be out of the house by 6am.

27th June Hessich Oldendorf – Wolsburg (200kms) I woke up at 4.45am and took a shower. I noticed a mess in the kitchen and angrily cleaned it not knowing why the person did not clean up. After saying goodbye and when we headed to our cars, Mirco gives us a breakfast pack with sandwich and cut apples! Looks like he was the one who messed up the kitchen! Oh bless him….. How sweet that he made us breakfast pack! We are very sad to leave and on the way out we saw for the last time the big banner with L2D and our cars with the word “Welcome”.

We were driving to Wolfsburg today to visit the factory that produces the current beetle and golf and the Autostad ( source Wikipedia “The Autostadt (German for Automobile City) is a visitor attraction adjacent to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, with a prime focus on automobiles. It features a museum, feature pavilions for the principal automobile brands in the Volkswagen Group, a customer centre where customers can pick up new cars, and take a tour through the enormous factory, a guide to the evolution of roads, and cinema in a large sphere. It is also home to the largest glass doors in the world and the longest printed line. The line starts from outside Wolfsburg and travels through Autostadt to a point on a farm. It is about 4 miles (6.4 km) long.”) We were there 30minutes before the 9am start as Traugott told us all to be early and esp. with our cars, it was best to leave early. We visited Autostad first which includes some ferry rides and lunch was in a pretty fancy looking cafe which Fernando insisted to pay! Fernando is a friend of Terence; Terence hosted Fernando and his wife for 9 months in Malaysia. He traveled with is wife in his T2 bus and when he knew we were reaching Europe, he shipped his bus from South America to Germany to drive with us. Fernando has done a world trip for 4 years and even drove in Australia. We then went to the beetle/golf factory and there was a tour guide (who was Italian) and we sat in a open bus. I cannot believe it but, we all sat right at the back ad was dozing off! Not good to do this tour esp after lunch.. It was just so hard to keep our eyes open and I am hoping that no one in the factory saw us being “rude”.  We couldn’t take any photo in this factory. We then went back to Autostad as our tickets are valid until it closes at 6pm. We said our goodbye to the HO17 team and Traugott too.. We met Bjoen from VW Classic Parts in Autostad and he invited us to crash at his place at Boimstorf, for the night with food, drinks and party and we didn’t hesitate. The Indonesian team (Stephen’s friends) joined us as well. He lives in this nice typical barn/farm and we met his friends who own this place and they too are VW collectors. Yanto went with Bjoen to get food and we had a BBQ and lots of singing as Fernando plays the guitar. We slept in our cars that night.

28th June Wolsburg – Dortmund (350kms) We left at 8am from his place and was heading to VW Classic Parts office to meat Isabel and team. We also visited the Beetle factory close by with Isabel and Azadeen.  We were at the office for some time and left at 4.30pm heading to De Pinte, Belgium. The plan was to stay with Terence’s sister (Margaret)’ MIL. We took Bob with us as we were dropping him at this town. His T3 is in a workshop close to this town.  We stopped at an alley way with bars and there was 2 guys who were in awe and came to chat with us on the cars. Its nice when the cars puts a smile on everyone’s face.. I believe this is also some kind of charity and goodwill that we bring when we drive classic cars.. VW does bring people together which is ironic when the cars were built for war. You wonder right?

Challenges with vehicles : – Puch couldn’t start after we dropped Bob at Dortmund. It could either be a flat battery or faulty alternator. We jump started Puch and when the the negative head was removed, Puch went dead; which means the battery is not the problem and instead, the alternator is not charging.  We have a spare alternator and to replace this took 3 hours (I was off to bed as there was nothing that I could do; I did make coffee for them before I went to bed). The manifold, carburettor and the stand had to be removed first to get access to the alternator and the fan from the engine block.  Now, try putting these all back…

29th June Dortmund – De Pinte, Belgium (350kms) We got up close to 10am and Udhaya told me that they finished only at 3am. We headed straight for the road and Cliften managed to get us a meeting slot at the Belgium embassy at Brussels. We arrived at 2pm and was welcomed with a warm reception and some. afternoon tea. The ambassador, En Azizul is a VW classic car owner himself and was reminiscing the old days. We left at 4.30pm and reached De Pinte at 7pm as traffic was bad getting out of the city centre ; and road works too. Anne has a beautiful home and we had dinner (beef stew, endives and baked potatoes with cheese and bacon) and dessert (I had 2 servings). I did take a good shower first as hadn’t for the last 2 days. Slept at 2am as I was catching up on my blog to share all the good stories the last week. Now, to sort all the photos out will have to be another time.

Challenges with the vehicles : While I was driving heading to De Pinte, Nana lost power and I just couldn’t accelerate past 60 miles/hr, and this happened on and off. When we arrived at Anne’s place, Udhaya saw engine oil spill all around the engine area. After cleaning the spill, you could see the carburettor screws were loose and that explains why the car didn’t have power. (This is actually the start of a bigger problem)

30th June De Pinte – Chimay (200kms) We got up close to 10am and breakfast with coffee has been ready. Anne still works and at 75 years old, her mind is a walking dictionary. She speaks perfect English and is very switched on with all fields of study and the current world affairs. She has books every part of the house and joked that she needs to live till 110 to be able to read them all. I really want to be like her when I reach 75; she is so independent, active mind and there is no such thing as retiring. We spent more time with her and left at 2pm for Chimay. We have to come back again to visit her as 1 night was too short. We arrived at 5pm and after spending 20minutes with parking the 4 vehicles (incl Fernando’s) we settled and had some food to eat. We walked to the event which was just next to the camping area and there was a burnt out box, drag race, off road track, music tent, spare parts sales etc.. The music went on till 3am and you could hear the base (house music) at the camping area.

