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Monday, 9 April 2007

27 hours to Essen from Marbella

In Gene Pitney’s 1963 hit song "Twenty four hours to Tulsa" the traveller never gets home to Tulsa because he meets someone else along the way. Happily my 27 hours on the road to Essen in Germany from Marbella over the Easter weekend were completely trouble free.

I was taking a car up to Germany with my daughter where she is going to live, study and work and we left on Good Friday at 9.30 am arriving in Essen on Saturday at midday.

It was a memorable trip, we alternated at the wheel, two hours and two hours off. There were no cars at all on our side of the road north through Spain and again during the early hours of the morning as we pushed up through France, our side of the road was empty.

I flew back this afternoon from the ultra modern Dusseldorf airport with LTU the German leisure airline. (Just 12 months later I would be back at the big
LTU stadium next to the airport to see Bruce Springsteen but that's another story.)

Before take off there was a sushi bar and then a massage seat in the departure lounge. Entertainers drew faces on children and gave out Easter eggs. On the LTU plane it was great to be served a hot meal with drinks included by well dressed, civil cabin crew. Of course I haven’t fallen out of love with Easyjet but not being asked to dump empties into an orange sack is very civilized.

“Which of the two trips did you prefer?” I hear you ask. I have to say to you that despite the ultra smooth German check in, the pleasurable wait at the airport and the quick, comfortable flight back, I enjoyed our 27 hour car trip more.

I missed our companionship and feeling of adventure as we set off on our 2400 km trip. South of Jaen we drove through rolling olive farms and passed through heavy rain storms in central Spain. We crossed the snow covered ranges north of Madrid in the late afternoon and in the fading evening light our little diesel purred through the secretive green valleys of the Basque country. We entered France as night fell

We listened to French radio stations in the early hours of Saturday morning on the long straight to Bordeaux and drank coffee at 3am at a fuel stop with a tall white-bearded Norwegian Harley biker riding through the night on his way home. We skirted Paris as the dawn broke negotiating the ring roads like rally drivers.

We crossed First World War trench lines north of Paris as the sun warmed our faces and passed roadside war graves on the border. Turning east towards Germany the Saturday morning shopping traffic in Belgium slowed our progress and dulled our escapade. It was a good trip as trips go.

From Malaga airport home to Marbella I took the faithful Malaga airport to Marbella Bus Station bus service. Because of the rain and the last of the Easter traffic there were no taxis waiting at the Marbella Bus Station so I chose to walk the last couple of kilometers. Somehow it kept the pleasure of the journey alive just that bit longer.

PS: You could now do the whole journey from Essen to Marbella on a bus using the online bus ticket reservations gomarbella reservation system. It would take you longer than 27 hours though!

Update: I went back two Easters later to drive the car home to Spain, it was due for it's ITV test. I took it easy this time, with only one stop. It's a great drive down the centre of Spain.