Well, just where do I begin… it’s been a while, and so much has happened… If my poor memory is correct, the last real post recording our adventures with VanGo involved a artistically drawn route on a map and all of us still squeezing tomato juice (and seeds) out of places we wish not to think about. We have currently escaped an early winter in Poland, with temperatures hitting freezing point and poor VanGo waking up with a covering of snow, and are currently enjoying a comparatively tropical Czech Republic (a whopping 8°C!) in the beautiful medieval town of Cesky Krumlov. But where have you been hiding, I hear you cry… quietly… well, let me tell you.
We have skipped and danced up through France… castles, walled cities, vineyards, Champagne, wine, wine and more wine. Then we popped by to see a few friends in Friesland, drank local beer, learnt about a local legend who wielded a sword that matched his giant height (six and a half foot of fearsome steel… sorry Marte, I completely forgot his name…), a ‘short’ 14km nighttime walk and the discovery of the famous ‘Leaning Tower of Friesland’. Chris Sansbury and Marte Roorda, we are eternally grateful for your washing machine, amazing hot shower, and for being the perfect hosts.
From the land of the lily pads and giants we headed into Germany and then racing across France for a surprise birthday rendezvous with Emma’s Mum (who had been told we were going to be in Poland, and was quite impressed that we’d managed to travel from Kraków in such a short amount of time), via a brief visit to Annecy whilst coordinating our general trajectory. A journey through St Antonin, Najac and ending in the amazing Le Puy en Velay, where we were spoilt with a church on a mount linked to Le Mont Saint Michel and St Michael’s Mount, an awe inspiring statue of the Lady Madonna and baby Jesus (also placed high on a rock face) and the last of the trio, the historical royal castle strategically placed on top of a rock outcrop. We finished off our tour of what is French and quaint with a visit to Eguisheim, a relaxing day or so before heading to Ocktoberfest in Munich.
Ocktoberfest… well… Ocktoberfest. Team VanGo was reunited with friends from the UK for a week of camping in a tipi (and I use the word tipi extremely loosely, it had a roof, most of the sides, and a floor of mostly de-flating mattresses.) Di Brass, Matthew Sharp, Heather Hodgson and Stacey Allison made the journey from the UK for a week of drunken debauchery… erm… I mean, drinking moderately and with sensible intentions. Phil Smith (New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel) helped kick off the celebrations with a round of steins on him, along with a surprise present for each member of the team with their own personalised shirt for the week. Our livers still fondly ache as we attempt to remember the weeks shenanigans.
Livers successfully soaked in milk, it was onward and upward, or northwards, to Hamburg… then on to Berlin. Mostly East Berlin. Its where all the cool cats hang out. After a few days of historical memorials, reading up on the atrocities of the holocaust and visiting various sites we were in need of a good drink and a happy face. A very good friend, the honourable Rory Midhani provided us with both, taking us to a very local bar that even at 2am didn’t seem to have any intention on calling last orders. (We never did find out what time that place closed). I will now shamelessly plug my friends skills as an artist, designer, illustrator… and urge you to forward his credentials (by force, or by subtlety dropping the details into conversation… your choice) but either way, keep in mind www.rorymidhani.com… for all those illustration needs.
This brings me back to the beginning… a snow covered Poland. Oświęcim, the site of Auschwitz and Birkenau… a humbling and emotional experience. There are no real photos of these sites, but the emotion and the memory we will take with us wherever we go. It is something I feel everyone should experience, words cannot do it justice or begin to describe it. We then ventured across to Kraków, finding a lake to relax next to… enjoying a few beers and watching the sun go down. Contemplating our next steps… which has lead us back to the Czech Republic… in Cesky Krumlov.
Next…? Well, we’re not too sure about what comes next… possibly castle hunting in Bavaria… discovering Lakes in Austria… you shall find out just as we do. Till then… love, light and peace.