The trip heads for Europe

I have crossed the Channel before by ferry but from Dover to Calais, a 1 hour crossing which is about my limit in a boat. The trip to Zeebrugge was 4 hours I had been trying not to think about. The weather was getting progressively worse on the journey to Dover. As I drove around towards to the docks waves were braking over the sea wall and flooding the road. When we pulled into the docks there was traffic everywhere, apparently no ferries had been able to get into harbour for 3 hours due to the swell, it was going to be a long wait. By now it was dark, pouring with rain, everyone was hungry & the bus heater wasn't working. I had one of those realisation moments when suddenly it comes home to you that this could be a mistake, what if this was a taste of things to come. Four hours later we get the news that the boats are finally coming in, apparently the sea has calmed a little. The traffic comes streaming off the ferries like ants from a black hole.

Cross Channel Ferry

It was our turn to load, so I drove up the ramp and into the hold and was directed to a spot between two large lorries. We seem to have a lot of room, usually they pack you in real tight to make the most of the space. The customers all decamped and headed for the passenger deck, food and warmth. As we were locking up the boat crews were dragging chains around and securing the big vehicles to the deck. I had never seen this before and I took it as a bad omen. The 3 of us Fred, Geoff. and I headed for the dining lounge intent on ignoring the weather and occupying our minds with a big greasy meal. The ferry slipped its moorings just as we placed our order for full breakfast all round, to be washed down by copious amounts of tea. As the boat left the shelter of the harbour we felt the first roll, and watched as the china, crockery and food on all the tables lurched about like a glass on a weegey board. We were determined not to let it bother us and kept eating. Each time I looked up the dining hall had lost a few more patrons, by the time we had finished the place was almost empty. I don't know if the food had an inbuilt timer but all together we agreed it was time to take some fresh air.

Boarding the Ferry

You can tell experienced travellers by which side of the boat they choose to stand on. The inexperienced have a 50/50 chance of getting it right and a 50/50 chance of throwing up into the wind. There is nothing worse than successfully vomiting over the side only to cop a broadside from the guy 6 places up the line. By the time we reached the deck it was awash with a mixture of half digested food thinned out by sea water. I don't know if it was nerves or good luck but I kept my meal down if only just, it took a lot of looking at the horizon to calm the stomach. We pulled into Zeebrugge just as the sun was rising and although there was plenty of cloud around, it was a welcome sight. It was Geoff's turn to drive and we set of heading towards the German border with a quick stop at Bruxelles & Cologne. Geoff. was taking it easy and the going was slow, I had hoped he would pick up speed after an hour or so, but Geoff is a plodder. We were the perfect tortoise and the hare combination. We camped on the outskirts of Heidelburg that night and had an entertaining evening in one of the local taverns drinking beer and sculling shnapps.
The next morning was a bit of a slow start as there were a few headaches. We stopped off at Ulm on the way through, but as this an Overland tour we had little time for site seeing and most of our passengers had already done Europe. We set off on the Autobahn heading south to our destination Munich. Finding your way around a strange city is not easy and is made a lot harder when you have 30 pairs of eyes watching your every move. We did two laps of the Munich ring road before we found our way to the city centre and a car park not far from the famous Hofbräuhaus beer cellar. The passengers were made up of about 50% Australian 15% New Zealanders, the balance being English or other European nationality. The Hofbräuhaus was a popular spot for the Aussies to show their larrikin side, so much so that Australians were banned because "They too much sick on the floor and they steal the tables". Apparently a group of them had somehow got a table out of the building and had been apprehended about 1 kilometer away with a solid oak table that must have weighed about 250 kilograms.


"If we are to go to the Hofbräuhaus tonight you must all say you are English". Well that went down like a rat sandwich with the Australians, no way were they going to be "Pommes" for the night. I had no idea that Australians had a problem with the English. The word Pomme (prisoner of mother England) was not one I had heard before and as for "Pomme Bastard" and "Whinging Pomme", well what was all that about?. They finally agreed that if asked their nationality they would not own up to being Australian but they equally were not going to be British. They did ask us if we were Australian and no one said a word. I think the Aussies were a bit put out that here was somewhere they weren't welcome. We had a good night and drank lots of great German beer before stumbling back to the bus and heading for the ring road for another couple of laps before we found the road heading south for Austria. We camped in a pine forest that night and although it was cold, no one seemed to mind.


Hofbräuhaus Beer Cellar

Hofbräuhaus entertainment

We were up early and arrived in Salzburg before lunch. After setting up camp we ran everyone into town and gave them the rest of the day off for sight seeing. Us three (Fred, Geoff & I) set off looking for something to eat before finding a phone so we could ring Norm and let him know how the trip was going. We found the American Express office and Fred and I went in to make the call while Geoff went for a wander. When we came out Geoff was no where to be seen. As the campsite was walking distance we thought he may have gone back there. When we arrived back at the camp still no Geoff and on checking with the office, we found out that he was being held at the police station. We arrived to find one very pissed of Geoff. He had been detained under the Vagrants Act because he had no money or identity papers on him & couldn't remember the name of the campsite.


Most people wanted to do the "Sound of Music" thing and visit all the sites used in the movie. Others set of for the salt mines or to see all there was to see on Mozart, who was born here. I have to say I'm not so interested in the big tourist attractions, I'm more interested in getting the feel of a place. I try to find a part of the city that is locals only, choose a cafe and watch the world go by. Cafes tend to be frequented by men and its easy to fit in. All you just have to do is admire the local girls going past and before long you are all talking a universal language that all men understand. This trip passes through several countries where the main religion is Islam. A feature of Islam is the lack of contact with women, men are everywhere so as a male you can mix in with the locals. This is not so easy for women as western attire and openness is misunderstood by muslim men as an invitation to sex. We have yet to cross this bridge with our female passengers.


Europe continued Map of trip so far
An overland journey to India following the India overland trail through Belgium, Germany, Austria Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, & Nepal. Visting sites of Dubrovnic, Split, Kotor, Athens, Kerimoti, Istanbul, Galipolli, Troy, Delphi, Efes, Goreme, Nemrut, Tehran, Esphan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Kerman, Bam, Quetta, Kandahar, Kabul, Bamian Valley, Kyhber Pass, Indus river, Lahore, Punjab, Amritsar, Kashmir, Delhi, Agra, Taj Mahal, Vanaris, Patna, Raj Path, Kathmandu, Himalyas. All this undertaken in a 20 year old Asian Greyhound, Swagman Tours, LS Bristol bus. This Indiaoverland company was held together by Norm Harris an expatriate Aussie living in Windsor. With drivers like Bob Ashford, Geoff Lawrence, Clive Parker, Dave Watt, Ronnie Martin, John Witchard, Ken Mcdonald, Derek Amey & couriers Fred Fisher, Jos Livingstone, Peter Swift, Kieren Smith & mechanics Gordon Hammond, Graham Libby, Pomme John & Rastas just to name a few.