NYLOC 2015 European Tour

I know some people like reading these blog things, so I have cross posted from NYLOC, some of the pictures may be different:

Day 0 To Hull

Our tour this year was somewhat depleted in numbers, with TonyP and Yasmar both ‘otherwise engaged’, but Ian and Alison were rejoining the regulars with their S1 Elise that they have owned from new. With advance apologies for a blog that was not written as we went along, and not nearly as verbose as Yasmars edition last year.

So on a storm threatening day, Adam and I set off in our cars towards Hull, only to find Ishy & Jon’s LF1 appear behind on the M62 somewhere around Goole. Overnight the ferry rocked a bit, but copious beers helped us sleep through it, and the tannoy woke us as usual at some God awful hour to prepare for disembarkation.

Day 1 Thursday To Cochem, Germany

A Rotterdam morning dawned gloomy, and an uneventful and boring motorway route was chosen towards circuit of Zolder in Belgium where Ian/Alison were to meet us, after their overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. The storm caught up with us near Antwerp, and again at Zolder, testing Lotus waterproofing which we all know can be lacking at times. Eventually the group was complete, and the tour began with its 4 cars: S1 Elise, S2 Elise, S2 Exige, LF1 Exige.

Past Nurburgring, only stopping at the filling station and model shop, noting the ubiquitous disguised Mercedes and big Alfa Guilia saloon. It seems sacrilege that we didnt call in at the circuit but we have been numerous times, continuing instead directly into the Moselle valley and a favourite overnight stop at Cochem.

Our hotel had an annexe to where we were sent, but I somehow missed “bookers privilege” and my room was on the second floor. Note to self: Get first in queue for best room in future. http://www.gute-quelle-cochem.de/ A wander into the town included Pizza, we ignored the local wine festival (must try harder next time) and finished off at the Irish Bar.

Day 2 Friday To Weissenburg in Bayern, Germany

Up hill away from the Moselle, and the first of the tour twisties were enjoyed, but alas they are soon over. When you are heading to the Alps, there are unfortunately bound to be days when you have to do the miles, so we passed Frankfurt on the motorway, with some impressive views of the undercarriages of planes coming into the airport right next to the autobahn. Roofs came off for the first time at a layby amid quite a few roadworks, but the Germans just seem to get on with it, and we were hardly held up.

Off the motorway, and time for the first coffee and cake stop of the tour. Cross country, into Weissenburg our hotel was right in the centre of town, which lead to a circuitous route to the car park around the back of the hotel. With a relatively trendy (for Germany) Burger and Thai restaurant nearby, all agreed that this was a very good stopping off point en route to the Alps. http://www.hotel-restaurant-goldene-rose.de/ Spotting that Suzi Quattro had signed the hotel visitor book recently, got a few of us oldies hot under the collar.

Day 3 Saturday To Hallstatt, Austria

Driving quite quick cross country, to the north and east of Munich, it is amazing that 70-80 on ordinary single carriageway roads seems to be the norm for miles after miles . The town of Tittimoning and village of Fu*king caused some mirth as we passed, subsequently crossing the border near the KTM factory, we saw no migrants. Germany is such a vast country that it really could swallow any thousands of immigrants.

A phone call in the afternoon from Pierre, (thanks for passing on my number, Pesky) our Evora owner living in Budapest, advised us that he was setting off at 4am to join us for a little Sunday drive. Last year he made the trip to Monaco, this year was it was a mere 500km in each direction.

Hallstatt, a world heritage site, famous for its Celtic archaeology, and the oldest salt mines in the world, is situated in the Austrian lake district. The low cloud indicated that the lakes were about to get yet another filling with more rain as we parked up ready to walk in past the tourist tat shops; since no visitor cars are allowed into the tiny village. As the beers were delivered, down came the rain. http://gasthof-simony.at/ The town was full of eastern Asians, and I couldn’t help but notice that in the evening there was no conversation between our fellow Gasthof guests, but all were staring intently into their mobile phones. Signs of the times.

Note: The pictures will get better as we head further into the Alps


Day 4 Sunday To Malta (The Austrian valley, not the Mediterranean island)

The morning dawned very wet, with low cloud destroying the chance of going up to the salt mines with its panoramic skywalk. Pierre arrived after his short drive and soon we were 5.

