Finding somewhere to camp on the first night of the trip was a bit of a challenge on account of it being school holidays, but eventually some Belgian men let us onto a campsite between Bruges and Ostend and we left some money on the office desk the next morning.
The next day was as grey and damp as when we left England, and made for some interesting driving on the Belgian motorways in a 1.0 litre Micra with 4 gears. Having left the fog behind in Belgium, we crossed over into Germany where the motorway was closed and the detour also had roadworks on it, so more queuing was engaged in as we edged along the road. Once we had left the autobad however, the roads were also more to the Micra’s temperament and engine size, and allowed us to see a little bit of the picturesque German countryside.
However the wet weather had taken its toll on the car, and we had our first casualty of the trip. We had noticed the exhaust getting progressively louder, so pulled over to inspect where the noise was coming from. In preparing the car we had added a brand new rear section of the exhaust but had left the front untouched. It turned out that the catalytic converter had thoroughly corroded and was doing its best to escape the clutches of the Micra and scatter itself liberally around Germany. Eventually we found a little garage and with some GCSE German and some pointing, we showed them what was wrong. After assuring the mechanic that the rest of the car was fine and we only needed him to look at the exhaust, the car was jacked up and what looked like the apprentice got to work chopping out the old cat, and welding a piece of pipe in its place. It was somewhat of a patch job, but that was not on the forefront of our minds. At that point a working exhaust that took fumes from the engine to the back of the car was the goal, and it had been achieved.
Germany also brought us to the second ferry crossing of the trip, as we took a tiny car ferry over a river. I can’t say for sure but I think it was the Rhine, however I do know it cost us €4.80. That night we camped just south of Frankfurt that night at a campsite by the river.
Rory’s Mongol Rally Top Tip: “”The exhaust is broken” in German is “der auspuff ist kaputt””