Day 2 - Venice / Italy
World Record Run: Shanghai to Venice (August 19th to August 24th)
Three days after their arrival in Venice, Rainer Zietlow joined a press conference from Venice Municipality and Port of Venice to report about the world record drive and inspection tour from Venice to Shanghai and back and also about the visit of Suzhou in China, the partner city of Venice.
All night on end we drove across Turkey: an absolutely stunning four-lane highway goes through the entire country. Everything would have been wonderful, but the traffic grew more and more intense as we approached Ankara and Istanbul. In about 200 kilometers from the “city by the Bosphorus”, we stuck in a huge jam and virtually lost 45 minutes.
Great news! We just have arrived in Venice in a new World Record time. From Shanghai to Venice we only needed 5 days and 18 hours and 22 minutes for in total 12 575 km. We, Rainer Zietlow, Peter Bakanov and Dmitry Makarov, drove with the new Volkswagen Tiguan TSI 150 h.p. on the trails of Marco Polo on the ancient Silk Road from East to West.
We were traveling through Iran during the whole night and morning. Such cities as Shahrud, Semnan, Qazvin and certainly “the heart of Iran”, Tehran, were left behind. The road was always open, and heavy traffic could only be observed near such large agglomerations as Tehran and Tabriz, but it was not heavy enough to cause traffic jams.
A night dash to the Uzbekistan border was not easy, but we coped with it. The drivers drove in shifts, and by joint effort we have travelled probably the most unpleasant part of the road with pits, heavy opposing traffic, night drive and a rigid timetable. And again we managed to get to the border with Turkmenistan earlier than we expected.
Having driven in the Western China, we put up with regular on-route police checks, as well as the fact that our documents were checked even at the entrance to a petrol station. However, a great four-lane highway allowed us to move in good pace, so at 08.00 pm we passed Urumqi, turning the road to Kashgar and the border with Kyrgyzstan.
After leaving German consulate yesterday we have now made good progress. Its more then 3500 km in 31 hours. It is about 1800 km to the China/Kirgizian boarder left. And we must cross the board just next morning. It means that we are good in time. Team and Tiguan works like a big organism.
We are now at the starting point. The representatives of the German Consulate will witness the start time and fill it in the official form. The car is refueled, washed and prepared for the upcoming six days of record-breaking long distance tour.
Scout Tour: From Venice to Shanghai (July 24th to August 19th)
It's only hours left before our world-record-setting journey begins. After another careful consideration of the route and analysis of all possible troubles, we decided to start one day earlier, namely on August 19. So this is our last entry added during the "inspection trip", as the World Record journey along the Silk Road from Shanghai to Venice awaits us. The start is set at 7 a.m.
As usual, we didn’t have much time to sleep. For sure, we will have to wake up even earlier before the record trip. However, having arrived at 4 a.m., we still needed rest. But it was out of the question as we were in Shanghai and there were only two or three days left to plunder the city in the 24/7 mode!
Our plan for the day was to get up early and have a really long ride. As simple as that. There were 1,300 km to go to Shanghai, but the next morning we had to be energetic and cheerful at the end point of our inspection tour and the starting point of the world record – in Shanghai.
Not wasting time on sleep and rest, we set off at night to cover almost 1,800 km to the former Chinese capital Xian. A night highway means speed. And we will certainly need it to cover such distance. After having a little rest at the road side in the middle of the night, we immediately set off in the morning. No planned stops and tourist activities – never look back.
Sunday is good for the rest, but not for our team. We decided to find some interesting places in Dunhuang, but first we were surprised to meet with guys from Volkswagen Shanghay in our hotel, who had a special event there. They wished good luck to us.
We had a four hours night stop in Kurle and after breakfast we continued our driving to the deep of China. The Gobi desert had been waiting for us and prepared a stormy wind. It was really complicated to drive fully loaded car through the 45 meters per second side wind.
We didn`t have time to rest. We need to finish all our uploadings of the days 16, 17 and 18 and fix some bugs on the website www.tiguan-silkroad.com. It took about 3 hours and after that we continued our trip. We came to the Old City of Kashgar to make filming near Camel`s monument to mark our Silk Road story.
While our Volkswagen Tiguan was being inspected at the Chinese-Kirghiz border, we had some time to take a breath and look around in the western capital of China – Kashgar. And first of all we certainly decided to visit the local market. To our surprise, there was nothing amazing there in comparison with the recently visited markets in other countries.
The task seemed quite simple, especially because we were not far away from the borderline between Kirghizia and China yesterday at dusk. It seemed to us that it would not take long to reach it and relax, but adventures started at night: we first had to soil our wheels passing by the landslide, and after a couple of kilometers we faced a really off-road section.
