Exploring The World One Road at The Time: 2018's Road Trip Diary

When I had embarked on my very first road trip to the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, I had sensed that it would uncover an urge that had always lain dormant. Road tripping might be a niche way to travel in the times of areoplanes and fast trains but I fell in love with it.

I love the fact that you can explore your whole continent and all you need is a car, that you can start at one place and just follow the Autobahn for as long as you feel like it and end up somewhere. It is the sense that you can end up anywhere and be nowhere at all. When you take a road trip the destination is only part of the endgame, more often than not, the route becomes the destination.

With that thought in mind, I managed to drive 4565,9 km in 2018. This amounts to an average of 7 fuel tanks, three cans of Red Bull, five nut snacks, one pair of broken sunglasses, three stalled engines, two tasty petrol station coffees and one appalling one, five pees in bushes, one coffee stained pair of trousers, and one nap on the backseat. The highest point my Little Mite drove up was 2571 meters above sea level, the Edelweißspitze on the Großglockner. The lowest was a quite familiar 218 meters above sea level at my primary residence.

Seat Ibiza at the Edelweißspitze on the Großglockner
The first trip in which my car started to collect road trip miles had been to the Ötscher:

The Mission: Schnäpperleberg


Date: February
Destination: Lackenhof am Ötscher - AUT
Distance covered: 389,5 km

The Ötscher marks the beginning of the alps in Lower Austria. It is a popular place for hikers in summer, and a small skiing resort in the midst of winter. The first time it caught my attention was when there had been a news report that there was a penis-shaped statue on top of the mountain. Now, in a twist of good humour, the people in charge decided to keep the statue. This entertained Barb and me quite a lot and, thus, we decided that it would be time to set off an look at this phallic object. The jokes and the puns were endless ...

What wasn't endless was the spare time that we had, and due to work reasons the nearest window opened in February. This lead to a slight snag, in February it had already snowed ... a lot ... in fact the way to the phallic object is not available in winter, as it is smaller than expected.

Lackenhof am Ötscher
This did surprisingly little to stop our enthusiasm. I packed some skis and fluffy socks, we shopped for snow chains, and made sure the hiking boots were water tight. In the end, we had not managed to spot the phallic statue and neither did we get close to it.

During the course of the trip, I stood on skis again, ended up on my arse as well, we watched a documentary about bread, ate way too much, and on the way back home I drove on great and hidden back roads and discovered the Zellerein pass.

Zellerein pass
Whoever says you can't road trip in winter is an idiot ...


The Mission: Automobilmuseum Aspang Markt


Date: May
Destination: Aspang Markt - AUT
Distance covered: 140,2 km

When you decide to take part in a marathon the most important thing is to start training before. In my mind, the same applies to road tripping.

In May I had already known that I wanted to return to the Großglockner for road and snow photos, and since I am in my rookie days, the prospect of driving 500+ kilometers without having driven no more than 30 for months seemed a bit daunting to me. Thus, when Thesi's father suggested that we go to the car museum in Aspang Markt, I jumped at the chance.

Automobilmuseum Aspang Markt
Entry costs 7,50€ and the current owner is going to give you a lovely introductory tour of the museum. While the museum is privately run, you can tell that every single car and corner is treated with love.

Automobilmuseum Aspang Markt
At first glance, hearing about some car museum in the middle of nowhere does not sound very impressive. However, it is the second largest Austrian car museum and covers everything in regards of old timers to modern classics. A small section is dedicated to motorbikes, and curiosities such as the bubble car. In addition to this, there are old ralley cars hidden as well

Automobilmuseum Aspang Markt
It is worth a stop if you happen to be in the area and would like to take a look at the past. Further information about the museum is available on its website: http://www.automobilmuseum.at/ [GER]

I also managed to take a photo of my car as an actual floral car:

Seat Ibiza with flowers
the original floral car


The Mission: Glockner 2.0.


Date: June
Destination: Großglockner Hochalpenstraße - AUT
Distance covered: 956,1 km

Großglockner Hochalpenstraße
It is not a big secret that Großglockner has a special place in my heart. It is not only one of the perfect driving roads with a beautiful view, it is also one of the places I call home. Every time I leave it, it already starts to lure me back. I can't tell if this is a combination of unfinished business and scenic landscape.

When I left last year, I said "I need to go back to take photos when there is still snow on the side." Which is what I did.

Großglockner Hochalpenstraße
Now I am sitting here, 400 kilometers to the right thinking, "I need to go back to peak break it with my road bike, and to climb onto the peak of the Großglockner. Or to make a decent video of driving on the road, and of course, a photos during sundown."

