It was a bit of a rush after WheelsDay, we drove back to BelongaClint, tired, soaking wet, bitterly cold, and caked in mud! I parked up the Firebird next to the mighty Chev-suzu, thankfully the rain and wet roads had cleansed the Firebird a little, but what was left of the mud from Rushmoor Arena was going to have to stay on it for a little while, we had a lot to do and not really any time to do it!
Mrs Clint and I had been talking about having a bit of a break over the Easter holiday, it had started off by us talking about going to our secret hideout in Wales for a few days. From that it had snowballed into us just nipping to Germany for a couple of days, and before long it was going to be ten days (or so!) A quick browse of the internet and we had manged some late deals at several hotels for ridiculously low prices. Our first stop was supposed to be Köln in Germany, but because we had booked a really early ferry crossing, we decided to spend the night before at the Premier Inn, in Dover. With us all changed into some clean and dry clothing, our bags were flung into the back of the Chev-suzu, and we headed off to Dover. To be fair I was pretty glad we were spending the night at the Premier Inn, I was pretty tired from walking about in the mud and rain all day at WheelsDay, and I wouldn't really have fancied driving the 40 miles home from Aldershit, then driving another 140 miles to the ferry port and getting on the ferry. Then getting off the ferry in Calais and driving another 270 miles to our hotel in Köln. Some start to our holiday that would've been!
We checked into the Premier Inn, had a nice meal, and then, despite what the door hanger said, settled down for forty winks! The next morning, after a pretty good feed from the breakfast buffet we joined in the queing fun at the ferry terminal.
Pretty soon, as the sun started to creep up above the horizon we started to board the ferry. I'm not much of a fan of the ferry to be honest, but atleast the weather had changed for the better, and there was little to no wind, so I was hoping for a smooth crossing.
Once on board we headed off to find somewhere to while away the next ninety minutes or so. Thankfully it was a pretty smooth crossing, and before long we were back in the car deck getting ready to drive off the ferry again. One thing I always wonder as I'm sitting in my car on the car deck waiting for the ferry to dock is why does everyone get back into their cars, and even while the ferry is still moving, why do they start their engines? I mean it must be about 15 to 20 minutes between getting back to our cars, and then actually being able to move off anywhere. It's just madness. Anyway...
Pretty soon we were cruising along the autoroute towards Köln. I always look at the massive pylons and power stations we pass going through France. I'm guessing that they need such huge power stations to generate all the power they need to power their electric cars in order to ease the pollution caused by the combustion engine. Hmm, I can't help feeling that they're only moving the problem to somewhere else, but what do I know?
I like to travel at about 60mph, for several reasons firstly my Chev-suzu is getting pretty long in the tooth, and with over 240,000 miles on the clock it's been a long way, I mean it's only 238,900 miles to the Moon. It's like it's been there, and is on the way back! So I don't like to thrash it. Secondly, it uses much less diesel at 60mph than it does at, lets say 80mph. Lastly, when you're driving 270 miles that takes around about 4 hours and 30 minutes at 60mph. At 70mph it takes about 3 hours and 51 minutes. Except it doesn't, because every time you hit traffic, or whatever it slows you down, so in all honesty I think you're not any better off timewise if you drive just a bit faster, but you'll be worse off fuel wise! I really am turning into an old person. Fuel economy is the old persons equivelent to top speed! But back to the plot. Before long the big OBI sign which I always look out for when I'm visiting Köln loomed into view. I know when I see it that we're less than about five minutes from our hotel, and thank goodness for that, I know I was only driving, but I found it quite tiring after the previous days activities!
The following morning after a nice breakfast buffet I thought I'd have a bit of a walk around before heading off for our first proper day of our holiday. Just outside our hotel was my first cool car car spot of the day. I always like the original Fiat Pandas, but I never thought that I'd be writing that they are cool, or atleast, that I consider them to be cool. But time changes everything, and as you just don't see the early Pandas much these days, they're cool!
I have no idea what this is, or even what its about, but whenever we drive past it I always think that I should've taken a photo of it, finally I have. My two little monsters call it the Sausage Man, so in lieu of a better discription, thats what I shall refer to it as.
Onto the autobahn and off to our first place to visit. Phantasia Land!
Phantasia land is a theme park in Brühl, Germany that was opened in 1967 by Gottlieb Löffelhardt and Richard Schmidt. The park attracts approximately 1.75 million visitors a year and although starting as a family-oriented park, which is how I remember it as a kid during recent years they have added thrill rides, which appeal to my own kids! But the thing I like most about it is this...
We've now been three or four times and it seems that no matter what time of year we go, it's always pretty quiet! I'm guessing that during the Summer it's a lot busier, but to date we've not been at the height of the season!
We didn't really have to que for anything. I think the longest we waited to get on a ride was 15 minutes! I've been in ques for over two hours at Disneyland! That cuts down on the amount of rides you get to go on in a day I can tell you!
Oh, the other thing, and I don't know why, but their 'thing' seems to be Dragons and each area of the theme park has it's own Dragon. The other thing that I like about Phantasia land is that it's cheap, it's properly cheap to get into the place. It's a lot cheaper than Disneyland, and ok, it's not as good, but it's really no worse than the likes of Thorpe Park, or Chessington, and it's cheaper than both of them! It's a good place, like I said, my folks used to bring my Brothers and I there when we were kids, and we loved it. Now I take my own kids there and they love it too!
