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Driving Ibiza to Finland

We arrived in Finland last night and got off the ferry into cold, torrential rain. It felt great to finally be here and Ira was delighted to see everyone together, but the three of us were worn out after driving over 3200km. Often we've been travelling until late at night and blog updates were hastily typed from the tent or a gents toilet so here's a bit more detail on our journey.

We could have done the trip faster but we'd wanted to see something of Europe and not just rush through on motorways. We picked up our second rental car in Perpignan - it felt good to be in France but it seemed scruffier and less safe compared to Spain. We made the most of French supermarkets, however, and stocked up on supplies in a huge Carrefour, reminding ourselves of all the nice foods that don't exist on Ibiza. We also decided to commend Quick with our title of burger chain of choice and thereafter ate far too many burgers during the course of the trip.

We drove to the Gorges de L'Ardeche, north of Avignon, which is a bit of a French Grand Canyon - a stunning gorge carved through the French countryside with sheer cliffs on either side. Having never been to the Alps before we then continued over to Chambery, arriving just before dusk to stare in awe at the mountains and Alpine scenery. It was too cold to camp and, unable to find a cheap hotel, we set off in search of a quiet place to park for the night. Thick fog set in, meaning we could hardly see the road in front of us, never mind anything else, Carita, who was navigating, fell asleep, and after almost straying across the border into Switzerland we finally found a lane in some woods just west of Geneva and slept in the car at 1500m with the sound of cowbells in the distance.

The next day we had to drive to Mulhouse, close to the German border, to drop off the car. Mulhouse was a dull town where they were busy digging up every scrap of road to lay tram tracks but we were lucky enough to get there on the last day that the camp site was open for the season and we spent a fairly cold night in the tent.

The next morning I got up ridiculously early in the cold darkness and caught the train to Freiburg across the border (via a long detour to Basel) to sort out our third and final rental car. Germany seemed clean, polished and organised and the people, as always, seemed very helpful but all the rental companies turned out to be an hour's walk from town. Asking for their cheapest diesel car I was given a brand new Renault Megane, which during the course of driving impressed me greatly with it's tech specs - windscren wipers that turn on when it rains and keyless entry and ignition that detects the smartcard in your pocket. I drove back over to Mulhouse, picked up Carita and Ira and we set off for Rottweil in the Black Forest to take Ira back to her roots! The black forest was beautiful, with mountains and valleys covered in golden, autumn foliage and the climate was still pleasant compared to how we'd feel in northern Europe. Rottweil turned out to be a charming German town, though we were slightly disappointed that there weren't Rottweillers running wild everywhere.

After another long drive to find somewhere we could park and sleep without being moved on, we ended up in a forest walk car park at 01:00 in the morning, exhausted, and spent the night there. This had the effect of the brand new car losing it's 'new car smell'. We were getting pretty used to sleeping in cars by now and we awoke refreshed and headed into Wurzburg where we enjoyed a huge, wonderful breakfast.

Later that day, Saturday, we were getting close to Hannover and thinking about stopping somewhere when we realised that the ferry to Finland didn't run on Mondays. So we pushed on, determined to make it to Rostock that night. The German autobahn proved wonderful for making fast progress when needed, though you learn to keep a close eye on your mirrors for Porsches approaching from behind at 250km/h.

Finally, we arrived in Rostock and drove straight to the port to book onto the following day's ferry. Our happiness to have completed the drive was ruined when the ferry company then refused to sell us reclining seats and forced us to pay twice as much for a cabin. It then turned out that there was a football match and a concert in town and almost all the hotels were fully booked so we spent the night in the car, parked in the ferry terminal with the rain pouring down outside.

We spent the next day in town as we waited to board the ferry and were somewhat surprised by how different it was to where we'd previously been in Germany. Rostock is part of former East Germany and it really felt like a different country. The people seemed rude, badly dressed, and seemed to cut their own hair. The town itself was a mixture of old soviet concrete next to new construction and a facade of a new shopping street. We took Ira for a walk in the park and passed a crazy guy shitting openly on the path. Obviously things can't change overnight.

The amount of investment that Germany appeared to be putting into it's eastern promise seemed colossal. Obviously, the infrastructure badly needs to be upgraded as motorways, power stations and train systems are being built everywhere.

Finally, we caught the ferry, and I found sleeping in a bed so uncomfortably soft that I took my camping mat and slept in the kennels with Ira to keep me company. Meanwhile, a Russian prostitute worked her way through the truck drivers onboard - apparently paying for her ticket as the route is allegedly the easiest way for Russians to get into Finland without any papers.

We only have a few days in Finland, however, before we ironically have to fly all the way back down to Ibiza!

Comments

Twas a full moon last night.

This was my dream last night
,
You and Carita invited me to Finland where Carita's family all lived on a vast three story house boat in the middle of a big industrial city. Ira was there too bounding up and down the many staircases on board. Also Carita's father seamed to have a lot of children from previous mariges ! The family built very beautiful viking long boats with all the varnished boards showing from their own forests and these sailed past us on the river.

What does it all mean ?

Love and kisses,

CD
xx

think you need to cut down on the cheese, cd!

Maybe planning a trip to Finland in '05. Is there a big summer solstice type festival that you know of? May be taking CD with me if he is allowed time off for bad behaviour
Phil aka happybonzo

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