Larry’s Mustang on tour

I had not planned to do another European Trip with the Mustang, I Had planned for a few of us to go to Graceland and a road trip round some states of the US. But the exchange rate put paid to that idea.

When I done my last “Mustang on Tour” trip it was in 2015, and I felt that was my last one. But once the US was a no go, last Xmas saw OHMSS on telly yet again, and I saw Piz Gloria in the heart of the Swiss Alps one place I had always wanted to go, also driving the Furka Pass as seem in Godfinger the iconic car chase with the DB5 chasing the white 1964 Mustang convertible and shredding the tires.

That was my 1st look at the Mustang, not like most who 1st saw the Mustang in the iconic film Bullet.

If this dream trip was going to happen, was the Swiss Alps going to be it, then swing round and come back, would not be worth it, so out comes the map, what would make this trip worthwhile, and there like a Golden Light was Monaco, the playground of the rich, my favourite F1 race, all the history all the great races, the Casino at Monte-Carlo a true dream of a place.

So that was decided now to work out where else, where to stop, how many miles to drive each trip, what to see.  I aimed to do the same as I had done on my previous trips, keep the journeys to 300 miles or less and was looking around 20 days away. Lucky had a load of time owing to me and a good boss.

If I was going to Monaco, I would be going through a few countries, I worked out 6, two more then my last trip, which was 4 countries.

 

So unlike my last trips, made more sense to “let the train take the strain” This would be my 1st time on the Euro-tunnel, I spoke to some people who had used the train and they all advised to book for a High- Vehicle  as that gives your expensive rim’s much less chance of getting damaged, as the carriage is wider as fits vans and lorries, it was the same price as the normal vehicle.

After 3 days we had a route, everything booked up and we were ready to wait 9 months L. I also found it better to book these places as early as possible, with Booking.Com, you can up to a week before you stay at the hotel, change the date or even cancel the hotel, for no fee. If anything did change it would not cost me anything, now the tunnel was a different story, for the Flexiplus ticket you are paying nearly £50 extra, so you can amend your ticket, but for me I rather take the chance as it would have cost me only another £30 if I had to amend the ticket or cancel it.

I decided my route would be: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, and a run back though France. Where my other trips were around 3 thousand miles, this worked out at around 22 hundred, so more countries but less miles, but places like Belgium and Luxembourg are very small and tiny little Monaco, where my other trips the countries were way bigger.

So now the question where to stay, and also places that have car-parks on site, going into big cities is very difficult to get parking, which is not a multi-storey or underground car-park, had to put her in a multi-storey which was like a Sainsbury’s car-park, but which the hotel used in Gothenburg in Sweden, was not told that when I booked it.  Mind you the worst one was in Berlin, total nightmare, as the parking bays were tiny, had to park in a multi-storey, and was told by the hotel “that I should have told them I have a big American car” L

As the times draws closer, I get my Swiss Vignette which is for the Swedish motorways, works out around £33, and also find out I need for Lyon “A Clean Air Permit” now only 3 cities in France have this permit at the moment, this was a bit of a nightmare, as I have a personal plate they were very confused over the year of my car, as for older cars, you get a different colour permit, all goes on the car emissions so am older car will have higher emissions. Finally got that permit about a week before travel time.

I was travelling on the 4th September catching the 08:20 train,

A few cars were stopped at Border control. And they come over and took swabs from the steering wheel, I would think to check for chemical or explosive residue, that took around 5mins then we moved off onto the train.  They pack you tight, took around 18mins, then we arrived in France, amazing really when you think you are travelling under the channel.  I was surprised that as you drive off the train, you are straight onto the motorway, no checks or stops, straight out into Calais.

