A Certain Number of Things
It was only moments ago that we pulled into Dover with a much anticipated view of the Channel. I'm currently sitting in the car as Seth tries to direct Jen & Dom to our hastly found parking space; the plan is to grab a bite before we jump on the ferry.
Earlier today the anticipation of the rally was very palpable. Amidst clearing out the hotel room, paying the £3000 in deposits, and getting setup by a relatively disorganized volunteer squad (please know that I am judging by my personal standards, which are quite high and sometimes unobtainable), we got out of the damn dirty auto trap known as Central London. I'm hoping the next many hours are quick and hardly congested, though they shouldn't be, seeing as we plan to drive straight through to Prague.
I think everyone has become located again. Time for dinner.
So we made it to Prague on Sunday night after driving straight through France, Belgium, Lux., and Germany. Our course started with horrible traffic and construction in London, where I felt my blood pressure rise with each caught stoplight and too-soon braking incident. It took us a few hours to make it to Dover, but we made our ferry and relaxed for the trip across the channel. We found a good number of ralliers on the boat and asked some advice on our route to Prague, hence the countries crossed above.
Driving through Europe in the middle of the night is pretty uneventful. Petrol stations scattered across the motorways are even more so, though I did get a chance to practice my German somewhere west of Mannheim. All I did was ask for the WC, but it was an accomplishment I was proud of, esp. after driving through more countries than I've ever seen in my life. Our journey also brought us together with half a dozen other teams at the Czech Republic border. We ran into most of them again in the underground garage in Prague (where a number of teams spent the night whether to save money or for lack of hostel reservations) or at Cafe Dinitz, the official location of the rally party.
The atmosphere is energetic, though somewhat tired. People are excited to be crossing the world, to be exploring the variety of places to be seen; it's just that driving straight through to Prague took a toll on most teams, with fits of sleep coming between driving shifts. And with gas station snacks and sandwiches (in our case) filling the tanks, it's not hard to imagine that we're all a little worse off for the nutrition. But the adrenaline, that wonderful biological gift, has pushed us past our desires to stop off and sleep and has saved us for the first day. Whether that will be the case for long is hard to tell, but at least we are past the obligatory drive=through and can now rest and camp as necessary or needed. Then again, there are so many things that could come up between then and now, we shouldn't get too complacent.
We'll keep trekking, so keep reading.