Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

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Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby kieranv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:03 pm

Warning - It's a long one!



I thought I would type up a wee diary of our trip around Europe which ended last week. It'll include all the costs, route, stories and what I learned from the experience, hopefully should be some help to anyone planning a trip of their own.

So first of all I'll start with where the idea for the trip came from. Our group of friends for the past 3 years have been to Morzine in the French Alps to go throw ourselves down hills for a couple of weeks on Mountain bikes. This is great fun but after 3 years of going to the same place it gets a bit boring.
One drunken night out in Glasgow the topic of this years holiday came up and I suggested we all buy MX5's and Drive a few thousand miles round europe. Everyone seemed interested by the idea and the following week i'd bought an MX5, with the others to follow suit shortly after.

We booked ferries and the hotel for the first night, but decided to leave all other hotels until we were on the continent, to give us maximum flexibility. This proved to be a good idea halfway through the trip, but more on that later.

A couple of weeks before the trip, Kyle decided that his VW Transporter van would be quicker, more economical and carry more luggage than the MX5 so was going to take that instead. All of the above turned out to be true, but I bought him some stickers for the van so he didn't feel left out.

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Before long the time came for us to pack our bags, meet up and drive to Newcastle to get the ferry to Amsterdam.

Day 1 & 2 - Newcastle to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Baden-Baden

We arrived at the ferry and boarded pretty much straight away, then headed to the bar. Always a good start!

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The ferry gets into Amsterdam at around 9am. While I was driving off the ferry I caught my exhaust on one of the ramps and ripped a hole in the cat. Excellent start to the trip!
I work in Halfords, and vaguely remembered that there's a company in the Netherlands called Halfords who sell car parts and accessories, coincidence?
So I set my satnav for the closest store and we headed over there.

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It turned out to be shut down. Damn.
Time to formulate plan B, there was a garage next to the car park we had stopped in so I wandered over and asked if the mechanic spoke English, he told me only a little, and then for the next 45 minues or so spoke to me in fluent English. I explained the problem, asked if he had any exhaust putty to patch it up and he said no, but he would weld it up for me. Excellent!

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After a while the car was back on the ground and ready to go. At this point I realised we hadn't agreed a price and got a bit worried. We all know how much welding can cost. I wandered over to the rest of the group to take bets on how much this was going to cost me. Bets ranged from £50 to £200. Back over to the mechanic to discuss money and he said "just call it €10 and have a good trip!) What a legend! I gave him €20 and thanked him for his work. And on we went.

Our trip had finally begun, 2 hours later than scheduled.


To be Continued.
Last edited by kieranv on Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby Angelus » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:33 pm

Might be cost effective to take the car to Holland every time it needs welding? Result. :D

Seen some of your pictures, can't wait for the rest of the story.
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby OlberJ » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:20 pm

Awesome. Really liking your photaes too, well shot.

Were they all 1.8s on the trip?
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby kieranv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:26 pm

OlberJ wrote:Awesome. Really liking your photaes too, well shot.

Were they all 1.8s on the trip?



Ta, combination of off the phone and the bridge camera, both myself and Dawn (My other half) taking them.
Both of the '5's are import 1.6's. the van is somesort of twinturbo thing.

So...Day 2, continued

We set off from Amsterdam (finally) and hit the motorway all the way through the Netherlands and through Germany. Our first destination was the Nurburgring. Now, the little mazda's aren't too great at high speeds on the motorway, so we tootled along at 65mph. Once we hit the german autobahns, this got a little scary. Every so often I would come up to the arse of a lorry and have an option : Risk my life and move into the fast lane to overtake, or hang back and enjoy the slipstream.

Most of the time I chose option 1, some very very quick cars passed us at what must have been 150+. MX5's are not the car to be taking to the autobahns for top speed runs...but we all knew that already.

After the mornings adventures by the time we reached the 'Ring, it was coming on 4pm, I calculated we had a max of 1.5 hours here to have a wander and get some grub before setting off for the hotel in Baden-Baden.

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We wandered round the gift shop, bought some stickers, took some photos then got lost trying to find the Nordschleife carpark, we ended up at the Jaguar testing building. By this poing I was getting flustered, we still hadn't eaten and time was ticking away. The hotel had a very strict last checkin time of 10pm.
We decided just to find a supermarket and buy baguettes to make rolls up to eat in the car and carry on our journey. Leaving Kyle in the van behind to do a lap and meet us at the hotel later.

On we went, satnav told me the ETA was 9:30. Close but plenty of time to play with.

Driving down towards Baden-Baden we kept at a steady 70mph, making progress where we could, but eventually we couldn't ignore the fact that we were running out of fuel any longer. Nipped into the next services, threw €20 in and rushed back out onto the Autobahn. ETA was now 9:45. Getting tighter!