The following day was spent aimlessly wandering around Köln. I like it there, and can quite happily wander around Köln for several days in a row, but ofcourse we didn't have time for much more than one day, because our next hotel was 230 miles away in Stuttgart! On to the autobahn again, and like the Sausage Man I had always planned to photograph, I had another building that I was planning to photograph en route...
The Lufthansa building at Frankfurt airport! Look at it, it is massive, and really quite impressive! I realise that it's probably not the best picture of it in the world, but I was moving at the time, and it was the best I could do under the circumstances! So why Stuttgart? Well I thought I'd see if I could get my trailer back the the RAC promised me they would recover back in 2014 and never did! Only joking, I doubt that four years on they've still got it stored! In all seriousness though, I would have liked it back, and as the RAC said they would be recovering it for me. I really expected them to keep to their word and do it, especially as before I left on that trip, I told the RAC I was taking a trailer, and made sure that it was covered too! But they never did. Anyway, before this turns into a full scale rant, I'll leave it there. But, should you feel the need to know the whole story, well Episode 9. Ford Ranger FL08 YCA has it all covered! So then why Stuttgart? Well, I wanted to go to a place called the Auto & Technik museum, at Sinsheim which is about 50 miles from Stuttgart, and we managed to get a room for less than £30 a night at the Mövenpick Hotel near Stuttgart Airport!
For coolness value, this was about as good as you can get I reckon. I've no idea what this little thing of beauty was, but it was in fantastic condition, and I quite fancied it for myself!
Stuttgart also yielded me my first Currywurst of the trip too, and it was fantastic!
But none of that was as good as finding this book! Well, it was Easter after all. But no sign of M.C. Hammer anywhere! The next day we wandered around the Auto & Technik museum, at Sinsheim. We had been here before, but didn't quite get to go all around. So we decided to have another look at the place.
It's pretty easy to spot. It's got planes out the front, and Concord, and Concordski on the roof.
They really do have something for everyone there!
Massive 36" wheeled Coker Monster bicycle... I've got one of these!
More planes, and of course...
Cars! I took a lot of photos, infact I took so may that the next episode I post will just be about the Auto & Technik museum, at Sinsheim. After wandering around here all day it was back to the Mövenpick Hotel near Stuttgart Airport, as the following day we were starting our return journey home. The following day I checked all the fluids on the Chev-suzu, which were all at the correct levels, I'm amazed at this thing with 240,000 miles on it, but still uses no oil or water! We then jumped in and headed off down the autobahn for 350 miles to Brussels!
We stopped for a spot of lunch on the way and spotted this. I thought, that looks pretty smart, I'll get a photo! We also passed this somewhere near the Nürburgring...
Looked pretty purposeful! Over seven hours later (because we stopped for lunch!) we pulled into Brussells in Belgium. Where I immediately spotted this beauty...
Damn thats cool. This Lincoln looked pretty big in this little street! Dispite our last little adventure in Brussels being marred by getting ripped off in a restaurant called "Restaurant Le Moulin" to the tune of 160€ for paella (Episode 52. Chevrolet LUV WA54 HYP. (part 7).) I do quite like it there. Much like our other hotels we had checked into, we had a cheap deal in a hotel near the airport.
After spending the evening just blezzing around Brussels looking for some sprouts we had quite a nice, and simple meal at a little cafe in the centre of town, and this only cost us 30€! The following day we had a bit of a wander around.
I've no idea what this thing is, or what it's about, but I do quite like it. I've no idea why we don't have art like it in the streets here in England.
Much like a lot of the art/sculptures that we see in mainland Europe, I've no idea what they are or what they're about...
I'm guessing that they're cows, or bulls or something. I've no idea, but quite cool though! But as much as I like wandering around looking at this stuff, it was getting late, and it was time to go home! We left Brussels and headed for home... Some 290 miles back to BelongaClint!
These pylons the French have alongside their autoroutes are huge, and always remind me of some sort of giant alien robots marching across the fields towards us!
Back in Calais and there was just enough time to wander around Carrefour and stock up the Chev-suzu with stuff we don't really need!
Plus do a little bit of Twingo spotting! I had one of these once, and it was great. I love these funky little cars! I really need to think about getting another one at some point soon.
Just over a week since we were last on one of these things, and it was time to get on one again!
I must admit, and I've said it before, I'm not a fan of the ferry, and night crossings I especially don't like. Infact I'm going to veeto the next time Mrs Clint suggests a night crossing I think! However much like the crossing on the way out, it was pretty good, and I even nodded off for a bit. Once back in England we got off the ferry then it was just another 140 miles to BelongaClint, and my own bed! The Chev-suzu had covered 1500 odd miles in the last week and a half, and it had performed faultlessly. For it's last hurrah, this was a pretty good trip. But I have now decided that it's time for a change, and so after another good scrub down I think I shall put it up for grabs! I am quite sad about this, because it really has been a great truck for us, but it's time for a change... Probably!