And we are off! After months, if not years of planning by everyone, the 2010 group on the road! We met up with most of the expedition members this morning (unfortunately some have been stranded by the airline shutdowns and we are going to be meeting them along the way) and we are heading for Dover, and then on to Australia!
Our first night is spent in a lovely campsite in Tournai, Belgium. And it was here that we were very happy to be able to unveil our new tents! They are easy to put up and take down, and spacious inside – plenty of room for two people and their bags. And best of all, no tent pegs unless it is really blowing a gale!
From Tournai we head for Cologne. Famous for its magnificent gothic cathedral and perhaps less so for its chocolate museum, it is a very chilled city to have a wander around. On the second night we all met up for a meal at a local beer hall where you can order sausage by the metre, accompanied by sauerkraut and fried potatoes, and of course the produce of their brewery.
Bamberg, a picturesque town in Bavaria which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a highlight every year. Off the main tourist trail, the town straddles the Regnitz River with infinitely photographable buildings and bridges, cobbled streets, a Romanesque and Gothic cathedral, and its famous smoky beer. Opinion is firmly divided as to whether beer that tastes a bit like bacon is a good thing or not, but it had to be tried, as did the apple strudel. Bamberg is a very friendly town, with the local bus driver going out of his way to make sure some of the group got home from a night out, and Darrell managing to get a lift from the mayor!
It has been a whirlwind week as we head through Europe at quite a pace so that we can spend our time in the countries that everyone has really come along to experience – Turkey, the Silk Road and South-East Asia. This is a great time for everyone to get used to setting and taking down camp, and life on the road.