We have arrived in Europe! This a huge milestone, we’ve crossed most of the world to get here, we are more relaxed than excited we both feel a calmness of being somewhere familiar
We drive 5 minutes down the road and find a very nice truck stop and decide after a long day to just camp up here. As we enter we find the place to have couches, showers and free wifi, what a luxurious truck stop.
In the morning we decided we should head to a garage to see if they can help with the new crunching noise when we turn right. Robyn finds one through fellow overlanders about 40km away in Latvia that can help with Toyota 4WD. On arrival, we have to turn into the garage and the car makes an awful noise from the front and seizes up.
After more time, stress and phone calls with the mechanic in Russia and the Latvian mechanics we find that the new left CV joint the Russians put in has shattered. All the money spent in Russia fixing OHNO’s front end and now due to difficulty in getting parts we make the decision to complete the trip in 2WD. The mechanics remove the 2 CV joints and front drive shaft and we decide as we are so close to the end we will fix this in Australia with our mechanic and reliable parts.
After so many issues with the car for the past few weeks, we decided no point dwelling on this let’s move forward and enjoy the last part of the trip.
We find a campsite in Gaujas National Park and we couldn’t have picked a better place to take some time out. The small campsite had everything we needed, it was quiet with functioning showers and toilets, wifi and every campsite had a fire pit and piles of firewood at our disposal. Few days of relaxing at the campsite and some long walks were exactly what we needed.
Then off to Poland, we go, via Kaunas, Lithuania for 1 night. We spend our first night in Poland by a local holiday spot Mikolakji Lake and then continue to Olsztyn to meet Tristan’s old friend Kris from his time spent in summer camp in America way back in 2003.
What a trip with Kris and his family we could definitely go on for hours about the fantastic time we had and how welcoming they were but we will keep it brief. Neither of us speaks any Polish and neither of Kris parents speaks any English and when our interpreter Kris was not around the situations became very amusing some ending up on a Chuck Norris inspired exercise machine working out. We stayed with them for 3 nights in a small cottage (shed) on their allotment down the road, of a morning we would walk back to the flat for breakfast which consisted of bread and cheese, homegrown tomatoes and gherkins the size of large beer cans, smoked meats they produced themselves and of course homemade wine and local beer. What a way to start the day (Day 2 we were able to avoid the beer and wine and instead were treated to the local vodka!)
Over the time Kris showed us around his beautiful hometown and we spent some time with his family, visiting his sister up the road and her children; to more drinking and eating at the allotment looking at old embarrassing pictures of Tristan and Kris from their time in America all those years ago.
We then headed with Kris in tow to Krakow where Kris is based for work, on the way we stopped in Warsaw for a very quick visit and lunch, such a beautiful city that we hope to return to spend more time in.
In Krakow, we spend the night with Kris and prepare for Mummy Hey who is to join us for our next part of the trip.