Carine, 22 years old and in fourth year of graphic design in Nantes, France chose to live an amazing adventure for the European summer. During 23 days, she crossed 23 countries in a Peugeot 205 for a humanitarian, cultural and sporty raid full of sensations.
What is Europ’Raid?
Europ’Raid is a humanitarian, cultural and sporty raid. We cross Europe by doing 10,000 kilometres in 23 days in Peugeot 205 cars. We also bring with us almost 2 tons of school supplies to give them to orphanages in Bulgaria and Romania.
The road is simple, we leave from France and we get to the further point on Europe, in Turkey and especially Istanbul which is the most important stage of the raid. We cross 19 countries in total.
Each day, there are some stops offered in a road book - it can be some water falls, lakes, capital cities, caves. All that makes Europe rich in heritage. We do about two to three stops per day.
The goal is to see most of the things in a very small amount of time. It is kind of a “bing travelling” life.
Why did you choose this adventure?
The association posted an announcement in my school because they were looking for photographers and videographers for the whole raid. A golden opportunity for me! Photograph daily insane landscapes and discover all that Europe has to offer was more than a dream. It was also the opportunity to push limits, get out of the comfort zone. At night, we were sometimes sleeping outside and we didn’t have daily showers… Each day was unique with a different country, a different language, a different tradition, a different landscape. In short, each day was bringing surprises - whether they were negative or positive.
"On 14 cars at the start, only 8 came back to France."
Do you need to know about cars and technical stuff before doing this kind of adventure?
At first, no. Anyone can launch themselves in this adventure without having lots of mechanical skills. However, during the preparation you have to get interested in it and therefore you quickly learn the basics like changing a tire, know where is the alternator and check the oil level.
During the raid, we got very lucky because each time we broke down, we had the adventure mechanic with us. But the mechanical is the most difficult and unpredictable part of the raid. On 18 cars at first, only 8 came back to France. The second day, we had to drive up to 2,000 metres in the Swiss mountains. For 20 year-old cars, it was quite rough.
What did you discover during the travel?
Honestly I discovered so many things… but what I loved the most was Istanbul. The atmosphere in there is so crazy, the colors of the city are insane and the scenery is amazing. I loved crossing Slovenia, we don’t really hear much about it but it was the most beautiful country I crossed with its rivers and lakes that take your breath away. In Bulgaria, I was really touched by the Bouzloudja. It is an old building by the communist party that is now in ruins, and you see all the remains of a time that is not so far away from now. Then in general, we got to discover how to live and think like the locals. Each night, we had bivouacs organised and the people were coming in masses to welcome us. The discussions were always very animated, especially in Bosnia or Serbia where the wounds are still not healed.
Was there a moment that was particularly important for you?
When we arrive in Bulgaria, we installed our bivouac and we saw the city was on fire. When we got down to eat, 500 people were waiting for us. All the inhabitants dressed traditionally and did a guard of honor, it was crazy! They did a show just for us with traditional songs and dances. It was being welcomed as a President!
"I am thinking about only one thing, leaving again, further and longer."
Did you have some difficulties on the way?
In some of the Eastern countries, the roads are really in a bad state and it happened that sometimes we had to go on very dodgy ways. In Serbia, we drove up a mountain for 10 minutes and once at the top, the wheel was literally broken in two. So we had to drive back, we were 7 cars. Apart from that, all went very good.
What did you feel once the adventure was over?
I can’t land. I just want one thing, it is to leave again, further and longer. When we left, we were 42 strangers and now I consider them as very special friends. Each day, we got up with the excitement of discovering new things. So when it stops and you have to go home, alone, the back to reality is quite hard. Even if you tell what you did to your friends, if you don’t live it, it is impossible to imagine how crazy it was.
What is the best way to get ready for this kind of adventure?
One needs to really get ready mechanically. The car must be the most reliable because it will really suffer. Also, to prepare stuff before the raid is important because when we leave to 3 weeks, with almost no comfort, one needs to be equipped (Thank god for wipes!). And mostly, I think one should not expect for anything in particular, let the things go and surprise you all the time. Be a sponge and take all what you can get.
What is your next adventure?
Ah if only I knew! I want to complete my European tour with Scandinavian countries and why not do an internship there because the design culture is insane there! Then I am not making too many projects, Europ’raid came to me only 2 months before leaving! We never know what can happen. In 6 months, maybe I’ll be in Sydney, who knows :)?