A big trip

Posted on December 9th, 2015 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

So in about 3 weeks we’re off on what has become, over the last few years, an annual trip: heading to another country to see the best engineering, automotive and technically interesting sights.

This year, though, it’s more than just ‘a’ country; the plan at this stage calls for travel through seven countries.

So where are we going – and what are we going to see?

The trip starts in Oslo, Norway. We don’t expect there to be long – just a day – before we head to Sweden. In Sweden we will go to the Saab museum in Trollhättan, and Volvo museum in Gothenburg. Also in Gothenburg is the Aeroseum aviation museum – a museum housed in a Cold War era underground bunker.

From there we head across the Oresund bridge (one of the most spectacular in the world) to Denmark, and then down to the Netherlands. In the Netherlands we’re going to the Louwman Museum in The Hague. With 250 cars on display, this should be stunning. We’re also going on a dusk tour of the Rotterdam harbour, the world’s busiest port. The Erasmus bridge, a gorgeous cable-stayed design, should able to be sighted.

From Holland we enter Germany, going back to see a museum we missed last time we were in that fantastic country. It’s the Technik Museum Speyer, an extraordinary collection of aircraft, cars, locomotives, a submarine – and so on. If it’s remotely as good as its sister museum in Sinsheim, it should be a fantastic day.

We then head to Switzerland, passing through the Simplon railway tunnel, one of the oldest and most famous railway tunnels in the world. In Switzerland we’re going to the Swiss Knife Valley visitor centre, where my 11-year-old son very much hopes to make his own Victorinox pocket knife. The Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne is Switzerland’s best-visited museum and looks spectacular – at least in the pictures! We also hope to have time to take the train to Jungfrau – Europe’s highest mountain station at 3454 metres.

Italy is next, with the Museo Auto Italy in Turin. It has what looks to be a quite awesome collection of cars. You’d expect that we’d also go to the Ferrari and Lamborghini museums, but I’d rather see cars that caused profound social and engineering change rather than supercars that, in the grand scheme of automotive things, have achieved little.

We’re also going to Pompeii and Herculaneum. We’ve become interested in Roman ruins as a result of watching an extraordinary series that covers the engineering design of these constructions. (Do a web search under “Great courses: Understanding Greek and Roman Technology”. And note that they discount the course periodically.) From there, it’s back to more Roman ruins… in Rome.

France is next – the Millau Viaduct (that I expect to be the most impressive bridge I have ever seen) and the Pont de Gard (that should be another stunning bridge, this time a Roman-era aqueduct). While in France we’ll also be attending the Cité de l’Automobile and Cité du Train museums.

Something else I am really looking forward to are the WWII Nazi submarine pens at Lorient, huge concrete constructions designed to prevent Allied bombers destroying the German submarines then berthed there. Of the same era in terms of historic interest are the Normandy landing beaches, the location at which Allied troops started their reclaiming of occupied Europe. We also hope to go to the Eiffel tower and the Louvre in Paris. Less well known but also in Paris is the Musee Air + Espace that we plan to visit.

From France it’s to our last country – the United Kingdom. There we will visit the Birmingham Science Museum (the home of the superb Mobil Railton Special Land Speed Record car), the Air Force Museum at Cosford, and the Cardington airship sheds – the latter almost the only remaining evidence of the major engineering effort the UK made over 85 years ago in lighter-than-air craft. I’d also like to go back to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (we’ve been there once before but I’d love to see the Donald Campbell Bluebird Land Speed Record car again) and then to the Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford.

We’ll be taking trains, doing one internal European flight, twice hiring cars – and no doubt walking a lot. The travel, accommodation, money – all the logistics, really – will be in the immensely capable hands of my wife Georgina. (And thank God for that!)

Have we bitten off more than we can chew? We’ll see – people have implied that about our other overseas trips, but we’ve always managed to get through everything on the itinerary.  On the other hand, there’s never been quite so much on the schedule as for this trip…

Next year I hope to bring you in AutoSpeed a ‘diary’ series on the trip, and no doubt in later articles I’ll be covering specific cars, aircraft and technical sights that I’ve seen.

3 Responses to 'A big trip'

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  1. nicola di biase said,

    on December 16th, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Staying in rome i will suggest you Italian air force museum at lago di bracciano (40 minutes from city center by auto) where there are displayed wonderful Macchi Castoldi “idrocorsa” MC72 and peculiar Caproni campini n°1 motorjet of 1940!.

    Moreover if you stay in Pompei, if you like contact me being my guest for a panoramic flight around naples, “costiera amalfitana”, Capri etc in my little lsa airplane.


    Nicola di Biase

  2. Otto Au said,

    on December 19th, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    If you are near Pisa Italy, head to Pontedera Piaggio/Vespa museum, best of all its free, i really enjoyed it, amazing display

  3. Christopher said,

    on December 23rd, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Good Luck mate hope you enjoy from a confirmed armchair traveller