Live on Air - Take Two: Radio RSG

My friend and fellow journalist Alex Hofmann interviewed me the other day. Our local radio station "Radio RSG" wanted someone who'd been on a Gap Year, and Alex thought I was the perfect candidate.

We talked about souvenirs, culture shock and experiences on the way. All in all, Alex talked to me for over 30 minutes, recording it all, just to condense it to 1 minute and 48 seconds, which were broadcast this morning on the "Hallo wach!" show.

I found out by coincidence, that the show had been on. I only heard it on the web, which you can too, if you click here and play the first track, entitled "Nach dem Abitur eine Weltreise".

In the broadcast, I talk about the souvenirs I sent home, like a picture of me holding a koala, the blue "Maid of the Mist" raincoat you get at Niagara Falls and loads and loads of books. Alex takes a look around my room and asks me about the photos on the wall, which I took myself. they include Times Square in NYC, a Maori warrior challenge, a saddle bronc at Reno Rodeo, a monkey and a sunset over the Serengeti, among others. All in all, I took approximately 10.000 photos. Alex then goes on stating that I might like to write my own travel guide, though that is plan for the very-distant-future.

Schmitz in the City

Ralf Schmitz, der kleine, schnelle Comedian ist wieder unterwegs!
Heute abend wurde die erste Show von "Schmitz in the City" im Bochumer RuhrCongress aufgenommen und ich war dabei!!

Auf Facebook hatte ich eine Fan-Gruppe gegründet, und wurde dann angesprochen, ob ich nicht Tourtermine posten könnte. Dafür bekam ich dann von seiner Agentur HPR einen Platz auf der Gästeliste +1.

Karima und ich saßen Parkett, 3. Reihe und genau in der Mitte der Bühne. Viel besser ging's gar nicht! In der Show stellt Ralf jeweils eine Stadt vor, lernt die Leute kennen und macht ein paar Spielchen. In Bochum sollte er den Stadtkern verschönern, mit Rollrasen und Strandkörben. Während der Show konnten sich einige Zuschauer an ihren Freunden für Gemeinheiten rächen. So hatte eine junge Mutter Ralf Bescheid gesagt, dass ihr Mann in den 10 Monaten, die ihr Kind nun alt ist, nur 10x die Windeln gewechselt hat. Daraufhin musste der Mann einige Puppen wickeln... und e mehr Zeit er sich ließ, desto mehr musste seine 2000+ DVD-Sammlung dran glauben. Echt fies!

Außerdem trat Schauspieler Armin Rohde als Stargast auf und sang mit Ralf Schmitz. Und zum Ende gab es für alle Zuschauer original Bochumer Currywurst!! Echt klasse!

Nur bei dieser Aufzeichnung habe ich gemerkt, wie viel beim Fernsehen getrickst wird! Mehrmals musste Applaus geübt werden, wir wurden beim Lachen gefilmt und immer wieder gab es Pausen um die Bühne umzubauen oder weil die Mikros nicht funktionierten. So mussten Ralf und Armin zweimal singen, weil Armins Mikrofon nicht richtig eingestellt war.

Aber im Anschluss gab Ralf Schmitz noch Autogramme und hat sich mit seinen Fans unterhalten. Von unseren früheren Treffen (nach dem Interview letzten September undnach seiner Show "Schmitzophren" im Mai) hat er auch mich wiedererkannt. "Na Hallo! Dich kenn' ich doch! Wie geht's?" Wir haben ein wenig gequatscht und Fotos gemacht, bevor wir uns dann wieder auf den Weg Richtung Solingen machen mussten!

Das Ergebnis der Show ist morgen Abend, um 20.15h auf Sat.1 zu sehen. Also alle einschalten!!!

The man on the moon


It was 40 years ago today, that the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. Neil Amstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon's surface and Armstrongs "A small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind" as he climbed down the ladder and onto the moon is still remembered by everyone today. Michael Collins, the third member of the mission, is said to have orbited above them.

It is estimated that 500 million people watched and listened to the moon landing broadcasts on July 20th, 1969. They only spent about two and a half hours on the lunar surface, later lunar missions stayed up to 21 hours.

