So, me and a friend had an idea, somewhat inspired by a post we’d seen on a forum a few years back. Find a weekend when we’re both off work, book a hotel in Nurburg, and a train on the Channel Tunnel, and let’s go for a cheap weekend to the Nurburgring in winter, just because we can. As it transpires, the Nordschleife was actually due to be open for a tourists. In the end it wasn’t…
Friday 12th December
00:00 – I get picked up, and our long journey South begins. It doesn’t take long before we have to overcome our first hurdle. The A1 South is closed. For quite a long way, cue a detour. It’s raining and it’s cold.
00:30 – First Mcdonalds stop. Nothing more than a drink, and the opportunity to place a few select stickers on the car, and setup my camera to take pictures on a time lapse. If I ever build up the motivation, I might make that into a video. It’s really boring.
01:30 – We finally join the A1 at Newark. Still raining.
02:15 – Somewhere topside of Peterborough and it’s time for the first toilet stop at a small truck stop. It’s a bit eery.
02:50 – Onto the M11 now, absolutely bugger all traffic around. Still raining, though.
03:20 – Bishops Stortford services. We both need a drink, and we know whatever the situation, it can’t be Red Bull (other sugary energy drinks available). We simply can’t be stopping for the toilet at every services…
03:25 – Second hurdle of the journey, the confusing motorway roundabout. 2 laps completed and we’re back on our way.
04:00 – Crossing Dartford bridge now. The never ending rain is now combined with heavy wind. Onwards we venture!
04:35 – Maidstone services. Once again, to relieve the kidneys, and to address the car’s fuel needs.
05:20 – Now at the Channel Tunnel. The driver gets confused by the checking in process and manages to book us on to a train 30 minutes later than originally planned. Instead of the train that starts boarding at 5:50am, we now have to wait for the train that boards at 6:20am. Never mind…
06:30 – And we’re in the queue to board.
06:40 – And we’re boarded.
Times from this point are ‘local’ times. IE, GMT+1.
08:23 – Daylight. We’re out of the tunnel and into France. Blue skies await – literally.
07:35 – Off the train, sat nav on. Chaos ensues as we try to get the thing programmed, satellites found etc.
09:00 – Toilet stop. Complain at having to pay for the liberty.
09:35 – Slow moving traffic on the E40.
09:45 – The slow moving traffic has cleared and we’re back on our way.
10:40 – I spot a camouflaged Jag F Type Coupe cruise by. Then curse at myself for missing the photo opportunity.
11:10 – Slight detour via Circuit Zolder. Not much happening.
12:00 – Across the border into Germany. Belgium seems to have been never ending.
13:20 – I have it written that we left the Autobahn. Part of me thinks this should be 2:20pm, I dunno.
15:00 – Arrive at Hotel Am Tiergarten, with no snow in sight.
16:00 – Both half asleep, we decide to take a trip back to Adenau to visit Pinnochio’s. It’s shut, and doesn’t open for another hour. Bugger.
16:40 – The decision is made. Downstairs we go to Pistenklause. It’s a bit of an odd sensation, given how it’s usually bustling with life. On this day, it just happens that there’s a couple of locals sat and the bar, and us. Undeterred, I order the obvious steak auf stein. As usual, it’s worth it. Hell, that alone has made the whole trip worth it.
19:00 – Both of us are worn out by the drive, and are already off to sleep!
Saturday 13th December
00:00 – The sleep didn’t last. Both awake, there’s only one thing for it. Only Fools and Horses on the ipad. At this point, we also decide to rebook the train. Instead of having a second night there, only to get up on the Sunday morning to head straight back, we decide we’ll head back Saturday night and be home for Sunday morning.
03:00 – Finally back to sleep.
08:30 – Awake again. And that’s the way it stays this time.
09:15 – We head down to breakfast, and once again, we’re the only ones there. It almost feels a waste, since they’ve put out as much food as you’d expect in the ‘on’ season. Oops. There’s also been a pattering of snow overnight. Nothing major, but there’s definitely been some.
10:00 – Off up to the Ringwerk visitor centre for a few pictures of the car. I mean, it’s customary, right?
10:15 – A trip to the ED Tankstelle along the Dottinger Hohe straight for some fuel, and a look around the gift shop. A quick drive through the industry estate yields very little activity, too.
10:30 – We make the short trip to Pflantzgarten to see the track. There’s a very tidy set of tyre tracks been left, presumably by the safety car. We’ve come to realise the track will most definitely be shut. No quiet, steady laps just for the sake of it then. Never mind.
11:00 – After a rather cautious drive down past Hohe Acht back into Adenau, we make a stop off at the REWE supermarkets to grab some Bitburger Citrus. Oh, and a few snacks for the journey home.
11:15 – A trip into the centre of Adenau. Most places are shut.
11:35 – And we’re on the return journey. There’s a mix of rain and snow in the air.
12:00 – A stop at the McDonalds on the autobahn, at which point the sat nav chooses to conveniently freeze. Brilliant.
13:15 – The sat nav is still froze (yet if it had been unplugged for more than 10 minutes previously, it’d turn itself off!), we’ve used McDonalds’ wifi to plot the route on Google Maps, and then jotted that down into the little note book.
13:40 – Minding our own business, sat on the inside lane of the autobahn, suddenly we’re undertaken at a fair rate of knots by an Audi A5. A rather odd experience, I must say.
14:00 – We’ve come off the autobahn, and we’re not sure if it’s the right way. Things could be about to get interesting. No sat nav, no data connection on the phones, and we don’t know whether we’re heading the right way.
14:15 – The sat nav is back in the game, it turns out we had been following the right directions. Crisis averted. Snow is also ‘in the game’.
15:00 – Finally the rain has stopped. Somewhere in the middle of Belgium. It makes a nice change.
15:50 – Leaving a services, I forget to turn on the sat nav. We then end up in some little town in Belgium. To this day, I couldn’t tell you where that was. Even the sat nav struggled.
16:05 – OK, sat nav has caught up, figured out where we are, figured out how to get us out, and we’re back en route.
17:30 – Time for another splash and dash.
18:50 – Checking in for the train. Slight issue, our train isn’t for another 6 hours…
19:30 – Both tired, we decide to try and get some sleep in the car. One laid on the rear bench, one sat in a reclined front seat. It’s not ideal. Plus, we have to start the car every now and again to get some heat back. It is the middle of December, after all. Also, a point to note: there’s a VERY bright flashing sign for a zebra crossing, and we’re parked facing it. It’s VERY bright.
22:30 – A small amount of sleep had, it’s given up for the most part as a bad job. Burger King and a wait…
Sunday 14th December
00:45 – We’re called up to board. Finally. It’s been a long wait.
01:30 – We’re on the train, and leaving France.
OK, back to UK time (GMT)…
01:05 – Leaving the train. Back on home soil.
01:30 – Travelling up the M20 and the bus we’re sat behind moves across into the middle lane, leaving a slow moving lorry and impending doom right ahead of us. It’s avoided.
04:00 – Peterborough services. It’s not often this place feels like we’re ‘almost there’, but it definitely does now. I’m happy to be able to order the food I want without any issues of language barriers (the English on the continent is definitely better than my foreign languages, but I still always have that sense of doubt).
06:20 – Home. Time for a few hours sleep. It’s been a long few days, and many would say it’s been a pointless few days. But we both agreed it was definitely worth it, if only to stop the boredom setting in whilst being at home. It’s been a little something different.