It always seems pretty depressing when you look at satnav and you’re going to be driving in a straight line for a long way. And then when you do get to the bit where the excitement of changing to a new road is promised in fact you just stay on the same road with a different number! There was plenty of that today …
We experienced (albeit very briefly in most cases!) five countries today. Ending in Germany for an overnight stay in a pretty German village with many timber-framed houses called Laubach we also clipped bits of France, Belgium and Holland. Before all that, however, we needed to leave the UK which we did aboard the Eurotunnel. To many Brits the idea of driving a vehicle onto a train in order to go under the sea to France is pretty normal but to others perhaps less so! Our top speed of something like 58 mph when driving to the tunnel was easily surpassed by the approximate 140 kph speed of the train! Our huge thanks to Eurotunnel for the free ticket must be recorded here.
Our ticket was for a freight train which meant all sorts of processes that we wouldn’t usually have when taking our car on holiday, not least having to get out of Sunny whilst she was x-rayed in a large hall. Very strange! Thankfully no time-consuming customs checks at either end though – a real blessing.
The temperature was pretty challenging all day. Between 32C and 35C without AC is not ideal but was manageable. We had a few stops along the way – walking into a service station chilled by air conditioning was a real blessing. Another thing that really helped us was the support of Mark Whitfield. Mark is Sunny’s long-term mechanic. Mark the mechanic knows Sunny better than anyone. We mentioned in an earlier post that Daniel was concerned about her rather odd air suspension. Although the suspension (which is inflated – literally – using a tyre valve apparatus under the bonnet / hood) was set to its recommended pressure of 3.0 bar, there was a very disconcerting feeling of the suspension “bottoming out”. There was also a sound that suggested tyres rubbing on the insides of wheel arches when going around bends (even at low speed) or gently bouncing on uneven surfaces. Mark’s suggestion to boost the pressure to 4.0 bar (just for now) made all the difference. Suddenly Sunny was far happier in all aspects of driving and speeds of around 70 mph felt relatively comfortable – excellent!
Another curiosity is that those unfamiliar with driving around Europe might imagine that moving between countries is administratively difficult with passport checks and concerns about cargo at every turn. Nothing of the sort! Within the Schengen Area, once one has entered it is possible to move around unimpeded. Since this area includes France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Poland (amongst many others – though not the UK) that means that we cross borders without seeing any evidence of doing so apart from the occasional road sign.
We had a couple of different plans in mind on where to stay tonight. These were to be determined by the need to reach wherever we stayed before their kitchen shut! As a result we ended up driving for an hour or so less than we might, but this brought us to the charming Gasthaus Brauner Hirsch which has looked after us very well indeed – and is pleasantly cool this evening as we write this. As for where we stay tomorrow night … well that’s not decided yet!