With the first vehicle I ever owned, a beautiful old yellow van, I set off on a two month European Led by Destiny tour.

I had my driving license but never owned a vehicle in my life. Always hitchhiked. But now, you can not hitchhike with a few hundred books with you (about one kilogram each!) And this is what I was planning to do - travel Europe with my 'Led by Destiny' book I just picked up from the printing house.

So I searched the ads in the local paper and went to see the only one that sounded more or less affordable. A 19 year old Volkswagen Transporter. I loved it from the first sight - for its attractive yellow color. It was beautiful, it was yellow, it was running.
This is all I would ever want from a van. And the owner assured me that it should drive all through Europe to England and back with no problem. And I just have this (unwise?) habit of trusting people...

So I got the yellow beauty, and decorated it with 'Led by Destiny' signs on all sides in the color of the book cover (which is dark red color, the color of Tibetan Buddhist monks' robes). The ex-owner showed me how to check the oil level, and demonstrated a few other things - things that I would prefer not to know - all I wanted to know is to where to insert the key, and just drive off.



About two weeks later Chopin helped me to load the van full of books and saw me off on the road wishing good luck. Yes, this is what I would need, driving my first own vehicle across Europe.

I made it through Poland and across the German border with no problem. Was surprised to drive pretty much smoothly into, through and out of Berlin getting lost just a few times but eventually finding my way. Then to Leipzig and Dresden where I had my slide show presentations, and a couple of days later I was on another highway, heading towards Bremen. That's when I heard strange noises coming out from the engine at the back (or maybe from the exhaust pipe?) The van slowed down but it was still running. I took the first available exit off the highway. It happened to be the German town of Magdeburg.

Sunday afternoon. All the garages closed. What to do...? 
Internet cafe. I log on to Hospitality Club site. Scribble down a few phone numbers of the locals members. Call the first one from the list. Florian picks up the phone:
"Sure, no problem. Come right over."
Next morning we call a garage. They'll come but only around noon. And I have my next presentation this evening in Bremen, a couple hundred kilometers away.
"Just take my car. I don't use it very much, anyway." Florian says.

The plan was for me to drive back the next day after they fix my van. But this didn't happen... So Florian told me to go on with his car to Amsterdam and then we'd see. Well... in the end I just continued my European tour with his little red car, for another month, and we only swapped the vehicles on my way back. Well, not exactly swapped. I just returned his red car, but my yellow van... they fixed it but it broke again. And the German mechanics didn't want to look at it again. I called my Polish friend.

"What do you mean they can't fix it? They made it!" he couldn't understand. It's a German van, after all. Most Polish guys would fix it with a screw driver, but not the modern German mechanics. So I ended up hitchhiking home from Magdeburg with all the Christmas gifts and all.
Chopin went back there with me right after Christmas and we brought the van back on a trailer, and the Polish mechanics are working on it right now - I hope they'll bring it back to life!

Kinga Freespirit

You can see the details of the van tour on our 
www.ledbydestiny.com site.



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