Sunday, 2 September 2007

Day 3 - Lunch with Mafia and the Church of Bones

We stayed the night in the underground car park where we had been allocated space for the rally cars, this was far from fun; very noisy, hot and full of exhaust fumes. The morning was spent getting money, food and water with some time to spare to take in the beautiful surroundings, another visit here is definitely needed.
A large convoy was heading south to Bratislava leaving at midday and we intended to join up with it, we were with Team Tempus Fugit who we had met at the launch in Hyde Park, they were having serious cooling problems with their SJ and we waited around with them for a few hours in an attempt to rectify it. We left just after two and proceeded to get very lost. We eventually found the right road out and also spotted a garage where we stopped to get Tempus' SJ looked at. It was only a small garage with a group of guys standing about. They were instantly intrigued by the two cars and instantly got under the bonnet and worked out the problem. All was needed was some silicon to seal the thermostat housing so one of them, a big guy in a bright green shirt issued one of his companions with some money and sent him off get some. They fixed it and refused all offer of payment. The big guy then offered to show us the way out the city so we all jumped in and he pulled up in a very large Mercedes, a very impressive car for a garage mechanic. He lead us down the main road for a few miles and then pulled in suddenly at a restaurant, apparently he was now taking us for lunch and wouldn't take no for an answer. We parked up, slightly confused and followed him in, he barked orders to the manager and got us a table. Four beers turned up for us (the legal driving limit is 0% in Czech Republic and he was drinking Coke), then four large stakes followed.

He started telling us about how his business was owning properties and this was one of them, he said he didn't, simply waited money to come in.

He also told us how he had a ex wife and son out in Canada but could no longer go there because the Police didn't like him. The Czech Police didn't like him either but it didn't worry him as he had friends in higher places. He told us about his brother in law who was in prison in London for smuggling 100kgs of cocaine into the UK and how he had plans to move to the Caribbean as soon as he had got all his money together.

All four of us were a little apprehensive to say the least at this, and the open road looked very appealing at this point, would we ever make it out alive. Two more of his associates turned up to eat, neither spoke English but made up for it in menacing looks. When the bill came we were unsure whether to offer to pay our share but the big guy gave one of the other two a nod and a pile of bank notes appeared form one of their pockets. We really were being treated.

Next they all trooped outside to check Tempus Fugit's radiator and then a quick picture of all of us and then we made tracks, not quite believing what had just happened.

We headed east towards the Church of Bones, a place where many ralliers visit and also a stop off point for good old Ewan McGregor. It was bit of a drive but certainly worth it. It was weird seeing a rather morbid thing turned into art in such a way. It was a short visit and we were soon on our way again, this time as a convoy of three as we had picked up Duncan and Rob in the Morris Minor.

We headed south with Bratislava as our destination for the night, it wasn't long before we had lost the Minor and the darkness began to fall on the two SJs. It got to 10 and we were still some distance from Bratislava, suddenly Tempus' SJ lost power and were forced to pull over onto the hard shoulder, we followed them in to find they were over heating badly. The only option was to let the engine cool down, meanwhile our SJ which had been standing still idling did exactly the same and we were forced to turn it off. It was pitched black and there were lots of lorries on the road, our broken light cluster meant our hazards were a waste of time, so it was a dangerous spot to be in.
We had to get moving as quickly as possible. Phil from Tempus went ahead and found a camping area only 150metres up the road. It was then that we realised our car wouldn't start, it took me and Rob to push start and John drove off to the camp site while Rob and I jumped in the other SJ and limped along after.

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