A breakdown, in the middle of the Bulgarian outback. The gears refuse to shift and there is nothing they can do about it. Within fifteen minutes, a Bulgarian they met on their travels has organised for the car to be seen by a mechanic in Sofia. Three Austrians coast along the motorway towards the capital Sofia in second gear at just 30 km/h. Diagnosis: damaged gearbox. The very scenario that Regina and Thomas had always feared.
The three Austrians are a well-practiced team – a trio on grand tour: Regina Hochecker, 33 from Rohrbach a. d. Gölsen, artisan and mechanic; Thomas Hadinger, 37 from Vienna, film maker and photographer; and “Edelweiss”, 35, VW T3 Camper and, for the past year and a half, home to the two Austrians. That is how long the three amigos have been on their world tour together.
But could this be the end of their big adventure? It would cost thousands of euros to repair a gearbox back home in Austria, and to get hold of a good second-hand unit would take a long time. “Then the mechanic used Google Translate to ask whether he should install a new gearbox there and then? He had a few used ones that would fit lying around in his spare parts store,” Regina recalls. “We were stunned, and asked tentatively what it would cost. €230 including labour, a special price for fellow VW T3 lovers.” Three hours later, the trio was back on tour. Things have a way of working out when you are on the road in a VW Bulli.
The adventure began in the autumn of 2021. Very deliberately without any time frame, and as an open-end journey, there was just one main goal: to travel overland from Austria to India. The rough route would take them through the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Since then, the trio has covered roughly 21,500 kilometres together. “Edelweiss” has proven to be a reliable vehicle, as a home with a panoramic terrace and as a mobile workplace. Or, as Thomas puts it: “It is more than just a car – it is a family member and travel companion.” The fact that Regina and he are on a world tour with a VW T3 Camper is the result of thorough preparations – and a long story.