On the other hand, there is the fact that the Großglockner is one of the most soothing places I had to pleasure to be at. Since you are above the tree-line the night is quiet, the people are far and few in between, and because my phone signal is weak, I often find myself on another plane of inner peace after just two days. It is, a magical place and home.



The Mission: Nomen Est Omen


Date: June/July
Destination: Austrian Grand Prix - Spielberg
Distance covered: 525,8 km

In a travel bucket list from the Year of Snow, I listed sky high goals, such as a road trip through all of Germany and visiting every city where a Formula 1 Grand Prix is hosted. In the real world, I realised that I needed to start with something small and local, like the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. So I did.

Austrian Grand Prix - Spielberg
Now Spielberg is a place I had driven past twice before without ever stopping, so when I rolled past this time a sense of deja vu overcame me. In fact, the road to the hotel was so familiar that I ditched sat-nav very quickly.

During the weekend, I watched my first F2 race - quite decent -, practised some very important Porsche worship - even better -, and somehow got the fan next to me into buying me a t-shirt.

In addition, I worshipped Brendon Hartley because Porsche Family needs to be supported. On a personal note, we managed to avoid any mayor traffic jams and I got the funniest sunburn ever due to a small gap between my socks and my jeans.

I also sharpened my monochrome photography skills. The results and impressions I took away from the event can be found here. 


The Mission: In The Spirit Of Le Mans


Date: June
Destinations: Stuttgart - detouring via Ingolstadt - GER
Distance covered: 1501,4 km

The desire to road trip to Stuttgart had been born out of two sources: one has to do with my love affair of the 919 Hybrid Porsche and the desire to see one of those in person - to be more specific, in the Porsche Museum. Another was that my road trip buddy Barb happens to live there. Two cats in one bag and I was on my way!

The third cat became apparent when I had explored the world via google maps and discovered that Ingolstadt is - sort of - on the way. It was very simple, make a one hour detour to visit the Audi museum which is also littered with LMP1s or drive to Ingolstadt at another time.

I kinda knew that this would never really happen and it would be a field on my bucket list that would linger there for a long time. Fueled with the spirit of Le Mans, I decided to take a minor detour of an hour to ogle at racing cars.

2016-spec Audi R18
And so I did, the goal had been to drive to Stuttgart in order to ogle at the 919 hybrid but as the old saying goes the journey is the reward. Thus, I ended up on the Autobahn in Germany, becoming comfortable at a legal speed of 180kph, was with a dear friend and ogled at as many LMP1 cars as possible. The sad part of the story is that until this day, I have not seen the 2017 spec of the 919 hybrid, the #2 Porsche which I call mine.

On the bright side, I managed to establish a distance record per trip.



The Mission: European Le Mans Series


Date: July
Destination: Red Bull Ring - AUT
Distance covered: 321,5 km

The European Le Mans Series - or to save time: ELMS - is one of the lesser known motorsport series. You think DTM or Super GT is niche? You haven't met the ELMS.

In short it is the endurance equivalent of what F2 is to F1. In order to make the road to the WEC easier, it has been split into regional categories. There is an Asien Le Mans Series, as well and there used to be an American Le Mans Series which evolved into IMSA.

As your local endurance hoe, I decided that I needed to visit and just three weeks shy from the Austrian GP, it also marked the last days of my holiday. This meant that I would end it in the same place where it started: the Red Bull Ring.

European Le Mans Series: 4h of Red Bull Ring | ELMS
While it is a lesser known motorsport, this doesn't make it bad in any way. In fact, it is one of the most open motorsport events there is. Every grand stand is open, entry is for free. This means you can just pop by when you are in the area and enjoy watching people going fast. The open environment means that during four hours you do not have to be seated at one place and can move around.

In addition to this, the ELMS paddock can be visited for a mere 10€ - tickets can be acquired on sight and sometimes in advance through a local seller. This opens you the gates to the paddock, where you can ogle at nice cars, and respectfully stalk your favourite. Furthermore, you are allowed to go onto the pit-lane for autographs and the starting grid for pretty photos and bumping into Felipe Albuquerque - still sorry about that.

#26 G-Drive, LMP2 | European Le Mans Series: 4h of Red Bull Ring | ELMS
The racing isn't shabby either, in fact, the four hours were highly entertaining and the sound was a beautifully deafening symphony. I even dare to say that this had been more enjoyable than the F1 event, never mind the German Grand Prix that I missed. While the Austrian Grand Prix had rekindled my love for F1 again, the 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring put it out again by being - and I am going to take cover now - more enjoyable.

On the way back, I had the alleged nap on the backseat - but you haven't lived until ... - and now I am sitting here, hugging my own legs while gently rocking back and forwards, thinking "I can't believe that the ELMS took the ELMS away from me."



The Mission: Road Trips Give You Wings


Date: October
Destinations: Hangar 7 (AUT)  +  Rossfeld Panoramastrasse (GER)
Distance covered: 731,4 km


After a month long break from going anywhere other than the pet food store my nerves had been itching to go somewhere where the driving was part of the experience: sing along to the music, get up at ridiculous hours and end up in an oddly soothing Autobahn trance - basically where the goal is only half as important as the journey itself.

There were a few things that kept me from going on a big journey: most prominently time and money. I couldn't afford to stay in a hotel and with my co-workers holidays fast approaching, I couldn't take a few days off on short notice. So I opened my Travel Bucket List and found a destination that seemed doable: Hanger 7 in Salzburg. When I told Barb she said, she can join and visit a friend nearby. As Pitpull said "three's a party" and we added the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse to the list as well:

Rossfeld Panoramastrasse
Hangar 7 is a museum run by Red Bull, which show-casts championship winning F1 cars, and Red Bull sponsored winning cars. However, the biggest love affair is definitely with airplanes. It is open throughout the week, even on Sunday and entry is for free.

Hangar 7 in Salzburg Stadt
In case you are a very fancy person, you can eat ants in the restaurant for a mere 50€. Whatever floats your boat ...

Meanwhile, the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse is only 30 km south from Salzburg and peaks at 1560 meters. Overall, it is a sweet little driving road with a lovely view, and a group of Porsches was there at the same time. The only unfortunate part about this was that every time they drove past I was either driving myself or sitting on the toilet ...

Rossfeld Panoramastrasse
This trip was a welcome change and worth the hassle on the way back. It reminded me why I love road tripping this much: it is a sense that you can get into the car just end up everywhere and that it enables you to explore other places than a straight line would.

All of these 4565,9 km where filled with adventure, love and the odd tranquility of driving on the Autobahn alongside the joy of alpine roads.

For 2019 I already have a few things planned: I want to return to the Großglockner once more and this time take Barb with me. Then I am going to visit my first Formula E race and as the destination I choose Berlin - even though I am able to spot the irony of driving to an eco-friendly race series in a diesel hatchback. Of course, there are the infamous 24h of Le Mans, which is going to dance on the grave of my current distance record. With some luck I'll also be able to go to the 6h of Spa and the Cote D'azur ...

Even so, I want to add many small adventures as well but as usual, these are made up on the go!

15 comments :

  1. Love this post, this really makes me want to start road tripping more as I seem to be missing half of Australia while I am flying across the country. It all looks so beautiful

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    1. Road tripping across Australia would be an event! The place is so huge, while Europe you can accidentally end up in another country

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  2. I have been on a road trip a few times when i lived in New Zealand, and what a blast! your post made me want to do it again! all the places you've seen!

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  3. I went interrailing in the summer which was amazing but I’d do love to do a proper road trip, particularly America (classic right) it looks like you had an amazing time! X

    Chloe/Being-chloe.com

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    1. It was great fun! I want to road trip across America as well :)

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  4. Sounds like you went on some great road trips in 2018 - the first trip you mentioned looks amazing. The views look incredible! Großglockner also looks incredible. Such beautiful places :O I wish in the UK we had places like this! I haven't really done many road trips, not long ones but reading this post makes me really want to go and do some with my boyfriend!

    Amy,
    https://creativenails.uk

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    1. The Großglockner is one of my favourite places. The view is simply amazing ♥ Go get your boyfriend, it's going to be worth it :)

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  5. Wow, what a fabulous post, you have visited so many amazing places and your photos are stunning! This post really inspires me to travel more often and see more of our beautiful world! Thanks for sharing Susanne <3 xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

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  6. Sounds like you've had some great trips this year! I love this style of recap. I've never been on a proper road trip so these kind of posts are really interesting to me. I can't wait to see where you end up next year x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. Thank you, I had loads of fun. Hoping for more reports in the new year ♥

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  7. Oh wow! This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    https://jendbibliophile.wordpress.com

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  8. I'm honestly SO jealous and I really wish I was your friend and lived closer so I could come with you on these road trips! I'd love to go to Austria, it'd be amazing to be close enough to drive there. And Le Mans would be amazing to watch - I watched it on TV (not all in one go haha) for the first time last year and I'm hooked!

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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    1. Austria is a great place for road tripping, you would love it. I think Le Mans is the one trip I look forward to the most :D

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