Our route was to take us over Sölkpass, but as we set off up around the first series of corners, Ian hit a wide patch of overbanding which pitched him into the kerb, the car rose up the rock road side, crashed back down into the road with a broken front wheel, bent steering and suspension arms. The car wasnt going any further. Ian and Alison were fine, though somewhat shaken, and lucky that it hadnt happened where there was nothing to stop the car from going over an edge. I had been leading, and had a big twitch at the same point, but I guess the S2 is a little more forgiving.

Being a Sunday it took sometime for them to get recovery arranged, but having Pierre speak the language helped tremendously. After nearly 2 hours, we in the remaining 4 cars really had to leave. Heading up our next major pass, Turracherhöhe, I decided to let the others pass me since I was aware that Ishy and Pierre were ready to let loose their cars. Over the horizon they disappeared, but the next thing I know is a policeman steps out in front of me at the top, just at the same time as a garbled squawk came through on the walkie talkie. I had been nicked for speeding. Fair do’s, I thought but hardly understood a word he said except “euros”. All I can say now is that the fine was an absolute bargain at only 20 euros. The others had passed him whilst held up momentarily behind a camper van.

The sun returned and soon we were onto one of my favourite roads, the Nockalmstrasse, a double summit toll road with 52 hairpins over 20 miles, stopping for a very late lunch at the first summit, forgetting that Pierre hadnt eaten all day ! Then it was farewell to Pierre as he set off for another epic drive back to Budapest.

The remaining 3 cars continued to Malta to a very friendly bikers hotel run by a English couple http://www.hochalmspitze.com/

Day 5 Monday To Canazei, Dolomites, Italy

In a complete contrast to Sunday, Monday was bright and sunny, and the valley in which we were staying had an outstanding road leading up to the Kölnbrein dam, the highest in Austria. 14 miles and a relatively early start meant little traffic, so we didnt hang about, if you know what I mean. We were lucky with a traffic light controlled section, and arrived at the dam, almost alone.

Ishy took an unnatural fascination with a herd of goats crossing the dam wall, whilst the rest of us were more fascinated by the skywalk with 200 metre drop below your feet :open_mouth:

Spectacular touristy bit done, it was back down and then over the border into Italy. Through Auronzo, where we have stayed in previous years, over Passo Tre Croci with its breathtaking backdrop and into Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Without stopping to acknowledge a famous Lotus saloon, we then tackled the last pass of the day Passo Giau, one of the most beautiful, and spectacular roads you could ever drive. Truly stunning, endless hairpins. And at the top, what should we meet, but a bunch of 6 Lotus cars from Germany. Great minds clearly think alike.

From there we tootled (via Passo di Fedáia) down into Canazei our base for the next two nights, noticing that a fellow German guest was parking his early Healey 3000. http://www.hotellaurincanazei.com/it/ Around 10pm, Ian & Alison arrived after a long day, having to use public transport to get to Salzburg to pick a Kia C’eed hire car, and then driving 6 hours to Canazei.

Note to all: Check what your insurance and/or breakdown cover would do in just such an incident.

Day 6 Tuesday Second night in Canazei

This was a first for our European tours, that is staying more than one night anywhere. Another glorious sunny day, so what was intended to be an ‘easy day’ seemed just right for tackling a Dolomite loop. Ian joined me as passenger, which made a nice change, whilst Alison took the healthy option and went for a Alpine walk. Amazingly, but perhaps understandable, none of us took any pictures on this day. Much like a day on track, similarly absorbed in the driving. :smiley:

A loop of not much more than 100 miles doesnt sound much, but Passo Pordoi, Passo di Cereda, Passo di Rolle, Passo di Valles, Passo di San Pellegrino, are largely over 1900 metres; that equates to a plethora of hairpins or as we now speak Italian: tornante. We dont really, its just that every hairpin has a “Tornante” signpost with sequence number. I never have registered if they are numbered from the top or the bottom. An early arrival back in Canazei gave us chance to do the decent thing and go to a car wash.

