Driving to China (ish) - Day 3

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May 3rd 2015
Published: May 4th 2015
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Day 3 - Dresden to Warsaw

Well rested after 6 hours sleep, we headed into the old town of Dresden. The buildings are beautiful, and though in form they have been restored, the different coloured stonework is a constant reminder of one of the most controvertial acts of WWII.

We all had an excellent german sausage for breakfast, and once back at the hostel, booked a room in Warsaw for the night and made a few plans. I should say a bit more about this particular hostel, because it was by far the best any of us have stayed in. Called Kangaroo Backpackers, it is owned by a fellow globetrotter, and you can tell: very clean, bright and cosy, helpful and informative staff, free internet, great location close to both the old town and to the edgy, alternative quarter with over 150 bars. The list goes on, but this hostel basically got everything right.

We also learned that Dresden claims to have invented quite a few things: the beermat, the original bra, the coffee filter, the steam locomotive, the teabag, the audio tape, and toothpaste. So there you go.

Once on the move again, we made for Pirna to the south east, and then for Bastei. Bastei, now in ruins, was a medieval fort perched precariously on the top of huge limestone pillars in the Saxony Alps. On one side there is a forest of other pillars just across a steep gorge, and on the other a simply stunning view over a sheer cliff face of a river valley and floodplain below. Well worth the short diversion to get there.

You may also have noticed that Sputnik has had a child, also oddly wearing a red smoking jacket. At Bastei, a startling resemblence saw our mini meercat named after a limestone tower, Gansfelsen. Which means "Goose Rock". Shame, that.

Back at the car, we changed the cigarette lighter fuse which had mysteriously blown overnight. We're making heavy use of gadgets that plug into the lighter socket for power, so this is important. As I write this entry, now on Day 4, the fuse has blown again. We've used the sat nav feature on my smartphone a lot, so we're discussing options for the rest of the trip to adapt.

Once away from Bastei, we found a location for hole 5 of T.L.C.E.P. Dave F's choice, it involved trying to chip over a row of lockups to hit a small section of brickwork on a plastered wall. The other two hit their balls into the trees, so I extended my lead. DP 7, DF 12, JR 11. They are both starting to suspect that I have played this course several times before.

Back on the move again, and with 370 miles to travel to Warsaw in Poland, we quickly passed the 1000 mile point for the trip. To mark the occasion, and because the guys have been griping that I haven't named my car yet (Sputnik will tell you that anthropomorphising inanimate objects is not my thing), I decided on a compromise, where with every extra 1000 miles covered, we take turns to create the car's name one letter at a time. So the car is currently just called "S".

Talk also turned to the issue of the car's suspension. Now fully loaded with us plus gear, the rear springs are almost totally bottomed out. The roads have been great so far, but that will change. If one of the springs goes after a big pothole, at best we find someone to fit a new one. At worst, it could shred the tyre at speed. Realistically we can't shed that much weight, and packed very lightly considering that we're away for over 20 days in hot and cold climates with some camping to boot. We think that we can deflate the tyres themselves a bit if the roads get bad, which would reduce fuel economy and handling but maybe give that vital extra inch of cushioning. To compound the issue, general advice when driving across Russia is to carry extra fuel tanks and top up wherever possible. This would add another 40kgs load. We shall see.

The rest of the direct motorway to Warsaw was smooth and fast, until we reached the part that hadn't been built yet.

About halfway we stopped for more fuel, and were amazed to see a small square neon lit building just 20 yards from the pumps, but actually on the forecourt itself, and called "Hot Fun". We immediately jumped to the wrong conclusions about truckers proclivities. Turns out it was a slot machine booth.

We finally reached the Polish capital at 10pm; just as Bohemian Rhapsody came on the radio. Cue some headbanging. Even Sputnik joined in.

The hostel Tatamka - using a bison logo as a play on it's location on Tamka Street and the native American word - was spartan but clean. We ended the day by setting more worlds to rights. China's recent foray into eugenics was the main topic, and I can tell you that most of us disapprove.


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5th May 2015

Awesome Payne. Keep them coming!

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