This is a long one so you’ll have to bear with me. Trust me, you might find it amusing.
I landed in Luxembourg on time at 10am. I got into the hire car, a brand new Renault Clio. Only issue of course being the steering wheel is on the left hand side but I knew this would be the case. Gees it is weird. I went to open the car door on the wrong side and I went to grab the seat belt on my right hand side. It’s not there of course. I’ve done both of these several times. Taking off was scary and I had feared driving on the right hand side a few nights before. I circled the airport car park to have a short go.
I only really had text directions to get to Trier, Germany from Luxembourg airport. It’s only 40kms (30mins) away and the directions look easy. I first turned the wrong way and had to do a bit of a loop but I quickly found the exit ramp to get on to the autobahn. Phew I thought that was easy. I took the turn off to Trier but it seemed to keep going and going so being on the motorway it took forever to do a u-turn. I exited out back on to the autobahn and saw the same Trier sign and the same exit but I drove on expecting another. I ended up going on for ages and found a sign that had Trier on it again. I took the exit ramp and drove for ages again. I kept thinking to myself “I have no idea where I am. I have no map”, “I honestly don’t think I’m gonna be able to get this car back to Luxembourg”, “I am completely lost”. I really don’t know how I didn’t have a break down and a couple times I dead set thought I wouldn’t be able to get the car back. Also I had been up since 03:40am! Iâ€™d also been in a line for 2hrs at the airport due to the baggage restrictions.
Trier being a small town in Germany I was very unlikely to find some one who speaks English. I felt completely isolated. I found a service station and bought a map. The woman at the counter didn’t speak English (great). So I just took my map and left. I pulled off into the first street with a name and it was not in the index. I kept driving and pulled over again near a sign and still no luck. I saw a car pull in with a Canada flag I thought to myself “I am saved!” The person got out and said they spoke a bit on English. She pointed where we was. Thankfully I wasn’t far.
I started off again but a major problem being that my map didn’t show one way streets. So I’d have basic idea of where I was and then a one way street would throw me off. I’m driving I can’t look at the map and I have to keep driving till I can’t find a place to stop. I then have to find out where I am again and start all over. This happen a few times. Don’t forget all of this is happening while I am on my first few hours of driving on the right hand side of the road too! I kept having to pull over and reassess the situation. I kept thinking if Jason was in my shoes, his head would have gone through the roof so many times. I kept hearing him say “I’m so cut! Oh I went off my head!”. I really don’t know how I kept my cool. I parked the car because I knew my hotel was close. There was no way I was gonna loose where I was again, so I set out on foot. To my surprise it was just around the corner. I got to the hotel at 14:00pm. To put it into perspective at how lost I was, the 40km / 30 min trip took 80kms and more than three and half hours. I went to bed cause I was too tired and I missed the first day of the rally.
I woke up and spent ages and ages putting my directions together from the three maps that I had. Two supplied by the rally organisers and one from the service station. I was organised and I was happy the next day was going to be better than the first.
I woke at 06:50am, had breakfast and headed for the rally stage, about 70kms away. I was about three quarters of the way there, on time and I sorta new where I was going. I realised my rally pass was in my passport which was at the hotel. Great. All I could do was smile. I just got on with getting home. Being a massive autobahn a u-turn was not going to be easy. I veered off hoping it would u-turn but it didn’t and kept going and going with no chance to u-turn. I veered off again in the hope of another u-turn but no luck. I ended up in the middle of nowhere, but my maps didn’t show where I was. I parked at service station and noticed a sign to the same autobahn but a long way further down than when I exited. I got back on the autobahn and headed home. I had done 120kms by the time I got home.
I prepped again but this time for a different stage. The maps provided by the rally people were crap! The signage rally along the way was pathetic. I ended up getting lost again on the way to the stage, I took a wrong turn expecting signage to help but the map I have lacks detail or street names. It just shows the autobahns and B-autobahns. I some how found the backside of the rally stage, about 30 mins later. By this time it was 12:40. I was late for the stage and missed the good cars at the head of the pack. The next stage was elsewhere and was about to start. I didn’t have enough time to get there to see the head of the pack. I waited at this stage till 15:30pm for when they were at the same stage again I was at but this time I drove to the other side of it and made it without getting lost. Yay.
There’s more that went wrong after as I tried to get to another stage but basically I drove for ages back the way I knew only to find theyâ€™d blocked it off in that direction. So I headed back the way I came followed some one back but they led me to their house 🙂 not the stage… I ended skipping that stage and going for the next and I think I got really close but I had take a fair few turns and I didn’t want to forget how to get back so I turned back. It took ages to get home but it was easy to get home as there was good signage on how to get back to the autobahn and I’d already been home once so that part was easy.
I ended up clocking 630kms for the short time I had the car.