The Long and Winding Road

Obvious title for one of my blogs from this big journey we’re on at present, though I was hesitant to use it, because I feel very old, realising that Beatles song is 45 years old now. I remember it like Yesterday, as it were.

Our big trip, which began almost two weeks ago with five Grinnall Scoropions, a Mazda MX2 and a TVR is now down to four Grinnalls, plus the Mazda and TVR. Three Grinnalls have had significant brake or clutch fluid problems and the news came through today that one is having to be trucked home by recovery service, because efforts to repair it have failed, and attempts to locate the necessary replacement parts have been a hugely frustrating catalogue of errors by suppliers large and small. The other broken cars (one with brake issues and one with a clutch problem) are back on the road again after nearly five frustrating days trying to get the right parts, and limped 200 miles to join us at 9pm tonight.

My last blog saw me wet and exhausted, at Kaprun in Austria. We had three nights there, in a very good hotel indeed. We did some touristy things, including a cable car trip up a 3,000 metre peak, which gave great photos, but I spoiled that day by parking my Grinnall for four hours with the lights on, and totally ruining an already desperately weak battery. I’d been hoping it would just about see us home, but it had to be replaced. Happy to report, there was a local BMW dealer in the town, and a new battery was delivered at 7 am on the morning of our departure.

We got to drive and to film the ride over the rather good Glocknerstrasse from Kaprun. I’d been on it a few years ago on my motorbike, but in the Grin it was even more fun. Here’s a three minute clip on YouTube that shows you what it was like.

Our journey home really began when we left Kaprun. Until then, our route had mainly been heading east. The bad weather that has dogged our whole trip once more closed in on us, but we managed a great day from Kaprun to Nauders, a favourite Austrian stopping place of mine, taking in the little-known Stallersattel crossing from Austria to Italy, and the Jaufenpass over to Merano. Sadly, neither gave us any views at all, though the roads were very quiet, and good fun to drive. We’ve moved on since, to the southern part of the Black Forest, where we have two nights in a hotel that was once a youth hostel, and basically still feels like one, in a town full of “adventure activitiy opportunities” when all we want to do is eat, drink and sleep.

I wish I was organised enough to count how many official (numbered) hairpin bends on mountain roads we’ve driven in the last three days, but it is in the region of 300, maybe more. It’s been a hoot, though our enjoyment has been tempered by sympathy for our comrades with broken toys, and the realisation it could have been any of us, at any time.

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