We made it into Baden-Baden but promptly got lost finding the hotel, eventually arriving at 9:55. Much apologising to the reception staff followed and we finally had the key to the room, we all wanted to do one thing : sleep. And that's what we did, but not before taking in the view from the balcony.

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Kyle eventually arrived at 10:25 after the reception staff agreed to stay on until no later than 10:30 for him.



Day 3 - Baden-Baden to Freiburg

We knew this was going to be a shorter day than before, so we took our time at breakfast to regroup and have a chat about the previous days endeavors. No one particularly enjoyed the day and we all agreed not to have another like it. We booked the hotel for that evening while at breakfast.

Today the plan was to explore the roads through the Black Forest with no real rhyme nor reason other than get to the hotel in Freiburg.

After a quick check of fuids and a wash of the windscreens, we set the satnavs to the hotel and asked them to avoid all motorways for us. The first road we were taken down was the famed B500 which is every bit as awesome as everyone says it is.

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Eventually after a couple of hours exploring we passed through a small town called Wolfach, we all agreed this looked like a nice place for lunch so pulled in and found somewhere for a bite to eat.

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And onwards to the hotel, which was called the Panorama Hotel Freiburg. It definitely lived up to its name.

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So day 3 was a much more enjoyable and chilled out day than the previous one. We found some great roads and all had a blast.
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby Andrew[MG] » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:10 am

Very much enjoying the story so far!

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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby Andrew[MG] » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:12 am

Geez, that's had 10,000+ shares on CarThrottle!
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby kieranv » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:09 pm

Andrew[MG] wrote:Geez, that's had 10,000+ shares on CarThrottle!


Yeah, it seems to have erupted on the web lately haha! Gets a lot of hate which is always funny.



Onto day 4 - Freiburg to Interlaken

After some chats in the hotel bar the previous night, the others decided that they were going to go to Europa park (Europes 2nd biggest theme park) this morning, while myself and Dawn would enjoy more of the Black Forest, visit the Rhine falls, some rural driving through switzerland and lunch in Lucerne before Interlaken.

While searching for some nice roads online, I came across a website explaining Germany's Low Emission Zones, which Freiburg is one of. Apparently we needed a sticker stating the level of emissions our vehicles produce, ranging from green to red. Apparently Freiburg only lets green cars in anyway and theres no chance the MX5's would fall into that category. So we risked the fine rather than buying a sticker.

We all left the town with no fines. Result!

After a couple of hours driving through the Forest, enjoying the scenery, we crossed the border into Switzerland and arrived at Schaffhausen, the location of the Rhine falls (Europes largest plain waterfall). And very impressive it is too!

We parked up and took a wander down to have a look, then realised there were boats heading out to the falls. We had to do that! Then we realised one of the boats was dropping people off on the rock in the middle of the falls! That was the voyage for us!

We purchased some tickets and jumped on the boat.}

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A couple of hours spent here, and onwards to Lucerne for lunch.

On the way to Lucerne we crossed back into Germany and then again into Switzerland. At this 2nd border crossing two border guards stopped us and asked where we were going, I replied "Down to Interlaken and then onto the south of France"
He told me this was a very long way and asked again why we were travelling, took our passports, told me to park up and head into the office.

Lovely!
I wandered into the office with a smile, asked if I could buy a vignette (Compulsory pass for using Switzerlands motorways) there to save hunting for one later on. He told me I could. I asked what the fine was for using motorways without one, he said, straight faced "€200" and nothing else.

I wasn't going to get any chat out of these guys, so bought the vignette, got our passports back and wished them a nice day. Still no smile.

Onwards to Lucerne. Someway along the road we caught our first glimpse of the alps.

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And soon after we were in Lucerne.

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Another couple of hours here and then we set off for our final destination of the day, Interlaken, taking in the Brunig pass on the way.

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Later on we arrived at our hotel and headed to the bar to drink some local beer and wait on the arrival of the others to hear how the theme park was. Not great, apparently!

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The underground parking was a bit tight for the van.

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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby kieranv » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:29 pm

Day 5 - Rest day in Interlaken

After 4 days of driving, a rest was needed. This is, after all, a holiday for all of us.

The initial plan was to go bungee jumping out of a cable car, but after enquiring at the hotel reception, they told us this was fully booked until the Monday, we'd be long gone by then. Oh well, another time.

I've been to Interlaken 4 times previously so decided to step up as tour guide for the day.

First stop of the tour was the Trummelbach falls in Lauterbrunnen. A series of waterfalls inside a cave network. All very impressive, if a little cold and damp.

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After that we headed back to the hotel, dumped the cars in the carpark and used our free travel pass provided by the hotel to get the train into the centre of Interlaken. We were headed up the Harder Kulm, a mountain which overlooks the town providing some fantastic views. There's a nice restaurant up there too.