As I have a Lefty the car felt she was “home” made for overseas driving, I had decided a few days back after seeing the Superb film Dunkirk to make a quick stop in Dunkirk get some good shots, there was no parking places so had to quickly park up, and take some shots. Then onto Belgium and Le Ranch Don Diego, now this place looked like am American ranch, was not that dear and the restaurant looked great, steaks and good old US food. But the reality was very different, got there, places looked closed up, saw a bloke in the stables, he said “we are closed” so after having a quiet word where I showed him I was booked in, he got the owner down, who booked me in, as for the restaurant, closed out of season L, nowhere for around 5miles to eat. Not a good start to the trip.

This place is great for kids as there was ducks, chickens. Loads of Sheep, some cockerels, and even a Lama, an old train, and a go kart track. I found out there were loads of sheep as I saw this farm girl walk past the car, with around 50 in tow L, I was woken by the sweet sound of the Cockerel. The car covered in horrible big ugly fly’s.

Now I must admit I did look at Mustang Passion and where they went in Belgium, and the Abbey at Stavelot was high on my agenda, nice drive to the Abbey, and the main road is poser’s paradise, where the car-park is, loads of Porsche’s and designer blokes eating at the tables near their cars, got some looks as I pulled round into the car-park and made sure I got loads more when I pulled out, a bit of revving, be rude not to. I loved this place, the car museum was just brilliant, was there for hours, and as not in season, the place was empty. The rest of the abbey was quite interesting, with the chanting priests.  The car museum was superb, some stunning looking cars, lots of very interesting facts on the history of the Spa-Francorchamps Racetrack, so decided as it was not far away, why not pop up to the Track, which I did. One thing about finding the museum there are some very tight roads, and I said a few swear words, but if you are in Belgium it’s well worth a visit.

The next morning off to the Ardennes, via the 101st Airborne Museum at Bastogne in Belgium, again this was just a brilliant museum to visit, all about the Battle of the Bulge. I must have been there for at least 2 hours, for me it was very powerful, the scenes using dummies was so good, with the faces showing such emotion, and the Air-raid Bunker was just so atmospheric, was done so well.

After that onto Luxembourg and the Ardennes, some very bendy tight roads, stayed in a lovely hotel in Hoscheid, with a lot of history there in online a picture of the hotel from the 2nd World War with a Germany tank, and nearby was a memorial to the American troops who freed them from the Germans. This hotel is also used by car clubs and motorbike clubs, and one day I had another big Yank car next to me, and the following day around 20 motorbikes L. All the other cars had moved out, only me and the bikes

Went to Vanden Castle, was a nice drive, nice little town, lots of walking and baking hot weather. The following day left the car at the hotel to take the buses to Luxembourg City, spent a day there, it’s not a big place, but plenty to see and do, saw my 1st Mustang on the way back a S197.

The following morning back on the road, they have lots of little self-service petrol station in Belgium and Luxembourg, which can be a bit of a pain, but not too bad.  And we were heading for Switzerland, now this was a fairy long drive, was around 300 miles and took with a few stops around 5 hours, was not going crazy on the motorways, most of the time I sat her on the Adaptive Cruise Control and just relaxed. Went into France for a bit then into Switzerland, got stopped at the border going into France, (only border that was actually a border with guards) he asked me where I was heading, told him all the places, he was pretty surprised, and wished me a happy trip Had booked in a hotel with parking on-site, which was around 5k away from Zurich town centre. For the rest of the holiday my aim was to leave the car at the hotel and I would walk to the cities as was not doing any running so lots of walking was the deal.  On the 1st day walked around 10 miles, Zurich is a lovely place to visit, beautiful views by the river, and the old town is worth a visit, it’s a very hilly place, great when walking down, hard work going uphill. Found a nice bar and meet some footy fans. The 2nd day decided for a whole 4Euro’s to take the tram’s, most cities in Europe have trams, buses, trains, we should never have got rid of our Trams in London. went more sight-seeing and went back in the evening to get some good night shots of Zurich. The weather had been beautiful every day, this was about to change