1st July Chimay It was forecasted to rain and boy it did. It was not heavy but rained the entire time till late evening. So we slept in till 11am as there was nothing much to do. We chilled after breakfast and Fernando’s wife Sabhin was driving from France to join us today; and he went to get her from the entrance. No, entrance fee is not cheap. 1 car + 1 passenger = E75. 1 additional person is E35. There was no goodie bag given or even a program book and you could not easily identify the crew in case you have any questions. You even had to pay for toilets and shower! Hessich was much more organised with the orange colour shirt crew members and free toilet/shower and free camping! Only cars that are parking in the city centre need to pay. Cigarette prices varies as they have 20 /25/26/29/30/35/39 sticks and prices ranges from E6 to E10. We met some Swedish guys (Edwin, Martin, Uyer and friend) who knows us from HO and we were having a chat on Scandinavia. We had BBQ for dinner and later at night, Terence and Udhaya went to party at the music tent. We met many people from HO event here and it was so nice to see familiar faces.

2nd July Chimay – Fuhlen (550kms) It was raining again in the morning and we decided in the rain to visit the race track. We were very lucky to be able to see the kombi Type 1 with jet engine! It sounded like a real aeroplane when it took off. We finally left close to midday and Fernando and Sabhin wanted to take us for lunch at Chimay town. Its a very small and quaint town and we had pasta, steak, dessert and coffee. When we were about to finish at 3pm, Cliften gets a call from Dokke (who was in the event). They are currently having the awards ceremony and we have won for longest drive (of course). We decided to dash back and collect our prize which was a plate. By the time we left, it was close to 5pm. We were heading today to Hannover and called Mirco in Fuhlen to see if we can stay with him tonight (knowing that we will arrive at midnight). He didn’t hesitate and told us to come. We arrived at sharp midnight and he was working tomorrow at 8am so we went to bed.

 

19th -25th June GERMANY!!!

Route : Krakow-Hamburg-Hanover-Belgium-Mastritch (Netherlands) – HESSICH OLDENDORF – FUHLEN

Kms : 2,450 kms

Summary of event :

a) Bye Bye POLAND! 

b) First real summer day and it wasn’t pleasant!

c) Big Welcome to Fuhlen by our German family Mirco, Elke and Kees

d) Hessisch Olderndorf 2017 event!

 

19th June Golkowice – Hamburg (950kms) We got up at 6am and was thinking of only having a quick cuppa and head out. What do you think?? Margaret had a breakfast spread for us and we finally said goodbye (we all shed a tear as it was an amazing weekend!) an hour later and gave Margaret a lift to the bus stop for Monday work. Fuel in Germany averages at E1.40 and we crossed over close to 8pm.. We took our photos with the cars and the EU sign as a sign of accomplishment and the fact that we made it ON TIME to attend the main event in Germany! We drove the whole day today and we were to meet Stephen and Terence who were camping at a forest in Ahrensburg (near Hamburg) . We arrived at 2am and they were waiting for us. We have 2 new friends Fernando from France with his T2 bus and Buda from Indonesia who was with Dokke (friend of Stephen who works for Ultra VW in Holland and runs Aircooled in Indonesia.trips  He is now a close friend of ours) .We finally went to bed at 3am.

 

20th June Hamburg – Hanover (400kms) Today we were heading south to VW office in Hanover to meet Christian who is taking us for a tour in the VW Factory (the factory in Hanover produces the latest T6s while the factory in Wolfsburg produces the beetles/golfs). Puch didn’t have enough fuel and stopped when we were on our way out from the forest. It “borrowed” oil from Rusty and we were back on the road again. Later on when we spoke to Christian, he mentioned that the 3 busses (Nana was parked inside and not part of the photo shoot as this factory is about the busses) to drive inside and to be photographed is exceptionally rare. This was all made possible from all the stories in this blog that got the team in VW excited! It was definitely a privilege  and an opportunity of a lifetime. The factory was simply amazing and we didn’t manage to spend too much of time there. There are bicycles everywhere and this is how the staff gets around in the factory. Rusty got excited with this experience and she did a spill (engine oil) in the factory and within a minute, 2 VW staff cleaned the mess to avoid any trips/falls. We then had a late lunch in the VW customer centre. Pretty cool place to relax with a merchandise shop, cafe and a restaurant. I had soup, salad, pasta and dessert and the portions are big. Thanks to Christian who shouted us for lunch. We left at 6pm and was heading to CSP in Hamburg.. Now I don’t know what is CSP and what to expect and I have learnt in this trip to not ask too many questions…. (according to Terence “on a need to know basis”)Today from Hamburg we went down south to Hannover for VW and now we are heading back up to Hamburg! We arrived at this place at 9pm and it was still bright of course (it gets dark at 10pm).. It was like a shop yard with a lot of car space and there was a stage with a band, food trucks and of course VW classic cars.. We got a warm welcome when we drove in and parked our cars at the back as we were late for the party. Everyone has been very nice and humble and love to chat with us on our journey. They cannot believe that we made such a long trip. Everyone wants to do it but we did it. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to drive their VW (air-cool  of course) on long journeys. Then I found out that CSP supplies spare parts and also restores classic cars. We were surprised to find out that Traugott Grundmann (the main organiser for Hessich Oldendorf) and Harold, the Mayor of that town drove here just to meet up with us and welcome us to Germany! What a warm welcome… We met the rest of the Indonesian crew whom are friends of Stephen. Lots of drinks and food and good company. We slept in our vehicles in the car park which had toilet facilities.. Happy camper!

 

21st June Hanover – Maastrich (500kms) Today after breakfast at 9.30am there was a convoy to the Prototype Museum 30kms away and I cannot remember, but definitely at least 100 VW cars convoyed. These cars were then heading to Hessisch Oldendorf for the weekend event. We went to the museum (E10 entrance fee) and it was an OK museum for beginners like me. We left at 4pm after some photoshoots and interview with a local German newspapers. We were heading to Belgium to meet with the team at BBT, they restore and sell VW spare parts. The Indonesian team was driving with their oval Beetle (first time really learning of this type of Beetle and the cool indicators). We drove till someone waved the white flag at Sevenum, near Maastrich, Netherlands. A few stayed in the hotel while the rest of us slept in our vehicles in the car park.

