28 April 2010

Drive-Alive to Greece - a driving trip through Europe

Those of you who receive the Drive-Alive newsletter will know that we have embarked on a trip through Europe to Greece, travelling via Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia. The aim is to learn more about driving conditions, rules and regulations in these countries, especially Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia.

These countries are not currently featured in the Drive-Alive driving information pages, although we do offer hotels and self-catering properties there, and even camping in Greece.

We are now in Vienna, having left Dover on Monday on the 13.00 P&O ferry from Dover to Calais. Our route took us briefly through France, by-passing Lille, then across Belgium. This section of the journey passed without incident, although the Belgium motorways are in urgent need of some TLC, and Belgian drivers are as bad as any in terms of tailgating on motorways. No wonder they have such a poor accident rate.

We crossed into Germany near Aachen then made our way to the small Rhine-side town of Bad Breissig, south of Bonn; very pretty but very quiet. The enormous commercial barges on the Rhine reminded us just how much the great rivers of Europe contribute to the movement of goods there.

They do drive fast on the German Autobahns, but on the whole, sensibly. You just need to keep a constant eye on the rear-view mirror. The sign-posting on German Autobahns is excellent, much better than in the UK where I hate to think how foreign drivers cope with seeing places like Scotch Corner (where?) shown as the major destination as you drive up the A1. Ever heard of Newcastle in the sign-posting department?

The journey from Calais to Bad Breissig took 5 hours, including stops. Next day we drove to Passau on the German-Austrian border, all motorway but rendered stressfull by mile after mile of roadworks as they upgrade the A3. Even so we effectively crossed Germany in 6 hours, although we were glad to arrive in Passau and book in to the elegant Hotel Passerau Wolf with a lovely room overlooking the Danube.

Passau is a beautiful town at the confluence of the Danube and the Inn, and we have some video clips to show once we work out how to transfer them from the camera to the internet!

Having purchased our "vignette" (a sticker for your windscreen which you need to drive on Austrian motorways - see the our web page "driving in Austria" - today (Wednesday) started with a great drive along the Danube through Austria on a quiet "B" road to Linz where we got back on the Motorway, and within 2 hours were in Vienna, perhaps the most majestic and "imperial" city I know. We are staying in the faded but comfortable Hotel Drei Kronen. We will be in Vienna for 3 nights so hopefully by the time we leave we'll have managed to post some pictures.

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