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Episode 3

Around the world in an Unimog

The Glaarkshouse

Former Creative Director Jennifer Glas takes us on a romantic round-the-world trip with her husband Peter and a converted Mercedes-Benz Unimog.

Most people's lives have calmed down by the time they reach their mid-thirties. This was the case with Jennifer Glas around four years ago. Age 34 at the time, she worked as a Creative Director for a Munich-based advertising agency and somehow had the feeling that she had already achieved everything in her career. Then she met Peter Glas from Basel, five years her senior, they fell head over heels in love – and just a few months into their long-distance relationship decided that commuting was no longer an option for them. Where other couples might decide where to live and start looking for an apartment to share, they thought: seeing as we're both already prepared to give up our jobs and apartments to move in together – why don't we just go on a quick round-the-world trip?

Most people's lives have calmed down by the time they reach their mid-thirties. This was the case with Jennifer Glas around four years ago. Age 34 at the time, she worked as a Creative Director for a Munich-based advertising agency and somehow had the feeling that she had already achieved everything in her career. Then she met Peter Glas from Basel, five years her senior, they fell head over heels in love – and just a few months into their long-distance relationship decided that commuting was no longer an option for them. Where other couples might decide where to live and start looking for an apartment to share, they thought: seeing as we're both already prepared to give up our jobs and apartments to move in together – why don't we just go on a quick round-the-world trip?

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Until that point, Jennifer Glas hadn't really had much to do with automobiles. 'But when I saw ours for the first time, I fell in love right away.' Consequently, her first question to the salesman was emotional rather than technical: she wanted to know the vehicle's name. 'It was called Simba – and right from the start we knew we would never change the name.' Simba had already led an interesting life: now almost 30 years old, the vehicle was initially used for military purposes and has already been around the world once with its previous owner.

'I felt good the first time I got into the Unimog.' She says the inside of the seven-tonner looked like a little ski lodge when she first saw it: in a space of seven square meters, there was a mattress, a washing area and a kitchenette – and enough stowage space for luggage and a 180-litre water tank.

At first, the couple planned on taking a year out for their trip – they made their first stop in Italy in April 2013 and got married in Venice. 'Peter then carried me over the threshold in the Unimog, too – in a breakneck manoeuver.' From there, the newlyweds continued their trip by land toward India - following the classic hippie trail that became famous in the sixties. Their mode of transport meant they didn't go unnoticed: 'We stood out like crazy in India, for example. One morning we were woken by a shaking of the vehicle. When we opened the door, there were about a hundred people standing out there taking photos. They were astonished that we really had been sleeping inside.'

When they arrived in India after a six-month trek, it was clear to both of them that their trip would take longer than a year. 'We first went to Goa, celebrated Christmas with friends there – and then hung around for over two months.' Then we set off again, headed for the south of India, Nepal, and finally the Himalayan Mountains. 'That was also the highlight of the trip. We found the Tibetan culture fascinating, even worked in a Tibetan school there, and drove around a lot.'

The next leg of the trip took them to Southeast Asia via Myanmar. But not without a few minor obstacles: Since the former Burma still has barricaded military zones, you need government vehicles to accompany you there during transit – which is relatively costly. 'We then formed a convoy with other travellers and finally completed the route with four automobiles and motorcycles plus government vehicles within two weeks.' After several ports of call in Southeast Asia, the vehicle was shipped from Singapore to Vladivostok in Russia, the starting point for the six-month return journey home. 'It was important to us to drive home slowly and in real time, rather than just boarding a Germany-bound plane in Singapore. And we enjoyed this trip home immensely.'

'
We had just fallen in love - a feeling that does tend to make you a little crazy – and you sometimes dare to do things that you perhaps wouldn't in other life situations.
'

Jennifer Glas

As time went on, Simba became more and more of a mobile lounge. The wood-panelled walls became more and more covered in photos, lucky charms and souvenirs – and the perceived lack of space in the vehicle felt more and more normal. 'At the end of the trip, all other spaces felt too big, so I had to get used to that again first.' And saying goodbye to Simba – which after all was the first home the couple shared together – was very difficult for both of them. When they arrived in Munich after two years of traveling, they spent one last night in the Unimog. That was in October. Now Simba stands in a yard in Austria where, after all the rigours of the thousands of miles it has covered, it is being spruced up once again. 'We miss him a lot. Sometimes I'd so love to just get in, sit down and listen to the engine running.' Jennifer and Peter Glas have just one thing left to do: Dream about the next travel adventure in their Unimog.

What was always on board?

Throughout the entire trip, objects in the glove compartment included a small Buddha figure as a talisman, a logbook to write down the petrol and oil levels, pepper spray (although this was never actually used), pens, a nail file and ever-changing candies from whatever country the couple were in.