Stage 1 : Operation “Saturday”

24 July 2010

Aim – Austria to Slovakia via Hungary. Objectives – Short day, low mileage, sunshine, tobogganing & city hotel. Result – Operational Failure!De-Brief.

Following fuel tank stops play day, we made up lost ground by covering over 1000km in two days. Whilst not of epic proportions when compared to a car, this was in Martha and in the Alps! One important lesson learnt so far is how slow we go! Refuelling, breaks, the odd detour due to sat nav (yeah not human) failure have led to a reassessment of the route. In Europe with relatively superior roads when compared to what lies ahead we are averaging 55 kmph or 37mph. Future crew take note!

We found Steve, physically & emotionally drained, sleep walking in the street outside our hostel in his pants! Bless. Quite impressive as he started this little adventure on the top bunk above one of the 3 Japanese girls we shared our room with. He negotiated a locked door, 4 flights of steps and a front door! When I spoke to him I got a hug and the news that Jimmy (who is in England) had found a second door out of here! Well that’s ok then!

And then easy Saturday began with breakfast. Due to the bad weather we sat inside. Quite lucky as a tram ploughed into the side of outside marquee! As we ran out to help I could see the look on Steve and Ross’s face as they tried to recall their Prometheus medical training. Or maybe it was just concern over their breakfast getting cold but either way no one was hurt.

So we bid farewell to Vienna, and drove to the Hungarian border. Here we were met by a dozen unmarked police cars and guys with guns running around obviously looking for someone! The fear that it was Ross & Martha over the Wing Mirror incident soon passed! In fact all the police we have encountered so far so just smile or look bemused but to date have no interest in talking to us. Long may that continue!

Through Hungary and north into Slovakia we were soon into the capital, Bratislava. Oh how things change as we entered the city past communist blocks of flats that are a bleaker shade of grey. The landscape and weather from 48 hrs earlier had changed dramatically. Rain, wind, drab buildings and the worst roads (yes main roads) triggered the first bout of back seat nausea.

Benji drove the most horrendous leg so far involving a hill climb of Goodwood proportions. We had about 2” inches clearance on each side in a near vertical climb on a dreadful road/track with water running down like a river! 4WD drive engaged for the first time after we got stuck. Anyway the stress of it all would soon be forgotten as we sped down the run in our toboggans. Well it would if it hadn’t been closed. Brilliant driving from the boy Battye but before he drives today we are going to have to write a big L on his left hand, and a big R on his right one! 4 guys and a sat nav shouting left resulted in an inexcusable right turn! Priceless.

The photos of the Botel do not do it justice! We were honestly the only residents. Ah well the experience of sleeping on the fast flowing dirty Danube won’t be forgotten. One week in, 2300km completed, 10 countries chalked off, and enough laughs, chat and challenges to form memories for life. Oh we miss the Alps but onward we go.

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2 Responses to “Stage 1 : Operation “Saturday””

  1. Oh dear, sounds and looks pretty bleak!!!
    Keep your spirits up, Auschwitz to look forward to tomorrow?!
    You are all doing brilliantly and we are all very proud of you. Just glad I wasn’t on 1st leg!!!
    Keep safe, weather in Moscow good so will be able to dry out!
    Speak soon
    lol xxxxx

  2. Your photographs are bifuteaul Carrie. I love the saturated colours and the blue of the ocean. You have done a great job of capturing the moment. Take care and can’t wait to see you soon,Jo