Friday, October 7, 2011

It seems like a story of '68

It's us! Luka as Scooby, Jan as Shaggy, Hilka as Daphne me, David, as Fred and of course in the middle - Gulliver, the hippie van. The only one missing was Velma, but we found her. Continue reading and you'll see her! We got ourselves new names. And not just ones from the Scooby-Doo cartoon, but also really random ones: so from now on in this blog I'll be writing about Don Felippe (Luka), Delacroix (Jan), Žajfa (Hilka) and Korni (David).

Three monsters working
We named this trip "epic" long time before we made our first kilometer on the road. Well, it was epic all the way from our first planning with Delacroix and Don Felippe. Everybody probably knows and maybe even connects word "eurotrip" with popcorn movie with the same title, but we planned to make it even crazier. More than a month on the road seemed like a plan that rocks already when just talking about it. But until we could push the gas and leave home there were many things we had to do.
Firstly we discussed how we would go. Car? Too small. Three Tomos mopeds? The gas would cost us the came since not more than one can comfortably sit on one. Train? You just get to see big cities and for everything else you have to be dependent on local transport. Van? We don't have it, but we can buy it!

Search for the perfect van wasn't that long. Well, at least it wasn't that long in the active part. After all we found Gulliver in April and saw that there are a lot of things to fix and we still thought that it won't take that much time. But it did. The spare parts came, mechanic did his job, and in the start of July we also did our job. For two weeks we worked from dusk to dawn working on the interior. Complete renovation was necessary for making it into "RV". We made ourselves a kitchen, a bench that turns into a bed and painted the walls with crazy rainbow colors. At last we were ready to go and we started our trip on 26th of July.

Hungary - nice bordering country where we spend our first night in Keszthely. The first day everything seems new to you. We saw some French circus guys who chilled out there with rusty old vans and felt like we are connected. Something like 200 kilometres per day seemed right at that point so we weren't in any hurry. Having boiled eggs for the first time, sleeping at the first spot near the town where it seemed quiet, drinking at the bar with special name "Pesz-gobar" out of what we made fun through the whole trip.

Spermy eggs, yack!
Slovakia, Czech Republic - were cheap countries. Meal for three euros, beer as cheap as water and cheap gas too. On the road we listened to Adi Smolar and sang along on the way, in Brno we parked just across the police station (we felt safe, oh yeah) and tried all the beers they had in bar Černa Hora. After drinking the wonderful Czech beers we went "home" (to Gulliver) and on the way there bought ourselves some hamburgers. Don Felippe and Delacroix were totally happy with it, I wasn't. Next time I'll have to drink more to make these cheap Chinese hamburgers taste better.

As you probably noticed I haven't yet mentioned Žajfa, our Mexican-American companion. Well, she wasn't yet with us at that time because we arranged we meet in Paris on 1st of August. Days passed quickly and we had to drive across whole Germany in as little time as possible. And we did it! German autobahn rocks! Before Paris we stopped in Metz, Reims and Verdun, where we had luck to be there exactly at the moment when there was a concert in the city. Extra fun had Don Felippe when he was listening to drunk Frenchmen, dancing and singing along with band.


Paris - Late in the evening we parked on the first free parking spot. When we already stopped I wanted to turn on the van again just to turn it the other way facing the pavement with our right side where the sliding doors are - and it didn't turn on! What?! We couldn't believe it at first, but yes, we couldn't move. Battery was totally empty even though we drove a lot for the past few day. Of course something with alternator must have gone wrong, but mechanic will be necessary, we concluded. We didn't know if we should tell Žajfa about that since then she maybe won't go with us. In the morning Jan said we should mention that after all - but she didn't mind (via SMS). In the morning when we were having breakfast a guy stopped by and said that he'd like to buy that van. We though that now we at least have a second option what to do if fixing costs too much money. We said to him we'll think it over and in the afternoon I went with TGV (fast French trains) south to Taize (little village in the center of France) to pick up Žajfa (Don't ask why!) and come back to Paris with her next day.

The place where we got our van repaired.
I sat on the train, waiting to depart, just few minutes ago I said goodbye to Don Felippe and Delacroix, when I remembered I have keys for Gulliver with me. OMG! They already left and train was just about to leave. I hoped that they'll find some hostel to spend the night, because the only keys to their bed were in my hands. Next days when I and Žajfa arrived back to Paris the real trip began! After waiting at the train station Gare de Lyon for two hours thinking that we agreed to meet there we went to the place where we parked the van wondering why Don Felippe and Delacroix didn't come wait for us. Okay, maybe they don't even have a watch, I though. It could happen - with them especially. We arrived to the van and from the distance saw Don Felippe sitting on the pavement, exhausted, and van with sleeping bags on it. What? Yes, they had the craziest night. They didn't realize they don't have keys to the van until late in the night when they came back and wanted to sleep, so they decided to go sleep in a park. But since parks are close from 22pm they climbed the fence to get in. It was freezing cold, but in the morning around 4am guards came to check the parks so they had to run and hide. So they got across the garbage where they found sleeping bags and had a "lovely" sleep till morning. What a crazy night!