Back on the road the following day, and my aim was to do 4 of the Swiss Alps passes on the way to Lauterbrunnen, a very small village near Murren (where cars are banned) and the gateway to Piz Gloria, the whole point of the trip. I was a bit nervous had never done any driving like I would be doing on the Passes, and having seem the videos with the crazy weather and people telling me “I have small brakes, and crap P Zero’s on her” was a bit concerned.  So left Zurich and headed for the Furka Pass, had been told this was one of the most difficult of the Passes, made sense to get that done 1st. Started to see the Swiss Alps and the views were stunning, the weather was nice, then we started to climb up and up, was this a Pass? I was on the Gotthard Pass, well that was easy, nice weather, quiet roads, so we arrived at the Furka Pass, made famous by 007 in Goldfinger, the weather still good, up we go and up and up, my ears pop, and suddenly is that rain or sleet, and where did this thick fog come from? And who dumped all this ice up here, wow this was pretty unique for me, got to the Top, stopped, got out and it was snowing, how cool was that, there is me in a t-shirt taking pictures, I was not cold it was just a total buzz, to be at the top of the Furka Pass with the ice, and snow. The Pass was fairy empty of cars which was good, as hit more thick fog on the way down, you would drive round a bend and it looked like just a blanket of white, saw a sheep walking about, and my ears popped again, and the weather changed. On the way down there was a sign for the Grimsel Pass, so here was my 3rd one, this was easy no bad weather and not much traffic easy bends. 3 down 1 to go, now it worked out these Passes were taking me a fair way off of my route, and the Susten Pass would take me even further away, but it had to be done. This one was different as had lots of little tunnels and some sharp bends in these tunnels, but was pretty easy to drive. The 4 were done, and for good measure also ended up going through the Gotthard Tunnel, which is 10 miles of boredom, it really is, people say you must go in it, why? But you sort of have no choice if you have had enough of the passes. we arrive in Lauterbrunnen, a bit tired, as have been on the road for around 8 hours all in with stops and the passes, the problem with the passes is you can’t go that fast on the bends, coaches and vans would always go into 2 lanes and even some cars, so with rain or fog you had to be very careful. Was going to be am early night, but the hotel is like a posh hostel, it’s part of a pub and you get all the nutters who like to climb mountains and hang off of them. decided to go down have a few drinks and meet the locals, who were not so local, some from France, Germany, even the US a fun night. And tomorrow was off to Piz Gloria.

Now if you are not a Bond film, or someone who has never seem OHMSS and have never heard of George Lazenby, well let me just give you a quick bit of info:

George Lazenby played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969, he was lined up for the next Bond, but his agent told him he could earn double being the New Clint Eastwood making Westerns, so George decided to not shave his beard for the premiere of OHMSS and tell Cubby Broccoli what to do with his offer, of course since then he has made? 2 films, one driving a DB5 in a Man From Uncle Film, 5min part. Piz Gloria was used in the film the town of Murren had run out of money in 68 building the cable car, Broccoli decided to pay for the cable car to be finished and use Piz Gloria. Since then Murren has become one of the richest towns in Switzerland thanks to that film, and Piz Gloria one of the world’s top tourist spots, and boy do they milk it, A museum called James Bond World, 007 burger, must have cost me £70 to get there and back and pay to get in, 3 cable-cars and a train, it’s like a 007 film just getting there, and don’t be surprised if Piz Gloria blown to pieces in the film, makes a return in a new 007 film. One interesting fact about Piz Gloria, they can sell a thousand pounds worth of Limited Edition clothes, and other stuff a day. But they “don’t” have am on-line shop, as they say it makes their stuff very rare, very unusual in this day and age they could make a lot more from these on-line sales.