 

22nd June Maastrich – Belgium (140kms) The next morning, when we woke up, it was hot and humid at 32 degrees! This is the first “summer” that I am experiencing in Europe! We managed to use the rooms to have a good shower and noted that the rooms only had heating for winter but nothing for today’s heat! Udhaya decided to cook instant noodle at the car park and we filled our stomach before the drive. We left at 1pm and when we arrived at BBT, we were asked to park at the main stage (front of the outlet). This hospitality I guess is  because we drove all the way, is simply madness and unexpected.. We are truly humbled by everyone’s kindness. Well, I also didn’t know about BBT and the fact that we were talking to Bob, who’s the owner! Bob’s a regular guy and we also met Pascal his right hand man. Myself and Bob Holland from Australia (he came over with his T3 camper; he was with us in China) went for a 20 minutes walk to get some grocery. I made myself a Nutella sandwich and next minute I know, I was making for the rest of the team! The food from the food trucks was not expensive, but there was free flow of beer, Coke and water! Food, drinks and great people.. We met a group of people from USA and other parts of the world. We slept in the car, Stephen joined the Indonesian team for the night as Yanto (he is a friend of the Grundmann’s and helped to get us the invitation  in HO17 “Hessich Oldendorf 2017”). Yanto only arrived today and he is a VW collector himself. Its really amazes me that I could be talking to someone who has 150 VW classics or to someone who only has 1 (like us).

 

23rd June Belgium – Hessich Oldendorf (460kms) Today is a big day and after breakfast, we were joining a convoy of >300 VW’s to Hessich from BBT. This is pure madness.. We were the last as our tanks needed refuelling and we did it in the town of BBT. We were given a handout for directions which was different from google map.. After circling around the town and not having any luck, we had to use Google Map to get us on to the same highway that was on the handout.. We eventually caught up and there was a few of the cars at the side of the road (broke down and waiting for BBT’s support team). We pulled over for fuel in the location per the handbook and boy was there traffic with all VW cars! Madness and something that you do not see everyday.. We arrived at this town called Hessich Oldendorf (closest big town is Hanover, 60kms away) and there were the HO17 team at the main gate directing our cars to park. Udhaya was carrying and waving our Malaysian flag as we entered the town and the flag got stuck between Nana’s tyres when we stopped at traffic! We parked at the Volkswagen Classic Parts booth (they are one of our 2 sponsors). We met Isable and Azadeen from the team and then came Traugott! He basically spent the next few hours with us and took us around..We were really honoured to have the main guy in this event making time for us.. There was also an Aussie band playing in this event which he personally sourced. Now, I have been told that this is the mother of all VW event and the town participates where you see all VW cars at every corner of the town centre. This is one of its kind and the Grundmann’s have put this town on the world map (at least for VW enthusiasts). It was really overwhelming as everyone wanted to know about our trip and we were just talking to everyone and it was nice to meet people from all over the world and thanks to Facebooks we are all friends. There was a teacher from the UK who teaches German to adults who has been following our journey with her class. Another HO17 team member, also was following and was in tears when she actually witnessed us driving in to HO today. Finally, we met Mirco. He first found out about us from the local newspaper before we started our journey and contacted us via Facebook. He was offering his place for us to stay when we are in this event. We also met his mum Elke and  dad Kees who are lovely people! We went back to his home 2kms away in Fuhlen and when we arrived at the turn off, there was a banner welcoming the L2D team! WOW!!!! The trouble that he would have gone through for this is not what anyone would have done esp when he have not even met us!

 

24th June Hessich Oldendorf After a good sleep in Mirco’s home, (lovely cottage house built in the 1700s) and breakfast spread prepared by Elke (she lives in HO but dropped over to do breakfast for us), Mirco gave us a lift to HO. There was going to be a rally at noon (70kms) along the small towns along HO and since our cars are already parked, we decided to hitch a ride. Traugott arranged for us (Udhaya, Fernando and I) to sit with Andre in his Kubelwagen. I never knew what it was until I sat in it today. He drives it in Norway for holidays (shipped to Norway from Germany as its not really safe with the trucks on the Autobahn). We had a handout with directions and there was close to 200 cars on this convoy (we did see a few at the side of the road and we did help one ; an ice cream VW van). We then arrived close to midway of the convoy where there was a river crossing and only 1 ferry that can carry 4 cars at each time. The crossing is only 100mtrs. The queue was really long and there was traffic. We decided to get out and head to the riverbank as there was a lot going there. After making a loo stop, I saw something like a Kubelwagen but it was in the water! Later I found out that its a Schwimmwagen! Its safe to cross rivers and it can drive on roads too! These are all made during war time and they are really classic and not CHEAP! Christian (Traugott’s son who co manages this event) was kind enough to get us to ride on this! What an experience. I have to be counting my lucky stars; for a VW novice like me, I am getting all these experiences that a VW expert should instead be enjoying! We finally got back close to 6pm. At 7pm, there was going to be a presentation at the stage where Traugott was going to introduce us to everyone, a little bit on our journey and a surprise present. It was a very warm reception and looks like everyone now knows about the “Malaysians”! They presented to us a piece of the original part of the steel plate conveyor assembly that produced 9M vehicles in Hannover. We and the 2 top bosses in VW are the only ones in the world who has this rare piece. WOW again… After this, there was a dinner and presentations in the city hall (and a buffet dinner). We sat at the front main table with the VW Classic Parts team (we even cut the long queue at the front door and someone from the crowd did express her dissatisfaction). Christian and Traugott hosted this event and we went on stage to talk a little bit on our experiences and did a slide show of photos. After dinner, we headed back to the town centre to have a few drinks at the stage (live band was playing) with Mirco and his parents. He has the coolest parents who shares a few drinks with him and they bought us drinks too. We met up with the Californian team (Ron and Maurice) too.. We left at 2.30am and the party was still going..