That early arrival back also meant an early start in the bar, and you really dont want to know the total food and drinks bill that night ! After such a clear sunny day, reports of the possibility of snow the next day above 1600 metres from our Healey owner, were dismissed with more beer, but we did resolve to set off before 10am.


Day 7 Wednesday To Weissenbach am Lech, Austria

The only way north from Canazei is over a pass of at least 2200 metres, and the persistent rain made for no heroics over Passo Sella, especially given the helpful call from Ian that the Kia was showing 4 degrees on its air temperature gauge. Then it was down hill all the way to the main autostrada that runs north to Innsbruck. A couple of junctions later we came off at Vipiteno, and called in for a coffee before tackling the passes leading back into Austria.

The rain continued unabated as we set off, noticing two cars with snow on their roofs ! Quickly dismissing those, and advancing up Jaufenpass we rose steadily through the forest and the rain was getting lumpy. Ok, so the road seemed to now have a white sheen to it, but surely it is September and it would be very short lived. Umm, no, the road was now white over, and the trees were sagging with snow. My tyres, not in their prime of life having already been to Abbeville and Nurburgring this year, started to break traction with the road.

Some good positive words came over the walkie talkie from Ishy that we were doing fine, but eventually I had to make a group executive decision and curtail our ascent. You can see for yourself if you would have done the same.

Having subsequently studied a YouTube video we were quite some distance from the summit of Jaufenpass which tops out at 2094 metres, and this was to be only a taster for Timmelsjoch at 2474 metres. Clearly we would never have made it. Driving down the snow covered road was even more scary than driving up, but a steady first gear, no acceleration, and a light touch on the brakes was the way to do it. Back in Vipiteno, past our coffee stop but over an hour later.

I then made a bad choice. We joined the autostrada leading over the Brenner pass. This would clearly be open, but I hadnt figured on it being down to one lane due to roadworks. It must have taken another two hours to get over Brenner, but we called in for lunch at a motorway services, where some of our crew (but not all) couldnt resist the MacDonalds. Down to Innsbruck, and my in built compass went completely awry, passing the airport three times, I thus decided to let someone else lead.

Eventually we headed for Garmisch, had a little chase with a Maserati, before arriving at another favourite: Namlos pass. This pass isnt really an alpine pass at all, but great fun nonetheless, and with a drying road, Ishy up ahead disappeared into the distance. Down into Weissenbach, and our hotel where the beers were ordered even before luggage was unloaded http://www.hotel-florence.at/en/home/ Tiny Austrian village means wiener schnitzel will be the standard menu, and very nice it was too.

Day 8 Thursday To Wolfach, Black Forest, Germany

A damp start took us up our final real hairpins of the Alps into Tannheimer Tal, the most picturesque of Austrian valleys. Dropping down into Germany on Oberjoch pass, Ishy’s lead took us on a slight detour which he blamed on his satnav, but I suspect he was just trying to lose us. I really dont know why TomTom have made the latest “Itinerary Planning” function so much more complicated than earlier versions.

A new coffee and cake stop was found in Ravensburg, and the roofs came off again. Then on to another favourite road through “Naturpark Obere Donau”, a winding road alongside the infant river Danube.

Coffee and cake taken on board again, it was then onto the absurd Rottweil and Dunningen bypasses, probably 15 miles of very fast single carriageway road, without a straight section, seemingly an arc drawn on a map. Overtaking was accomplished but with some risk. You need utmost faith in your fellow travellers when a “clear” message is given over the walkie talkie, especially if you are driving a Kia Cee’d.

After Schramberg with its giant clock on the Junghans factory, we took a minor road for the last 15 miles to enjoy the countryside, the cuckoo clock houses, and to get away from the traffic, as we dropped into Wolfach. This town has long been our base in the Black Forest, and is well recommended. http://www.kreuz-wolfach.de/ The local weissbeer and small bistro across the river are favourites.

Day 9 Friday To Vianden, Luxembourg

There was much anticipation at breakfast that the B500 was only 20 minutes up the road, however just a few miles out of Wolfach we came to a queue that just wasnt moving at all. Getting out of the car it soon became apparent why, since a massive wind turbine blade the length of a canal barge on its low-loader was wedged across the river bridge. Some frantic reprogramming of satnavs took us back into Wolfach and up a delightful road to the start of the B500.

