Nine Countries in ten days – Phew!
Inspired by Tom Eaves grand tour in his 1946 MGTC of over fifty years ago, ( see article on this blog ); I thought it would be a good idea to do something similar in our modern MGTF. Maggie & Tony Young also expressed their keenness to participate – see, I’m not the only one who is mad! Anyhow, after several convivial evenings spent drinking……er, planning, (well beer bottles are great for keeping maps flat), it was decided that we’d all like to see Carcassonne whilst en route. So, that became our first stop over. After that we’d make it up as we went. Well, we had a map of sorts and a pin! The decision was made to go on Thursday 15th June. The idea being the weather would be more favourable at that time of year and a lot less hotter than August – how wrong can you be???
So, early on the morning of the 15th June two MGTF’s left Limalonges on the start of the “Grand Tour”.
Now we had been told that to enter Switzerland or Lichtenstein you had to pay a toll. Since we were still reeling from the cost of driving across Italy and my Scottish/Yorkshire ancestry was baulking at the idea of paying a fee to go and look at Switzerland – a country that seems to hate the motor car – we decided to go around via Austria. However, on the following morning there was a big problem with the alternative route which would have incurred several hours delay. So, ancestry notwithstanding, we headed for the boarder crossing into Switzerland and paid up. For those, like us, who have never experienced the Swiss toll; for 41 Euros you get a little vignette to stick inside your windscreen. This entitles you to drive into Switzerland and Lichtenstein. However, there are no tolls on the roads/motorways in either country and the vignette last for the whole year. So it turned out to be quite good value and a darned sight cheaper than Italy! Even the St. Gotthard Tunnel is included in the price of the vignette, all 17 km of it. Unlike the Italian one.
The roads turned out to be excellent and we drove through Switzerland into Austria and on into Lichtenstein. The scenery is fantastic and as Tom said in his blog, just has to be experienced from an open-topped MG. We arrived in Germany on the hottest day ever recorded, 42C!! The guest house was fine – but no aircon. As our host told us, we don’t ever expect to get these temperatures, certainly not in June. Our first German stopover was at Kisslegg.
On the following day we continued our drive through the Black Forest region.
For those who have never been to Ypres, it is highly recommended. The town was totally devastated during the First World War and the medieval Cloth Hall reduced to ruin. The town and it’s Cloth Hall has been rebuilt and today you wouldn’t know it was a modern reconstruction. There is much to see relating to WW1, Flanders Field Museum, St. Georges Church and the Menin Gate of course which commemorates the 54,896 Allied soldiers who have no known grave. Every evening since July 1928 at 8pm, the entrance through the Gate into the town is closed to traffic and the buglers of the local Fire Brigade play the Last Post as a tribute. This tradition has continued ever since. During WW2 when Belgium was occupied, the ceremony was carried out at Brookwood Military Cemetry in Surrey. However, at the liberation of Ypres by Polish Forces in September 1944, even whilst fighting was taking place around the town, the Last Post was sounded again at the Menin Gate.
There are those who look down on the “modern” MGF/TF. Comments like it’s not a real MG are sometimes heard. Well, if you look at the history of MG, most of the so-called real MG’s were cars that were made without the approval or authority of the Senior Management. The exceptions being the MGA and MGB which were approved right from the start. However, the MGF was made from the parts box without approval in true MG manner! OK rant over. To be fair, our little cars which are renowned for overheating, headgasket failure and numerous other foilbles covered around 2,260 miles in some of the hottest temperatures. For the stats:-
11 days trip. Around 44 hours total driving. Total fuel consumed 46.5 gallons, giving an average of 48 mpg at an average speed of 52 mph.
Would we do it again – yes! Except for Italy!! Our appetite was wetted for another visit to several places we didn’t get time to do justice. Also, other places that we passed and would like to go to next time.
Anyone fancy a trip around Europe in their MG?