The method of transport up and down is a fenicular train, with a maximum gradient of 64% it can be a bit unnerving sitting at the front on the way down.

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We had lunch in the restaurant and then headed down for a wander around Interlaken. Then back to the hotel for Dinner and drinks.


Day 6 - Interlaken to Annecy

The intention for this day was to head to Montreux for lunch and then onto our hotel for the evening in Annecy. Leaving Switzerland behind us. And that's exactly what happened!

On the way to the border, following a winding road through the country we had noticed an unusually large number of very nice classic cars passing. Was it because it was a Sunday? Or was there something happening?
Around an hour into our journey we found out. We passed a carpark with lots of cars, looked like a meet or a show of somesort. So we all made a quick u-turn and headed in for a look.
An official stopped me at the gate, I asked if he spoke English, he didn't and just waved us through. The next official also didn't speak any english but told me to park up next to the others. Ok Doke!

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So we were now crashing a local carmeet/swapmeet type affair.

Every car there was awesome, and then there were ours. Lots of people came over, lots of interest in Kyles van, as usual. And lots of people asking about our trip.

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Once we had done a few laps of the cars, and chatted to some people we headed off to Montreux, our lunch stop. Up and over the Col Du Pillon, which is a nice stretch of road.

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Not much happened on the way from Montreux to Annecy. This evening we were staying in a Best Western hotel. Having spoiled ourselves with every hotel prior to this one, we all felt it was a bit dull, but hey! It was a bed for the night.
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby kieranv » Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:55 pm

Day 7 - The day the plan changed.

So, the original plan for today was head south from Annecy towards Nice and Monaco. Having looked at the maps and routes, we realised that doing this would mean we would have to spend the next 3 days on motorways north to get to where we needed to be. Having spent one full day on motorways on day 2, which didn't go too well, we were all reluctant to do it again.

Kyle, Karen, Oliver and Jade decided that they wanted to go to Disneyland, so they headed up to Dijon, visiting Chateau De Savigny on the way, which is apparently a fantastic place!

Myself and Dawn decided to head back over towards the Swiss border, North of Lake Geneva, up to a small town called Montbeliard. We passed through 2 national parks and crossed the border a few times. The second time we crossed the border we were met by a French official who asked where we were going, I replied "towards Mulhouse". He didn't understand and asked me to repeat myself, I did and in a strong French accent replied "Ahhhh...Muloooose!" I chuckled, he wished us a pleasant journey and sent us on our way. What a difference from the Swiss officials we met earlier in the trip!

On the way to Montbeliard, we stopped in a nice town called Pontarlier for lunch.

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We arrived at our hotel around 3pm, checked in and went straight to the indoor swimming pool for a dip!


Day 8 - Montbeliard to Pont-A-Mousson

The intention for staying in Montbeliard, was to be close to Mulhouse...and we all know what's in Mulhouse.

The Schlumpf Collection. Or Cite De Automobile. The largest collection of Bugatti's in the world, along many other manufacturers from past and present.
It's an amazing place to have a wander round, we spent around 2 hours in there.

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And my personal favourite (and car I was most excited about finding)

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After the museum, we were headed towards our hotel for the night, in a small town called Pont-A-Mousson, North of Nancy. The route took us through another national park, and over another Col.
This was Col de la Schlucht, which was fantastic, well paved, well sighted, hardly any traffic and some amazing views at the top.

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We carried on through the countryside for another few hours, and eventually arrived at our hotel. And very impressive looking it was too!

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Abbaye Des Prémontrés, a hotel within the walls of an 18th Century Abbey.
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Re: Our Euro trip 2015

Postby kieranv » Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:17 pm

Day 9 - Pont-A-Mousson to Reims

Today we were headed North again, towards the Champagne region. The hotel we had booked is in the centre of Reims which we were really looking forward to.
The drive up was scenic but nothing very interesting to see. Apart from This, which I turned around to get a picture of. Very odd.

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We arrived in Reims before we could check-in to the hotel, so headed out towards Gueux to visit the old Grand Prix grandstand and pits. On the way we caught up with a British blue 911, and I concluded that he was heading to the same place we were. A short while after we both pulled over at the same place.

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We had a wander and did as much of a lap of the old circuit as we could and then headed back into the centre of Reims to get checked in and head out into the town.

Our hotel is just out the picture on the right here.

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Unfortunately the Notre-Dame had a load of scaffolding up it. Still an impressive sight though.

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Now, we decided it would be silly to be in Reims, heart of Champagne land, without buying some Champagne. Especially when we were staying right next to a Champagne House. Unfortunately we didn't have any time to do a proper tasting tour of any of the houses, but we did end up buying 5 bottles of various brands.

