Friday, 23 July 2010

Reflections on the trials and tribulations of trans-European travel

So, day 1 successfully negotiated, no diplomatic incidents caused (a narrow pass in this category) and a thousand kilometres under the belt. It's amazing that over the half the driving distance has been covered and yet Thundercrawl 2010 is barely under way.

Your scribes have a fair bit of experience with this driving across Europe lark and it seems like a good time to get all educational on your asses, so let's share some tips on driving across Europe.

1) Google use a Space Shuttle to time their routes - allow yourself more. We've seen this on a number of occasions; I've been promised London-Pyrenees inside 12 hours before and I can tell you as FACT that if you a) urinate and b) drive a car that needs petrol, it takes the best part of 24. Even with rotating drivers.

We just about made the Google time for Berlin-Krakow by virtue of the fact that our chariot could happily maintain 110mph in the face of roads like washboards. If any attention had been paid to the law it would have been at least an extra two hours.

Today Google said 8 hours Boulogne-Thun and we stopped 3 times, for a total of about an hour. Time taken: pretty much 12 hours. Lesson: reality will kick in somewhere and it will take ages.

2) A positive, helpful attitude is paramount. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember for long distance driving journeys, not just for dealing with each other but for dealing with others too.

I'm pretty sure we were staring down the barrel of a heavy fine today when stopped by the gendarmerie but with some politeness, acquiescence and good humour we were able to drive away from two potential French road traffic violations without so much as a slapped wrist.

We also haven't killed each other after many similar trips.

3) It's only people from the UK that do this kind of shit. Try explaining to most people in the UK that you're driving across Europe for "a laugh" and they look confused and say you're mental. Try explaining it to anyone in Europe (France especially) and they literally can't get their heads around it.

So assume that all of our continental cousins think you're an idiot and it will help you to understand where they're coming from when you inevitably annoy/ upset/ confuse them.

Right, there's a beer in front of me and food due any second so I'll sign off here. Hopefully this post has elevated our blog into the "Serious Travel Information" arena - look out for the next instalment on Expedia.

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