There's still controversy today, whether the entire moon landing was a fake or not. I doubt it was a fake - would special effects have been that good in 1969?? One thing that is always discussed, is the American flag that seemes to fly in a breeze. it was explained, that the flag had been folded up during the flight through space and when it was planted in the moon's surface, the force with which it was rammed into he ground caused it to move slightly. Thus making it appear as if there was wind on the moon.

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 crew.

Being alone again

My boyfriend went back to the UK on Friday, and it feels weird to be alone again. It always feels like I've just imagined it all, although I know that I haven't. But we don't get to see each other that often to start with, and when we do get to spend more than a weekend together, time seems to fly. He was here for nine days, but it doesn't feel like it was actually over a week. What I know for sure, though, is that the next nine days will just drag on. As they always do.

Solinger Tageblatt Artikel

Wer glaubt, dass ich den Sommer über nichts gemacht habe, der irrt sich gewaltig!
Hier ist eine Liste meiner Artikel, die im Solinger Tageblatt erschienen sind. Allerdings wurden nicht alle online gestellt, daher ist diese Liste nicht vollständig!

13.07.2009: Solinger Hilfe für behinderte Menschen in Georgien

04.07.2009: Forum:Beruf

30.06.2009: "Das geht richtig unter die Haut"

29.06.2009: Alle 94 Abiturienten schafften Reifeprüfung

29.06.2009: Boule unterm Wasserturm

26.06.2009: Am Rathaus

26.06.2009: Camper auf Schnitzeljagd

24.06.2009: Neue Zuflucht für streunende Katzen

23.06.2009: "Mensch ist doch Mensch!" - für Gleichberechtigung ins Gefängnis

20.06.2009: "Hier gibt's nix aus der Steckdose"

20.06.2009: Selbst Kinder greifen schon zur Flasche

19.06.2009: Wettergott muss mitspielen

17.06.2009: Ein Orchester mit olympischem Flair

16.06.2009: Stadt investiert in Prävention

16.06.2009: Messe für Abenteurer: Up, up and away!

15.06.2009: Bordsteine und andere Probleme

13.06.2009: Cobra: Eigene Räume für den Integrationsrat

13.06.2009: Auch bei Regen den Glauben nach außen tragen

11.06.2009: Probe-Wohnen für's eigene Leben

11.06.2009: Düsseldorf im Japan-Fieber

09.06.2009: Ruth Boomers mit Rheinlandtaler ausgezeichnet

09.06.2009: Wahlbenachrichtigungen nicht im Briefkasten

02.06.2009: Strassenbeete sind ein Dorn im Auge

02.06.2009: 30 Jahre Kunst für kleines Geld

02.06.2009: "Viele trauen sich nicht in Parteien"

29.05.2009: Vom Frauenheld verzaubert

29.05.2009: "Irgendwann als Unternehmer gesehen"

29.05.2009: Stonehenge liegt mitten in Gräfrath

26.05.2009: 21 frische Gesichter, frische Ideen

20.05.2009: Von Basteln bis Bullriding

20.05.2009: Mit Solinger Hilfe ins Weltall

18.05.2009: Ärzte fordern Augenuntersuchungen für Kinder

13.05.2009: Neuer Spielplatz dank Sponsoren

12.05.2009: Ein eigener Sender für das Klinikum

Postcard from Nancy

Bonjour et "Vive la France!"
The city of Nancy, also known as "La cité des ducs" und "la cité d'or", is a jewel in north-eastern France. Located in the Lorraine region, it is influenced by the rivers Meurthe and Moselle. It's a major industrial town, but many of the city's ancient buildings, including the famous Place Stanislas, are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Arriving at the train station, Nancy will greet travellers with it's commercial district. It could be any French city, all sandstone buildings, dirt on the facades. However, turn a corner, walk down rue Stanislas towards the square, and you can see some of Nancy's former and present glory.

Nancy is famous for its art, and L'École de Nancy, founded by glassmaster Émile Gallé. The Art Nouveau influenced art and architecture of Nancy rivals that of Paris.

There's a bar called Embassy on rue Stanislas, close to the railway station. They are open in the mornings, offer great coffee and comfy seats. Their entire seating consists of a colourfully mixed collection of second-hand sofas.

Close to Place Stanislas, you'll find various eateries, such as L'Epicerie and other restaurants and wine cellars. However, they're not the kind of restaurants that agree with student budgets. Therefore, head to Les Artistes Café, a little place with red blinds, dark wood and steel, which could pass itself off as a jazz club if it had some more space. The café has itsown kind of charme and makes for a good break when exploring the city.