Vilma finally found!
Later this day when we were eating lunch just besides our van parked another car. Out came a family with a little girl and mother came to me, saying: "I have something I'd like to propose to you guys!". What could it be?! They turned out to be the ones living in the house in front of which we parked, but most of all they were the most AWESOME family in the world. They offered us to take showers, use their toilets, Žajfa even slept in their guest room. In the mornings we had breakfasts together and played table tennis with their daughter. We couldn't imagine better solution to problems of big cities. And what really saved our souls there was that they helped us with the van - found us the mechanic, helped us turn on Gulliver with the help of their car and gave us the best impression of people of Paris of all times! Thank you, Amazing family from Paris!

Most awesome people in Paris!
Sightseeing in Paris also set up our tempo for next stops. Usually we made few hundred metres, then sat for few hours (!), chilled out and then moved further on. Nobody was under pressure, Paris was nice enough just to look at and the sight of the magnificent Eiffel tower was priceless (even with the Indian guys selling us champaigne after bargaining for quite some time). Paris was a great city and all we could (-not: because we can't speak French at all) say was: Paris, je t'aime.

It's really gorgeous!
After Paris we saw most parts of West France all the way down to Perpignan. From beautiful medieval village Mt. St. Michel, most western "rock" of France, driving through "Pornič" (actually pornic, but the name is so great!) and Condom, eating fish sticks and rice, soup and fried bananas, pancakes and potato, sweet bread and eggs, sleeping by the sea, exploring old castles and chilling out like real hippies in the middle of nowhere was just a part of our trip. Every day kind of seemed the same, but sometimes we woke up at 11am, sometimes earlier (not many times), moved from the place where we slept some time in the afternoon, drive, eat, play guitar or listen to Steppenwolf or some Celtic music or just spend a day in the van because it was windy and cold outside. Even during such days we were never bored and always found something to do - if nothing else watch when Žajfa will lose her temper with three guys bothering her, but she never did. No fun, haha.

Stairway to heaven - Dune de Pilat
Just before we left west coast of France we stopped at Dune de Pilat for the last swim. It's a big sand dune, 3 kilometres long and around hundred metres high. Climbing on it was most fun and when we got there it was like in Sahara - sand everywhere. The place where we got to these sand dunes was actually at the camp and it was a perfect place to (ab)use the showers - for free! It was pure luck that we found a camp where nobody checked whether we were from there or not - we thought at fist, but then met some guys who did exactly the same: using the showers from the camp, but sleeping on the beach. Camp was full of people, they had organized parties and there were many of those who were not officially in the camp, but just used their facilities and attended events. On a trip like that you actually get used to get stuff for free - we drove on the Paris underground for free, used toilets on gas stations for free (where it's usually not for free), took showers in the park (when they watered the grass) and eventually got some food for free too. Don Felippe actually evolved into another life form who knows exactly how to survive in the modern wilderness with as little resources as possible.


Best ad ever!
Arriving in hot Spain was a big climate change for us compared to just warm and sometimes even chilly France for all of us. If we could live normally as central Europeans in France, we were hit by the heat totally unexpected. Oh my God is Spain hot! And when it's hot you can hardly have a seat belt on your bare skin when driving. In Spain we had several close encounters of the third kind with policemen. Driving without a seat belt - hundred euros, parking and sleeping on the wrong side of the street - woken up by policemen, sleeping by the beach - told off to move away! Not much fun when you look at them and don't understand a word. But their looks told us everything. Our day in Barcelona was well spent to see Sagrada Familia, chill out in the park and be almost robbed. These thieves just don't know the limits - he tried to steal a bag in front of my eyes. Come on, man! Before we moved further on into the center of Spain towards Zaragoza we met a guy who had hangover script written just for him. Drinking, then losing his friends, sleeping on the beach and in the morning feeling lost - very common among youth there, probably. Luckily we had a mobile phone so he could call his friends.

