By Nigar Orujova
Millions of people are dreaming about touring the world from their childhood, but only a few of them are courageous enough to realize the dream. However, two young ladies were brave enough to begin their travel on a tiny car around countries and mountains without fear of the road dangers.
The crew of the Mini Cooper called Chippy are pilot Lizzy and co-pilot Valentina. These cheerful ladies have already visited 44 countries arriving in their jubilee 45th country – Azerbaijan.
It all began as a hobby seven years ago as the girls look back. “We wanted to go on vacations and we wanted to go to the beach, but we could not decide. Valentina wanted to go to one side of Italy, and I wanted to go to the other side. Then we though: “OK, let’s visit both”. And then we realized that we like the journey more than sun tanning at the beach. The following year, we visited 27 countries in 10 days,” Lizzy said.
Lizzy is passionate about cars, loves her Mini and doesn't allow anyone to drive. Valentina, the power behind the team, plans the directions.
“Back then I was living in Russia,” Valentina said “and every time we had to meet just for a little period. So we decided that in order not to waste time just for being somewhere, explore the world, at least we can talk and share what we have in life. We called it the “Country hopping”, as people do club and bar hopping.”
Valentina went on saying that in the beginning, it was more about exploring but now we have a motto: “Be brave”. We travel, we meet new people and tell them to be brave and think out of the box.
“We always try to integrate while we are visiting, try local food, visit local people, learn about traditions,” Lizzy added.
The women choose their destinations thoughtfully, they prepare for the journey and create a booklet with the map of places to see and visit, some history. While traveling, they also make a documentary, with all new information and new words they learn from the countries.
“So obviously to share the experience we also started to write children books of every country,” they said.
Their ten pages book includes traditional words and cute stories that happened during the visit, all comprehensible for children, with bright images.
“The idea is very peaceful and we meet our friends who want to participate somehow. They ask if they can help us, which is also great, because it makes people come together,” Valentina added.
In the documentary, Valentine normally covers traditions, customs and fashion of the country, while Lizzy does history and economics and interesting facts.
The Chippy WorldWide Racing team has already lost count of the extreme situation they have found themselves during the trips.
“Once in Morocco we were stopped at a red light and there were ten men crossing the street. They started to fight and we were waiting until they passed. Suddenly, one of them took a sword and stabed the other man. There was blood even on Chippy and we were looking at each other and didn't know what to do,” they remembered.
The safest country for travelling is Switzerland, they said with one voice. “There you can leave your car open and be sure that nothing will happen to it.”
As the team travel by themselves, the road issue is one of the important one for the two slim young women.
“Roads are tough for Mini. The car is good for snow and rain and mountain roads. However, the holes on the road are the main problem,” they said.
Before coming to Baku, the girls visited Chechnya during the recent clash on December 4, they luckily left the city before the incident.
“People were so nice and cheering. They are really appreciate foreigners coming to their country. And they all made a little like cortege around Chippy not letting other cars pass and it was like super safe for us,” Valentina said.
However, these adventures are still not enough for the girls and they made a point of visiting hot spots.
“We were the first Mini which ever crossed Transdniestria, where European people are not allowed to cross. I have an European passport and at the border we had some issues, but fortunately Valentina knows Russian, and we pretended to be the stupid tourists and managed the things. We have to register the car and they said that they don’t have Mini in their system. So we was the first Mini, and then Mini [Mini Space] started to write about us. Then we decided to make a challenge because we were so excited about it,” Lizzy said.
The brave team arrived to Azerbaijan from Dagestan, and in two days visited the Carpet Museum in Baku and the Maiden Tower.
“We had a proper Azeri breakfast, and then we explored the Old City. We’ve visited the marvelous Heydar Aliyev Center, we went to the Flag Square, where we met with local people and Red Bull team and we also experienced Azerbaijani dancing,” the girls said.
After visiting so many places in a little amount of time, they cannot but compare cities. “We think that Baku is a bigger Monte Carlo, it is also white and bright.”
The team plans to come back to Azerbaijan in the summer after this year’s trip comes to an end in Serbia on New Year eve.
However, it is not the end, Lizzy and Valentina plan to continue their brave travelling and visit all the countries in the world.
Those who want to travel in such a way at least virtually, can follow Lizzy and Valentina at their official website.