Exploring The World One Road At A Time: 2019's Road Trip Diary

It's the time of the year, when we all sit back and marvel at what we achieved in 2019. The same applies to me, since I had already done a road trip diary for 2018, I decided to embark on it once more for 2019.

2019 marked a different type of road tripper year. For one, I made the transition from rookie road tripper to seasoned road tripper. According to Barb, I would have to cover over 10,000 kilometers, drink offensive coffee and roll myself out of the bed at the crack of dawn. Since starting I managed to cover all of those, and the magical number of 10,000 ticked over this year.

In 2018, I had been hopeful to embark on various trips to Berlin, Spa, the Cote D'azur and so on. It comes to little surprise that I have not managed all of them. I hadn't driven to Spa because the person I would have gone with was lacking driving experience, and I haven't managed the Cote D'azur either. However, I managed bigger adventures that I look back fondly to:

While the number of trips has gone down, distance and adventure was higher than ever. In 2019 I covered 6947,4 km. This amounts to 9 fuel tanks, 12 petrol station coffees, 15 Snickers bars, 5 cheap sandwiches of varying degree, only one pee in a bush and one stop at a rest station that made me wish that I had peed in a bush instead, traffic jams in three different counties, the faint smell of cow poo in my car, and a new pair of floor mats.

The highest point that The Little Mite braved up was once more the Edelweißspitze on the Großglockner. Meanwhile the lowest point was a good 800 kilometers further West, at 51 meters in Le Mans.

The season of road tripping started in March:

The Mission: Warming Up The Engines

Date: March
Destination: München - GER
Distance Covered: 970.1 km

After a wintery break, the birds started to come back and so did the desire to head off on a road trip. Furthermore, I hadn't covered a longer distance since October, so I thought it'd be wise to get some miles under my belt before I head off towards what I thought would be Spa, which is over 900 km away.

Thus, I picked a weekend, extended it and off we went. By a stroke of luck, I found a cheap hotel that had free parking and during the day I enjoyed some fantastic sights, a swim, and obviously I had to visit the BMW museum as well since I was already in town.

The Mission: 🐻-lin

Date: May
Destination: Potsdam and Berlin - GER
Distance Covered: 1484.7 km

The road trip to Berlin had been one that had been sparked of my love toward motorsport. I wanted to see an ePrix and Berlin seemed the most reasonable option. Furthermore, half of my friends who live in Germany live there: two in Potsdam, one in Berlin. One of my Potsdamier wasn't in the country at the time, and the other was so kind to offer me a couch to slumber upon.

The trip had been full of adventure as well: driving through the Czech Republic had been so eventful that I wrote a whole post about it as well - mind the tongue in cheek. Then Laura had taken me not only to my first Formula E race, we also explored the Teufelsberg - where street art meets live history. Meanwhile, Silver made it their task to show me all of Potsdam and took me onto a bicycle tour as well as showing me Park S as well.

In fact, this marks one of the few trips to which I look back with fond memories only. It felt similar to the first time I had visited the Großglockner: I felt freely like myself and at home.

I am almost finished with sharing all my Berlin stories, you can find them easy under The Rookie Road Tripper: Berlin.

The Mission: Le Mans

Date: June
Destination: Le Mans (FRA) - pit-stopping in Stuttgart (GER)
Distance: 3065 km

In 2018 I embarked to Stuttgart in the "spirit of Le Mans" by ogling at LMP1's in the Audi and Porsche museum, this year, I took on the real deal. This had been one big tick on my list for over two years. I decided to take Le Mans on when WEC announced its super season in 2017, I started learning French via Duolingo when Le Mans 2018 finished - I managed to successfully order coffee and croissant on multiple occasions. This was a big dream, and the distance speaks for it as well. In fact, I even discovered that my trip counter ticks over at 2000.

