Day 3: Cologne to Wolfsburg – via Bielefeld
Frühstück in Köln – Mittagessen in Bielefeld – Abendessen in Wolfsburg. Ich bin heute zwei Türme bestiegen und bin in Wolfsburg spazieren gegangen.
My first full day in Germany started with the realisation that I am more than half way to Itzehoe. Approx 500 miles down – just over 400 to go.
After breakfast I went out to the car and stuck 4 hours on the parking meter – enough to see me through until lunch time, by which time I’d be getting on the road.
Once out of the hotel I walked in to the city to do some sightseeing. First stop: to take some photos by the river with my decent camera (not the low quality camera on my mobile). Then it was to the cathedral, where I wandered about inside before going to buy a ticket to climb the bell tower.
The climb up was long, the staircase just went round and round in circles. I gave up counting the steps before I got to 5. (According to the receptionist, there were about 530 of them). I was out of breath by the time I got to the top so I had to sit down for 5 minutes before I could look around and take some photos.
The journey up the tower took 15 minutes – the journey down was the same. It felt like forever though. As much as I enjoy climbing these towers and looking at the views from the top, I am not a fan of spiral staircases. When you’ve got a dodgy looking window on the side of an ancient building, I am not terribly confident the place is that safe.
After that I needed to sit down and drink. I found nearby a café – the Funkhaus Café (Funkhaus is German for Broadcasting House) – set on the ground floor of the WDR studios (WDR = West German Broadcasting Corporation – the regional public broadcaster for Nordrhein-Westfalen).
I decided I would make a move – if I were to stay in Cologne any longer it would be lunchtime and I’d either need to stop on the way, or put more time on the car parking. Instead, I decided to get on the road and I’d have lunch on arrival in Bielefeld.
Traffic between Cologne and Bielefeld was mixed. On the A1 – countless roadworks. You’d get a good 3km run, then 4km of roadworks, then 5km at speed, 3km of roadworks…
The trouble with all these roadworks is that they force lorries in to one lane, so the lorries crawl along, queueing for miles before the roadworks, because of this. Once traffic picks up the lorries aren’t so bad!
WDR travel news on the radio announced the „Stau“ (traffic jam) I was in, was 10km long. Lane 1 was made up of slow moving lorries, bumper to bumper, for its entire length.
Thankfully on the A2 things picked up and I put my foot down – clear run from there in to Bielefeld, where I stopped for lunch and a quick walk around the castle grounds & tower. It poured with rain so I sat under a tree at the outdoor café, trying to keep dry, drinking hot chocolate.
An hour later and I was on the move again – Wolfsburg my destination: the home of VW. Traffic again was mixed. Busy, but moving in places. Then at a standstill for miles. The final half hour, thankfully, was free-flowing.
As I was now heading East I was seeing some of the more interesting numberplates, which we don’t normally see on the roads in Britain. Special mention to the drivers from RUS (Russia), UA (Ukraine), BY (Belarus). A few Scandinavians too. I saw just 1 other GB car all day. I’m a long way fom home over here.
Driving in heavy traffic like this is tiring so with just under 50km / 30 miles to go, I pulled in to the services for something to eat. Sat nav was saying the queue I was in at the time, would delay me by another hour.
Once I got back in the car though, despite having fun rejoining the motorway (see Dashcam clip here) – it was only a few km until traffic thinned and then I had a clear – and fast run – all the way to Wolfsburg.
During the evening I walked in to town – mainly to find out where I need to go for my tour of VW tomorrow. That I found easily. Then, dinner time. All that walking had meant I’d worked up an appetite. I found a restaurant with outdoor seating near my hotel. The portion size was massive but I still cleaned up the whole plate.
Tomorrow, the final push on to Cirencester’s twin town. After my tour of VW, I’m heading direct to Itzehoe. According to sat nav this is a 2hr 50min drive from here, less than 350km to go.
Once I get to Itzehoe, I’ve got a whole weekend free of too much driving – and then on Monday I’m back behind the wheel. I need to be back in Calais on Wednesday night, ready for an overnight ferry to Dover before going to work on Thursday.
It’s a lot of driving – some of it quite enjoyable – some of it not so much. But on the whole, driving is a much better way of travelling. Apart from anything else, I’m tuning myself in to the language by listening to it on the radio while I’m driving.
I’m off to bed now, getting quite tired – but then it is just after midnight here, so that might be why.
Today’s Mileage: 244.1
Accumulative Mileage: 757.4