We Take One Last Drive Across Europe
We have 10 days left according to Schengen Visa rules.
Winters Chilling Tales #112
Days 235 to 245
Mad dash across Europe
It is ridiculously easy and cost efficient to get the ferry from Dover back over to France. So we had one last look at the English history at Dover Castle and Fort then drove down to check in for the ferry. I think we have been lucky both trips because it was flat as a tack.
Our goal was to see as much of central Europe as possible in the limited time we had. We had 10 days left of our 90 day allowable time in Europe before we had to leave. You see we didn’t actually get the Schengen Visa we just landed in Greece and they said ‘no problem, you don’t have get one’. So we believed them and never got one. We figured that if we didn’t stay longer than 90 days we would be all right.
Back over to Calais we made a mad dash up to Brussels, Belgium. It is only between 1 and 2 hours drive and so we arrived at a decent time. Our visit to Belgium is about waffles, chocolate and beer. Not particularly in that order.
After only one night we moved onto Germany where we planned two stops, one in Frankfurt and a second in Munich.
The drive is heaps of fun. As you drive along the freeways, or autobahns, you see signs with no speed limit on them and then all of a sudden cars flashing past. The only time speed limits come into play is when there is an exit or entry to the freeway. Then nearly everyone slows down but you still get a few crazy Germans intent on cracking the speed limit at a ridiculous pace.
Then we hit road works. There are road works going on on every stretch of freeway we caught. One long stretch, when Summer was driving, the traffic was going so slow that we were able to pull into the toilet stop and get back onto the freeway and we were only behind the car in front of us before we left. Seriously, it was crawling so slow that I joked I could get out and run to the toilet and meet the car without any problems and I probably could have.
The rest of the way we went as fast as we could when we could. I woke from a small sleep in the back and found Summer on the autobahn in Germany, notice where the speedo and tacho are? I had to take this photo before she realised I was awake. She was doing 137 uphill in 5th with about 4100 rpm and still getting past like she was still. We had to fuel up often.
The little Peugeot just couldn’t keep up with the black Mercedes and BMW’s but by far the worst drivers were the Audi drivers. They seemed to come from nowhere and were on your tail and flashing lights to get by. Seriously, we were doing 150 as much as our car would let us and they still needed to get by without having to slow down.
We spent two nights in Frankfurt and caught up with one of Summer’s work colleagues. The area around our hostel was entirely Lebanese or Turkish. Experience tells us the cheapest meals in Europe are either pizza’s or kebab. But we were in Germany and really wanted German food. That said we had Mexican/American fusion food one night and really fresh and tasty Lebanese the second night. Although we had to wait 40 minutes for our food in the Lebanese restaurant, it tasted excellent and they gave us free desert as we left.
The drive to Munich was hassle free. Still the same crazy drivers but when you know what to look for then you are ok. The roads were busy as we entered Munich but nothing as bad we had already encountered. Our accommodation was about 20 minutes out of town but in a great area. We had a nice traditional meal in a German beer garden on our first night and then an ordinary meal in a restaurant close by the second night.
We then headed off to Switzerland and as we drove we got really confused about what country we were in. We were heading for Liechtenstein to see the Principality and the castle but got lost in the town and drove around for a while then cut it away.
We were now driving through Austria, then Liechtenstein then Switzerland. It was not clear on the street signs but all of a sudden we came to a security crossing. It was pretty full on. We were stopped and asked for all our identification including car registration and insurance. At this point we still had no idea which country we were passing into but guessed it was Switzerland. The guard took all the details, including Summer’s drivers licence as she was driving. He took all the paperwork away for about 10 minutes and then came back to tell us that we were good to go but ‘FYI’ our registration had expired.
He tells us that our registration had expired a month ago but the Swiz government only care about the insurance, luckily for us, so we were good to go.
At this point we had only 5 days to go before leaving Europe and so we decide not to contact the car company about the car, we just kept going.
Switzerland is an amazing country to drive around and we played a game with the girls by asking them to count how many tunnels we needed to go through between Germany and our accommodation in Switzerland. Well it was about 20 tunnels to the South West location of Hasliberg. There were many lakes and all the tunnels made for a really different experience.
The strange thing about Switzerland is they still deal in their National currency but we had none and when we stopped on the side of the road (see above) to go to the toilet we all jumped the turnstile to enter the toilet and then when we went to the shop to pick up a small snack the lady asked for our toilet tickets because she was going give us a refund. So embarrassing we only had one ticket which Spring had pulled from the machine and so she just gave us a discount on our purchase.
Our accommodation in Switzerland was in a ski resort and it looked exactly like school excursion accommodation. We had three single beds and one set of bunks in our room. We were located near the mens ablutions but because there was only four other rooms taken in this huge hotel all four of us used them rather than the girls walking all the way to the other end to the womens.
We headed into the quiet town for something to eat and the only good thing about it was the beer, Eichhof; which on these prices we should have skipped but we had a big day of driving and deserved it. I ordered essentially a ham cheese and egg sandwich toasted and sure it was nice but very expensive.
There was only one other person in the restaurant. Our dinner bill came to over $100 Aust which was such a rip off.
The next morning we headed to Lucerne to do some sightseeing. While in Switzerland, every time we bought something with our Euro, they gave us change in Swiz France, so we told the girls that we would spend all the Swiz money in Lucerne. Of course we bought some chocolate and a Swiz army knife for Autumn for her 14th birthday.
We then jumped in the car and headed for Paris. This was the last city on our European tour and we planned to tour the city as much as possible. It will be our last four days in Europe.