While highways across most of Western Europe can be deemed predictable after a while, the same can’t be said of the landscapes in this part of the continent. We got to enjoy a whole lot of magnificent scenery our journey from Milan to Reims, France via Geneva. Our drive through Switzerland treated us to the greenest meadows imaginable, snow-capped mountains, and perfectly-aligned village homes. It felt like a dream sequence straight out of a Yash Chopra film.
The surroundings didn’t change much as we entered France, but sadly the twilight kept us from enjoying the countryside. We were up and about quite early the next morning since we had another abandoned race track to explore – Circuit de Reims-Gueux, a circuit built on public roads between 2 villages. Though it has been a few decades since the track hosted a race, the charm and traces of a race track still remains.
Soon after we were ready to cross countriesagain, albeitt in a train. We took the Eurotunnel from Calais, France to the United Kingdom, and what made the 90-minute ride even more amazing was the knowledge of the fact that the train passes through an undersea tunnel. The GLAadventure is not merely a road trip, eh?
Our destination in the United Kingdom was Brackley, a quiet English town close to Silverstone and also the HQ of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. Not to brag, but we are among the very few Indian journalists to have visited the HQ. Back to business; our tour began with a short interview with Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. He spoke to us about not only the GLAadventure, but also the complicated relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Our chat with Toto was followed by a visit to the nerve centre of the team’s research centre – where ‘To Win The World Championship’ is the mantra. At that moment, no word in the dictionary could sufficiently describe how we felt!
The next day we met Allen Shaw, a Berlin-based Indian artist, in London. Allen accompanied us to Central London, where we managed to grab a kickass vantage point near the Big Ben. I was truly intrigued to see how travel influences and inspire artists to express irrelevant of the availability of a fancy medium. We also paid a visit to the London Motor Museum, where the list of exhibits included Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle, and 2 Batmobiles – one from the 1966 TV series and one from the 1989 Batman Tim Burton movie.
Stonehenge was just 160 kilometres away from our hotel, so we decided to check it out the next afternoon. It was a lovely clear day, but we had to make peace with catching glimpses of the stones from the highway since we couldn’t take the cars anywhere close to the site and had to take a shuttle to the main heritage site. With this trip to the world heritage site, our adventure in the United Kingdom came to an end. We were going to cross the English Channel again, but this time our mode of transport was a boat, which gave us a chance to actually see the English Channel. Soon we docked at Calais, and were on our way to Circuit de la Sarthe – the legendary race track in Le Mans.
However there was a little hitch – we were running late for our reserved driving slot on the Le Mans. We finally arrived about 10 minutes late, and rushed inside to meet the track manager. He casually told us that we could have the track for however long we wanted but we just had to ensure that we maintained speeds and had minimal tyre noise. With not a single track official watching over us, we had 90-minutes of fun with the GLA on the track.
We started on my last part of the European leg as we drove from Le Mans to Frankfurt, where Siddharth would take over the reins and complete the European leg of the GLAadventure. Most of the 900Km drive to Frankfurt was spent remembering the memories of the adventure that started in Istanbul. After more than 20 days, 10 countries, and nearly 9000Km, I felt attached to the GLA, but it’d be time to bid farewell soon. With new experiences, new routes and new countries shared between us, it was certain no one would be forgetting the memories of this adventure any time soon. There are no coincidences, only destiny.