Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's over

Well as it is the end of the driving trip for George it would be appropriate to say our thanks to those who made the trip possible for both Jim and myself.

We would like to thank Lang and Bev Kidby for organising the trip and making it so successful. Without Lang planting the seed we would never have considered undertaking such a journey – it just never would have even entered our heads. There possibly would have been times when we were horribly ‘misplaced’ that we wondered why we ever considered it, but at the end of the day when we found our campsite and our nerves were calmed down we had time to reflect on the sites and wonderful places of interest that we had been to during the day.

George, well what can we say about a 65 year old vehicle that tackled and handled every challenge that we put before him during the 6,400 Kilometre trip. Without him performing so well the whole trip would never have been so enjoyable. The mountains were certainly a huge challenge for him, but except for fuel vaporisation going up the Simplon Pass (2,008 metres) between Italy and Switzerland he never let us down. He was our transport and shelter for the 49 days that we needed him and he will never have to tackle such a challenge again. The attention the vehicles brought along the way certainly introduced us to people that we would never have met had we been driving in a conventional vehicle and we certainly met some characters. I am sure that there are thousands of photos of George somewhere out there in cyberspace as there seemed to be cameras flashing all the time. Perhaps it’s his good looks!!! When we met people and told them where we came from and where we were going they were amazed and some even said jokingly that we must be crazy – we would have to agree with them there!

To all those who helped Jim prepare George for this adventure we are very grateful for your time and effort. Cliff did such a good job with the woodwork in the van body that we always had a comfortable night’s sleep and somewhere to shelter if the weather was not to our liking.

Fortunately we had bought maps for each country that we were to visit and purchased a GPS which we called “Norma”. Norma was never intended to be used as the prime source of navigation but rather as a backup to the maps. Without her life would have been very difficult. Even though she did not always perform on the new roads and highways she seemed to guide us through the old cities and villages and at times we thought she was leading us into a farmer’s yard only to discover it was a tiny little road which lead to another tiny little road, but which eventually got us to where we were supposed to be. Every so often she would have a “bad hair” day and konk out at a pretty crucial moment – they were not our ‘good’ days and she was not called “Norma” on those days. Jim and I preferred to travel on our own as we found that if you had anyone following it was always the day that you got horribly lost. If there was just the two of us we could stop on the road and quietly work out where we were to go and it was very satisfying at the end of the day to rock up at the campsite at a reasonable time. We discovered very early in the trip that if you did not know where you were it was best to ask straight away rather than spend hours getting lost and frustrated. This helped both the driver and navigator survive the day. Jim thought the 2 day stopovers were very beneficial for the harmony between driver and navigator and nicknamed the second day as “make-up day”. The first day some of the couples were not talking but by the second they had made up.

Europe certainly provided us with some beautiful weather which was very much appreciated for those of us who did not have or chose not to fit windows to the top of our doors. We found that we had much better vision without the windows fitted and preferred to wear warmer gear if it got a bit chilly. Except for a few rainy days at the beginning and end of the trip we had some quite warm and sunny days which is very unusual in Europe at this time of the year.

As for the scenery it was just amazing. Around every corner there was a new and beautiful vista and something to marvel at. We have never encountered such mountainous countryside before, especially like that in Crete, Italy and Switzerland. It was not very comforting when the driver proclaimed that he did not feel too good travelling with the steep drop on his side!! Spring in Europe is certainly a great time to visit. Everything is lush and green, crops are thick and would make our farmers envious and the flowers and shrubs are in full bloom.

Our fellow travellers were a great bunch of people and the guys were quick to help out those that had problems with their vehicles. Fortunately there were no major breakdowns and every vehicle made it to the end. We had lots of different characters amongst us all which made the trip more interesting. We have made some lovely friends and fortunately with the aid of the internet will be able to keep these friendships going.

Also, very importantly, we have very good neighbours that have looked after our cats, Tom and Rupie, collected our mail while we have been away and generally kept an eye on the place. My sister and her husband have also dropped by and watered the garden and given the cats an extra pat.

1 comment:

  1. Well there is one thing for sure Jim being such a good tradesman and his meticulous regard to perfection had everything to do with Goerge's phenominal success on the trip.
    I'll bet there were others who have Jim to thank for helping them out along the way.....
    Loved the commentary and the pics Sandy just wish I could have had the same adventure. One of these days I'll get back to WA and we'll catchup. Let's know when you are home guys....Best regards from an old friend, Jim and I've yet to meet Sandy John GIBBINS