So this is our situation: We need to cover 1,200km to reach Zürich, and six days to do it in. There are also four people we’d like to catch-up with en route.
The first night we stop in the small town of Nieburg, Germany. There is nothing outstanding to write home about, it was simply a suitable way-point to end our first day of travel southwards.
Dinner reminds us that we are back in Germany; the land of beer, schnitzel and sauerkraut. I make the mistake of ordering a salad, only to end up with an extra serve of cabbage!
Next stop is Dortmund. This town probably wouldn’t feature much in tourist guides, however the attraction for us was to catch-up with Inga, who we met on our Mexican adventures.
Inga has grown up in the area and also spent some time in Australia with her studies. She works in wind-turbine energy, which is huge in this part of Europe. She kindly offered us a bed, generously taking the couch and vacating her own comfy bed for us. It was a quick visit, as Inga was off early the next day, to holiday in Kenya.
We head out to dinner and see a snippet of Dortmund. As brief as it was, it was lovely to see Inga and get a locals perspective into what living in Germany is like. Inga, we hope you come and visit soon, so we can repay the hospitality.
Following the Rhine, our next stop is the town of Boppard. I wouldn’t rate the river as scenic as the Danube had been, though it could make a nice cycle trip one day.
Driving on a German autobahn is not for the faint-hearted. Impatient drivers weaving in and out of lanes at high-speed (there are no limits enforced), is a recipe for catastrophic accidents.
If you dare sit on the recommended 130km/hr, you are constantly watching your rear vision mirror for cars and trucks descending upon you at much greater speeds; blaring horns and flashing headlights at you to move right.
The right lane is full of heavily laden trucks and older cars struggling along. Without warning, one of these will also pull out in front of you, to overtake the slower vehicle in its lane. This is no place (or time) for being indecisive, it’s ‘pedal to the metal’, work the gears hard and keep-up!
After not seeing Sue Haviland for 15 years, this is the second rendezvous in a year! Sue and John, along with their dog Bailey, have moved to Oberursal, teaching at the Frankfurt International School.
We have two nights with them, taking the opportunity to wash, re-pack and get ourselves ready to change continents.
Our last night in Europe is at the Zurich Airport Radisson, practical and reasonably priced. We’re back in Switzerland, so ‘reasonably priced’ is a relative term.
Birgit is another traveling companion, this time from our South American adventures, who lives in Zürich. She makes the effort to trek out to our hotel in torrential rain and have dinner with us. The rain is so heavy, we don’t even venture outside the hotel to eat.
We really appreciate the effort to come and see us Birgit and it was great to have one last hurrah on our final night on your continent!
Our little Renault has served us well and we head to the airport with a whiff of petrol in the tank.
There is no obligation in a lease agreement to return your car with a full-tank, given the price for petrol in Switzerland is extortionate (or US$2 per/L) – Don can push the car if needed!
We drive up to departures, meet the agent and hand over the keys in a hurry to give him possession before it dies, we warn him that he won’t get far.
Next stop Beijing. Unfortunately there was no business upgrade on offer this time!