The Ferry crossing was smooth and uneventful and we were soon at our first control point at Steenvorde in France to meet up with the European starters. A quick coffee saw us heading towards Lille and Valenciennes before coming off the motorway near Maubuege and heading down the national roads. (Their version of our A roads) Before coming to our second control point in the town of Charleville-Meziere, we were lucky enough to witness a French man standing by the side of the road with his trousers and pants round his ankles pulling long strips of toilet paper off of a loo roll. I felt sorry for the cars behind us because I knew what part of the process was coming next! The town was pleasant enough and had plenty of places to get something to eat - providing you liked Pizza or Kebabs! (It was like being in Basildon!)
After leaving here we settled in for our night run through more of France, Belgium, Luxembourg and France again before ending up at our next control point at Bartenheim near the Swiss border. We managed to grab a couple of hours sleep here before daylight loomed on Friday morning.
Friday Morning. Our organised 'rest area' turned out to be in the flight path for Basle airport and the jets coming into land were incredibly loud. Although apparently I slept through three of them before Peter woke me and told me it was time to head off! (I must have been tired!) Switzerland certainly is a beautiful (but expensive!) place and we took the opportunity to get some great photos. (See below)
Saturday morning- The start of the day saw us trying to find somewhere to get the tyre repaired, but after finding three tyre places closed and one who was open but wasn't interested, we gave up. Today's task was more alpine passes in Italy, crossing the border into Austria and climbing the 2,509 Metre Timmelsjoch pass, then onto Liechtenstein before entering Germany for our next hotel stop.
The scenery was outstanding and the weather was beautiful. Peter managed to get busted by the Austrian police for doing 74kph in a 60kph zone and also managed to get abused by a cyclist that he got too close to! (I think 'Aishole' was the exact expression used!) Perhaps he should have had a can of the below to calm down a bit!
Sunday morning- While carrying out general checks on the car I discovered another puncture on the car! Luckily, with our spare already in use, my friend Russell was good enough to lend me his spare. With another wheel change completed we left our start location at Aichstretton and set off for the 450 mile journey through Southern Germany and up to our next stop over in Holland. We stopped for a brief lunch at Pirmasens and then settled in for a stint up to the next control point at Spa in Belgium. We managed encounter some amazing weather on the way up there and its the first time that I have encountered rain and hail at the same time along with thunder, lightning and gales! There was no warning it was coming either. No light rain first, then heavy rain, it was just like driving into a car wash at 70mph! We and all the other cars were reduced to 15mph while waiting for it to clear.
The atmosphere was electric and everyone arriving was on a buzz at completing this mammoth journey. It was great to see the majority of cars that started in London all those days ago pulling in with all of their crews and drivers looking so happy. Dinner was enjoyed by all and then the serious drinking started. Old friends were caught up with, stories of breakdowns and issues were exchanged and favourite bits of the run were remembered. All too soon it was early hours of the morning and everyone was retiring ready for the trip home.
( Rolduc Monastery)
All in all though, it was an absolutely fantastic trip and apart from the 2 punctures and the warm engine, Gertie ran absolutely faultless. Bring on the next one!
The run up to Timmeljoch pass.
Beautiful sunny Italy
Climbing the Grimsel pass in Switzerland.