The long awaited and much discussed European tour is finally taking shape. I spent much of June travelling the back roads of Europe seeking out interesting drives, spectacular scenery and fun places to visit. I ran into more than a few challenges, not the least being the rather unique Italian method of mapping back roads. However, I am very pleased with the results and believe that I have put together a tour that will provide great memories for years to come.
The concept of the tour was to hit as many of the motoring icons as we could in one trip while still allowing time for side trips, shopping, fine dining and the odd day to chill out and rest. In no particular order this tour visits; Ferrari, Siena, The Schlumph Collection, Goodwood, Portofino, The Mennen Gate, Monaco, Spa, Col de Turini, Bastogne, Nurburgring – Nordschleife, Route Napoleon, The Pistenklause, Cinque Terra, Stelvio Pass (twice), St Bernard Pass (both), Furka Pass, St Moritz and so many special little places that you will have to come along to find.
As with all Driving Adventures tours this trip is all about having a good time. Nice cars, good friends, brilliant roads in some of the most beautiful locations on earth in company with like-minded adventurers. The tour represents the highest standards of organization, first-rate hotels and exquisite dining. There are even road books, detailing the exact route as well I will be there as a guide to smooth the way and ensure that each guest has the best experience possible.
These are events organised as rallies, but without the restrictions and limitations of a competition event. There is no competition timing. Guests are given detailed road books that explain the correct route as well as a short history of the areas traveled. Roads are selected for the driving enjoyment. Unlike competition events, guests will be free to set their own agenda for the day. You can choose between a sleep-in and a leisurely breakfast or an early start with stops along the way to more closely inspect the local colour or you could short-cut the scheduled route and hurry to you destination for a swim or spa before dinner with the group. You can even arrange to skip a night or two to take in a special side trip. It IS your holiday.
|The Hotel Planet
Meet in Maranello. Our base will be the Hotel Planet which is directly across the road from the main gate to the Ferrari factory, The Cavallino Ristorante is in the car-park and most rooms look at the Competition Department. The morning I was there, I was woken by a F1 engine screaming it’s way around the Fiorana circuit. This is Ferrari Country. If the stars align we will be able to have dinner while watching the US Grand Prix in the town square on the big screen with the Ferrari factory workers and the rest of the population.
Visit the Ferrari Museum. This is just around the corner from the hotel and is a must see for any enthusiast. I am also working on organizing a tour of the Pagani factory and the Maserati Museum which is in Modena. Modena is also the sight of the yet to be opened museum dedicated to Enzo Ferrari.
Tuesday 12 June – Maranello – Borgo Scopito – 230 Km
Short-cut – 210 km – 2 hrs 30 min
|The Driveway – Borgo Scopito
Take to the mountains on a brilliant drive into Tuscany. We will use an old Ferrari test route through Polinago. This is a wonderful introduction to Italian back roads. We wind our way through plenty of
mountain villages before we drop down into Tuscany on our way towards Siena. Our accommodation is the beautiful Realis Borgo Scopito. A converted winery, parts of which are over 1,000 years old. It famously stared as a country estate in the movie Letters to Juliet.
|The Tower at Borgo Scopito
Wednesday 13 June – Rest Day.
The Borgo Scopito is too good a place for just one night, so take the day to adjust the body clock or head out to explore the medieval walled towns of Siena or San Gimignano.
Thursday 14 June – Borgo Scopito – Portofino – 315 Km
Short-cut – 278 km – 3 hrs 15 mins Back on the road through the Tuscan countryside. The route winds a little more than necessary thanks to the rather unique Italian mapping system but we do manage to drive around the walls of San Gimignano. There is then some brilliant driver’s roads before hitting the Autostrada around Pisa. Next stop is the brilliant stretch of coast that is the Cinque Terre before continuing onto the Hotel Splendido in Portofino. If you are going to spoil yourself. This is the place.
Friday 15 June – Portofino – Monaco – 215 Km
A nice short day. There is plenty of time to soak up the Hotel Splendido or wander around Portofino village. Then blast up the Autostrada through the 160 tunnels to Monaco.
Saturday 16 June – Rest Day.
|Col de Turini
Explore Monaco, do a little shopping OR take a drive on some famous Monte stage roads, up the Col de Castallino and Col de Turini in the mountains behind the Principality.
Sunday 17 June – Monaco – Grenoble – 330 Km.