Getting to Le Mans, turned out to be a longer journey - as it was 1.500 km in one direction. So I decided to set up a pit-stop at Barb's place in Stuttgart. There we rested our weary bones by hiking to a Schloss, eating Indian food, and watching Marvel films.

Then we set off to the Circuit de la Sarthe. Driving through France, which lowers the speed from 130 to 110 when it rains, and allows just 90 kph on B-roads only to then spit you out into insane Parisian traffic took its mental toll. In fact, I never realised how big France is. It is huge, big, gigantic. Here towns are about 5k apart if they are far away, in France that's probably still the same village. It was over 10 k when they were close. I have never seen so much nothing - even if beautiful.

In fact, getting past Paris took the lion's share of the trip, and there was a weak moment when I thought "if I say one more sign saying Paris I am going to end it." So seeing the sign that indicated Le Mans ... that was a sight for sore eyes.

Le Mans Dunlop
Once there, it was one of the most relaxing trips I had the pleasure to be part of. Even though, I do recommend ear-plugs. Barb and I were lucky with our chosen camping spot, even if it had been a former cow hotel - thus, the vague smell of manure that lingered in my floor mats from then on. However, we arrived on Wednesday which meant that we had enough time to take everything easy and in our own time: we visited the museum, sat on the ferries wheel at night, as well as just linger on the campsite and dream up a story in which Loki might be a goat - or we did not do that and did something normal people do. We also made friends with our Swiss tent neighbours.

Until this day, I am very glad that I took this long journey upon me and decided to drive the huge distance. I am also happy that Barb enjoyed it and not only just because I didn't want to do it alone. In fact, I returned from Le Mans the most relaxed I had been in years.

I loved the place even more than I had expected and in fact I want to return to it some day. However, and especially because of the distance, this won't be possible any time soon, thus the next Le Mans I have my eyes on is the 100th. Making it once more, a bit special.

The Mission: Old Friends

Date: August
Destinations:  Ingolstadt (GER) + Großglockner Hochalpenstraße (AUT)
Distance: 1427,6 km

What stood out for this trip was that I had visited all these place before. I had been in Ingolstadt last year, when I detoured on my way to Stuttgart and decided that it was very unlikely that I would ever return. However, due to private reasons, I had returned and this time, I decided to check out the inner city since it appeared on my Travel ABC. Even so, I had timed it just right with 2018 because as it transpired the Audi museum had removed the lovely and beautiful LMP1 display to replace it by normal, boring, and iconic Audi cars.

Then I set off towards the Großglockner. This would mark the third time in three years, so I decided to finialise it and call it a tradition. After all, it is a magical place and beautiful. It is also home. The funniest part was that when I rolled down in 2017 it had snowed on the last day. This year when I rolled down, the same had occurred. I had been there with the same car, just a few more road trips between the first and the now. My car had new brakes by then, and far more stickers on the windscreen and the back, I had been in Le Mans, versus two years ago when the thought of driving abroad would have been unthinkable.

Furthermore, had someone told me in 2017 that I'd warm up for the road trip season with a 900 km trip, I might have fainted. The more things chance, the more they stay the same because at least it snowed on the Glockner in the middle of summer again.

Edelweisspitze Großglocker Hochalpenstraße
When I thought of 2019, most of my trips had already been planned. However, when I now think of 2020 I find myself a bit stuck. I want to go to the IAA, and the Solitude Revival in Stuttgart, both of which are bi-annual events and neither takes place next year. Furthermore, I do want to see that WEC race in Spa but wonder if it wouldn't be better to wait until 2021 when they introduce the next LMP1 category.

Obviously, I am going to return to the Glockner - this time with a road bike strapped into my car because I made the mistake of mentioning that I had one - in fact Barb and I already took this on so we can manage together after years.

And maybe I should consider the Deutsche Alpenstraße for 2020 because I intended to go there since the leaf-let appeared in my flat in 2017. So while 2019 had been the year of fulfilling big plans, maybe 2020 is going to be the year of catching up with all the little things.

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