The place I had wanted to visit all my life was done, back at the pub which was pretty quiet, so some pasta and a few beers and tomorrow we tackle the “Splugen” Pass. Now this one I was told if the weather is bad, keep away from it. We made our way there and the wonderful Sat Nav, Waze which was good, decided to take me the quickest way which was round lots of tight roads and back on the Susten Pass, Really L.  Now this time there was loads of traffic and nearly like in the film “The Italian Job” the original not the crap remake, I was nearly pushed off the mountain, but this time by a coach.  In 2 days road-works had appeared on the Pass, lorries turning on very tight roads, forcing you to go near the edge to get past them and getting close to the edge, and one- way roads, where coaches don’t wait and you up end reversing as the wallys in the hats, can’t operate a set of lights, or that was a fun trip back on the Susten. Having survived that, we head for the Splugen, and we see a sign, which says I am on the right road, or can jump back onto the motorway, did not seem worth it, well as this road got very narrow and then we turned into a very tight tunnel, I was praying to all the Gods I know, that no vehicles were coming the other way, then suddenly we were in the town of Splugen. As I was going alone that narrow road saw a Jaguar F Type on the motorway, when I got to Splugen this car was suddenly behind me, so I let him pass as I felt he would zoom off, boy was I wrong L

So up we go, one thing about these Passes there are loads of cows on them, not on the roads just standing on the grass above you, you don’t want one of them deciding to have a wander, they can’t get much exercise. So we climb up and it’s already raining, and this Jag is going very slow, then the rain gets heavier, and the bends get more tight, but not too bad on the Swiss side we get to the top with not too much stress, pass the border and into Italy, now I was warned by many people that the Italian side is a nightmare, so we start to climb down and the fog arrives, and this is Thick Fog, with the rain, oh what fun, the Jag really slows down to around 20mph, then the bends start,  I now know why they are called “hairpin bends” cause man are they tight, and with coaches, vans, on the other side going into your lane, this was “interesting” then we slowed down even more, and on the next turn I could see we now had 2 bikes in-front of us, this carried on for around 10mins, bend after bend after bend, then the bikes pulled over and we got a bit faster, went though some tunnels then suddenly the Jag slammed on his brakes in a tunnel and I saw these shapes around his car and now around mine, WTF? Around 50 or so Deer with BIG Antlers (gulp) now lucky for both of us, they just walked past us and we carried on, maybe it helped the cars were black? We carry on and after another 20 or so bends and 10 tunnels, and me having motion sickness, I think we are out of it, a main road, lights and a roundabout, I made it. WOW, now I can say “what a Buzz” I found out as I stopped for petrol further along my route, that the Splugen had now been shut cause of the thick fog. Watching back the video you can see how thick the fog was. The weather on these passes, especially the Furka and the Splugen are total Nuts. I had done the 5 and for a bonus done the Susten again.  Well happy with myself and the car, the Little Brakes and the very wide lowered S550 handled herself beautiful, mind you these Passes eat up the petrol, and are a bit hard on the brakes also, but it was a brilliant experience being in your own car, and maybe something that I shall never repeat, and in a way the bad weather made it more fun and more of a challenge and the video around 6 hours is pretty cool, much better than the dashcam as its lower down actually on the dashboard, so you feel more like you are sitting in the passenger seat. The 2 longest ones were the Furka and the Splugen, the Splugen must have taken around 90mins, the Furka I would think around 40mins and the others minus the road-works around 25 mins each one.

Onto a stop-over at Lake Como, Lake Como was nice, the Italians seems to drive angry on the roads, now I swear a lot but don’t drive angry.  So up the next morning TV on for the news and I hear about Parsons Green, BANG reality comes sweeping back, I know people who use that line, have breakfast send a few texts, see people are ok by their FaceBook and onto Milan.

Drove along the coast road, which involved lots of tunnels and very small one- way tight little villages, but was ok, roof down as the Sun was back, so far only the Swiss Alps was bad weather, one thing I love about Italy the unreal attention the car got and when you pulled up at a petrol station, someone would come out and put the petrol in for you, they all had uniforms on, very classy.  So far on my travels only have seen 2 S197s and that has been that.  Not one S550 which has surprised me, so into Milan and into the city and traffic, found the hotel but could not find the car-park, had to park the car and run in, turns out it was next to the hotel, so was told will give you a few minutes, so run back to the car, drive in and it closes rather to quickly behind me.

