Journey - + 1/2 Ton of Expo gear go to Austria in a van

Sun 28 Jul 2002

Departed Cavendish Labs at 4.10pm, having finally got (nearly) all the necessary gear together an dpacked into Earl's van and the Wookmobile (Ol having taken a good amount of gear out already). Mark had passed his driving test a week before, and so I was wondering what the drive woudl be like. I'm pleased to report that it was entirely fine. Mark drove to Dover and we took the 8.15pm Sea France ferry to Calais. Needing some fuel we tried to find the Calais ELF station. As we ended up in a Carrefour carpoark where the 24hr pums didn't take English credit cards, herewith some directions: from the ferry terminal, take the main road out following signs to Dunkirk and Calais centre. At the turnoff for Calais centre, don't go to Calais centre (which is the first exit on the roundabout). Instead, carry on round the roundabout 3/4 to where the ELF station is visible.

Anyway, Mark drove on to just after Brussels. Slightly oddy, we were stuck in a traffic jam at 1:30am getting into Brussels. Quite why was uncertain, but tailbacks several miles at this time of night seemed odd. I drove on from Brussels to within 50km of Frankfurt. By this time it was 6.30am and we decided that some sleep was in order. We pulled off the motorway (leaving he early morning rush hour traffic behind) and found a random layby and deployed carrymats and sleeping bags in the early morning sun. I managed to grab a few hours' sleep before being roasted out of my pit by the sun, but unfortunately Mark was kept awake by a surprising quantity of traffic on this rural road. After a brief breakfast we continued along the A3; I drove to near Regensburg, where Mark took over to complete the journey.

As we were good and paid up for an Austrian vignette for the motorways, we thought we would try the new motorway from Wles to Liezen rather than the more usual Ried-Volklabruck-Gmunden-Bad Ischl route. This would have been a reasonable choice, not much faster, but somewhat simpler. However, the motorway was still under construction so we got to go round mountains, admiring the new but unused tunnels that will one day carry the motorway through them. As a finale, the 5km road tunnel under the Pyhrnpaß is two-way without any central reservation and only minimal lighting... Anyway, continued on to Liezen and Bad Mitterndorf and so to Bad Aussee, arriving on time for a bier at Hilde's.