We hit the bottom of the Susten Pass and left this awesome road behind at Wassen, then threaded our way north-west through the valleys. Once past Lake Lucerne, the mountains were replaced by hills and the hills quickly became flat. What a difference an hour on the road makes. Proud of our new shiny motorway pass, we took advantage of the uncongested and efficient large roads to make good progress towards Basel and the French border.
As soon as we hit France it started raining, which was a shame as we were heading into the Vosges mountains for our overnight stop. On our way south two weeks earlier, we'd passed through the Vosges du Nord (north) and I can vouch that it's certainly a pretty place to visit and there's probably nice scenery here to the south too if you can see it. Sadly though, the rain and very low cloud denied us our opportunity, although the D417: the wonderful climbing and twisty road from Colmar to our hotel in Xonrupt-Longemer partially made up for the bad weather.
Following an uneventful evening in the middle of nowhere, we left our hotel for the journey north. There are lots nice roads in the Vosges but many are narrow and perhaps better suited to a hot-hatch rather than a Ferrari. It didn't really matter to us however, as we encountered virtually zero traffic in the forest, probably due to the miserable weather. This area though, at another time is surely a very nice place to visit, especially if you like the great outdoors and we'll no doubt be back with our hiking boots or mountain bikes.
It was another day of cross-border sorties, taking in Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium (yeah, I know…) then back into France for our next stop at Haybes in the Ardennes region.
If this page seems a little rushed, it's because we'd left the great driving and scenery some way behind and we were making for Dunkerque to catch our ferry home. However, during our way back north through Belgium, between the rain, storms and washboard roads, we finally found our chips – McDonalds!
There were just two things left to do: ignore the lumps and bumps, dodge the potholes and stop at a couple of places near Ypres to take in the sombre WW1&2 legacy of the war cemeteries, before eventually making the DFDS ferry terminal in Dunkerque. A word of warning though, don't expect (we did…) the ferry terminal to offer anything in the way of comfort or facilities. A half-dozen vending machines and a machine that promised to exchange cash but didn't was all we found. The Heathrow executive lounges it most certainly isn't. Luckily we discovered a couple of beers in the boot to carry us through although I still don't know to this day where they came from.
The crossing back to Dover was entertaining. A rough sea and masses of spray saw the car covered in so much salt it looked like it'd been in a blizzard, exposed as it was at the rear of the freight deck (it took two washes once home to see it looking something like normal). So, late that evening, the 360 rolled back into its cosy garage and we were home. Unpacking could wait until the morning.
So there you have it, two and a half weeks and seventeen thousand words. If I'd worked this hard in school, this trip might've happened many years ago. For my final thoughts and conclusion, read on.
A few moments...
Snapshots of the journey northbound through the forests of the Vosges mountains and beyond. My God there are a lot of grave stones.