If you havent heard of the B500, look it up, but essentially it is a wide sweeping curved high level road, called the Schwarzwaldstrasse, and if you cant average 70mph over 22 miles, you are not really trying. That said it is so well known that the police are getting involved, and we saw a camera van as well as (I understand) some fixed cameras.

On the outskirts of Baden Baden a new coffee shop had opened, so it was rude not to give it a try, before crossing the Rhine and cutting a corner of France. Back into Germany, and a favourite coffee and cake shop in Hinterweidenthal before hitting the autobahn to Trier. Over the border into Luxembourg and down through the forest of Mullerthal. A few more miles in Germany, then back into Luxembourg to Vianden, a pretty town with cobbled main street overlooked by an impressive castle, for our final night Hotel Petry |. Filling up before the hotel for only 85p a litre was a bonus, even if I did have to wait an age for the Germans to leave the pumps because they were all stocking up on cheap booze.

Day 10 Saturday To Europoort, Netherlands

Ian and Alison had to leave early to give themselves time to drop off the (now very tired) Kia Cee’d and make their way to the Amsterdam ferry by public transport. The remaining 3 cars left Luxembourg playing the game of attempting to stay off the motorways for as long as possible.Through Belgium, this of course means trying to avoid the mobile roadblocks of hundreds of cyclists.Then after passing through Spa town, not visiting the circuit this time, we stopped for (you guessed it) coffee and cake in Theux. A motorway section took us to lunch at Zolder circuit, before the monotonous Dutch motorways to Europoort. A final few beers on the boat, some tax free purchases, dinner, and off to bed.

Day 11 Sunday To Home

Grey skies and a grey Humber estuary greeted us in Hull, and with a final wave we split to make our way home.

All over for another year, another fantastic tour, something like 2200 miles in just 10 full days, 8 countries, outstanding roads, with stunning scenery that is so spectacular at times it feels unreal. Every sort of weather was thrown at us from 35 degrees and full sun, to 0 degrees and snow, just the next day. Some wonderful memories and a great bunch of friends to travel with.

Now where is that new set of tyres ?

If you too are interested in touring in the Alps, talk to me at an Exige event, or on here

Great write up (as usual) Steve - thanks for posting :mrgreen:

I should add that SJW’s trips are absolutely top notch, & I can’t recommend them highly enough :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :sunglasses:

Wow - that looks like a fantastic trip… thanks for sharing!

Just a had quiet moment no kids and a glass of red to read that Steve, sounds excellent.

Great stuff, thanks for posting. Really enjoyed reading that!

If you have seen SJW’s driving you would finish the bottle :astonished: :lolno: :wink:

Superb. :clap:

Excellent trip Steve looking forward to next year already… :clap:

Yup, great to meet up again and *little bit closer to home :smiley:
Thanks for the invite and to Pesky for helping me get in contact while you were enroute.

The LF1 swayed me to liking the S3, it’s a very cool Lotus!

Bus parking :eh:

9 hours of driving to get this :astonished: :smiley:

Started with this

Ended with this

Evora visibility, as good as any exige

Back to BP, see you next year!

Great stuff.

Excellent stuff.

Shame about the S1 crash :cry:

Where did you store your Exige roof?

Cracking Photos, I must try and do a trip in mine next year.

Seeing that s2 with the roof off does tempt me to do the soft top conversion as well. Helps I have a spare roof in the garage from the old Vx.

The hard top is now back on the car for winter
I assumed that all knew an Elise soft top will fit an S2 Exige
May be frowned upon by some Exige owners, but I wound not have bought an Exige if I couldnt take the roof off.

Great write up, really enjoyed that.
You guys know more places than I (living in southern Germany) and are well in with the tradition of ‘kaffee und kuchen’.
Thanks for sharing

You should join us for a day or two (like Pierre) next time we are heading to or from the Alps. Whereabouts are you ?

I’m close to Munich, would be great to meet up next year, let me know when you’ve planned your trip :slight_smile:

I know some great roads around the lakes to the south west of Munich also with great beergardens and coffee shops :laughing: