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On thursday evening all crew members and some of the MCC members arrived in Innsbruck. Two Buchbinder trucks and two private cars have to be made ready to take the forums hardware (Aouda.X, Rover Phileas, Rover Dignity, several chests with accesories) and tents, power generators, sleeping bags, tools and 3025 other useful things on their journey to Spain. The weight has to be evenly distributed between the cars to make sure that the maximum weight limit is not reached. A big part of the payload are the drinks and food. The last warm meal for a couple of days is enjoyed by the team once every thing is ready to go. While waiting for the food to arrive in the restaurant we have time to discuss our plans one last time. After dinner, we try and get a few hours sleep – whoever isn’t completely exhausted yet, gets help from some plum wine to get to sleep!
Friday morning, at 6:30, after filling the tanks and checking tyre pressure, the troup starts and heads off to Bozen. Even though the sky is grey, a few cracks appear in the cloudy cover and promise a bright day.
The drive through Southern Tyrol is impressive. Dark green mountain sides rise next to deep valleys, where vineyards are irrigated. The first sunrays of the day are reflected in the water fountains. Between the fields we see beautiful old houses and hyper modern glass palasts.
The different teams of each car carry radios to stay in contact. However, two stop working early on, as their battery runs out. This makes driving a more complex issue, especially when we hit several roundabouts (at one point, its five in a row!). Every once and again, one of the following cars dissapears from the mirrors.Have they gotten lost, or are they still following the leading car with the satnav? Another challenge – especially for the nerves of the passengers (apart from some exciting driving of certain people!) is the local radio. Never again are we going to complain about the chatty Austrian moderators!
As fees for speeding are very high in Italy, we try to stay within the speed limit, but we still make good progress. Every three hours we go for a break to stretch our legs, fill the tanks get rid of liquids.
As the sun comes out and the weather improves, we pass over latitude 45 (according to a sign at the side of the road) at 11:38, and arrive in Genua at 12:30, where both sun and rain greet us. We have done 560km until our lunch break at 13:00. We rest on a campside next to a petrol station, next to a group of nuns.
After lunch break drivers change. the area is still beautiful, but the weather stops being so. What feels like 10 degrees Centigrad is apparently still a cosy 14 degrees – still much less than what we expected the temperature to be, so far south from home! We hope that the weather in spain has higher temperatures for us!
But the sun returns shortly after also in Italy, and the views become simply “grandioso”. At our left, we pass one bay after the other, on our right are hillsides, covered with pinewoods. We see more of the modern glass buildings between traditional houses: white villas with red brick roofs. I decided to count tunnels on the way back and place some bets beforehand!
At 14:55, we pass the border into France, and reach Nice 15minutes later. Gigantic skyscraper pyramids which are built on every other hill make for a breathtaking view.
At 15:40 we pass Cannes, 17:20 Marseille, whith a heavy rain storm in between, but shortly after the sun takes over again. More often than the weather changes we get stuck at one of the numerous toll stations, with long queues. Our drivers dexterity is challenged with some of these toll.
To make up for this and make every one else participate in sports as well, we play football during our next stop at another service station. The game ends in a draw.
At 18:25 we drive past Nimes and finally get close to our destination: Perpignan at the french coast.
At 21:20 we arrive at our Etap Hotel: We covered 1200km on our first day, and look forward to our beds and some dinner. After eating in a french restaurant and discussing the events of the day, we drop into our beds and dream of Spain.
This article is available in: German
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