And given the winding down of the last few days of the trip I was glad to have another lie in, if only to 9am to give time for the hotel’s inclusive breakfast. The donuts may now been gone, but there’s still plenty of cheese and meat and even some lovely marble cake to tuck into.
The hotel visit was a brief one, but we packed up and paid up and with that I warned Eddy that I’d be back very soon. I came out to find the S2000 nicely decorated up with birthday banners and a jelly cake. We then set off to spend the day milling around firstly at the Sudschleife section. The rebels of the group, Jez and Steff, found the skid pan entry gate open and proceeded to mess around, Jez mostly drifting the S2000 gracefully, Steff mostly abusing the 306 generally. This kept us amused for five minutes at which point the group using the skid pan appeared and Jez quietly drove out. Leaving Steff arseing about for a further minute or so in front of them before doing the same.
Parking up just outside we could hear cars on the GP circuit, clearly testing for the weekend’s race. And so we looked at getting ourselves in. Steff crawled under the gate to the grandstands, though I’d already had a bad experience of this from Monza so I declined. Further round the visitor centre was now charging for parking with no definite answer whether we could watch the racing so we gave up on that idea. Until we spotted an opened gate, where again Steff climbed up the bank to get a view of the track.
This wasted the morning well and we finished it off with a last visit to the ED station and it’s toy shop where I still couldn’t find an S2000 model. We did have a good look around an M3 pickup outside which looked impressive, the owner modestly shrugging it off as ‘fucking stupid’. And finally it was time for a ride down into the town again for another traditional meal. Pinocchios.
Maybe it’s the modest prices, maybe it’s the dares from the ‘Ring veterans, but Pinocchios pizzeria gets the noobs every time. With the rest of opting for the ‘regular’ sized pizzas (or sharing a large in Ed and Zoe’s case) only Steff and Davo were naive enough to order the XXL. At which point they were both shocked when a normal sized pizza came out for another table. It’s always fun to have a laugh at their faces when it does appear though, served on a huge plate and overlapping the edges.
My regular margarita was topped with candles in lieu of a cake though I only lit two and blew then out as the prospect of a wax flavoured pizza was less appealing. I couldn’t manage it all (surprisingly!) so opted for the takeaway box, as did the XXL boys who made a valiant effort but still polished off less than I’d seen previously. Yes, Rich Kay, I’m talking about you…
And then the waitress came out with a desert with firework on top of it. I was grateful, but seriously, I was already stuffed and as nice as it was, I didn’t need it. I managed about three quarters before suddenly going a bit faint and turning green, at which point I waited outside and got some fresh air. Luckily, the others has settled my bill as a present and they’d also bought out my other complementary present, a bottle of wine from the chef so once I’d composed myself we had a quick walk into the town before getting on the road.
The road out along the valley towards Altenahr is always a pleasure, even more so when we stopped for Steff to get me another present, a 20 foot Bitburger banner… We were soon through the three tunnels and I was being chaffeured for the next two hours across the borders of Holland and Belgium with only a short fuel stop in between. We reached the infamous Brussels ring road where we had rush hour and numerous lanes of confusion to contend with but within five minutes we were off at our desired exit and miraculously still had the four car convoy behind.
The final night would be spent in a Ibis again and with nobody really feeling the drive into the city centre we all stopped in Davo and Steff’s room for the evening. Despite Sean’s pleas for me to get drunk on my birthday I still didn’t feel right from lunch, so I sat quietly in the corner with a Bitburger Cola while him and Ed drank anything they could find, including what turned out to be a really nice cocktail of beer, wine and Fanta. When things started to get rowdy, we left the room and settled for sleep instead. It’s fair to say Ed and Sean wouldn’t be doing the first stint of driving in the morning…