A TRIP TO GERMANY  IN OCT 1993 with our XJS Cabriolet

    Elsewhere in these pages you will find information about the re-shelling of an XJS Cabriolet, well this story follows on from there, although not directly and is about a wonderful trip which my wife, Christine and I made to Germany with the car, rounded off with a Jaguar  'Treffen'.  Having received two half - price tickets to be used on North Sea Ferries, probably due to the fact that we had travelled with them in the summer, we decided to take our Jaguar for its first trip to the Continent.  One of our favourite areas in Germany is the Mosel Valley and in particular, Cochem.  It is an area we have often stopped over in for a few days on our way down to Southern Germany and Austria.  Up until this time, all of our trips have been by motorcycle, (a Honda GoldWing) so this was to be our first trip by car.  I rang the ferry Company only to find that  they could not provide the exact dates which we required but a slight adjustment soon had the two crossings firmly booked.  The next step was to try to sort out some accomodation in Cochem, which was fairly simple as Christine usually keeps cards and brochures from some of the places we have stayed on previous holidays.  Using these, I rang one of the excellent little 'Gasthauser'  in the town and managed to find enough language to book four nights from Monday to Thursday and then confirmed the booking by letter, in my best schoolboy German.

    Over the next few weeks we often chatted about our forthcoming trip and during one such chat we decided that it might be an idea to see if the German contingent of the Club would be having a meeting during our brief visit, which we could possibly attend.  I tried ringing the contact in the list of regions in the magazine on a number of occasions but the 'phone was never answered; so I eventually rang Bob Archard who informed me that there was now a new contact over there and gave me all of the details.  A few nights later I spoke to Henning Zaiss in Darmstadt,  the new contact and explained what I was planning.  He was really enthusiastic about a meeting (Treffen) and as luck would have it, they were having a meeting later that very night! ;  so he would explain to his friends what was planned and arrange a special meeting for us.  The only problem which might arise, was that he was due to attend a welding course during our visit, so he himself might not be there.  As it turned out, there were insufficient numbers for the course, so that problem disappeared (for us at least - Henning still needs his course!).  Suddenly things were starting to come together for our trip and we spent the next few weeks sorting out the usual arrangements, such as green card, money, clothes and of course, the car.  This  was nothing of a problem, although it had by this time accumulated nearly 40,000 miles, as I had recently serviced it and was quite confident it could cope with a trip of this type.

   The day eventually arrived for our holiday and we enjoyed the leisurely drive across the M62 to Hull (my birthplace) for a pre-arranged lunch with relatives, before heading in the late afternoon for the King George Dock and the ferry 'Norsun' which was to take us overnight to Rotterdam.  We had hired a video camera for the week (another first) and Christine was busy recording every detail of the boarding,  including some of my comments (now edited out!) of the antics of Joe and Martha Public and their sticky-fingered offspring.  With the car secured we headed off to find our cabin for a quick change, before sauntering along to one of  the lounges for a pre-dinner drink.  One of our favourite pastimes at times like this is 'people watching' and as usual we were not disappointed.   You know the sort of thing --- 'she's not his wife' and 'fancy him wearing a wig that colour', I'm sure other people must do the same.  After a very enjoyable meal, and a couple of hours in the lounge we turned in early and had a surprisingly restful night.  The following morning, cruising gently into Rotterdam (Europoort), we tucked into a full English breakfast and eventually wandered down to the car to find all was well.

    After the usual short delay, we made our way from the ship and out onto the open road in the direction of Rotterdam and then South, through Holland and on to the German Border at Aachen.  During our summer holidays this year, we had wanted to stay in this region (the Nord Eiffel) but it turned out to be very wet, so we carried on further South.  This time, determined not to miss it again, we spent most of the afternoon in the delightful little village of Monschau, wandering around the very attractive cobbled streets with their gayly coloured Fachwerkhauser (timber beamed buildings similar to  the Tudor style).  From there it was only a short drive on some excellent 'B' roads, via the Nnrburgring, to our destination in the Mosel.




Sorry about the poor quality pics, they were taken off a videotape.  You'll have to just go and visit the places yourself to see what it it really like!

