Thursday, April 7, 2011

Week 1

Part 1: UK to Ankara, Apr 2nd – 30th

Mon. April 2
Miles 252. Wallasey to Croydon
John picked me up and then we both went to Heswall, where he lived, to load the land rover. Got away at approx.10.45am. Drove to Northampton to Derek’s home, delivered some gear, and then down to London. Picked Wendy up and through to Croydon (where Rex & Marji lived). Arrived at Croydon at approx. 7pm. Spent the evening talking and sorting gear.
Weather – lousy; wet & cold.

Figure 1.1: Leaving Wallasey. Tony Stead & John Ireland. Photo by Marjorie Lewis, nee Stead
Tues. April 3
Miles nil
An undignified day. Started by having to get out of bed to push the land rover out of the drive so that Uncle Rex could get out to go to work. After breakfast Wendy & I went into London to meet Derek, leaving John playing with the bus. Met Derek, packed Wendy off in a taxi, then Derek & I spent a very weary afternoon plodding round various embassies getting additional info about border controls etc. Land rover sorted out O.K. and ready for tomorrow. John reckons today’s mileage at about 9-mostly by Hercules moped. Oh, the indignity of it all!
Weather - lousy morning, nice afternoon.

Wed. April 4
Miles 105. London to Dunkirk
Left Croydon at approx.10.15 and drove to London to buy American Express traveller’s cheques. Managed to penetrate the defences of the Savoy Hotel only to find that we needed to go to the Haymarket for them. Did that then got thrown out of a pub for being improperly dressed!!
Left London about 1.30pm and arrived at Dover around 5.00pm. Bought food, scratched about, then had a meal at the Seamen’s Rest Home. Crossed to Dunkirk on the St Germaine - quite a smooth crossing - nobody sick.
Docked at about 11pm and went through customs very fast. It being bedtime, we headed straight for the waiting room at the station along with 2 English lads and a Norwegian who were all en-route to Israel. It was only at this stage that I felt we had really started.
Weather - Lousy, cold & wet all day.

Thurs. April 5
Miles 345. France, Belgium, and on into Germany.
Today started early (4am) with 2 German girls invading our waiting room, and a French railway official who shouted at us noisily to make room. We shouted back and he went away.
Got up and away by 8am and drove to Ostend in Belgium, where we had breakfast. In view of the weather, we decided to push on as far as Brussels as fast as possible.
Got to Brussels about noon. Also got wonderfully lost in central Brussels - had our first brush with the law and getting lost!
Decided to push on into Germany at Aachen and then up to Cologne by autobahn. Still no change in the weather so kept on going until 11.30 pm.
Pitched camp for the night in a soaking wet wood near a lay-by, where we parked the land rover. Quite the worst day I have seen for a long time!
Weather - atrocious; heavy rain turning to sleet, cold. 

Figure 1.2: Autobahn
Fri. April 6
Miles 107
A non-rainy morning for the first time since leaving Wallasey. Off to a late start and onto the autobahn for a leisurely drive to Heidelberg, which is a really beautiful old city. Decided to spend the night there so found the camp-site and had a meal. Went into town for the evening and found several very nice bars. The castle was floodlit, which made a great backdrop for the university and the old part of the town
Weather - cloudy & overcast.

Figure 1.3: Heidleberg

Figure 1.4: Heidleberg
Sat. April 7
Miles 248. Heidelberg to Munich
Woken by John with tea - day fine for a change. Drove onto the inevitable autobahn & more or less straight through to Munich. Arrived at 5pm and started looking for food. Only 1 shop open so we did not get much choice.
Managed to get lost trying to find our way back to the land rover - not a very good advert for the 3 intrepid explorers! Found quite a few people examining the vehicle when we eventually found it.
Drove about 20 miles out on the road to Innsbruck & found a camping place. After a good meal we adjourned to the pub, it being Sat. night, and watched a very noisy card game called Skat. The village is called Wolfrathaussen. We can see the Alps now - quite a lot of snow.
Weather - quite fine, cold.
Figure 1.5: Wolfrathausen

Impressions so far
We are now starting to realise the length of this trip - just working in terms of miles. The cooking and camping is beginning to slip into a smooth routine. My conscience is starting to prick a bit about letter writing-seeing as the other 2 have already begun!!
Things will be O.K. Conditions during the first 2-3 days were quite trying & nobody moaned - not seriously, anyway. German beer is very “Gut”-a bit stronger than English bitter.
Today has been pleasant. Rolling wooded country with quite wide vistas from some of the hills. Leaving Munich tonight, we got our first view of the big hills. It was like coming home.

To Austria
Sun. April 8
Miles 89. Munich to Innsbruck
Woke early to a beautiful morning. Got breakfast and then lethargy set in. Washed all the cooking gear & aired everything (much needed!)
Fitted the klaxon to the land rover and adjusted the fan belt. Eventually got away about 12.30. A leisurely drive through Bichl, Walchensee, Krun, Scharnitz, Seefeld and Mittenwald.
To Innsbruck. This had been through some of the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen. Lots of snow, even at the sides of the road. Right through the Karwendel Alps. Tonight we are camping on high ground between the Karwendel & Stubai Alps with magnificent views of both.
Started taking anti-malaria pills today. To be taken every Sun. & Wed. from now on.
Our high camp degenerated into a low camp in Innsbruck where it was a lot warmer. Walked around town window - shopping. Met a large German grocer called Gustav Kirchmeyer who had spent 2 years in Sheffield & Cambridge as a P.O.W. He reckoned these to be the best 2 years of his life. We will go and see him tomorrow as at least he speaks English and we will be spared the usual undignified scenes!!
Weather - very good, warm & sunny.