Postcard from Luxembourg

Here's a postcard from both, the country and the city that share the name Luxembourg!

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a tiny country for European standards. Easily overlooked and quickly driven through on the way to such nations like France, Belgium or Germany. However, it really is worth the time you spend there! Luxembourg is a trilingual country, and they speak French, German and Luxembourgish there, so making yourself understood should not be too hard. And if all else fails: They also understand English!

The country itself is quite scenic and hilly, after all the northern part of Luxembourg is part of the Ardennes. It's sparcely populated in the north, and the only town worth mentioning with more than 4000 inhabitants is Wiltz. Wiltz is a quaint little town famous for its castle and flower festival and worth checking out.
The city of Luxembourg is also the capital. Within 30 minutes, you can drive around the city eight times. Believe me, I've tried! Well, unvoluntarily, that is. There are lots of parks and most of the city centre is a pedestrian zone. The Grand Ducal Palace is located in the centre of it, and if you're lucky (as we were) you might see the heir to the thron wave from a window at the gathering crowds. The city centre is surrounded by gorges and rivers and for a perfect panorama you might have to cross one of the many bridges, like the Pont Adolphe.

When in Luxembourg City, try a Hotchospoon at the café just opposite the Grand Ducal Palace. You'll get a mug of boiled milk and a wooden spoon with a massive block of chocolate in any flavour you want at the end to dip into your milk. Delicious!

And all you motorists remember: fuel is cheap in Luxembourg! You might as well go for a longer drive there!

Postcard from Liège

This roadtrip I've been on with my boyfriend had me stopping in the Belgian city Liège or Lüttich, as Germans call it, for a little break and look around. When we entered Liège, I got lost and we therefore parked on the "wrong side" of town. The city is divided by the river Maas, which is called Meuse in the Francophone world.

When we stretched our legs along the river in Outremeuse, we came upon this tiny ice cream parlour on the Quai de Tanneurs. Their ice cream is self-made and worth a try! It was the best ice cream either of us has had in a long time.

On the other side of the river is the Coeur Historique (or historic heart of the city, for those who didn't have French at school). Though the buildings there seem to be a bit more upscale and grander than those on the other side of the river, they still looked dirty and kinda run-down.


Right in the city centre is a massive bus terminal, located on a plaza in front of the Palais des Princes-Évêques. We had a drink in one of the beergardens down the street from the palais, but the most I remember of Liège is queuing in the post office for some stamps.

I am told, that Liège can be quite a nice place when the weather is right or when the city's market is on on Sundays. Apparently there are loads of sights worth seeing, and many little alleys to explore. However, what I've seen of the city in the two hours we were there didn't convince me. Maybe I have to go back on a sunny day, but I doubt I will.



Postcard from Maastricht

Maastricht in the Netherlands is a particularly nice spot, and I keep wondering why I haven't made the one and a half hour drive before now. If I'd only known!


Maastricht is quite close to the German border, and just like everywhere in the Netherlands is full of cyclists (the push-bike kind, that is). And they have right of way, whatever you do!

Anyway, The city is located on both shores of the river Maas, which devides the city into old and new town. The old quarters house the university, old town houses and spacious plazas. Sit in one of the many cafés and enjoy a cold drink, or, if you're over 18 and have ID on you, check out one of the famous Dutch coffee shops.

Let me tell you that two hours in this beautiful little place is not enough! So plan a longer visit, when you go! The streets are all cobblestone, but they are easy to walk on and - since the Netherlands are such a flat country - all level! I've also heard, that Maastricht is a great place for some good-value shopping!

Summer of Love

My boyfriend just spent nine days visiting me in Germany and it was absolutely amazing! This was his second visit to my home country, but his first to come and visit me in my hometown of Solingen. He’d been to the north of Germany two years ago, long before we met.

We hadn’t seen each other for 4 ½ weeks when I picked him up at Köln-Bonn Airport in the early hours of July 9th. I had visited him in Wales in June and we’d spoken on the phone and chatted most nights, but it was great to finally have him here in person.