Reims is a lovely town and was by far our favourite place visited in France.


Day 10 - Reims to Brussels

Today we set off for Belgium. Now the only thing I had read about Belgium was that the road network is massively congested. I took this with a pinch of salt. I didn't read up on driving in Brussels, we had driven through the centre of plenty of large towns before, how could this one be any different?
The hotel we had booked was slap bang in the centre of Brussels. A mistake i wont be making again.

Driving in Brussels can be likened, I guess, to driving in a warzone. There didn't seem to be any rules, and no real discipline anywhere. The other issue is that you give way to the right on roundabouts, which means you give way to traffic entering the roundabout. No idea who thought that would be a good idea?

After 2 hours sitting in traffic in Brussels, I had to park up and get out the car to find the hotel. Mostly to calm myself down. We found the hotel, checked out the parking (Which was full, but there was a tiny space I reckoned I could just about squeeze into), and headed back to the car to give it another go.

30 mins later we were in, parked and at the bar with a Mojito.

We had a meal in the lovely Italian restaurant which joined the hotel and headed for bed.

Day 11 - Brussels to Amsterdam

Today was pure motorway driving up to Amsterdam to catch back up with the others and have a final night out in the city. We hit some traffic on the motorway but the satnav successfully re-routed us round the worst of it. Trusty Garmin!

After 3 or so hours we were reunited at our hotel.

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We headed into Amsterdam for a meal and some drinks before heading back to the hotel.

Day 12 - Time to catch a boat!

We had no real plans for this morning. rest our heads after the previous night out and then head to the ferry for around 2pm.

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Day 13 - Home Time!

When we got onto British soil in Newcastle, Oliver and Jade had to dash back up to Aberdeen so we said our goodbyes and they set off. The rest of us decided to continue the theme and stay off the motorways on the way home. We headed up through the Northumberland national park on some fantastic roads and then through the borders.

We took our time getting home, when we got in we headed straight to bed. Absolutely knackered after a long trip. Definitely worth it though!
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Re: Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby kieranv » Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:30 pm

So now to the costs of the trip.

We did just under 2000 miles and saw 6 different countries in 12 days.
The car managed to average around 35mpg over the whole trip, which I was fairly impressed at.

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Here's how much luggage you can fit in a Mk1 MX5 without a boot mounted luggage rack.

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Overall the trip cost us (Dawn and I) around £2800
This breaks down to :- Hotels - £950
Fuel - £350
Ferries - £400
Misc (food etc) - £1100




Here's a list of hotels we stayed in. Highly recommended ones are in bold

Hotels - Day 2 Baden-Baden
http://de.hotel-magnetberg.de/de/

Day 3 Freiburg
http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-1128-me ... ndex.shtml


Day 4 & 5 Interlaken
http://www.jungfrau-hotel.ch/en/home/


Day 6 Annecy
http://www.bestwestern-hotel-annecy.com ... ex.23.html

Day 7 Montbeliard
http://en.hotel-bristol-montbeliard.com/

Day 8 Pont-a-Mousson
http://www.abbaye-premontres.com/site/r ... ement.html


Day 9 Reims
http://www.hotel-portemars.com/en/index.php

Day 10 Brussels
http://www.lebergerhotel.be/

Day 11 Amsterdam
http://www.fletcherhotelamsterdam.nl/?language=en



If I were to do a trip like this again I would probably choose 2 "bases" to stay at for 3 or 4 night, setting out routes from there but returning to the same place each night.

I would also avoid france and do the Hull - Zeebrugge ferry crossing to get into Southern Germany slightly quicker.

Other than that the trip went well, for our first time doing anything like this is was great.
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Re: Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby KB_S1 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:37 pm

Excellent job.
Great mix of places and activity.
I would have loved to had another Euro trip this year but just couldn't fit (or afford) it into schedule.

We did some similar locations/routes but skipped Lucerne due to a 3 day deluge.
Wish I had known about the museum at Mulhouse!

I did do a big write up too from last year but not sure what happened to it - Olie/Mike?
PIcs here though: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk5uncEc & https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.759759840753427.1073741840.100001582532541&type=1&l=81bd007538
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Re: Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby Angelus » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:06 pm

This has helped me get in the mood for my trip later in the year. Would be good to read yours too Keith. :D
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Re: Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby KB_S1 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:14 pm

If the guys can put it up somehow great - if not I will dig out tonight and copy/paste it all in.
One thing I didn't do as well compared to Keiran - was fuel economy….
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Re: Our Euro trip Log 2015 - Complete!

Postby Angelus » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:15 pm

KB_S1 wrote:One thing I didn't do as well compared to Keiran - was fuel economy….

Mmmmm, a 4.2 ltr V8 isn't going to do better than you either. It's downward sloping trend I think?
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