Too hot to have the roof on!                       Around Beilstein on the Mosel

At this time of year (October) the colours of the trees and shrubs were glorious in the low afternoon sun.  Frau Lehmann was pleased to see us again and showed us to our room with a wonderful view of the river and the Reichsburg, a castle perched high on a hill overlooking the town.  The next couple of days were spent wandering about the area with a couple of short trips in the car which always drew attention and comments from the locals.  Then the day of our visit to Darmstadt (about 150 miles away), arrived and as we were not expected until early evening, we decided to cross over into the Rhineland at St. Goar and then on to Mainz with the intention of visiting the Gutenberg Printing Museum in that beautiful old city, which proved to be well worth the detour.

    Leaving Mainz, we had only a short distance to drive to Darmstadt and following Henning's instructions, arrived safely for our meeting a few minutes early.  We were immediately made very welcome and it soon seemed as though we had known them for years.  Susu, Hennings wife, had prepared something they called a 'small picnic', which really could best be described as a large feast.  Even their small boy, Maximillian, had been allowed to stay up a little later than normal to greet the English visitors.  The other people arrived and we had a wonderful evening which included the obligatory visit to Hennings toy cupboard, which contained, amongst  other things, an XK undergoing a very professional restoration and a very special XK with a body by Autenrieth (a company once situated in Darmstadt, now sadly, no longer in business).  Also on the stocks were a B.M.W. 512, again with a body by Autenrieth and a later V8 B.M.W.  Some of these cars are owned by Henning and some belong to his customers, as this is the home of Klassik Garage -- Hennings new business.

   On returning to the welcoming warmth of the house,  we were given  a wonderful autographed souvenir of the book which Henning has written about the history of the Autenrieth bodywork factory.  Towards the end of the evening we were all invited to the home of another member, Michael Mohr, to see some of his toys.  We (Christine, Henning and myself) were chauffered by Jorn Bergmann in his very smart series 1 XJ to Michaels house, where we were given a guided tour of his excellent facilities and saw the very high standard of restoration being undertaken on a couple of MK 2's and I was also allowed to sit in his wonderful Mercedes sports car from the 50's. The evening was now rapidly drawing to a close and we were once more sitting comfortably in the XJ being carefully piloted by Jorn for the 10 or so miles back to Hennings, where we said our goodbyes and I once again took up my kerbside driving position in the Cabriolet.  The time by now was just past midnight and we still had over 150 miles to drive back to Cochem;  but using mainly Autobahns for the return, we managed it in just over 2 hours.  I used some of the occasions during the journey when Christine was asleep, to 'wind it up a bit', and the 25 year old chassis design felt just as safe and sure as it does pottering around town!   This day was one which we shall fondly remember for many years to come and hope to return the hospitality shown by our German cat loving friends in the near future.

    The remaining couple of days of our all too short break were spent collecting some bottles of our favourite wines from the region and finally a trip out to Bitburg, again in the Eiffel, for a trip around the Bitburger Pils factory, which is apparently the largest in Europe.  This tour was slightly unusual as the factory is split across two sites and after the first section of the visit, which included watching a video, we all took our own cars in convoy to the next site some 4 or 5 miles away, which caused some admiring glances and comments from the rest of the party and indeed the guide herself.

   The following morning, after a hearty breakfast and packing the car, it was time to say 'Auf wiedersehen' to Frau Lehmann and her husband and sit back and reflect on the fairly busy week  whilst enjoying the steady drive to the German border and back through Holland to Rotterdam for our return crossing.  During the evening whilst having a quiet drink in the lounge, I spotted a friend standing at the bar, ordering a drink for himself and his wife.  We had not seen Derek and Maureen for nearly a year, so an evening chatting with them whilst floating back to England made a perfect end to a wonderful holiday.

   For any Northerners reading this, the distance from our home (Southport) via North Sea Ferries, to the Mosel is only a few miles further than that from here to Dover and the journey much is more enjoyable and comparatively roadwork free.  Yes, it is more expensive initially but when you add up all the other incidentals there is very little difference ----  you pays yer money ---.  Just to end with a few facts about our trip;  we covered 1220 miles from door to door and used 190 of those new-fangled litres of cat food, which works out at a shade over 29 m.p.g. in old money.  All this with a 3.6 litre engine, accompanied by that well known spaniard, Manuel Box.  Most of the time we were travelling at fairly relaxing speeds but we had the occasional burst up to licence losing speeds (in our country anyway) on the autobahns.  If you have never tried Continental travel with your own vehicle, go on - give it a shot, you'll never regret it.


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