Written: May 2020
Where do I begin?
It was a cold, dark and most likely damp week night back in late 2015 when I met four friends in a local Mcdonalds to discuss our 2016 holiday. We’d joked on and off about a European roadtrip but never really had anywhere in mind that we’d travel to. Having an interest in modified cars, I had heard of this show called ‘Worthersee’ but didn’t really know what it was. After a quick Google, we circled a little Austrian alpine town on our map and began to plan that first trip.
I’ve always been one of these people who believes in never going back to the same location repeatadly. I guess I should eat my words.
Dublin to Brussels
The first leg of this 2,000 plus kilometre journey was pretty monotonous. English roadside views and rest stops are pretty below par compared with what we’re used to in Ireland. However, fueled with 2 hours sleep obtained on the overnight ferry to Holyhead and excitment of the week that lay ahead, our two car convoy blasted through the UK bound for Folkstone and the channel tunnel.
Strangely, I don’t remember much about this part of the trip, although the ache in my back after 6 hours straight in a car, I’ll never forget. I’d have to get used to it, though, with just over 25% of the journey complete.
The channel tunnel was interesting. Over in a matter of minutes, we popped out the other side in France. In the fuel station just outside the port, 3 guys in a Gallardo, 911 GT3 and F430 were fueling up for a cross border dash to the Nurburgring.
After a quick evening sprint through northern France and into Belgium, we found our hotel and drove into Brussels in search of food with over 8 hours driving time under our belts and 1/3 of the journey complete.
Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
We figured if we were going to drive that far across Europe, we may aswell tick off as many bookit list locations as possible on the way. A visit to the Nurburgring and Spa Francorchamps in one day along with a 6 hour drive from Brussels to Stuttgart seemed like madness. And it was.
Being a complete motorsport nerd, this was a dream come true. How many times had I slung a 911 over Eau Rouge or blasted a BMW down the Döttinger Höhe on Forza Motorsport? And here I was stood right beside both locations. In the one day.
At Spa there was some sort of Porsche affiliated trackday taking place. We didn’t stay long but we strolled down the pitlane and through the paddocks before exiting and refueling at the famous La Source hairpin fuel station.
Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany
The holy grail of motor racing lies in the foothills of the Eifel region of northern Germany. I’ve fantasised over this place for years, driven countless virtual laps and watched hours of YouTube footage.
Driving down the outer road that encompasses the Grand Prix circuit and seeing the big red sign on the back of the main granstand was surreal.
We walked through the tunnel into the Grand Prix Strecke midfield and straight into the hustle and bustle of a VLN race weekend paddock. After sneaking into the pitlane via the staff toilets, we got a full behind the scenes, live view of teams preparing their cars for qualifying the following morning.
I’ll let the photos opposite do the talking, I can’t really describe in words what it is like to experience high end GT motorsport when you’re used to low rent racing at Mondello Park.
Mandatory Ring sticker purchased, darkness fell and we hit the road for Stuttgart.
Porsche Museum, Stuttgart
So far. this trip had been an absolute assault on the senses and that wasn’t about to change. We woke in Stuttgart just metres from Porscheplatz and the famous Porsche museum.
Unfortunately, that weekend, the museum was hosting a celebration of all things 944 and 928, resulting in most of the more interesting exhibits being replaced with arguably the worst two Porsche models ever made.
After a sizeable lunch, we pulled once again out into the sun and the helter skelter autobahns of southern Germany.
The journey had taken us through the dullness of England, the fields of France and in Germany, high speed, super flat, autobahns. But the final stint through Austria was different. Very different. It was stunning. The Austrian Alps cascaded all around us. We were getting excited too, because the destination was just round the corner.
One last brim of the tanks and we headed south for Velden am Worthersee.
Velden am Worthersee, Austria
I’m not going to go waffling off about the feeling you get as a car nerd experiencing Worthersee for the first time. For the sake of whoever bothers to read this, I’ll keep it somewhat toned down. Plus, there is 2 more years of it to come and I’d only be repeating myself.
But I tell you what, driving down the strip that first night...it was something else.
Day Four - Eight
Velden am Worthersee, Austria
The first full day in Velden poured rain. All day. Relentlessly.
The lads had gone off to watch Leicester win the league and I had decided to become amphibious and walk around snapping cars soaked to the skin.
There was a little gathering in celebration of 40 Years of the GTi happening in the grounds of the luxurious Falkensteiner Schlosshotel. Using a tactic we employed at the ‘Ring a few days previous, I brazenly walked in, uninvited, and burnt out the shutter on the camera.
The four short days at the lake flew by rapidly. Far too quickly. I couldn’t get enough of Worthersee. I still haven’t.
But we had to leave and on the 2,000KM drive home, we stopped at Dachau concentration camp. A humbling end to an ecstatic trip.
Dachau Concentration Camp
A place like this is hard to describe. We stood on the grounds almost 71 years to the day since Allied forces liberated the camp which had killed over 41,500 people.
I will never forget the eerie feeling and the odd coldness as we walked through the memorial, the barracks and the gas chambers.
I don’t think I will ever understand the devastation that once occured there.
Calais to Dublin
The roadtrip came to an end with a sunset over the beaches at Dunkirk, Northern France. What an experience.
Over 5,000KM through 8 different countries in 9 days. And I couldn't wait to do it all again.