After breakfast at my favourite bistro in town, I showed him the sights, which are not too many, but included Germany’s highest railway bridge Müngstener Brücke (107m) and the castle Schloss Burg. The bit he had probably been dreading the most was meeting my parents. I’d arranged for us to meet them in a restaurant on Schloss Burg’s grounds for a local specialty: Bergische Kaffeetafel. It’s waffles, cherries, milk rice, cream, various sorts of bread, jams and pretzels (Burger Brezel are another local “specialty”), with loads of coffee from a traditional Dröppelminna, a kind of old-fashioned thermos. In the evening, we went out for drinks with some of my friends. I hate it when I’m invited to parties and don’t know anyone, so I figured Simmy should meet most of them before my birthday party.



The next day, I showed him Düsseldorf, which is 30 minutes by train to the north of Solingen. Unfortunately, our German summer weather was rather British, which meant we spent a while in the Uerige pub, where we tried the locally brewed Alt beer “Uerige”. Because of the rain, we kept to the old part of town, mostly Flinger Straße and the river promenade “Rheinuferpromenade”, as well as a walk down Königsallee, or “Kö”, as locals call the expensive shopping mile.

Coming back from Düsseldorf, we stayed up to celebrate into my birthday. And Simmy had the most amazing present for me! An 81-page, self-written travel book!!! I mean: Wow! Simmy actually wrote a BOOK! For ME!! Can you believe it? Do I need to point out that I was at a loss for words?


After breakfast with my family in town, we spent the rest of the day in Köln (Cologne). I had to get Simmy to sample the locally brewed Kölsch varieties. So we walked around Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) and Alter Markt, with their breweries and cozy pubs, including one of the Irish kind in which Simmy could order pints in English. So we sat in the Früh Kölsch brewery's beergarden, in the rain, with our umbrellas up, waiting for our beers... it was good fun though! Unfortunately, the chocolate museum closed 5 minutes before we got there. The reason why I wanted to go to Köln on my birthday was because Kölner Lichter, an annual light show was supposed to take place that night. So we stayed around, for disappointing fireworks in the rain.





The next day, I had my birthday party. I had planned to have a garden-BBQ-summer-birthday party in our garden at home, but due to the weather, we had to change location. At my gran's place is just more space in the living room, and there's a roofed terrace on which we could have our BBQ in the rain. It was great fun and everyone spoke English, so Simmy had no problems making conversation and making new friends. My friends told me, that apparently we make a rather nice couple and a friend told me that she'd marry the person who'd write her a book.

For the next three days, we went on a little European adventure. Through the Benelux-countries and France, we drove my Nissan 100NX roughly 1350km on a quest to visit four cities and countries in record time. (For more infos about this trip see "A European Roadtrip").

Once we made it back to Solingen from our roadtrip, we had just enough time to drop our bags off at my flat and run into town. Solinger Tageblatt's youth page editorial team had its weekly meeting, and since both Simmy and I are journalists, I wanted to introduce him. We had also previously discussed, whether Simmy could write an article for the page, along the lines of "An English man in Solingen", but I wanted him to pitch the idea to the editor again, who semed to really like it. She even agreed that i would translate the article into German for the print version, but that the original English version could go online so that Simmy could actually prove he's written for a German newspaper and people in Blighty could still read it!


Thursday we took things slow. Being able to sleep in and being in no real rush was great! I also avoided driving the car, which was even better still. Even before Simmy had booked his flight over here, he'd asked me whether the stories he'd heard about "Hanging Trains" in Germany were true and whether they'd be close enough to Solingen to go and see. Lucky for him, the "Schwebebahn" as the hanging trains are called in German, is the tourist attraction of our neighbouring city Wuppertal. Knowing how interested Simmy is in all methods of transport, I decided on a little treat. We took the train towuppertal Oberbarmen, which goes over the Müngstener Brücke - the highest railway bridge. Oberbarmen marks the end of the Schwebebahn track which runs 13 km through Wuppertal from Oberbarmen to Vohwinkel and follows the river. At Oberbarmen, we got on the Schwebebahn, which is an upside down suspension railway and therefore swings back and forth a little when you get on and off. At Robert-Daum-Platz we got off, because I had wanted to show Simmy my favourite sushi place with running buffet, but they were closed. so we wandered around Luisenviertel for a while and took the Schwebebahn, which is used as daily means of commute by hundreds of Wuppertalers, to the end station at Vohwinkel. There we caught the other regional specialty transport: A Solinger trolley bus. Solingen is one of only three German cities that still have a working trolley bus network, and Solingen's network is by far the largest.


That night, we dressed up a little. It was not only our last night together in Germany, but also our 6 months anniversary! Since we both have a faible for Italian cuisine, I invited Simmy to La Capannina, the most Italian Italian restaurant I could think of: dark wood, terracotta paint and great pizzas - the works. One of the two bosses (and waiters) really surprised us there. When I said we weren't ready to order yet because I was translating it all, he disappeared inside and came back with an English menu! Very considerate, I'd say! We had lovely pizzas and some wine, and the weather was good enough to sit outside. It was perfect, really. For dessert, so to say, we wandered over to my favourite bistro for some more drinks. It was strange to know he'd leave again the next night. Usually, I am the one who's leaving and going back to Germany. This time, it was the other way round. Long-distance relationships are not funny when you've gotten used to spending more time together.

Today then, I showed Simmy the Rheinische Industriemuseum, our local industrial museum which is located in a drop forge. Solingen is famous for its knives and blade production, and the museum is a working museum. The , steam engine, drop hammer and everything there is still in daily use, and you an get a very unique Solingen souvenir from there: a scissor slug! You can see how a piece of red hot steel is transformed into a scissor's blade. And if you're lucky (or ask nicely), you can keep one. Because it had rained when we first went there, Simmy and I went back to the Brückenpark at Müngstener Brücke and the old suburb of Gräfrath to take some more pictures and enjoy one last German beer.




I've just returned from Köln-Bonn-Airport, where I dropped Simmy off. As I said, usually I am the one leaving and it was strange to return to the car by myself. Simmy's flight was delayed by 1 hour and 40 minutes, which meant he would have real problems getting away from Manchester airport once he landed. There wouldn't be a train connection to get him home. So I tried to change the flight, but that would have cost a fortune. I was at the airport for two hours, then we had to say goodbye because my parking time was up. I wanted him to stay, though I know it wasn't possible. He just texted me from departure lounge, that he's organised how to get home, so I guess I can stop worrying. But I can't wait to get back to England and see him on a more regular basis again!!



I love you, Schatz!

A European Roadtrip

Simmy and I have been on a little roadtrip from Monday till last night. Since Germany has nine neighbouring countries, I decided it was time to have a closer look at four of them and go on a little adventure. Plus, it gave Simmy four more countries to tick on his list of nations he’s been to. All in all, we drove approx. 1350 km - 840 miles.


View Larger Map

We started out Monday morning, left Solingen just before 10am and drove along the Autobahn A4 towards Aachen and the border to The Netherlands. It took us roughly an hour, until we crossed the first border of our trip. Our first stop was in Maastricht, a Dutch city located on the shores of the river Maas. We parked the car and walked around the old part of town with its town hall, Vrijthof, cafés and coffee shops. We had been quite tempted to see for ourselves what Dutch coffee shops are like, however, we didn’t have adequate ID on us at the time. While we walked around Maastricht, we tried to avoid accidents with cyclists, as they have right of way. While we had a cold drink at one of the cafés, we also wrote our first postcards from our trip.





After two hours in Maastricht, we got back into my Nissan and continued south. It was only 10 minutes of driving until we crossed the next border and entered Belgium. Liège, the city that would be our next stop en route was only 30 minutes away from Maastricht and yet worlds apart. The Maas, in Liège the name changes to Meuse, divides the city, and unfortunately we got lost and parked the car on the wrong side of town. Everything looked pretty run down and dirty, however, we managed to find a great ice cream parlour at the Quai de Tanneurs, which made it worth it. It was seriously the best ice cream we’ve had in ages – and also the first we had to order in our broken French. In the Coeur Historique, we wandered around the Palais in search of a post office or letterbox to post our next postcards. Looking at the map, trying to get our bearings, a lady asked what we were looking for. “Notre voiture” (our car) was my reply, and I meant it! We walked straight past the post office and had to ask for it again. For 2 stamps, we had to queue for quite a while, which makes it fair to say that the most we saw of Liège was its post office. We had another cold drink and found the car to get out of Liège. If I’ve learnt one thing there, it was not to go back there.





