Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day Three

We had a good start too the day in Innsbruck with nice weather although slightly overcast which continued until we got to Vipetino where we turned onto the SS44, at this point the sun broke through and stayed with us for the rest of the day. The SS44 is a really twisty piece of road with little run off or opportunities for picture taking (too busy to stop) at least until it reached Merano where it turned into a normal country style road. However when we turned off to take the SS38 to go up through the Stelvio Pass OMG what a difference..hairpins tight turns, this road has everything.

Stelvio On The Way Up

Unfortunately disaster strikes halfway up the SS38 to Stelvio when the the car suddenly goes from normal temperature to in the red within a few minutes. we pull over quickly at one of the constant hairpins to check things out just as the expansion tank decides to blow it's contents all over the road (see picture below).
After much head scratching I work out that for some reason the front radiator fan is and hasn't been running which is the route cause of the overheating. Fortunately we have copious supplies of water on board (5 litres) and are able to fill the system with a reasonable amount to get us going. I decide to pull the plug off the radiator switch to make the fan run permanently. We get going again, and on a wing and a prayer manage to get to the top of Stelvio pass where we are able to get more water to refill the system completely.

Disater Strikes!!

Nice view where we broke down though :)

Nearly at the top

View from the top

Relaxing at the top

This is quite high up lol

On the way down

We finally got to our hotel in Grosio in the late afternoon...more tomorrow!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day Two

Well today started out with some promise (at a decent time of day 9.00am) although it was slightly overcast. An hour down the road and the sun decided to grace us with its presence and stayed with us until just after we crossed the border from Germany into Austria, where it started to drizzle with rain.

At the time this didn’t detract from the stunning scenery and views but it did however spoil the driving somewhat….due to the Austrian drivers seeming inability to go more than 20 kph round corners in the wet. Although this particular number plate we liked!!

By the time we got onto the expressway to Innsbruck it was absolutely hammering down with rain, which made travel quite hazardous due to the spray kicked up. We managed to reach our hotel in the city centre at around 4.15pm.

Quick shower and a walk in the rain into Innsbruck Old Town for something to eat and drink saw us settled for the night.

Tomorrow we start to drive the roads we came here for with a trip from Innsbruck to Meran(Italy) and on to Grosio (Italy) via the Stelvio Pass….cant wait!!

When we manage to get a faster internet connection we have some pictures to upload

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day One

Well our journey stared at 3.30 am this morning...fairly uneventful trip from King's Lynn to Folkestone without any drama's (even though Maggie was driving lol). managed to catch the proposed 6.50 am train although infact it didn't leave until 07.00 am.

Managed to get clear of Calais headed for Reims and stopped for petrol...worked out that the V6 had managed to return 27 mpg woo hoo. As we left the petrol station the heavens opened with the biggest downpour we have seen for some time, so much so that 15km down the road we had to stop and take refuge in one of the thankfully frequent rest/picnic areas provided next to the Autoroutes. The UK would do well to learn from our foreign counterparts with regard to this aspect of road travel. In France these rest areas are roughly every 10-20km and have toilets etc.

From dinner time the black clouds vanished and the sun shone...sunglasses were the order of the day and we felt that finally the holiday had begun. Got to our hotel in Strasbourg at a around 4 pm dumped bags and cases and proceeded to walk into central Strasbourg for a well earned beer or two and something to eat.

Back to the hotel for some well earned rest...we will upload pictures as and when.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Days To Go

Well here we are with 2 days to go, got the car cleaned, polished and serviced ready to go so here are a few pictures before she gets nearly 3000 miles worth of road grime on her.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Checklist

This is a list of essential items we believe are needed for the trip, I'm sure it's not complete but it is what we have compiled so far.