1st day like Zurich was all walking but am easy walk, 7k so around 5miles each-way. I have been to Rome and Venice and both Beautiful cities loved them both, and Milan was the same you have the new with big glass skyscrapers then the old with the arches and the history, the stunning Duomo di Milano is truly beautiful. Milan is simply stunning, loved walking about there, tons to see so was out all day done another 30 thousand steps, around 12 miles. The next day got a ticket and went on the trams and trains which were easy to get around, like over here with the colours for the different Tube Lines, but over there they have coloured arrows on the floor which you just follow, very easy and very cheap to travel think around 5 euro’s. This time it started to rain as it got dark but that added to the beauty of the Duomo di Milano and got some lovely night shots, with the rain and the buildings all lit up.

Milan done, back into the motor and onto Monaco, Back into France and loads of tolls, the French love them, and most would cost 2 euro’s every few miles, the others you would get a ticket and stay on there for hours, I paid 35, and 40 euro’s for 2 of them. Worked out I spent £134 on tolls, yes could have taken the scenic roads, but was long drives so wanted to do the motorways, if I had more time and did not care about the mileage might have tried to keep off the motorways but what I would have saved on the tolls would have spent on petrol and the longer journeys.

Arriving in Monaco the Sat Nav decided to take me on the scenic route, down though the tight roads and bends and stuck behind a school coach, which was not worth trying to get past with all the bends, so suddenly saw the harbour and WOW, all the F1 races come back to you, the Sat Nav decided to die as the GPS was dreadful in Monaco which was surprising. Driving around suddenly found myself on part of the track, parked up near the boats and tried to work out where this hotel was, saw a bloke on a bike and it was Eddie Jordan, he looked over and waved, I shouted Help, he rode on L. Finally found the hotel, and could not find the car-park, so saw a station car-park and decided to park in there for a little while, was worried she would not be safe, but as I drove in and around I saw Bentley’s Lambo’s, Merc’s, a 67 Mustang, and I left her beside a Ferrari 2 horses together. The best place to see the posh cars in Monte-Carlo are in the car-parks, and that is no joke. Driving in Monte-Carlo the 1st thing I noticed loads of scooters with nutters riding them, cutting in, feet every-where I was amazed that the car had no damage to the bodywork from their feet. The fancy cars are all parked up out of the way. Got to the hotel and the very helpful porter, said he would come out with me to the car and show me where their car-park is on his break, so 2 hours later we moved the car now I had parked around 5pm and took the car out around 7:30 and it only cost 50 cents, I was amazed in the centre of Monte-Carlo, how much does it cost over here? We parked in their car-park and she had her own bay, mind you for a day and a half it cost me 50 Euro’s, the station car-park would have been a lot cheaper.

One full day in Monte-Carlo, it’s not a big place in 4 hours you can walk the whole place. It’s not like you see at the F1 race, a lot of the road by the boats is closed off, there are no Grandstands they are just built for the races. And even the famous tunnel was closed from the direction that the cars go though it during the race. But at least it was open one side. It’s a stunning place the views are mind blowing, but if you are not into the Casino’s or F1 there is not much there, was surprised to see so many Brit’s walking about, they were there for the Casino’s and as one said “it’s cheaper then Vegas” Popped into the Casino at Monte-Carlo with fancy motors parked outside, did not gamble, done that in Vegas and not that into it. It’s a lovely place to visit but for me 1 or 2 days is definitely enough. Funny enough I saw 4 S550’s in Monte-Carlo, all RHD.

So decided that I had to drive the tunnel and around by the Casino, worked out the route, and the following morning the roof was down, both dash-camera’s running and video we went for a drive round the F1 track, have to admit the tunnel seems so much longer when you watch the actual race, it takes about 30 seconds and that’s not going fast, driving round by the casino with all the cameras and video’s pointed at me was a total buzz, tried to stop outside the casino and would have been a great shot, but had traffic behind me L. Monte-Carlo has a lot of roads and roundabouts under the buildings, went up and out of Monte-Carlo using one of these roads and we was on our way to Lyon and our last real stop, the race for home had begun.