That's the way we did it
Driving towards Zaragoza through desert and arriving in the city full of World Youth Day (WYD) people brought us closer to the centre of Spain - Madrid. Huge city, without GPS we would be totally lost even though we got used to read maps quite good, with underground tunnels of tens of kilometres. Madrid was also Žajfa's last stop so we had to leave her with her Mexican WYD group. We drove to the place where her group was, said the last goodbye and went to the van. We were quite sad that we'll leave her and somehow we wanted to stay where she did. Talking about that at the van we saw a group of people going to the place where she was (it was guarded so nobody who was registered there could not come in). Why wouldn't we go with them? We took our sleeping bags and followed the group, hoping that no one will notice us not being from their group. We got to the entrance but then the guards saw us and read that we're not from there on our faces immediately. Our chance to sleep at the fun place where also Žajfa was has been lost. But hey - that moment we saw some Polish guys (three girls, one guy) asking for directions. We told them we have a map on phone so we can help them. And why not go with the van? As we arrived to the van I told them just to watch out for the broken bottle of beer on the floor because it exploded few hours ago (probably because of the heat, but it actually exploded). When I said that to them the guy panicked and couldn't trust us anymore. When we drove them to the place they wanted he constantly talked that we're not on the right way and was asking us if we were drunk. Of course we weren't, but exploding beer seemed to be quite an unusual thing for him to hear. Girls were not panicked at all though. But crazy Polish guy probably though we'll rape and kill them all. Bwahaha! (evil laugh)

When we lost our female companion the crazy minds of us guys started working again. Madrid full of WYD people (we called them "franjevci") couldn't be better for a crazy tour in the centre with van and a sack full of water baloons! We prepared for our attack and even thought that we're doing a good deed refreshing the people. Don Felippe opened the side doors and started attacking the people passing by. There were some really great shots. Red light, waiting on the road, he ran out of the van and attacked some more people. It was perfect until - policemen stopped us and yelled at us how dare we do that. Policeman went to Don Felippe and told him something in Spanish and even though Don Felippe doesn't understand any Spanish he said to me and Delacroix afterwards that he understood everything - big no no.

On our way to Madrid on highway we were passed by some German van few times. There was some youth going to WYD too so we greeted each other and they were also totally amazed by our van. When we found our spot in Madrid soon we met the guy from the German van there! What a coincidence! Of course we hanged out with Raphael during these days few times and then we understood for real that this van can get us friendships too. Thank you, Gulliver! Actually it was most obvious in Madrid that people fall for old vans - and since it also has flowers on the side everybody thinks we're some lost hippies from sixties. Now, when we're back it's so boring that you can't use horn on the road and all the girls walking by will turn and smile at you. I miss that.

Leaving hot Madrid we drove back to the coast - from Benicassim back again to Barcelona. We had a great day on nudist beach, a little less pleasant morning in Barcelona when they robbed us, and on our way back to France we picked a hitchhiker who stayed with us for one day and night.

F R A N C E  A G A I N

A van on the grave
Our goal was to come to Taize where was also Don Felippe's last stop. He's now staying there for a year, probably, but Taize always calls us again to go there. It was a different week than the ones before that. The night we came there we said: "What a luxury! You can go take a shower without having to look if anyone's watching you weirdly if you're showering on the gas station, outside where the water pipe is, and you don't have to pay anything." Whole week was a luxury. We weren't a group that much anymore. Yes, we did have extra beers for the thirsty ones, because van is just a perfect place to have something more there along the normal Taize offer. One day we even locked ourselves the key inside - but some Polish guy helped us out and broke into the old Gulliver.

I have to pee so badly!
It was time to go home. I and Delacroix took a lovely German girl with us for few hundred kilometres for she was going the same direction as we were. In the city where we left her, Arbois, we had fun, bought French wine, had fun in freezing cold stream and on the way to her place where we left her we decided to take another group photo.

We parked by the road just to make a photo when we saw small red car passing by with guy driving it looking at us, trying to tell us something, but we couldn't understand him. But next minute he passed by again. And again and again - like six times! At last we understood what he wants us to do - to take our shorts off. Come on, crazy French guy - but we can do something for you: Delacroix showed him his ass, girl her bra and I was filming it. The guy driving the car was extremely happy. So he drove past again - we had enough of him and decided to just show him to piss off and when he passed by we saw that he was actually jerking off the whole time. Gross! Sick French guy. But probably he had loads of fun. And still we're wondering what turned him on - us or our Gulliver.

The trip is over. Everybody's in different city now. A group got apart. Summer holidays are usually like that - having fun together for some time, then people go each his own way. And all that remains are memories. Gulliver will rest somewhere under the roof for next epic trip which nobody knows when will occur. Korni,  Delacroix, Don Felippe and Žajfa - all we shared great moments together, but what can you do now that Žajfa is somewhere across the ocean, Don Felippe in Taize and it's just us Korni and Delacroix back in Slovenia.

After a month spent again in Slovenia I gave up thinking I should be on the road every day making hundreds of kilometres. People can't do that all the time. Driving makes me feel like life is something that moves and makes progress every day and spending time with these great people help me be better. Having time for people around makes me passionate for life and when I think of my summer again - I get this feeling again that the life is not in being at one place all the time, but to travel, explore, see the world, talk, laugh, cook, love and enjoy this wonderful life!

That's a really rough map of where we drove

There are many many more great memories that can't be written here, otherwise this blog would have to become a book. And there are parts that only Korni, Delacroix, Don Felippe and Žajfa would find interesting and funny. We'll spare you the inside jokes, thank you very much.

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