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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
After the many conversions, modifications and repairs, the short trip to England was a good test to see if everything is really as we plan it. During the few thousand kilometres, certain shortcomings or miscalculations will certainly present themselves and allow us to make the final adjustments.
With some delay we could finally start at the beginning of July. We headed for Calais on a relatively direct route. But what does a direct route mean for us? We first travelled through the Vosges Mountains on country roads to Luxembourg. We wanted to make up for what we left out a year ago: visiting some capitals.
Luxembourg and its capital of the same name were a very manageable affair for us. The agglomeration of the city soon disappeared in the rearview mirror and a hilly landscape followed. We also felt very much at home in the southern part of Belgium and the lovely landscape invited us to linger.
But the closer we got to the Belgian capital, the more hectic and chaotic the traffic became. We quickly recognised the European control centre by the many diplomatic number plates, the oversized luxury cars and the countless state limousines. The jostling for the last free lane spaces was scary, and after each roundabout we were glad to have made it through in one piece.
Perhaps a visit without a car would be a better alternative and one could better concentrate on the many small details.
The border with France was barely visible. Only gradually did the landscape change, after the settlements in Belgium, where the houses were almost only built along the roads, there were now small pretty villages again and behind them wide stretches of land where the farmers went about their work in the fields.
It was only a short distance to Calais and soon we could embark on the ferry to England. The elaborate entry procedures of previous years, as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, were definitely a thing of the past this year and with the Swiss passport, the whole customs check – despite Brexit – was a quick and uncomplicated affair.
On the island, we only had a short time to get used to driving on the left before we entered the traffic hustle and bustle of London. Actually, I (Tom) feel very comfortable on the left-hand side of the road, although certain limitations of a left-hand-driven vehicle should not be underestimated. At junctions or generously constructed roundabouts, one is always dependent on the passenger, so that the entry is not immediately in “blind flight”. After the successful familiarisation drive in the direction of London, we forgot to register for the passage through the city of London on the Internet and to pay afterwards. Probably a bill will follow one day with the amount owed, which is usually rounded up lavishly (penalty).
In a direct line we went from London to Wales to the Irish Sea and from there almost in the opposite direction of travel to Shrewsbury, where our son has been at home for a few years. As his girlfriend was on holiday and our son could take four days off, we decided to go to Scotland.
The motto was “Nessi”, “Harry Potter” and Edinburgh. The fact that we had to travel x-hundred kilometres on English “motorways” due to this flying visit and the few points visited was a crazy thing in retrospect.
We skipped “Nessi” and the loch of the same name due to the bad weather and concentrated only on Inverness. On the way to Edinburgh we stopped briefly at a whisky distillery and were told about the production before we went on to the tasting.
We enjoyed Edinburgh in wonderful weather, followed the traces of the author of Harry Potter and how she came up with the various names or the written down ideas of buildings. Our personal “guide” explained this to us in a wonderful way and led us through countless corners of this city that we would never have found on our own. At the end of the city tour, we fortified ourselves with “haggis” (Scottish speciality) and the matching whiskies.
While southern Europe was suffering from groaning heat, we headed for central England once again under overcast skies and a few raindrops; apart from a small birthday party, there were other events to celebrate – after all, you don’t become grandparents every day.
Our days were soon numbered and it was time to say goodbye and head south. The next appointment was in Buchloe, Bavaria: At a specialised Jeep workshop, our mobile home was put through its paces and the basic vehicle – the Jeep Wrangler – was made fit for South America.
In sweltering heat, we handed over the Jeep to the workshop, during a lengthy consultation with the manager. We received a small replacement car for 5 days. So we used the waiting time to visit relatives and friends in nearby Upper Austria and Munich. After the “kinship gossip”, a South African barbecue evening with wine tasting from this country followed in Munich’s “Hirschenpark”. After the great heat, a heavy thunderstorm followed in Munich in the evening and the long-awaited cooling down. Soaking wet, we reached our accommodation in the northern part of the city and were able to enjoy a good night’s sleep in pleasant temperatures.
On the further drive towards Switzerland, we had a short “hello” with our middle son, who was on his way to Norway. The next day we arrived at our temporary home for the next time.
A wonderful intensive time lay behind us and a lot of work lay ahead of us until the departure, respectively the embarkation of our jeep. Time could still be tight for certain work around our vehicle.
And to top it all off, we fell ill with Covid19! Well, we doped up our vaccination accordingly and an “off-road mechanic” from Thun said briefly and dryly: “Everyone gets it once in a while!
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