 

25th June Hessich Oldendorf Elke came over to make us breakfast again (bless her!) and we slept in today. We arrived back at HO at noon as there was a presentation by Harold (mayor of HO) to us. I guess by now the crowd is getting a little over with the Malaysians.. We were asked to sign the golden book of the town and given the badge of this town.. At 4pm, we headed to see Traugott’s private collection. Every piece of car has a story behind it. It was simply impressive and we spent 2 hours with him and some other international HO guests. Its a pleasure to hear Traugott talk as he talks with passion and indeed he makes a good lecturer. When we got back, Udhaya cooked chicken curry and rice for Mirco and his parents and they enjoyed it..(me too). I am impressed as his mum uttered word like “Babi Panggang”, ” Jintan Manis” ,  “Nasi Goreng” .. These are Malaysian dishes and ingredients.. And I broke 3 plates in the process of cleaning up. Elke got me to “autograph” a plate as a reminder of this incident. HaHa!

 

12 – 18 June Poland

Route : Gdynia – Pruscz Gdanski – Warsaw – Krakow

Kms : 980 kms

Summary of event :

a) Team is separated for the first time!

b) Nana going solo! Only for 100kms…

c) Saying goodbye (for now) to Pawel!!! sob..sob..sob

12 June Gdynia In the morning, Sylvia came over to take me to her place so that I can do washing for the team. I was happy that I could spend some time with Zosia and Karolina (her older daughter). I even had some soup and home made fries at her place. Her daughters are simply gorgeous and extremely friendly. Jarek and Ewa was having us over for dinner and he being Jarek (Mr Punctual) was at the workshop at 4pm and was waiting for me. Sylvia sent me back and we went with Jarek to his house. We had 5 course dinner ; soup, meat & potatoes, vodka/wine, cheese, ham & rolls, more vodka/wine ;typical Polish hospitality. I ended up sleeping the night at his house while the rest of the boys went back to the workshop. Ewa and I had a few shots before we went to bed.

13 June Gdynia –  Pruscz Gdanski (50kms) Had a good sleep and had a good breakfast at their home i.e. homemade cheddar with fresh rolls an a cuppa! Ewa took me to her working place ; she owns a 2nd hand shop selling all things children located next to Mikolaj’s school. When I got back, Terence and Stephen was leaving with their bus to Hamburg, hence we were cleaning and packing both buses. This is the first time that we will be separated! After saying goodbye, for the first time we went with Nana to Pruscz Gdanski to stay the night with Ewa’s parents place 50kms south. We met Ewa and the entire family at Karwia and they wanted us to come to their place last week but we were stuck at the workshop. Since we are connected via Facebook, she noted that we are still in Gdynia and tracked us down! Cliften stayed back in the workshop as his bus is still being worked on. We left at 3.30pm and arrived 1 hour later due to some traffic. Her parents were so happy to have us and she had a feast ready for us; she was working today and I don’t know how she managed to cook such variety with so little time. Ana, Ewa’s sister that we met at Karwia and Andre their brother dropped by to have dinner and supper with us. Poland so far has been all about family getting together (other than lots of food and vodka).  Her mum, Elizabeth and dad works ; mum took a day off tomorrow to spend time with us, but we will need to leave in the morning back to Gdynia.

14 June Pruscz Gdanski – Gdynia (50kms) We got up early to say goodbye to her dad who was leaving at 7am for work. I missed him by the minutes but Udhaya managed to say goodbye. What can I tell you about breakfast? Well, its a feast… Her mum even went out to the shops to buy grocery for us to take for out trip to Warsaw today! She bought 2 types of bread, cheese, meat, Polish luncheon meat, oats (I told her that we sometime have oats for breakfast), cucumber, paper plates and cutleries! She is a real mummy… We didn’t leave till 10am and it was so hard to say goodbye and they are like family to us.. It sounds weird esp when we only know them and met them twice.. We arrived “home” (workshop) at 11.30am and Kinga and Barbara dropped by and left as they wanted to say goodbye.. We were planning to see them later. We then had Sylvia and her daughter Karolina ; and Ewa dropping by to say goodbye.. Jarek was still at the workshop as he is getting some work done on his T3 camper.  Tomorrow is a public holiday and long weekend for many and they are going camping at Mazury 250km south east from Gdynia. At 2pm, we went with Pawel to his parents house for lunch. This time, it wasn’t a big spread and we were glad as we feel bad when people go through so much of time and trouble to feed us. She  served pork chops, baked potatoes, gherkins and pickled cabbage. I had no choice to eat the pork chops and luckily there was lean meat and I ate it! The only pork that I eat is processed pork and pork served in Wan Tan Mee ( local Malaysian dish). There is always dessert at her place and she baked banana cake with cranberries and raisins which looked like a fruit cake.. I was updating my blog and photos for a week in the workshop. Then we had to say goodbye to Pawel as he was leaving for the day.. Wha can I say? Terence gave Pawel a ride when he was hitchhiking last year and I guess he didn’t know what he was in for! He has been a gem and the team and I are forever grateful for his time and patience. He has recently made up his mind to drive his T3 from Poland to Thailand end of this year to be reunited with his girlfriend. So, for those who are willing to host him (Russia/Mongolia/Thailand), please contact him directly  via Facebook Pawel Fraczyk.  I really don’t know what we will do if we didn’t have Pawel. I am sure we will be ok or maybe have a different experience, but we are glad that we had Pawel in our life and he is definitely part of our family. We were planning to visit Daniel and Barbara before we leave for the day. Cliften and us will be touring Warsaw and Krakow before reuniting with the rest in Hamburg.  Well, Silves was still at work with Clif’s bus and close to 10.30pm, Daniel, Barbara and Pablo came to the workshop to check on us. We left at 11.30pm and decided to spend the night with the Woy’s and leave in the morning. Barbara cooked a big feast and has been waiting since 5pm! She had salad, moroccan spiced chicken, smoked fish by Daniel… It was super delicious…. And lots of wine and vodka.. Kinga couldn’t join us as she had a friend over at her place. Well, what can I say..we basically talked and drank lots till 6am! I cannot remember when was the last time I was awake and drinking…. We slept for 3 hours and of course there is breakfast. I am feeling a bit sick as my throat is starting to itch… Oh no……

