Summer is drawing to a close, which means that motoring enthusiasts are already fantasising about their future road trips. Some may lust over a hardcore suspension battering adventure on the Mongol Rally, whilst others may prefer to ride with the top down along the French Riviera.
Readers following my Trabant build blog will already be aware of the existence of the East German racing cardboard. Not for a second would anyone dream of a gruelling excursion piloting one of these smokey communist cars…or would they?
Meet Florian Vogel, 26, from Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany. Hairdresser by trade, Trabi and rock music lover by passion. In 2016, Florian commenced on his dream road trip across Europe in his trusty gletscherblau Trabant, Herbert. Keeping track in his travel blog (In German), Travel Trabi, Florian agreed to an interview about his adventures so far.
The motivation for the Travel Trabi project brewed from a young age, where he was raised in a family of wanderlusters. Further motivation came after he avidly followed a couple’s epic world travels, piloting a two-stroke Goggomobil in the 1960s.
Although, why a Trabant? Why not play it safe in a more modern vehicle? Florian’s choice of vehicle stemmed from his oddly practical reasoning as a teenager, where he would aspire to own a vehicle which he could maintain himself. Frugality aside, it also had to harbour a cult following. This left him with choices including the Volkswagen Beetle, Citroen 2CV, Mini Cooper and the trusty Trabant P601. The Beetle proved too expensive, the Citroen too French and the Mini (he claims) would rust before his very eyes. So a Trabant it had to be!
Armed with his 1989 Trabant, equipped with a small trailer, the journey commenced. Starting in his home country of Germany, Florian’s epic adventures begin in nearby Luxembourg, progressed to the United Kingdom, ventured through France to the Iberian peninsula and towards the Baltics.
Often wild camping or couch surfing to keep costs to a minimal, Florian informs me that he met many friendly people from all different backgrounds. Reassuring, in the day-and-age of rising populism. To finance his journey along the way, Florian made use of his hairdressing skills, offering pop-up barber services. Twice, he claims, did finances grind to a halt. Initially in Switzerland and again in Poland, which paused his journey temporarily.
Florian took on such adventures as New Year’s Eve in Gibraltar, viewing Africa in the distance from Spain, stealing the show at a motor show in Torremolinos, shaking hands with the King of Spain in Malaga, fiestas at Las Fallas, kayaking near Avignon, exhibiting at Trabitreffen, partying at a local festival in Germany and learning about Viking life in Estonia. He even met some life changing friends along the way.
Although Florian is handy with a spanner and happened to choose one of the most simplistic vehicles to maintain in motoring history, he did suffer four breakdowns. The first being a spark plug and coil related issue in Rouen (France), the second a cracked cylinder (sealed with Loctite in Southern France and later replaced in Anklam in Germany), an exhaust repair by a surprised Romanian mechanic in Portugal and running dry of fuel near Tarifa in Spain.
When requested to state what his favourite part of the adventure was, he listed his time in Poland. Warsaw was a particular highlight, as he found people accommodating and open-minded, something which pleasantly surprised him upon arrival.
At the time of interview, Florian was venturing back through Poland and had a set of handy statistics to hand. Herbert had munched a plentiful 23,120km (14,366 miles), 1572.84 litres of fuel at an average consumption of 6.8l per 100km, 31.45 litres of two-stroke oil and had only broken down four times.
Countries visited included: Germany (x2), Luxembourg, Belgium, France (x3), Great Britain (England and Scotland), Spain (x2), Portugal, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Poland (x2), Lithuania (x2), Latvia (x2) and Estonia. Somehow, Motor Hipster thinks that Florian may need a larger fridge to display his new fridge magnet collection!
Please do visit Florian’s blog, Travel Trabi, to view the full write up on his adventures. This makes for compelling reading and has enough pictures to have you requesting for your annual leave.
Motor Hipster wishes Florian and his Trabant, Herbert, a pleasant adventure from this point onward.
Have you recently taken an exciting road trip? Then please leave a comment in the section below or contact me on Twitter.
by Mike Armstrong