09 July 2019 21:18
16 July 2019 16:25
Our last 4-Xtremes report comes from Germany. Or to be more precise: from a car park on the banks of the Neckar, somewhere between Stuttgart and Heidelberg. Anyone who takes a look at the map somewhat lower down, will know that we have deviated from our route. But somehow that fits in with the course of our journey that didn't always go exactly as we had originally planned. But here's the story as it unfolded.
The last month of our journey which took just under a year included a few low moments – but also several really great ones too. What was less pleasant was above all the fact that the closer we got to Switzerland the more difficult it was to find places to park overnight. It became more and more “cramped”; an increasing number of fences prevented us from getting to the nicer places. In Serbia, from where we reported last month, we spent the last night on an old pass road and things stayed that way in the neighbouring country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There, we usually had to make do with parking areas on side roads.
Before reaching the capital of Sarajevo, we drove along narrow, winding mountain roads until we reached a special destination for trips: the abandoned bob-sled run from the Winter Olympic Games in 1984. Luckily the traffic was almost non-existent, so that driving was fun. We only came across a few farmers who gave us a friendly wave. It was at times like that that we felt our military green truck was a little inappropriate because, after all, it isn't too long since this country experienced a terrible war. All the same, it was a great experience to wander down the bob-sled run that is decorated with graffiti – and then back up again, gasping for air.
From there, we continued downhill from the mountain into the centre of Sarajevo in the Axor. The bazaar in the city reminded us a lot of our time in Turkey and Iran only a few months before. And in Sarajevo too, traces of the war are still obvious: many of the buildings still show bullet holes. Time to leave the city again. Taking the tourist route, we reached Mostar and the Kravica waterfalls.
In Croatia, we stopped first at the beach. We stayed on a headland for several days. On the one side there was a river from which we could get fresh water and on the other was a peaceful bay with magnificently clear water typical of the Croatian Adriatic Sea.
On the island of Krk we found a super place to set up camp: in an abandoned quarry, directly next to the water – and behind us a giant bridge which connects the island with the mainland. This was also the spot where we met up with the RoadStars team to take a look back at our journey in a film. For two days we travelled all over the island together to film in all sorts of places.
After the film shoot we were supposed to finally return to Switzerland – via Slovenia and Italy. But to be really honest, we tried to delay the moment of return as well as we could. Of course we were looking forward to seeing family and friends after a year. But at the same time, we didn't want the adventure to end.
That is why we drove along the whole of the Istrian coast, enjoying the heat and the salty sea air. And in Slovenia we looked for a place to stay for the night too. Although in this country we only had a short leg on the way to Italy which we could easily have done in an hour.
But in the end we couldn't put it off any longer and crossed over the Swiss border at Chiasso. Our Carnet de Passage that we needed for importing our Axor into a number of the countries on our journey was stamped as invalid – and we were greeted by a wonderful mountain panorama. Typical of Switzerland. Our first destination was the Walensee lake south-east of Zurich. That was where, at the beginning of our journey last year, we officially started the trip and set our odometer to zero. The number when we officially ended the journey: 46,968 kilometres.
By the way, we haven't written that we drove “home” on purpose. Because we had our home with us the whole time. For the first two weeks a lot of good food with family and friends was the order of the day. Luckily we were able to park on land belonging to friends. So we didn't have to always look for new spots where overnight parking is permitted.
Of course we felt that we recognised every corner and every street and still everything seemed different to before the journey. It was strange to hear other people speaking Swiss German again. We had to be really careful about what we said in public – now that everyone could suddenly understand us again. A lot of things seemed excessively expensive and the choice was overwhelming when we went shopping.
And then after two weeks, we decided to set off again. Originally we had wanted to wait until June before setting off in the direction of the Netherlands to visit our bodybuilder Bliss Mobil. Instead we decided to just set off and see a little of Germany beforehand. Our first destination was Stuttgart – and the Mercedes-Benz Museum. We were even allowed to park the Axor directly in front of the building while we visited the exhibition. And now we are standing next to the Neckar, alone again for what seems to be the first time in a while and are thinking back to our journey.
The last year just flew by. We have experienced and seen so much … sometimes we only really realise this when we look at the photos again or read our own reports. Some adventures only really became adventures afterwards – when we told friends about them over a drink. During our tour even the difficult situations like involuntary detours were just part of our everyday routine which we tried to master as well as possible.
We have learned an awful lot – and that has only served to awaken the desire to explore more of the world. We don't have any concrete plans for the future yet which is a little scary. Our ideal plan would be to somehow combine work and travel. But one thing is for sure: no matter whether our next destinations are as exotic or challenging as the ones from the past months; as long as the wheels are rolling, our world is in order.
4-Xtremes – the tour of superlatives.
Photos: 4-Xtremes, Alexander Tempel
Video: Alexander Tempel