15 June  Gdynia – Warsaw (500 kms) We met Daniel’s mother in the morning and she had fresh eggs from the farm.. We finally left at 1pm  and it was really hard to say goodbye.. We were meeting up with Joanna at Warsaw, we met her at the VW event at Wloclawek. She lives at Warsaw and she was helping us to source for hostels with parking in the middle of the town. She was there at the front of the hostel when we arrived at 7pm with her boyfriend Peter. We checked in to the hostel (Patchwork Hostel) and there was 1 room at 2nd floor and another at the 3rd floor. There is no ensuite and shared bathrooms and toilets in each floor. There is a kitchen in each floor too. This hostel is super clean and in the middle of the city. It was Zt139 per night for a double room and Zt50 parking per vehicle/night. After leaving our bags, we headed out walking the whole city. We walked for 8kms and on the riverbanks we had pizza and beer for dinner. I have decided this time that I will take my medicine ; the last time I was sick was in China and it took 3 weeks to get better as I wasn’t on the meds. By the time we got back and got to bed it was 1am.

16 June Warsaw – Krakow (350 kms) We had a good sleep and got up at 10am. Check out was 11am and Joanna came to the hostel and we had breakfast together. Thanks to Elizabeth who bought our grocery for breakfast! She has also decided to join us to Krakow and she will be the first to join the team for a drive! We took a walk to H&M as Cliften wanted to do some real shopping. It was on sale and most of the items are at 50% off. We then left at 2pm heading to Krakow with Joanna. We arrived at 11pm and we stayed at Freedom Hostel 1kms walk to the city town. It has an ensuite and its Zt159/per double room/night. We had a quick snack at the hostel (I had my cereal finally…and been alcohol free since leaving Gdynia) and then headed out to the town for a “short” walk to see the atmosphere at night. There are lots of tourist, lots of food shops, bars, ice cream parlour and kebab that is open…

17 June Krakow – Krolewska (30 kms) Cliften’s exhaust is leaking and Joanna was using her “contacts” to get help in Krakow. Michal who was at the Wloclawek event who lives in Krakow got in touch and he was at the hostel in no time. He has a workshop in his home and he has a mate who can help to fix. He has a T2 bus himself and invited us to stay at his place for the night! What luck we have. Cliften left with Michal to his place and Joanna and us decided to roam the town again. There was a medieval march taking place in the city and we also met her cousin Gosha who lives in Krakow. It was raining today and we didn’t bring our umbrellas! We went to the castle and the churches.. We also went to have cakes and coffee at this small shop where the locals go to.. We then headed back to the hostel to get Nana and we headed to Michal’s place. Car park was on the street and its free during the weekends and from 8pm-10am daily (other times Zt 3/hr). Today has been chilly at 13 degrees and again, this is not right for summer. We got to Michael’s house and met his family (wife Sylvia and daughter Victoria). We had pizza (the size of this is supersized!) and of course BBQ later.. Another Michal was there with his girlfriend Gosha and he was fixing Clif’s bus. They had other friends over and the neighbours Margaret and Tom . Food, drinks (I didn’t have any as I have been on my meds) and dancing till midnight..They have a lovely home and you can see the mountains of Zakopane on a clear day, next time maybe..

18 June Krolewska – Got up at 5.15am for the Salt Mines, Wieliczka at 7am. Margaret said that she and Tom will bring us there as there is a mass every Sunday and its free. Alas… they slept in and we ended up not going there.. We had a big Polish breakfast at their place (They are great neighbours and it reminds me of Gab/James and Dani/Steve back home in Sydney who are my fantastic neighbours) and they were attending mass at a local church at noon, which we decided to join. Pope John Paul II was from Krakow and this church is all about him. It was like a museum with some of his belongings for display and some statues are also made by salt. The plan was to leave today and head towards Hamburg to reunite with the team. After mass, we returned home and there was lunch ready for us! Margaret’s son, Borek cooked up a roast for lunch and we had the same strawberry cheese cake that Margaret baked and its so yummy! I had 4 servings after lunch.. She even shared the recipe with Udhaya from her collection of recipe book. We hung out in her vegetable and fruit garden after lunch. She is growing strawberries and blackberries; and all the herbs that you can imagine. By that time it was close to 5pm and they didn’t want us to leave.. Since it was getting late, we decided to stay the night and leave tomorrow morning. I have actually already “checked out” and packed all my bags. The drinks came out since we are not driving and the boys decided to have a bon fire and we were having sausages on a stick on the fire. These people have to go to work tomorrow but they definitely love a party.