I had planned to go to the Grottoes of Remouchamps, however, last admission was at 4pm and we wouldn’t have made it in time. So we skipped that bit of our print-out directions and continued on our way towards Bastogne and into the next country: Luxembourg. We entered the Grand Duché Luxembourg and stayed overnight in the YHA of the quaint little town Wiltz in the Ardennes. We checked-in and luckily, they all spoke German there. It was a little weird, though. I never knew in which language to begin a conversation. French? German? Dutch? Or should I go neutral and use English? After check-in, Simmy and I explored the town a little and had dinner at a small restaurant on Grand-Rue. We sampled some of the local brew, including a dark beer which had 11% vol. alcohol. The next morning, we went back into town and had a look at Wiltz castle and got some drinks for the rest of the journey.





From Wiltz, we drove my '92 Nissan 100NX into Luxembourg City. Or rather: we drove it around Luxembourg City eight times. To be fair, though, it is a fairly small place and we just couldn’t find a parking space anywhere. Luxembourg City is a very nice place. Small, but charming. We had lunch in the pedestrian zone and wandered over the Grand Ducal Palais where we had a coffee and a so-called “hotchocspoon”. A mug of boiled milk and a wooden spoon with a block of chocolate at the end, that you dip into the milk.





From Luxembourg City, it was straight down the motorway into France and via Thionville and Metz to “La cité des ducs” – Nancy. There we stayed overnight at the YHA Château Rémicourt, in the suburb of Villers-les-Nancy. Although it was a small French castle, they could have made more of the YHA – or at least put up a vending machine. Well, at least I managed to check-in in French. What we hadn’t considered was that we entered France on Jour de la Bastille – the French National Holiday on the 14th July. That meant that the YHA’s kitchen was closed and we were too far out of the city centre to get a more or less decent meal. And then Simmy had THE idea! He found a take-away menu of a local pizza parlour. Unfortunately, our French was not good enough to call the place up and order our pizzas ourselves. Do I need to mention how embarrassing it was to go down to reception and ask the lady there to call the place for us? I was way more knackered than Simmy was – after all, I was the only one driving. I was amazed, really, how sore muscles can get after two days driving.





The next morning, we drove into Nancy city centre – without having any directions. We found our way to the train station and parked the car. At first, I was not impressed with Nancy. It looked like a more upscale version of Liège. But after a coffee at a really nice bar which called a collection of sofas its own, we turned a corner and were suddenly in the posh bit of town. At Place Stanislas we had a look around and wandered up and down the streets for a bit. At Les Artistes Café (with chairs bolted to the ground outside) we had a coke before we got back into the car to make our way home. The Artistes café is a nice spot, and wouldn't look out of place in New Orleans or other jazzy places.





Since I wanted to avoid the toll routes, we couldn't just follow the signs for the motorway. We had to find our way back to the hostel and follow directions from there - however, the second street we had to turn right on was a dead-end street. We got completely lost, but somehow we managed to get onto the right motorway, and onto the dual carriageway that would lead us towards St. Avold. It took us about two hours to reach the border and drive back into Bundesrepublik Deutschland. I had planned a lunch-stop in Saarbrücken, just across the border, but decided against it. Already running late, I wanted to stop somewhere along the Autobahn and have the rest of last night's pizza and something to drink for lunch, together with a quick toilet break.



Because we didn't follow instructions, we both missed that we had to change the Autobahn before we got to Saarbrücken. From A6 we should have gone north on either A8 or A1, towards Trier and then on towards Bonn and Köln. However, we stayed on A6, and later continued onto A61, which meant a 180km detour via Koblenz. Luckily, there were many stretches which were not speed-restricted, so we made good time - until we were between Bonn and Köln and hit rush-hour. Everything came to a standstill. What should have taken half an hour took almost one hour! But we made it, in the end. Back in Solingen, and still in one piece. Although my muscles were quite sore, especially in my arms and legs. What should have been a 5 hour trip from Nancy back to Solingen, took us more than 7 hours thanks to the detour and traffic jam.

Somehow, we've managed to get lost in every city we've been to, although we had detailed directions.... We also took a few wrong turns and wrong exits on the motorways, causing us to add mile after mile to the trip. Though the biggest screw-up happened in Germany, out of all places. But I reckon, you can't really drive till you've driven abroad and found your way back.

Lesson learnt: Check traffic reports on the radio and study the roadmap before you go! But: Have an absolute blast on the trip!

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