Hard Driving

by achuggabug

Well, two days of hard driving have kept me away from the keyboard, not that we’ve come across a usable WiFi connection in that time. We’ve had many adventures since departing from our ferry ride across the channel, and I’ll try to get it all down before I fall asleep tonight. Hopefully, I’ll have a bit more time and energy to fill in any gaps tomorrow.

We piddled around when the call came to return to our car as the ferry docked in Calais, and we were attaching our headlamp adjusters (required for driving a British car in the EU) as the ramp was lowering; we literally shut the doors on our car as Chase was pulling away. From there we drove out of France and into Belgium, headed for Brussels. When we got there, we had no real way to get ahold of Chase’s brother Daniel, our host for the night. In true Chuggabug form, we pulled into the driveway of a house that might have been his, and began trying to come up with a way to get in touch.

About an hour into our walking around this very upscale neighborhood, a BMW pulled up next to us (this is roughly 3 AM local time) and a man gets out and explained that we were in his driveway. We apologized for about five minutes straight and explained our situation; I will never forget his reaction. First, he offered us the use of his WiFi to try to find Daniel’s information. When our phones wouldn’t pick it up from outside his house, he volunteered his computer… The man let a complete stranger who’d been sitting in his driveway come into his house and use his computer. Chase got Daniel’s phone number but couldn’t find the address, and, unfortunately, Daniel didn’t answer. Then, after what had to be one of the strangest encounters of this poor man’s life, seeing the plight of four dirty (and smelly) kids from Arkansas, this incredibly kind gentleman let us sleep in his extra room for a few hours before he had to go to work at 9. I cannot being to fathom what prompted him to offer us such incredible hospitality, but I know I’ll never forget it. The next morning, he even gave us water and cookies to take along with us.

That morning, we found Daniel’s house (about 1/10 of a mile down the road) and finished our nap, well into the afternoon. We woke up and restocked at the airforce base, and Daniel took us into the center of Brussels and gave us a grand cultural tour. We stopped for Belgian waffles and drank ‘the best beer in the world.’ The next morning, we woke up clean, fed, and rested and headed out to the Czechout Party in Klenova Castle, Czech Republic.

From Brussels, the drive to Klenova is straight across the whole of Germany, and since we stayed an extra night, we had to do it all in one day. We got out later than we wanted and decided to stop in Nuremburg to see some of the sights, so we didn’t make it to the party until about 10 PM. Our stop in Nuremburg was well worth it though, and we got to wander around the historic district surrounding the Imperial Castle, former home of the Holy Roman Empire.

Klenova wasn’t a bad time, and it was certainly a unique experience to attend a party in a medieval castle, but overall, it wasn’t worth the hurry we put into crossing Germany. We did get to meet up again with several teams on similar routes so we’ll have plenty of English-speaking company for the most trying parts of our journey.

This morning we wok up in Klenova and left out on our way to Krakow, Poland to meet Will, Chase’s friend from El Dorado. We knew it’d be another long day of driving straight through, but we weren’t expecting the 14 hour ordeal it turned into. We stopped in Prague and got lost for an hour, which was really a lot of fun in the end. However, as I napped, we somehow ended up about an hour off our route and had to plan out a completely new path over supermarket Chinese food. We ended up taking a beautiful drive down Route 11 through the Eastern Czech Republic (I mention it by name because it’s the single best drive I’ve ever taken and you all should too if you ever get the chance), but it was slow going up and down the mountains, so we ended up in Ostrava two hours late. Then, because of construction, we had to take an alternate road to Krakow; at just after midnight, we finally pulled into our hostel, met Will, and now we’re sitting here eating ramen and retelling our adventures. Safe, dry, warm, and soon to be clean, we go to bed ready for a day of sightseeing tomrrow.