This journey was toll madness, some of the tolls had 8 lanes and at least 5 were for ticket only, but it was not sign posted up very well, one car nearly got smashed by a lorry, I had to reverse out of one as there was an issue with it, and then as the barrier goes down you hear the roar of the engines as the cars and lorries race to get into the 3 lanes, it’s bloody nuts L.

We get to Lyon, and again found the hotel, where was the car-park, they showed me, now I was told a Ferrari would fit, maybe a Corgi toy one, yes straight on would have been no problem, but you had to go round a bend, I tried was not willing to take a risk and damage the car as the hotel would not pay. What to do? The hotel said they would move their car and let me park outside the front which was nice of them, but it was right next to a burger place drive-in and there were loads of kids walking past, but what could I do, so for the next 2 days my car become the new attraction in Lyon

When I come down to breakfast the following morning fired her up on the Remote Start to warm her up a bit, the following morning come down to reception fired her up, and 6 people come out with cameras and video, the following morning more people, the girl on reception said people have been asking about your car, so I told them what time you come down for breakfast, well this was something new, suppose they wanted to hear the beautiful sound of the V8 with the Borla’s.  Now I had got the Clean Air Permit which was needed for Lyon and 2 other cities in France, but it turned out I was the only car who had it, was not impressed, asked why, and no one had even heard of it L

Lyon was nice, not a big place, to get to the best views was a very steep climb, the river in Lyon is a nice place to walk, the town was only 2 miles away so no need for any transport, was a nice relaxing end to the holiday.

So back in the car for the run to Reims, this was a place just off the motorway, cheap and very cheerful, turned out the night I was there a Big coach party was booked, so this coach arrived around 9pm and stayed till around 9am, Car got lots of attention and I got chatting to some nice fairy drunk French peeps. Was a big family affair, so they hired a big coach and had a big party then stayed over-night in this hotel, must have cost a few Euro’s as paid for a driver also.

Leave Reims for the 150 Mile trip back to the train, 20 days after arriving in Calais, I am leaving. Was not stopped at the border, was very early had around 4 hours to wait, was offered a ticket so I could get a train in an hour for an extra £35.00, I said no thanks. Parked up in the car-park, in a pretty tight spot, saw am accident, a van come alone and parked up vertical to the other cars, this small car reverses out, and bangs into the van, pulls back into the space then bangs into the van again, then rather quickly drives to the train, was surprised the van driver never said anything, did not look like there was any damage to the van, but don’t know about the car. It was a bit tight as this Merc, had to be guided back, to get out it was a stupid place to park. I wonder if anything happened to the small car. While i was wandering round the complex there, was told there was an hour delay, and that there was a crash on the M20, oh I can’t wait to get back to the UK L

Got the train, back in the UK, got stuck on the M25 for an hour, it was good to be back L

I was driving for a total of 62 hours, done 2.5k miles, and around £460 in petrol, which is not bad at all, when you think of all the slow driving at the Passes.

Highlights of the holiday:

Switzerland, it’s a very expensive place, but I loved the Swiss Alps, and Piz Gloria, and if I win the lottery, would buy a summer place, near where I stayed.

Monte-Carlo, the buzz of the F1 track, all that history, all these memories from watching all these races going back to Senna, and Hunt, it’s always been my favourite F1 race and to drive the track is pretty special.

Milan, a beautiful city, with everything easy to travel round, walk round, tons to see and do.

So that was Mustang on Tour 3, as for Mustang on Tour 4, well Spain and Portugal are “could be” hope you enjoyed the article and the photos and if you want to read about my previous trips, they are in Issues: (see above) If you want to see my videos on the web, I have my own youtube page which contains a lot of the events mentioned in the article. The url is: but some are Very Strong Language☹

https://www.youtube.com/user/Goldengooner1/videos

Bye from the Black Shadow and Me, it’s goodbye from “the car” as Sync 3 says and me

Till we meet again!!

Larry

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