It was Saturday morning and we found ourselves in Andorra. >1600 km/1000 miles and less than 2 days away from a normal work day. As my co-driver’s Hyundai POS had died he needed the Galant as a DD, meaning I had to take a train for the last 450 km leg of the trip home. Great.
I had booked a hotel in Besançon, north-eastern France, for the next night. This was supposedly a 9 hour non-stop drive.
On the hotel parking lot I talked to a fellow carbagerunner. He told me he scored second place, and actually scored points for almost all the assignments. He also told me this resulted in skipping most of the route, as solving the assignments meant there was no time to take the scenic route. He also mentioned his €350 Volvo V40 diesel had needed about 13 liters of coolant this trip.
The previous day we had already observed that fuel prices in Andorra are comically cheap. From a European perspective that is. So before leaving the country we filled up the Galant with the cheapest gasoline I’d seen in a very long time.
Besides roundabouts Andorra is filled with tunnels. Not that odd for a mountainous region, but considering the tiny size of the country one wonders who paid for these things.
Not long after arriving in France we found ourselves in a Traffic Jam I’m intentionally using capital letters for. We imagined something terrible had happened.
Between the two pictures above the camera time stamps indicate there’s a 2 hours and 20 minutes difference. Google maps tells me the distance between these two points is about 25 km and 30 minutes. In the top picture we still had 10 minutes/10 kilometers of normal driving ahead, so we needed 2 hours and 10 minutes for a 15 km drive (<10 miles).
So what was going on? Nothing. Nothing at all. The town of Ax-Les-Thermes, the end of the jam, is a tourist trap. After the roundabout in that town the roads were clear again.
Sadly we had left the Pyrenees by that time as well. As we had a long trip ahead and because it wasn’t exactly early we took the fastest way to Besançon. This means the scenic part of the day was over. We did notice that the temperature was unusually high for February 20th, from the point of view of us north
It was almost midnight when we arrived in our hotel right in the car-unfriendly city center of Besançon. Loads of one-way streets and pedestrian-only streets, something our navigation had a lot of trouble with. Great place for locals and for tourists on foot, horrible for tourists in a car. The hotel itself, Vauban, was very nice though, as was the caretaker.
My co-driver lived in Heidelberg at the time and needed the Galant as his commuter. This meant we only had to drive from Besançon to Heidelberg (3 hours, 15 minutes) this day. From adjacent Mannheim I’d take the 17:36 train to Wageningen, the Netherlands. About 450 km (almost 300 miles) in 3.5 hours. I had booked a hotel in Wageningen as I had a meeting for my company in that city the next morning at 9 am.
So, in Besançon we had a slightly over 3 hour drive ahead of us to catch a 17:36 train. This meant we had time. Time discover the city. While we had done some sightseeing in Avignon and Toulouse before, the season and time meant we didn’t have the luxury of sunlight. This was different in Besançon.
Besançon has a lot to see, so we spent the morning sightseeing. Probably a nice destination for a romantic weekend with the significant other.
While back in the car we evaluated the past carbagerun. We both decided we had enjoyed it a lot, however we wouldn’t participate again. A next time we’d arrange something ourselves. We had a few issues with the carbagerun as it was:
- Way too much time spent on highways. A highway is a highway, it’s something I can drive everyday and it’s boring. To be avoided.
- Too rushed. We were driving, and nothing else. We’d prefer to have more time to explore places on foot.
- Assignments were too random, too “I was drunk when I made this up”. If we’d have assignments in the first place we’d outsource it to a well read friend or family member who wouldn’t come along, and who’d think of things more involved with the route. A bit like that golden witch assignment, which we did enjoy.
Close to the German border we were in the neighborhood of one of the PSA (Peugeot/Citroën) factories. When we stopped for gasoline we were met with this display in the gas station. A nice vintage 1967 Peugeot 204 coupé I liked a lot as I’m a sucker for Pininfarina designs (I own 3 irl; 205 CTI, 306 cabriolet, 406 coupe). The red car, named Asphalte, was from 1996 and featured a 90hp 1.6L engine from a Peugeot 106 and did 200 km/h, according to the sign.
Soon after we were in Germany and my time in the Galant was up. I caught the ICE train to the Netherlands, and that was the end of it.
Looking back I’ve got a folder filled with >1400 SLR photo’s (most taken from a moving car), a totally fixed up Mitsubishi Galant which might be used as a grandparents-taxi (born 1925 and 1928) and a week long holiday for a total cost of roughly €1250 a person all-in, assuming we sell the Galant for what it’s worth.
(picture time stamps as provided by the camera. I’m unsure about the accuracy. It was probably still featuring summer time, so it’ll be 1 hour off)