Pit stop
Vienna (Austria) to Netherlands, October & November 2013

It is getting cold when we leave Austria and enter the Czech Republic. It is the beginning of October and the eastern part of Europe is getting the first signs of the approaching autumn and winter. However, the rain didn’t arrive yet, so camping is still possible. We decide to visit only the southern part of the Czech Republic (bordering Austria and Germany). This is a beautiful area with a hilly landscape, old medieval towns and spectacular castles (see also our photo impression about the southern part of the Czech Republic). Especially the castles of Valtice, Vranov Nad Dyji and Bitov are impressive. The main tourist season ended already which means that we have almost all the sights for ourselves. When we arrive in the little picturesque medieval town of Telc, we decide to stay there for a few days. It is too cold for comfortable camping and we needed some time to do the first preparations for the next stage of our journey. It is our plan to head to Central Asia at the end of the year, so we needed to do some research regarding visas, border crossings, climate, carnet de passage, insurances, etc. We eventually spent 5 days in a small pension on the medieval square of Telc.

Via the tremendously beautiful medieval towns of Slavonice, Ceska Budejovice (the home town of the famous Czech Budweiser Beer) and the old mining town Ceske Krumlov, we drive in a week time to Marianske Lazne. This town, formerly known as Marienbad, was immensely popular among communist leaders during the Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia. The town had some problems just after the fall of the iron curtain, but is now working on a revival. It is a ‘chic’ town with beautiful art deco buildings, impressive parks and a chic clientele. From Marianske Lazne it is not more than a half hour drive ride to the border with Germany. We are now really on the way to our pit stop in The Netherlands. It took three days to drive home. We decided to limit our driving days to approximately 300 kilometres. That’s enough for our Land Cruiser which drives most comfortable when the speed needle points to 75-80 kilometres an hours. At this speed, the jeep is also very economical by using only 10 litres for 100 kilometres (not bad for a 1984 jeep with a weight of 3000 kilos and a 3.4 litre diesel engine).

The picturesque medieval square in Telc (Czech Republic)

It is October 15th when we arrive in The Netherlands. At this time we also have a clear view on the travel plans for after our pit stop in The Netherlands. The plan is to leave home again half way December and the head for Iran via the Balkan countries and Turkey. We have been to Iran three times before, but never with our own car, which opens new opportunities to explore this interesting country. When spring arrives in 2014, we plan to cross the Caucasian countries (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) to Central Asia. With these new plans we also wrote down an action plan for the things to do during our homecoming. One if the things was the application for the Carnet de Passage. This document, internationally recognised by most countries, is a passport-like document for the car. With a Carnet de Passage you can enter countries (Iran for example requires a Carnet de Passage) without paying a cash deposit at the border for a temporary car import. The Carnet de Passage is issued by some automobile clubs. In our situation, we had to apply for it at the German Automobile Club (ADAC) in Munich. We heard stories from other travellers who had difficulties getting a Carnet de Passage. However, we had no problems at all. We prepared all the necessary documents (like copy passport, car certificate, application for, proof of deposit, etc) and got the Carnet by registered post from the ADAC within 10 days.

The other big issue was the Russian visa. We wanted to get a multiple entry business visa with a validity of a year. This visa type gives us the most flexibility. However, to get this visa you have to prove that you visited Russia in the 12 months before the application. And that is the main reason why we made the short side trip to Saint Petersburg in August when we were in Estonia. So, all the papers were ok, but our big worry was the bad relationship between The Netherlands a Russia. We had some struggles between these two nations which cooled down the relationship. And with Russia you never know what happens. They could decide to stop all visa applications overnight. But things weren’t that bad. The struggles between the countries regarding gay rights in Russia, the arrest of Greenpeace activists, and inviolability of Russian diplomats disobeying Dutch laws, did not escalate further. So we got our desired visa without any problems. The other visa we want to arrange in The Netherlands is the Iranian visa. This one is still in progress, but we do not expect any problems getting this visa.

Art Deco buildings in Czech Republic's Marianske Lazne

We also spent a lot of time visiting family and friends, and making the last adaptions on the jeep. We did the necessary maintenance, like changing all the oils, adjusting the breaks and overhauling the odometer. During the last weeks of our trip the odometer had some difficulties turning the little discs (due to dust and a glue-like pollution) that show the driven kilometres. We also made a shed on the jeep that protects us from the sun and rain, we constructed a small stair on the tow bar to climb in the car easier, and we repaired some rain water leakage problems in the cabin. So, the task list is almost empty now, which means that we can now really start the preparations for our approaching departure in December.

Overhauling the odometer of our Land Cruiser
Testing our tent with nephew Tuur
Eindhoven's Glow Festival (show in the Philips Stadium)
Lot's of people are enjoying Eindhoven's yearly licht festival Glow

Playing soccer with nephew Tuur

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