 

 

5 – 11 June Poland (north)

Route : Gdynia – Wloclawek  – Gdynia

Kms : 500 kms

Summary of event :

a) Old town in Gdansk 

b) Sunset from a boat (with lots of drinks)

c) VW event at Wloclawek

5 June Gdynia After a good home cooked breakfast, brewed coffee and a good shower at Daniel’s and Barbara’s home, we had to go back to reality … WORKSHOP… The plan was to come back and stay another night with Daniel where he will take us around the city. But we were in the workshop the whole day and Udhaya cooked rice with chicken/pork curry from the balance meat that we bought for the event. I had 2 servings as the last that Udhaya cooked curry was early May in Irkurst for Alisher and Anna. Pawel took Terence and Stephen to Pepowo as Stephen’s engine needed to be fixed (he has been running with the spare engine since Novosibirsk, Russia). They came back with SIM cards for us ZT35 for 10gigs and since 1 June there is no more roaming for countries in EU but Poland mobile providers will have this effective 15 June. They also came back with Bob! Bob bought a VW Transporter from Holland (It was getting too hard to ship or drive his T2 and its now parked in Malaysia) and will be joining us in our journey to Germany. Bob, his wife Riga and mate George was with us in China with a hired car and driver. It was getting dark and Silves was still at work. Even Pawel was changing the black oil for nana and flying ace. We all then decided to sleep in the workshop’s car park. The workshop has a toilet and a decent shower but it shuts when the door to the workshop shuts. Our cars are parked outside the workshop in a compound/parking lot with other transport companies.

6 June Gdynia Got up at 9am and it was scorching hot… I had a shower at the workshop and since we have data, I was busy with my blog. Haven’t been updating since 18th May and lots of photos to sort out between Udhaya’s and my phone. Udhaya cooked curry Meehun with Polish sausage for lunch.. It started raining at 2pm and from 25 degrees , it changed to 5 degrees. Looks like I am not missing the Sydney extreme weather (I know Melbourne is worst, but Sydney is close). Jarek , a friend of Pawell who was at Karwia over the weekend, dropped by to check on us. Bob and I went to his house as Bob was buying a pair of seats for his T3. He was too kind to buy meat and vodka and BBQ it over at the workshop for dinner with us. With us being in the workshop sleeping in the vehicles and cooking, its the place to be with everyone just dropping by esp. those that we met from the event who are all from this town.

7 June Gdynia Silves, the mechanic of the workshop ( and our landlord too as we have been putting up the nights here), was so kind to buy us loaves of bread and his wife Sylvia baked a cake for us too. He has been too kind to let us use his space and often is showing me a little bit more about Poland in his computer. Daniel dropped by at lunch time to check on us and he even brought us traditional Polish soup for lunch. He also said that he will take us out this evening. The boys have been busy with their cars as Silves is busy with other cars. Christmas came early for Cliften as spare parts that was ordered arrived today where he had the biggest share. Michal, Pawell’s cousin who has been dropping by very often to check on us, took us to his home for us to do our laundry and to have a shower. Bob, Udhaya and I went with Michal and we met his beautiful family incl Renata his wife who designs clothes! She was wearing the same fabric and design with her 10mths old baby Cornelia. She even offered us gnocchi and sauerkraut which we couldn’t say No. It was delicious. Later at 6pm, Daniel came as promised and the 5 of us jumped into his VW Transporter. We went to pick up Barbara and his driver so that he can drink. We were drinking wine and beer in the van like a bunch of teenagers. Everyone I have met so far have zero level alcohol tolerance and will not drive if they had even a sip of alcohol, but they are pretty lax with talking on the mobile phone. They wanted to show us Gdsank which is the next town to Gdynia and its an old historic city with beautiful architecture and its a ship yard. At times, the city it feels like Venice. Pablo from the event came to join us too after work. We walked around the city and I noted that we were the only tourist who had local friends hanging out with us! And then we met Peter, Pawell’s business partner who had a speed boat and we went for the ride of our life with the sunset in the horizon. We were also drinking and having so much fun. Its sweet wine that I was drinking and it did hit me a bit later as I was basically wasted. We went to have a bite at a local joint and had more drinks. It was too much of drinks and one member from our team puked on the way back., I am not mentioning names… We got back close to 1am and Silves and Pawel were still working on the vehicles. Pawel is helping us with the repairs so that we can get it done quick and also the fact that Silves is busy. This seems to be the longest write up for a day…

 

8 June Gdynia Got up at 10.30am and didn’t feel as bad as the Saturday in Karwia. Today I had a good big breakfast 4 slices of bread with 3 eggs. I got the time today to edit and clean up the photos and continue with my blog. We had a few visitors today including Michal and Jarek. We went to Michal’s mate Tomek and Buli who are mechanics close by to see if we can service Nana to save time as Silves is busy (you get the message by now that he is busy) . They were so accomodating and were so happy to see us and we took photos with them. I had a shower in the workshop even after being offered a home shower by everyone who dropped by to say hi. Pawel’s mum cooked lunch for us i.e. mince meat wrapped in cabbage like a roll with gravy and you eat it with bread. Sylvester, Pawel and the boys worked through the night to get the cars fixed and serviced.Udhaya was busy cleaning the carburettor and gave the engine a good wash. I sat in the workshop with them while they worked. Went to bed at 2am and they will still working through.

9 June Gdynia Udhaya came to bed when it was getting bright at 3am, and we got up at 9am as it was sunny and hot! Silves brought us cakes and bread from his friend’s bakery for breakfast! Sylvia and her youngest daughter Zosia dropped by and she is the cutest girl I have met so far. she has the bluest eyes and the cutest dimple and she is just so friendly. She loved Nana and didn’t want to leave Nana after she got comfortable in the car. Sylvia said that Zosha has more car toys than dolls.I did some washing as it was good weather to dry clothes ( we hang the clothes on the cars instead of opening a clothes line and make the place like a caravan park. and Michael dropped by to bring the clippers as Udhaya wanted to trim his hair and beard. The engines are still not in the busses yet as they have been fixing the spare parts and assembling it since yesterday. Cliften’s  and Terence had to drop their engines as there were parts being replaced. Udhaya found a vacuum cleaner in the workshop to vacuum the car as not been vacuumed since Malaysia. He has been cleaning up Nana the whole day. There is a 3 days weekend VW event that starts today at a town 250kms away at Wloclawek. We were suppose to convoy with Daniel and gang (all 4 of them incl Pable and Kinga was getting there with Pablo’s black beetle called Gruby (fat in Polish). At this stage, we don’t know when we will be leaving as Clif’s and Terence bus are still being repaired. Terence engine was fixed back in his bus but after a while oil was leaking and it was decided that we will leave tomorrow morning for the event without Puch and Flying Ace. I was really looking forward to catch up with Daniel and gang. Instead we were lucky enough to have Jared and Ewa over for dinner in workshop; they will be sleeping over too tonight as both will be having a few drinks.

