[eng] Easter Europe in a VW Kombi

Article published on May 10, 2014
Article published on May 10, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

10 000 kilometers through some twenty Eastern European countries, two reporters as co-pilots, dozens of interviews and a VW Kombi. Welcome on board  « Bulli Tour Eu­ropa". It starts on May 10 from Stras­bourg for a six-month on the field work. A couple of hours before departure, one last look at the rear window and here is everything you want to know before releasing the parking brake.

Two young­sters from Al­sace, France, started the Bulli Tour Eu­ropa pro­ject. Claire Au­d­huy, a play­wright, a stage di­rec­tor and a doc­tor­ate holder from the Uni­ver­sity of Stras­bourg, and Bap­tiste Cog­i­tore, a video jour­nal­ist, have been work­ing on the idea since a year and a half. Newly graduated , they wish to take some time to im­ple­ment their pro­ject be­fore throw­ing them­selves into the world of work.

« Bulli » is the nickname given to the legendary travel vehicule, which evokes ideas of liberty and escapism and that was mass-produced by German car manufacturer Volkswagen. No wonder then that the two adventurers, whose project is supported by the Rodeo d'âme association, opted for a VW Kombi when the idea came up to go and see Europe-they mean not from a Strasbourg perspective. Claire, all glimmering with enthusiasm, says that she is "convinced of being European" but that she does "not know what it really means".  "I don't want to see things from our ivory tower anymore but I want to understand what Europeans are dreaming of, what their daily lives are like and what it is that we share together."

Driving the Kombi and getting your hands dirty

The small van, which has ingeniously been converted to include an almost two-meter-high Baptiste, the quality video and radio equipment, the six months of shared life and an emergency jerry can that may contain up to twenty litres of petrol within its three meters square, was found on LeBonCoin website. "After searching for months all over France, we eventually got in touch with a seller that lives in...the Haut Rhin!  The collector immediately liked the project and agreed to sell us the Kombi, which dates back to 1978, for a good price,» Claire explains. From then on, the race to find spare parts started.  They completely stopped manufacturing this type of vehicule in late 2013 while the last Volkswagen Bullis came out of the assembly lines in South America. Now, creativity and mutual assistance are prevalent among owners of Kombis. The engine has been renovated and the exchange of spare parts is going well. The two co-pilots have even been attending mechanic classes to provide for contingencies, which Claire does not fear. "We rely on the popularity of the project. If we break down on the way, there will be people to help us, " the optimisitc young woman assures.

The two reporters gained capital stock,  official sponsorship, collaborative funding and a few partnerships with local media. They will centre their work on three themes: identity and minority, drama and resistance, memories and nationalisms. To achieve their goal, they have already got in touch with the fixers and translators in the different countries they will travel in. But since the kombi is all fitted out, being a real mobile radio studio, nothing will prevent them from reacting straightaway to the news over the course of their adventures. And the news will probably be very "hot" in Ukraine and in Bielorussia this summer when the Bulli Tour Europa goes their ways...

Cafebabel strasbourg wishes a good journey to the "bulli tour europa" and will RELAY its adventures through chronicles that will be published and that you can also find on the WEBsite . Follow the bulli tour europa's departure on place Guten­berg in Stras­bourg on may 10 from 11 am to 1PM.

monthly meetings : the thursdays of europe, third thursday of each month in Sa­vons d'Hé­lène, 6, rue Sainte-Hé­lène in Stras­bourg