This is one of the world’s great drives, The Route Napoleon to Grenoble is so named because Napoleon marched this route on his way to Paris, after his escape from Elba in 1815. He may not have appreciated it at the time but this is a rollercoaster of wide sweeping corners. It is lightly trafficked, has brilliant scenery and is more fun than should be allowed. The only problem is talking yourself into stopping to take pics and soak in the scenery.
Monday 18 June – Grenoble – Martigny – 300 Km
Short-cut – 193 km – 2 hrs 50 min
Into the Alps at last. The day starts with a run up the heavily Policed Autobahn to Albertville before taking to the alps along a very scenic drive through Beaufort. We drive both St Bernard Passes, Petit then Grande, on the way to Martigny. Remember the Muira at the start of the original Italian Job? Well, this is the road.
Tuesday 19 June – Martigny – St Moritz – 315 Km
The day starts with an easy run down a stunning glacial valley. Mountains loom on either side sprinkled with castles and ancient battlements, you are not at home now. Highlight of the day is the mighty Furkapass, followed up by the Oberalppass on our way to St. Mortitz.
Wednesday 20 June – St Mortiz – Bormio – 230 Km
Short-cut – 101 km – 1 hr 50 min
This is THE day, if there is a hint of petrol in your blood, this is the day you will talk about for years. Leaving St Moritz we warm up on the 2,315 metre Albulapass. Next stop is Davos, where we pick up the road that Top Gear made famous. The Fluelapass climbs to 2,383 metres, Ofen Pass takes you 2,149 metres but they are just warm ups for the 2,757 metre Stelvio, and yes it is everything they say it is. Just below the Stelvio is the Ski Resort of Bormio where we will recover for the night.
Thursday 21 June – Bormio – Igls – 202 Km
Short-cut – 199 km – 2 hrs 40 min
In case you didn’t get enough yesterday, we are straight back over the Stelvio before heading into Austria. There is a short cut but the scenic way is still only 200 Km and takes you through the German speaking province of Italy, over both the Jaufen and Brenner Passes. Igls is a lovely little village on the outskirts of Innsbruck. The Sport Hotel has a spa and relaxation centre so you can soak up a little luxury.
|The Sport Hotel, Igls
Friday 22 June – Rest Day
Saturday 23 June – Igls – Bad Walsee – 230 Km
A bit of a tourist day today. We start with a brief Autostrada run before heading into the hills and a visit to the fairytale castles at Neuschwanstein in Bavaria before heading to a golf resort in Bad Waldsee, a quiet corner of Germany off the tourist trail. If you need a golfing fix, they are happy to cater for you.
Sunday 24 June – Bad Waldsee – Mulhouse – 240 Km
Today is a relatively short day so depending on your preferences you can take advantage of the Golf Course for a hit or take to the rolling countryside as we head into the Black Forest before crossing the border into France and into Mulhouse for a visit to the Schlumpf Collection. An amazing horde of Bugattis put together by brothers Fritz and Hans Schlumpf. There is also a fine array of 50’s and 60’s Grand Prix machines as well as plenty of other fascinating cars.
Monday 25 June – Mulhouse – Nurburg – 430 Km
An early start so we can be at the Nurburgring for lunch. The best way is to hit the unrestricted Autobahn for a bit of high-speed motoring. At the Nurburgring I have organized a very special program. We meet for lunch at our hotel (owned by the family of Sabina Schmitz) before taking a rally to sites around the Nordshleife, soaking up some of the history of the circuit and learning some of the tricks required to put together a safe lap. At 5pm the real fun begins with each car booked in for 4 unforgettable laps of the “Green Hell”. I have booked an instructor to accompany everyone on their first lap of the 20km circuit.
If you are a little concerned about taking your car on the circuit we can arrange for rental cars to be available. You have a choice between, Renault, Lotus, BMW or Porsche.
Tuesday 26 June – Nurburg – Stavelot – 200 Km
Short-cut – 107 km – 1 hr 45 min
The only way to ease you down after the Nurburgring is to go to Spa. The plan is to head through the Ardenne Forest toward the historic WWII town of Bastogne, centre of the Battle of the Bulge. We then head towards Stavelot and the Spa Francochamps circuit. I am working on everyone doing hot laps of the circuit after 6pm but at the moment it may only be possible in Lotus rental race cars. Standby for further details.
Wednesday 27 June – Stavelot – Ypres – 280 Km
We trundle across Belgium to the rally town of Ypres, centre of a 24 hour rally. Most of Belgium does not make for memorable driving. However, as we get close to Ypres we leave the main road to try some of the narrow lanes through farming fields and past war cemeteries. Our hotel is in the centre of town and a short walk to the Mennen Gate where each night they still hold a ceremony to remember the war dead.
