Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Hamburg to Oxford

Just posting this old blog now as I have wifi. Another one about Busfest with VW photos to follow. 
Spring has arrived in Australia but it's autumn in Germany. I am writing this update as we scream down the autobahn at 110 kph with Hart at the wheel of the trusty Tristar. Trucks are all around us and I thought it was bad driving from Port Macquarie to Sydney. There are three lanes on our road heading South towards our overnight stop at Arnhem in The Netherlands. On our outside is bumper to bumper semi trailers going at 100 kph and we are in the middle lane doing our 110 kph at times and on our left are are a variety of low flying jets!!! The occasional Porsche goes past but we barely see it. Except we have a traffic issue with a closed lane ahead so it's not quite so crazy. 

We have had a few days to recover from the Germany tour and clean out the cars, get some rest and enjoy the hospitality of Hart's long time pal in Wentorf, just East of Hamburg. His house is in a beautiful setting beside a golf course. We had a visit from Hart's godson who is a Lufthansa commercial pilot and enjoyed a BBQ or grille as they call it here. More local beer and wine. Caught up with Hart's brother as well and guess what, more wine. We both slept well that night. 

Poor Paul had some more issues with his exhaust and it needed more welding. He drove to Luneberg for a haircut but as well as the exhaust he broke a fan belt. Having no luck. He had the exhaust welded again and a second bracket put on. Bit nervous about his car so he headed off to Arnhem a day early just in case. He got there but more troubles as he found that the vibration that was causing the exhaust issues was a worn universal joint. He does not have a decoupler so he has had the prop shaft taken out and he is now in 2WD. But we think it will be better and he does not need 4WD anyway as were are on the highways. 
Yesterday I spent the day in Hamburg doing tourist stuff. Photos below. The Rathuas or town hall is a magnificent building and did you know there are more canals in Hamburg than Venice, according to the locals!!

Met up with a guy Ann knows from her South African days and checked out a local pub. Very interesting. I thought I was on the set of that old sitcom, Cheers. Everyone knew each other. Only issue was they all smoked which is so unusual for us in Australia. 
Some more photos of the autobahn and Tony Abbott wind generators.

We drove through Germany and then into The Netherlands. As expected it was very flat and surprisingly no wind generators. Their power comes from coal fired plants or is purchased from France's nuclear generators. 
Traffic was intense and we have never seen so many trucks. Just incredible the amount of freight being moved.
Our overnight stop was at the Netherlands gliding centre at Telet near Arnhem. An old friend of Ann has a nice cabin there. It's a large set up with 5 gliding clubs on the site. We estimated there were around 300 gliders based there. Our host Harold who is a 767 captain took us to one of the strips and we watched gliders being launched by a tow plane and also by winch. The winch had 5 cables so they were launching one after the other before a truck bought the 5 cables back. Harold took Hart up for a flight in the tow plane and they checked out Arnhem including the famous bridge from WW II. Was in the movie called "A Bridge too Far". 

After a very good meal at the restaurant in the gliding centre a well earned rest and it was off on our drive to Calais. More traffic and many more trucks even at 8.00 in the morning. Felt like we were in Sydney it was that bad!! Wonder what it will be like in 5 years time??
Our fellow traveller Paul has had more exhaust troubles and we have fingers crossed.
We headed to Calais and then the ferry across the channel. It's a 1 1/2 trip and it was so good seeing the white cliffs of Dover. One observation is that there is now another currency called ship dollars, or Euros. Just a small apple juice cost me 2.77 Euros. Worse than an airport!!

We reach the shores of Dover and I am in the land of my ancestors who came to Australia at His Majesty's pleasure on an ocean voyage!!
A drive to Oxford to stay with our friends Damaris and John and we experienced the mobile parking lot called the M25. Stuck for 30 minutes in slow traffic near the junction to Heathrow. We got to Oxford eventually and a beautiful home cooked meal and catch up with our friends. Very relaxing time ready for the excitement of Busfest on Friday. 

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