1. European breakdown cover
2. European car insurance
3. Travel insurance
4. Passports
5. Driving Licences
6. First Aid Kit
7. Warning Triangle
8. Hi-Vis Waistcoats
9. Bulb kit
10. 2 Cans of Tyre Weld
11. Basic Toolkit
12. 12V Air compressor
13. Sat-Nav
14. European Road Atlas
15. Fire Extinguisher
16. DSLR & DV Camcorder
17. Suction Camera Mount.
18. Tripod
19. Petrol Can
20. Spare Coolant & Oil

Planning Stage

When the MR2 multi club Euro trip was first suggested by our friends on the continent we thought fantastic, something organised to get involved in that was more than just turn up and stand around in car parks admiring each others cars. I've always wanted to do a road trip but it was something I'd never got around to doing.
Having duly signed up as interested we waited and waited and it seemed to us that time was ticking away and if we were not careful the trip was going to go down the pan. Eventually we came to the decision due to no real progress with the organised trip to go it alone and organise our own road trip and if that meant missing out on the organised trip then so be it.
Below is the route we are taking along with the hotels we have managed to find and get booked plus some details of expected costs.

Hotels we are using and locations

What follows are the approx routes we are planning to take between Hotels.
Mainly because we have loads of Tesco vouchers to get rid of we are travelling from Folkestone to Calais by Euro Tunnel...the cost of this return journey without vouchers would be £150 but for us vouchers :)
From Calais we are then planning to do a long stint (620KM) to get to Strasbourg where we will have our first Hotel stopover for one night.

Calais To Strasbourg 7th August

Then we will be up early again the next day for the stint from Strasbourg to Innsbruck (470KM). We opted to go to Innsbruck instead of Salzburg because it was nearer to the driving roads we want to travel.
Strasbourg to Innsbruck 8th August

This day will see us venture onto the superb alpine roads that we will have travelled all that way to drive. We start off in Innsbruck and head south to Meran taking in the SS40 and then going on to the famous SS38 up through and over the Stelvio Pass, through Bormio and finishing up in Grosio. A total of 239KM over some seriously twisty stuff.
We will be staying 2 nights at this Hotel in Grosio, mainly because in the immediate vicinity there are several spectacular driving roads which we intend to explore fully.

Innsbruck to Grosio 9th August
Having had a 2 day stop over in Grosio it will be time to move on. This next stage will take us from Grosio to Airolo taking in some fabulous roads including the famous San Bernardino Pass and involves a total of 267KM.
Again...because there are so many brilliant roads and scenery in the location we are staying 2 nights in this Hotel to make the most of it without being rushed.
Grosio to Airolo 12th August
This days driving stint is going to be a long full day with an early start, we will have 454KM to do from Airolo up to Andermatt taking in Gotthard & Furka Pass and then down to Bardonecchia taking in Mont Blanc on the way. Not stopping at a Hotel this time but a Skiing chalet instead, this was a bargain @ 63 euros for the night and is perched on the side of a mountain.
Airolo to Andermatt to Bardoneccia 13th August

This next stage from Bardoneccia to Grasse in the south ofFrance (370KM) has some great roads down to the Med coast and then follows the coast past Monaco, Nice Cannes etc before finishing up in a more resort based hotel in Grasse where we will have another 2 days chilling in the sun and having a bit of a wander around.
Bardoneccia to Grasse 14th August

We will be travelling from Grasse to Grenoble on this day using the famous Route Napoleon which is supposed to be a spectacular road (312KM) finishing up with 1 night in a Hotel there.
Grasse via Route Napoleon to Grenoble 16th August

This next day will be a fairly boring day driving to Reims (594KM) just to get there really with the plan of having 2 nights in Reims to explore the surrounding area (maybe get a train into Paris etc).
Grenoble to Reims 17th August

This final day will see us make the final push for home from Reims to Calais and then back through the tunnel to the uk.
Reims to Calais 19th August

Well there you have it...that covers our plan for the trip. I'm predicting our costs to be as below. I've converted from Euros into pounds.
Tunnel Crossing.........................£0 (Tesco vouchers)
European AA Breakdown Cover...£87
Petrol Costs @ 3000 miles...........£700
Hotelcosts for 12 nights..............£690
Food & Drink for duration............£600
Toll road fees (unknown).............£???
So not a cheap trip by any means but for us probably a once in a decade trip to make, so we are doing it anyway.

The Beginning

The idea of an International MR2 driving trip was suggested by a few European MR2 owners clubs, and inspired by the Topgear TV show where they set about looking for the worlds greatest driving roads and by the picture of Stelvio Pass below, we decided we wanted to undertake our own Eurotrip to discover some of the roads for ourselves. This blog is really to help record our preparations and to document our trip as we go along. Hopefully if we can get connected to the net while we are over there, some of it will be very current, or at least within a day or two.