10 June Gydnia – Wloclawek (250kms) Nana had a few more final checks to be done and we went to Pawel’s parents place for breakfast. What a breakfast as it was like in a hotel with generous spread and all the finer details with the dishes incl garnishes that his mum carved and decorated. It was a very cosy and lovely place and we were very fortunate to have met his parents. She even baked a delicious cheese cake which I did not hesitate to have 5 servings! We got back 2 hours later at 10am and Nana was still being worked on. He works in his own time and he does take time but he is the best so far for our type of cars. He even owned VW classic cars in his younger days.  Finally at 12.30pm, we left for the event Jarek and Ewa (with Mikowai and their dog Nudie) and arrived 3 hours later. This event is bigger than the one in Karwia and you get VW classic car owners from all over Poland. I am amazed by the number of events for VW classic cars as they have it every week. We met some of the same group of people from Karwia and they were kind off shocked to see us still in Poland. We met Gruby and her passengers! They were auctioning for charity and Bob bought a VW photo frame for Z270 (its expensive but its for charity). They also had other games like knotting a rope and wood cutting (I am sure there is a better name for this). They had a group of folk singers/dancers from the mountains of Zakopane who was performing. The whole night then was just drinks, music, food, bonfire and more drinks. We went to bed at 3am while the party was still going.

11 June Wloclawek – Gdynia (250kms) I promised Ewa that I will take Nudie for a walk (she is a 3 years old Newfoundland and boy can she pull me. I did practice walking her with Mikowai yesterday in preparation for today’s walk). I made plans with Bob last night for 7am start for a walk. I was still asleep when Bob came knocking at our window at 8am but decided to still go. We went for a 30mins walk in the woods. I miss having early morning starts (back home, even in weekends, I am usually up by 6am) as you have the whole day to plan and do whatever. We had some traditional Polish zupa (soup) from the event’s alfresco cafe (It was Z5 and comes with a roll).  We also tried semi smelly cheese fresh from the mountains and it was delicious. We finally left at 3pm and made plans to stop over at Pablo’s family summer house half way along our journey back. Gruby had a flat tyre on the way back and Jarek managed to supervise and fix this situation. This summer house this place but it was 2mins walk to the lake and it was a nice cottage with an outdoor BBQ and a vegetable patch. We met Pablo’s dad who looked more like an older brother and we had BBQ polish sausages and salad. The sausages here are very tasty but they are not good for you (unless you buy it directly from source or a deli). They are very salty as salt is used to increase its water content, to reduce the amount of meat that they use. We went to the lake, Pable and Udhaya did kayaking, the boys played volleyball but there were many mossies around. We left close to 8pm and because it only gets dark like at 9.30pm, it didn’t feel too late. It took another 1.5 hours  to get back to Gdynia and we were heading to Mechelinki which is 20kms north of Gdynia. We were going to park on a cliff facing the Baltic Sea and at night you could see Norway and Sweden. Jarek came close to midnight and some other few mates and we drank vodka (I only had 1 shot) and were keeping ourselves warm over a bonfire.

 

31 May – 4 June Latvia – Lithuania – Poland (north)

Route : Mapp – Terehova – Kaunas – Gdynia

Kms : 1,150 kms

Summary of event :

a) We are in EUROPE! 

b) Lunch and dinner in different countries in 1 day

c) VW Event in Karwia

31 May Mapp Russia – Latvia Lithuania Kaunas (340kms) I remember Terence calling for Udhaya at 6am and they both disappeared. At around 9am, Udhaya told me that they got it sorted out and we now have our green card and need to stamp our passport and sort the cars for inspection. The officer stamping our passport was shocked that the duty free staff did not ask us to stock up on cigarettes and instead told us the quota. He also said that if you fly, its 1 carton and doesn’t know why its different when you drive which is 2 boxes only. Later on, Terence told me that Udhaya went to speak to the Insurance office but a different staff now as the revues one ended her shift at 6am, She was so helpful and managed to get it sorted out. Thank you Udhaya… Stephen, Cliften  and I was asleep while Terence and Udhaya rescued us from this dilemma. After crossing over, on the way, we stopped at a cafe that resembles of a cowboy town from an old Clint Eastwood movie. We had a chicken/potato/salad with coffee for E6. We are rolling in Euros now! For the first time from the start of the trip, we have been running on a tight schedule as we had limited visa in China and Russia. We are now in EU and there is no need to rush to the next destination…OF course its still at the back of our mind to arrive on time for the main Hessich Oldendorf event mid June and  Chimmay in Belgium. We were heading out and stopped at a small town to withdraw some Euros and there was a supermarket that I could buy some bread (E0.30) and juice (E1.50). The roads here were not great as there was road works and it was raining.  We didn’t have time to explore Latvia and Lithuania as we are expecting to spend more time in Poland to service the vehicles. We drove 200kms in Latvia, and didn’t go through the capital city Riga as it wasn’t on the way. We had breakfast in Latvia and dinner in Lithuania.. I always see this in movies with the rich and famous, but cannot believe that I am having meals in 1 day in different countries! It took 30 days to cross Russia and 21 days in China and now we are just passing countries in a day! Stephen’s bus had issues and we were repairing it in the rain under the covered area of a petrol station.We had dinner in a decent restaurant (diners were having wine and steak) and had soup (E1) and chicken/potatoes (E7), lucky to get hot water for free! We were looking for a place to park at night and there is no truck stop/24hrs cafe like in Russia; maybe because there are not many trucks on the road? We found a petrol station with a few trucks parked and decided to sleep there for the night.