Thursday 28 June – Ypres – Chichester – 315 Km
A quick sprint to Calais and on to the train under the Channel to Folkstone, then a drive along the Channel Coast to Goodwood where we have secured the closest hotel to the venue.
Friday 29 July – Sunday 1 July
The Goodwood Festival of Speed. Simply the best, most amazing, Historic Car gathering on the planet. You have a double pass for the event.
More details as soon as they are finalised.
Driving Adventures is David Thomas. David has been passionate about driving since he was old enough to hold a steering wheel. He has driven from London to Sydney, through the Andes and much of South and Central America, across deserts and deep into rainforests. He has won rally stages in the Himalayas. Raced successfully at Bathurst and taught thousands of people advanced driving skills through his own school and as head of the NSW Police Driver Training School. He has driven in movies and videos and has been organising and conducting tours since 1990. If anyone can show you how to have a good time in a car, it is David.
However on this, the biggest tour so far conducted by Driving Adventures, David has brought in old friends Global Connection, as travel partners. I have been working with Global Connection for many years now and decided to get them involved with this trip to assist you all with the complex travel plans. As you will see below, they have explored all the various travel options on your behalf to save you time and money. They will be able to assist you with all of your travel needs for the European Driving Adventure. Regardless of whether you would like assistance with booking flights, arranging a quality rental car, organising pre and post tour options or perhaps sorting out travel insurance, Global Connection will be glad to assist you. Feel free to contact the Managing Director, Mr Mark Swift directly on (02) 9922 7777. He will be happy to help you plan the Driving Adventure of a lifetime!
I believed it made sense to seek professional advice from licensed travel agents on such a complex tour. Global Connection is a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) which means you are dealing with a fully licensed travel agency, bonded by the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) to ensure your financial protection.
Global Connection is also in the unique position of being able to offer you impartial advice. Unlike the major travel agency chains, they do not maintain preferential arrangements with travel suppliers in an effort to boost their profits. Rather, they rely on their quality of advice and service to increase their customer base. Having been around for more than 16 years and continuing to flourish despite the emergence of online travel, it’s clear that they must be doing something very right indeed. So if you’re wondering what airline you should fly with, which hotel to book or perhaps what time of year to travel, you can trust that you will receive the right advice from the team at Global Connection.
There has been a bit of a breakthrough with rental car options, Global Connection have arranged the amazing Peugeot RCZ for the tour, picking up when you arrive in Milan and dropping off at Heathrow at an early-bird price of $3520.
An alternative is to buy a car in Europe, use it on the trip and then ship it back home. Financially this can be very attractive if you pick the right car. I have recently entered into a commercial arrangement with a company in the UK who will carry out a pre-purchase inspection, arrange delivery and service the car before the tour, then ship it home afterwards. While every car will be different I recently did the costings for a Ferrari 550. The asking price was 45,000 Pound. Based on an exchange rate where the $AUD is worth 66p. The 550 would after all taxes and compliance charges cost about $120,000 on the road in Australia a saving of $50 – 60,000 on cars currently available in Australia.
Our new partners in this tour Global Connection suggest that you fly;
To Milan via Dubai, returning from London via Dubai on Emirates Airlines from $2,599. including taxes, Economy Class.
Business Class Tickets on the same flights are from $9849.
Mark Swift of Global Connection explains that they chose Emirates as an example due to their solid reputation and extensive access across Europe. Keep in mind that the longer you leave booking your flights, the more expensive they will get.
The tour, including 22 nights accommodation, a cooked breakfast each morning, the full Nurburgring experience including hot laps and instructor, a priority cross channel train pass, 3 day Goodwood Festival of Speed pass and a comprehensive road book detailing the entire route is priced at $10,500/person/twin share or $21,000 per car. This price is based on the current exchange rate with $AUD1.00 is worth 0.76 Euro. Every effort will be made to maintain the advertised pricing but any large movement with the exchange rate may require an adjustment.
As there are very limited places available, places on the tour will be allocated on a first in basis. To secure a place you will need to provide an initial non-refundable deposit of $10,500. A further payment of $10,500 will then be due on 1 May 2012.
There are 2 ways for you to book. You can always contact me at the address below to discuss any aspect of the tour and I will take your booking or if you prefer to book through a fully licensed travel agency contact;Mark SwiftGlobal Connection02 9922 firstname.lastname@example.org
For any further information, please contact me at any time.
Driving Adventures P/L
6/399 Barrenjoey Road
Newport NSW 2106
0418 473 916