Day 2: The Dorf and the member
Tuesday morning was miserable for both us and the car. We woke up with excoriating back pain following a horrendous three hour sleep in the cramped seats of our donkeyless cart. Additionally, we arose to a flat battery with the beast refusing to start and we were still desperately low on san plomb 95.
Since the four wheeled wonder has an internal alternator mounted inside the crank pulley and a volt sender unit we could not jumpstart the car as we’d run the risk of damaging the ignition system or alternator, something that we’d already done in the UK, which proved to be very costly. With this in mind and us both feeling glum, we walked across the street to find somewhere to charge our battery so we could kick our beast back into life.
Knocking on a few doors in Gleen, Holland, we found a benevolent old man who offered to charge our battery for half an hour - just enough to bring our urban destroyer back from the brink. Luckily, on half a choke it fired up and came back to life.
Aaron, an expert on running a car on fumes thanks to years of training from his mum, then managed to nurse the mean machine to the nearest Total petrol station. We were forced to leave the engine running so that the battery could charge while we injected 14.5 litres of fairy dust into our tinkerbell. This was both highly illegal and extremely dangerous and after being shouted at in double dutch by a man in clogs, we drove off on our route for Germany.
Blistering down the backroads to Germany we hit 50mph, a speed that is not supposed to be possible our two cylinder powerplant. We arrived in Germany shortly later, pushing all 15 of our horses to their limit. Straight away we could see that the Germans did not find our horseless carriage very funny at all. We had gone from cheers and applause by the Flemish to shaking of heads and the making of rude hand gestures from the Germans.
Yesterday in Ghent, we got talking to an acrobatic couple who invited us into their apartment so we could download some offline maps for Belgium. Looking back we should’ve downloaded the mapping data for the neighbouring countries too. As a result of our lack of forward thinking, we had a shortfall of detailed maps for Germany. This is the reason we’re using for ending up in Dusseldorf today, which is a little off our intended route.
The roads in Dusseldorf are a complete nightmare to navigate. The city is full of infuriating one way streets, more traffic lights than a Christmas tree and frustrating tram-only roads. In 30 degree city centre heat we went round and round in circles for what seemed like hours getting more and more irked. Feeling like we were trapped in a maze, we needed a break and agreed to stop for refreshments. We attempted to be legal and leave our car in a multi-story car park, but, with no run up, our station wagon couldn’t make it up the slope. One of us got out to push, however this effort proved ineffective. We asked some nearby local Germans for a helping hand, but they shook their head and were not willing to offer their assistance. With the engine temperature gauge starting to climb to over 100 degrees we had no choice but to abandon our granny-mobile just outside the car park to let it cool down. We were worried we’d get towed away, but the many parking attendants we saw marching around somehow managed to miss us.
While wondering around the Dorf, we found A&A Digitalprint and decided to use the opportunity to get some more vinyl stickers printed off. The days leading up to the launch were very hectic and we ran out of time getting some of our sponsors logos stuck onto the Ligier before we departed the UK. We obtained a Just Seventy Fives banner, our Adventure before Dementia logo and a Master of Malt banner for a discounted price.
While we were waiting for our vinyl to be printed, we saw an old man at one of the self-service machines print some peculiar photos. In broad daylight, he was printing off dick pics. We saw peckers of all sorts of shapes and sizes as the pictures dropped down to the paper out tray and the old man acting like it was normal. It was really quite bizarre.
Master of Malt very kindly sponsored us a bottle of scotch whiskey which should help us to keep hydrated on our epic journey. Single malt scotch whiskey and driving to Mongolia go together like a house on fire, right? At the Hastings pit stop, Josh from Master of Malt also gave us a bottle of horrendous sounding ‘Naga chill vodka’ weighing in at 250,000 scovilles. We don’t fully understand the Scoville scale, but that seems like a big number. Many of the reviews mention a burning sensation and one person even talks about a hospital visit for 1st degree burns to their urethra. Both bottles will no doubt be superb thirst quenchers when we break down in the middle of the scorching hot Gobi desert. Thanks to Josh and Katie at Master of Malt. Top chaps.
After we finished looking around the city, we were too tired to drive any further and made the decision stay the night. We found a hotel with an underground car park to keep the Ambra secure. It was only after we drove down when we thought that we might struggle to get back up. But, that’s tomorrow’s problem.