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Iberian Peninsula
Warsaw (Poland) to Tenneville (Belgium), Dec 2015 - Feb 2016

It's almost Christmas 2015 when we arrive back in the Netherlands from Poland. We were almost gone for a year this time and in 2015 we mainly spent our time in two different worlds: the Caribbean and Central Asia. We feel that we have seen Asia now sufficiently. Of course, we haven’t been everywhere in this huge continent, but after spending nearly nine years mostly in Asia, it is just enough for now. Tajikistan and Azerbaijan were the last two places we really wanted to see and that has now happened. It’s time to shift our focus to a different part of the world.

What we already knew about the route to come, is that we love to make another trip with our jeep. We have even thought about traveling to eastern Russia, and then ship the jeep from Vladivostok via Japan to the Americas. However, developments in Russia, and then especially the hostilities towards Turkey, did not give us the right feeling for the moment. It may just escalate in the coming months. We also thought about the option to ship the jeep to South America, but the whole fuss around the Zika virus made us decide to put this option in the refrigerator for a while. And Africa is also always and option to consider, but there are in our opinion too many trouble spots in order to travel around safely without too many complications; especially if you are traveling by car.

New 'shoes' for our Land Cruiser

In early January we visited friends in Portugal who own a house in the southern part of the country. This visit made us finally decide to go to Spain and Portugal for a while (at least the next six months). We have seen very little of these countries and it seems a wonderful destination to explore by private car. We can also use this time on the peninsula to determine whether we would want to live in this part of Europe. After all, we have to keep thinking about the future. At the end of the year we can again decide in which part of the world we are going to continue our journey. One thing we know for sure, the travel fatigue has not struck yet.

We didn’t have to do a lot to prepare the jeep for this trip in Europe. The biggest cost was the set of new tires. We had seven flat tires during our last trip with the jeep to Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus. The tires were completely worn out. New "shoes" for our Toyota were therefore required. We have also replaced the seals of the rear axle because of a small leak. During this repair, we came to the conclusion that one of the shafts of the rear axle isn’t in optimal condition anymore, so eventually we have to replace this one too. But for the ride to the Iberian Peninsula it is not necessary yet. We have of course also changed the oil of the engine, the gearbox and the differentials, so we can leave well prepared.

Ivonne is making self-made pralines with nephew Tuur

We also attended a 4x4 course. We already had some limited off road driving experience from previous trips, but we still decided to do a course. Not only to improve our skills, but also to have a nice day with fellow 4x4-drivers. It had rained tremendously, making the motocross track in the town of Oss a huge mud pool. It was a fun day where got to know our own skills, and the limitations of our Toyota, a little bit better. We used the last months also to replace some of our camping gear. Our camping chairs and air mattresses were broken, and also the bicycles that we always carry with us on the roof of our jeep, had to be replaced. We found all of these items on Ebay for a nice price.

We decided to drive as soon as possible to the south. Good weather is all we need. Since October we live in the cold and rainy weather of northern Europe, and that’s hard for us, after spending some much time last nine years in Asia. At first we wanted to see a few things in France, but that plan has been thrown overboard. In the coming weeks the weather is rotten in the land of the baguettes, so we have put our radar on Barcelona in Spain. Yesterday we left the Netherlands and are perched in the Belgian Ardennes for a day, to take a breather from the intense last months in our home country. If we look outside it is snowing … a lot. And that’s the image we hope not to see again until next winter. Spain: here we come!

Posing with the self-made chocolade lollipops
Us at the Portuguese west coast
In action during a 4x4 day in Oss (The Netherlands)
Snow in the Belgian Ardennes, the after we left The Netherlands

On the way to the sun

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