1 June Latvia Lithuania Kaunas – Poland Gdynia ( 530kms) Wow! Its been 2.5 months since we started our journey and we are now in Europe.. I mean Nana is in Europe.. If only Nana can talk, I wonder what she has to say.. Refuelling since leaving Russia has been a breeze as we could pour first and then pay.  Today we have to reach this town in Gdynia to meet Pawel. Long story short, Pawel was hitchhiking in Asia last year and Terence who was driving his bus from Cambodia gave Pawel a ride. Since then, they have become good friends as Pawel has a VW as well.  We were going to stay with Pawel and he was arranging for our vehicles to be serviced in Poland. We stopped at a local Tesco to buy some food to cook for dinner as we will be parking and sleeping in a car park today. Pawel is working and we will park where he parks. He will be drinking tonight so will not be driving his car home. We cooked instant noodle (it says curry, but its not up to Malaysian spicymeter) and had dinner at the carpark. An unmarked police car paid us a visit and they were not too friendly, asked for our passports and after checking, gave it back to us and left. Poland is cold… we were suppose to walk to Pawel’s work place to have a drink but decided to call it a night.

2 June Gdynia – Karwia (80kms) Today, there is a VW family event (30 VW classic) for this town and is held in Karwia and Pawel invited us to come along where he will be spinning there with his cousin Christof. But before that, we went to visit Silves a mechanic that Pawel has arranged for us to discuss on timing and what needs to change. We cooked some light lunch (bread, eggs and sausages) at the parking area of the workshop.  The vehicles had to get a wash for the event and we washed a DIY car wash. We then headed to a money changer as Poland uses Zloty and not Euros! We have been using our credit cards so far in the petrol station as didn’t have the local currency. We also bought some grocery for the 2 nights at the event. We bought beer, wine, lots of meat, bread, potatoes, eggs etc. We arrived at Karwia close to 6pm and met everyone. Some spoke English and some didn’t but its ok as we had Google Translate.. We also shared with them all our videos and the charity work that we have done in Asia. We met a couple with the coolest purple beetle (Renata and her husband) and its got the heavy metal theme all over including the engine which has a skull as the carburetor! They were barbecuing and having vodkas and beer.. This weekend for everyone at the event is all about drinking and relaxing. They were all very nice and very inviting. After having too much of sausages, we brought out our meat to BBQ and eat. We met a lot of people and Udhaya was chatting to Daniel who has travelled to Asia..  I had too much of wine, whisky and vodka that I know I will be paying the price tomorrow.  Terence and Cliften retired early while the rest of us partied till 3am (30mins before sunrise)  This event was held in a motel that is owned by the organiser Peter and the backyard is where the event is held with a stage, pizza oven used as a BBQ, a kombi bar selling alcohol, trampoline and seating area. They even had 1 room where we could use the shower and toilets. Those with a beetle slept in the motel while we slept in Nana, while the rest slept in their kombis and Transporter.

3 June Karwia We got up close to noon and the music was still going! This motel is surrounded by houses and looks like everyone in the neighbourhood was ok with the noise last night that was still going when we left at 3am till this morning. I wanted to take a shower, but we were heading off soon for a convoy to Puck 20kms away. This is my first experience in a large convoy of VW. We then entered the town and parked our vehicles in the centre (similar to the Grand Place in Brussels). Lots of local tourist in this joint and we were all chatting with the local tourist and I spent a bit of time with the VW family that I met last night in the event. They are really trying their best to talk but they do understand English pretty well. We had coffee (ZT6) and then it was time to get going. We headed back and walked around the block as everyone was going to eat fish. We finally found the place and had fish for lunch. It was not expensive ZT 80 for Udhaya and I where we had 3 types of fish (its priced by weight and not per dish) with potatoes and salads. In Russia, there are places where the food (and cakes) is sold by their weight i.e there is NO price wastage. Terence was out for his run and I decided to pass as I was still hungover from last night. When we got back, I had a good shower and then it was time for party…  There were more people this time and we met a lovely family Eva and her husband Louis with her parents. She loves spicy food and studied in the UK with friends from Sri Lanka. She was giving Udhaya tips on cooking a good curry, even after telling her that Udhaya is a chef. Today we cooked our meat in the motel kitchen as we were hungry. Today I told myself that I will stick to the wine that I bought and will skip the vodkas, but its easier said than done. Tonight was not as crazy as last night and we went to bed close to 1am.

4 June Karwia – Gdynia (200kms)Nana was parked just at the porch of the motel and it was full of human traffic in the morning and no one realised that we were sleeping in the car! It was forecasted to rain the whole day and it did. After a good breakfast at the motel’s kitchen, it was time to leave. Now, we had Daniel and Eva’s parents who wanted us to come and stay with us if we want to. Kinga (close friend of Daniel and his wife Barbara) also offered us to stay with her. Everyone is simply hospitable which I never expected. Daniel was to take us touring the cities today and for us to sleep at his place but due to the rain, we will skip the excursion. Pawel was taking us to a private collector’s museum at Pepowo where we met the owner and his wife who is a chef and cooked us a 3 course lunch. Daniel came to meet us when we were done at this museum as we were heading to his home in Gdynia. Kinga was there too and another Pawel ( we call him Pablo) from the VW event.  Barbara prepared salads and we had takeaway pizzas for dinner.. They ordered too much pizza and we were up talking till 1am. We 5 and Pawel slept in their living room and they had a very nice home. I am still in a bit of shock when people open their homes to strangers, but I guess its different when you are in the VW family anywhere in the world where you are treated like family. Today has been after a long time that we had 3 good meals at decent times.. If this is everyday, I will have to keep a closer eye on my food portions..