Setting out from Antwerp couldn’t have been easier by comparison to the rest of the day and how it unfolded. To kick things off, the campsite payment and check-out was made very easy by the site manager’s laid back attitude; we leached some free Wi-Fi to update the viewers at home, then set off for the Nurburgring, and Frankfurt – one of our requested stops by sponsors. The German border is neither here nor there – blink and you’ve missed it, we ventured through without issue, other than Mickey the Micra’s apparent dislike for German highways and how steep they climb… and how far. Took many a gear change to eventually arrive through the stunningly beautiful forested roads, to the F1 track grandstands and the coveted gift shop, where we acquired a track sticker for Mickey and a few other tokens for home.
Setting off for Frankfurt about 2 hours later produced more casualties – firstly the jerry can that had been filled with water in Antwerp had produced a green-like weird liquid that wasn’t particularly water-like. This was swiftly ditched and an action plan to have clean water on board was devised:
• Fill jerry can, drain.
• Fill again, add sterilising tablets, test, drain.
• Repeat again and test.
We need to get this right before we hit drier countries, to ensure a safe trip across the deserts. The second casualty was the lambda sensor warning – fitted in Mickey’s major service overhaul. After a wrong turn out of the Nürburgring, and a 180 to return gave rise to the dreaded engine management light. We suspected this was possibly the lambda, and so continued up the hills at an ever slow and tedious pace.
Frankfurt took a long time to drive to, again a combination of said hills and Mickey’s complete lack of motivation with the weight on the roof rack and 3 full sized people in the cabin. Luckily the city was not being carved up by road works, nor was it too difficult to get through – a 2-minute parking space spot produced results and gave us quick access to a main shopping high street, major train station and most importantly, the Deutsch Post office. Postcards written and sent off, we headed for a restaurant for dinner – Oli taking the more traditional option of boiled pork, sauerkraut and Frankfurter. Tummies full we set our sights on a very distant Loket and campsite.
Arriving in the Czech Republic at a delightful 3am, we found a complete lack of the campsite we had hoped for – it simply wasn’t there, or at least, as far as campsites go there wasn’t exactly anything official; signs, entrance gate…. other campers? Nothing. We decided on a quick tour of the local town area to see if a hotel happened to be accepting guests this early, 2 in particular were shut, or at the very least uninviting – the “Golf and Horses” hotel looked like something out of a horror movie, as did a few of the local residents we spotted when driving through.
What we didn’t know was the police had caught wind of this decorated Micra, and so upon trying to fill up with fuel to head to Loket – our James Bond film site destination, we were followed and given a quick chat to. The officer, with broken English recommended we follow him in to the town centre of Karlovy Vary, where we could find something a little more accommodating for the night. This meant however speaking to “his boss”, and so waiting in a layby at 3:30am we were introduced to the local station commander, who was quick to question where we were heading and how best to fix the problem we had. A discussion was had between the officers, and we were kindly escorted (as you do) to the Lafonte Spa Hotel.
While the police were happy that we were not wandering the streets, our next problem was that the receptionist spoke no English, apart from that golden line of “No English”. We managed in broken charades and note scribbling on paper to book 3 rooms for the night, at a bargain price of €40, with rooms that rival any large UK hotel chains. Mickey remained outside, with full kit out and equipment – a bit of a worry, but our rooms overlooked where he was parked. Heads down for what was left of the night; Vienna and Graz await the next leg.