The SLCenic Route – Episode 15

Graham Laing decided to retire 10 years earlier than planned to enjoy an epic driving tour with his SLC. The plan, inspired by conversations with his Father, was to drive the SLC from the southern most tip of mainland Europe in Spain to the northernmost tip of mainland Europe in Norway.

When he told his children, they said ‘you should write a blog about it’… So that’s exactly what Graham is doing. Graham approached the SLSHOP and asked whether we would be interested in hosting his work, and we were only too happy to share his story. The SLCenic Route was born!

In this episode Graham gets bored for the first time!

The SLCenic Route

Episode 15 – Leipzig to Hamburg via Kyffhäuser Mountain 260 miles

Sad, happy but always proud day. It’s my inspirational daughter’s birthday today, 20 years old.

Sad because I miss her. 20 years and 9 months ago I didn’t foresee that I would be driving round Europe, leaving earlier enough in the year to miss the heat of Spain, late enough for the mountain passes of the Alps to be open and the right time to see the midnight sun. Fortunately, WhatsApp and phone calls do help.

Happy that I don’t have any teenagers anymore. Yippee. Proud of all 3 kids.

Having breakfast with some new friends from the Czech Republic, we talked about how it has changed. While driving through it yesterday, it was apparent that the architecture was very similar to this part of Germany, Leipzig, but the buildings looked much more run down. They said things are so much better than they were, and took inspiration from what was East Germany and how much it has improved.

I moved the heater control on the SLC this morning, only put the heat on for 5 minutes but that’s the first time since arriving on mainland Europe that it’s been needed.

The northern part of Germany is much more industrial, gone are the mountains of the South, replaced by industrial cities and the Souths endless fields of grass have been replaced with wheat, potatoes and other crops. Having worked in industry for the last 30 years, it’s interesting to see the different industries in each area; they often have their own history and intrigue and without them we couldn’t buy or do all the things we do.
The Kyffhäuser Mountain and its monument are the last place of interest on the beer and castle route. I was looking forward to see a mountain again. Northern Germany is generally flat or gentle rolling hills. “Mountain”, I think someone was having a laugh. All of 1553ft, it’s not even as high as the West Lomond hill in Fife. It does however have a fabulous twisty road up to the top. With nowhere else round here for bikers to go, it was full even on a Friday morning.

On arriving at the first bend, I put my window down. It’s something I realised driving though the Pyrenees, you can hear the bikes screaming Japanese engines long before you can see them, in the Alps as it was cooler, I had the windows closed to start with until a couple of bikes were passed me before I knew they were there. Open windows made it much safer. However, open windows are not needed with the rule respecting Germans, although they had more than enough speed and power to get past, because there was a solid white line down the middle of the road, they all sat dutifully behind me up the fabulous road. Road markings meant nothing to the Italian& Spanish riders/drivers earlier in this trip. In fact I got the impression in Italy, if you drove a Fiat, a solid white line down the middle meant “you must overtake”.

But it is not all plain sailing driving in Germany. The Germans do like to follow rules, but when there are no rules, they go mad. On the unrestricted Autobahns, you seem to have a choice of 3 lanes, inside lane is for Lorries doing 55, middle lane is for Lorries and other normal cars doing 60, outside lane are Porsches and BMWs doing 140. I do like a bit of speed, but it was crazy.

I quickly got off the autobahns and back on normal roads through the towns and countryside. For the first time in over 2 weeks, I got a bit bored and turned the radio on. Managed to get long wave UK stations, but soon turned it off as politics was even more boring and repetitive than the endless flat countryside.

Then the many windmills got me thinking, always a bad sign. In Germany many of them have red stripes painted on them, something to do with local aviation rules. But why not paint adverts on new ones? They would be on them for a very long time as it would cost a fortune to change, and think of the hours of questioning you will have with grandchildren who would ask, when seeing an advert for Woolworths, ToysRUs, DeLorean, Marathon bars etc. , or at least there equivalent in 30 years’ time, what/who were they.

I really was bored, but after the heavy traffic of a Friday rush hour, I got to the wonderful diverse forests around the Elbe and they easily made the highlight of the day.

Click here to read Episode 16