The wind whistles across the expanses of the seemingly endless steppes in Lesser Caucasus. Unknown countries on maps that are visited far too rarely and yet are so beautiful. The blogger Paul Nitzschke from Passport Diary writes about clouds moving to reveal impressive mountain chains with the hashtag #OrangeVanTrip. He writes about foreign cultures, about friendship and encounters with people who never would have met each other without the journey in the 407 D.
On his long journey, Paul passes through 15 countries in 100 days – until he reaches the black gardens of Nagorno-Karabakh. His search for simplicity of travel also takes him through the war-torn Ukraine. To Europe's last nomads, the Sinti and Roma in Romania and the breathtaking landscape in Georgia.
All of this in his former Mercedes-Benz communications van from the THW, which he lovingly calls Emma. For his journey, Paul needs a robust vehicle that is more than capable of handling even miserable road conditions.
The engine is unreasonably economical for its weight. That is why I am happy to drive more slowly. In these remote regions fuel is sometimes difficult to find.
Travelling in an old Mercedes-Benz van on the search for adventure? For Paul, travelling like this is just one more puzzle piece in his search for the original style of travel. Slowly but steadily, Emma makes her way through the mountains of Armenia. The traveler is fascinated by the landscape moving gradually past the windows.
Cappadocia's moon-like landscape invites visitors to stay in with its incredible rock formations. The perfect background for a photo of the orange Emma and the blogger Paul. "Beautiful pictures are incredibly important for journeys like this. The people back home want to know what I am seeing and experiencing here."
Cappadocia looks like another planet. Barely any tourists find their way to this incredible region beyond the major routes. The perfect location for one or the other amazing picture.
Paul can still remember this morning perfectly. He talks about one of the most impressive moments of this journey. It was still dark outside. Flames lit up the white curtains that normally provide protection against curious eyes. Through these windows Paul could just barely make out shapes of hundreds of hot air balloons silently rising into the sky. What an incredible moment. Paul and Emma remain fascinated tiny figures on the ground.
But the final destination cannot be found on any map. The mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as "the mountainous black garden", tell many tales of the suffering and hope of a nation. The site of an eternal conflict in the mountains between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the easternmost point of this journey. "Emma withstood the trials of the journey with hardly any problems", reports Paul happily. "I reckoned with more complications. This is definitely because of the good preparation along with all of the work that I invested beforehand."
Emma and Paul have a long journey behind them, off the familiar tourist routes. Paul needed a lasting memento. That is why he commemorated the experiences with a tattoo. The tattoo machine was connected to Emma's battery beneath the open sky in the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh. Every thrust of the needle is powered by his reliable companion. A connection for eternity.