Firstly we’d just like to say a big thanks to everyone who has sent us the text messages to the sat phone – it’s always a highlight of the day when we turn it on and it bleeps away at us!
Kiev…funny place. We can’t quite make up our minds about it. One minute we get really annoyed at the gruff unhelpfulness of the unsmiling people, then we meet some lovely helpful ones who give us excellent directions. The city mirrors this, with charmless streets of mish-mashed architecture opening onto glorious tree-lined squares around golden-topped cathedrals.
It’s far too expensive anyway, so we’ll be off soon!
One of the many cemeteries for war dead in the Somme
After a slow amble across Europe, we are now in Krakow, which is cracking. The Polish roads have given Roxanne (the Land Rover) her first bit of rough, and she seems to like it. We’re less keen!
We spent most of yesterday at Auschwitz – it’s hard to say it was enjoyable, it was rather gruelling in fact, but certainly well worth the visit. It’s a very eerie feeling walking under the infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign, and even the occasional coach-load of school kids (only over 15s allowed though – the first censored museum I’ve been to) can’t detract from the haunting knowledge of what happened there. The Birkenau camp, the epicentre for the Holocaust, is a vast place and at every turn the sheer scale of things beggars belief.
From here we get a brief reprise on the sites of mass-killing (next up Stalingrad) with the small matter of Ukraine to tackle – check your atlas, I guarantee it’s bigger than you think! It also provides us with our first border crossing, so fingers crossed for that!
We’re currently in Bastogne, which has Pete and Spike merrily quoting Band of Brothers and looking out for exploding trees. I think we’re beginning to realise how far we actually have to go, after only just managing our required daily average milage yesterday across the dead straight, well-kept roads of northern France!
We did have a relaxed start though, and paused to take in one of the many British military cemeteries in The Somme – a majestic and tranquil spot in the midst of beautiful rolling hills. It was impossible to imagine battles being fought there, and all the more sobering for it.
We’ve got a case study lined up for this afternoon, then traffic-willing we may stop by the Nurburgring on our way to Frankfurt – let’s see how the Landy fares out of its natural habitat!
The satellite phone texting now seems to be working, just make sure you put in the right number!