Waking up at five in the morning and going further without thinking twice is usual for traveling, isn’t it? It turned out that we had spent the night almost in the mountains. Having driven just a few tens of kilometers on the morning, but already busy road from Tashkent to Andijan, we moved beyond the mountain pass, with the Uzbek plain and the border lying ahead of us.
It took us the whole night to cover the way from Samarkand to Tashkent. The distance is just 305 km, so it looked like our destination is just four or five hours away. Why so long? The thing is that, we spent the previous day driving, working, meeting people in Samarkand and decided to set to Tashkent only at night.
After a night at the hotel, we went for a short walk around Bukhara in the morning. This city is known as one of the oldest in Central Asia, and its history dates back more than 2,500 years. Archaeologists say that the “cultural layer” in Bukhara is over 20 meters – the depth at which the remains of houses, crockery, jewelry and tools of labor have been found.
We left Turkmenistan today. We were going to make a 750+ km long trip from Ashgabat to Bukhara passing through Tejen, Mary and Turkmenabat, where we were to actually cross the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In other words, we had to cross the Karakum desert by road. Our GPS estimated this route to take 10 hours.
It was the second day of our stay in Ashgabat that we decided to get a better idea of how and by what the capital of Turkmenistan lives nowadays. But first of all, let me tell you about those interesting meetings that we had since early in the morning.
After staying for a night in Mashhad we went to Sarakhs town in the north-east part of Iran, where we wanted to cross the boarder between Iran and Turkmenistan. Iranian boarder we crossed quite normally, but we were surprised, why iranian customs decided to put our car to the weighing-machine, because Volkswagen Tiguan isn`t a truck.
The tenth day (1st of August) of our trip we were staying in hotel in northern Teheran, taking rest and making some preparations before our departure to the Mashhad city in the East of Iran. Next day we left our hotel early in the morning and drove up to the nearest gas station and ... got into a traffic jam! There were a lot of cars, waiting for refueling, so we had to wait too.
After our overnight stay in Qazvin we moved on to Tehran. Notably, we slept in the car – the Volkswagen Tiguan was our motorhome once again. It can accommodate three persons: two sleep in a reclining position on the front seats, and one on their side on the rear bench. Of course, you would rather stretch yourself out and straighten your legs.
We stayed at a hotel overnight and all our team together with our guides Kamran and Sharif discussed plans for the following day. In the morning we headed for Tehran. We took photos and made videos on our way. Tabriz and other towns we drove through impressed us with their cleanliness and tidy appearance.
In the morning close to Erzurum we started checking our car and making order inside, before crossing the boarder between Turkey and Iran. So we put all our staff outside the car and were surprised, that we had a lot of free space, we`ve never used before. Volkswagen Tiguan is a really much bigger inside, that it seems to be.
We were driving all the night, since we left Istanbul yesterday. The turkish highway D-100, which crosses all the country from Istanbul to Iran boarder has 2 lanes in each direction and a very good asphalt pavement, so there is no problem to keep a good speed and not to have any problems with intensive traffic.
We greeted dawn on the Turkish border. It is the most crowded checkpoint so far, but it’s quite amazing how swiftly the line proceeds with so many cars wishing to get from Bulgaria to Turkey. Turkey met us with an unbelievable dawn. We haven’t seen anything like this before: the ascending sun painted the sky soft pink.
We reached the border between Slovenia and Croatia in the dead of night. Long lines of European tourists wishing to lounge on the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea stood at this checkpoint mere weeks ago. Today we have passed customs in a few minutes.
This day is one of the most important in our Tiguan – Silkroad journey. Rainer Zietlow’s team set out for Shanghai on their Volkswagen Tiguan 150 h.p. TSI from the Port of Venice at 12 o’clock sharp (CET). Representatives of the Port, the City Council, the German Consulate in Venice, the city’s consul as well as sponsors attended the opening ceremony.
It was such an eventful day. In the morning we went to De Bona, a Volkswagen dealership near Venice. The company’s specialists performed a complete maintenance of our car for tomorrow’s race. They checked the suspension and wheel alignment, diagnosed the electronics and changed the motor oil.
Today the participants of the new “Tiguan-Silkroad” project met at the airport of Venice. After the meeting we made several photos of our team and the car - the Volkswagen Tiguan TSI 150 h.p - which we’ll drive during our trip. We also made several photos with a representative of Magna who came to see our start.
A new challenge is coming up very soon. This time Rainer Zietlow and his team want to drive the 12.300 km long traditional "Silk Road" from Shanghai to Venice with the new Volkswagen Tiguan TSI with 150hp produced in the Russian Volkswagen factory in Kaluga. You can see our map showing the exact route.