On week two of the 4x4 European Rally, see what the Teams have been up to and where they are on their route:
We spend today in and around Bastogne and start with a visit to Bastogne Barracks, which is a military base that was the US HQ during ‘The Battle of the Bulge’. It was here that Brigadier General McAuliffe was asked by the Germans to surrender and his famous reply was simply ‘Nuts’!
There is a museum within the barracks and after a lovely welcome from a representative of the Belgium Province of Luxembourg Tourist Office and by some of the servicemen based at the barracks, we are shown around. We are able to see the area that they used as a hospital during the war, the rooms that were occupied by the Americans and huge garages full of WW2 military vehicles that have been renovated; most are now in working order and two tanks (including a Sherman Tank) are brought out to welcome us.
From here we travel to a cemetery at Libramont Chevingy and the rally children place wreaths on the graves of two servicemen who are buried here from WW1. There are just two Commonwealth War Graves in amongst a local cemetery and Bruno, who is a serviceman based at Bastogne Barracks has adopted the graves along with his family and he is with us for the small ceremony. It’s very moving and nice to know that he is honouring the men buried there and looking after them.
We’re then off for a circuitous drive around Bastogne and visit many battle sites, including the fox holes at Foy where Easy Company of the 101st Airborne spent a cold month during the war. The fox holes are still maintained by the locals.
The sun is shining and we’re travelling through vast forested areas and pretty villages. Before long we arrive at the Bastogne War Museum. The story of the war is told from the point of view of a German and US serviceman, a local school teacher and a young boy. It’s a brilliant museum; very well set out and includes three film shows, one of which we find ourselves sitting on logs in a woodland battle scene, another sitting in a bar learning about how the local people hid in the cellar during the bombings.
The day ends with a diversion that the marshall’s have set up with five challenges, including three off-road.
It’s then back to the campsite. Apart from two evenings where we are provided with food, people either prepare something at the campsites, eat in the campsite restaurant or go in to the local towns to eat.
Today we are weaving in and out of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France. The first stop is at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial where US General George Patton is buried and it’s also the burial place of five members from Easy Company of the 101st Airborne who lost their lives at Foy.
The rally then stops at an off-roading site where a lovely lunch has been provided by locals. There is an incredible H4H cake on display and a vast array of food and beverages for the rally crews. The crews walk the site and decide whether they want to drive around it and then go and have a play in their cars. There is also Air Soft that everyone can try and the children are in their element.
We drive past the remains of the Maginot Line and visit one which has been turned in to a museum. The Maginot Line was constructed in 1918 after WW1 to stop future German invasions, but the Germans invaded elsewhere, so it now has a reputation for being the greatest ‘White Elephant' of all times.
Our campsite tonight is in the ‘Black Forest’, so named by the Romans because there are so many trees that it blocks out most of the light. The scenery is stunning, the roads are windy, and we find ourselves driving through some very picturesque villages along the way.
Everyone caters for themselves on the campsite tonight, so there is a lovely communal feeling around the camp. At one end of the largest field they are showing an episode of ‘Band of Brothers’ and the children (and a couple of adults) are playing football in the middle of the field. As usual the children play until late and the adults have to drag them off to bed; well past their normal bedtimes.
We are on a transition day today and are heading to a campsite in Munich. We don’t have to leave until 10am, so everyone is very relaxed.
We stay in campsites either for one or two nights and usually have to be in the car for 8.30am at the latest and often arrive at camp for around 7pm after a fun packed day. You can’t describe the rally as relaxing, but it great fun and everyone is very friendly, so it’s a very sociable event. A trip to the shower block can take a while when you stop to chat on route!
The journey today is broken up with some off-roading around another quarry with a challenge to do for more points. As a 4x4 event, we travel around lots of lanes, as well as travelling on main roads, but the off-roading events are entirely optional and some crews choose not to do certain ones. There are usually easy and hard routes at each off road site and so every team takes their cars around the areas that they feel happy with.
Tomorrow we head for our final destination, Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
Our Mission today is called ‘The Atrocity of War’ and our first stop is Dachau Concentration Camp. It started out as a camp for political prisoners and a school of violence for the SS men who controlled the camp. The exhibition area is packed with images and information about the horrors that occurred here and upsetting to say the least.
Before long we are driving through the Alps and its stunning towns with traditional houses, which all seem to have brightly coloured flowers in window boxes. Many of the houses have pictures painted on the sides or around the windows and they all seem so well cared for.
We arrive at a scheduled stop via a lovely scenic route through Austria, check in with the marshall’s and then have a small challenge to do before heading off on a track up a mountain for another off-road challenge.
We now have two nights in Berchtesgaden and some of the crews are camping, whilst some choose to stay in hotels. The rally officially finishes tomorrow lunchtime, so everyone is feeling relaxed and many of the crews spend a fun evening in a local restaurant which has a large band playing traditional Bavarian music.
As the Rally draws to an end, come back soon for the final day's coverage on the road and find out which team wins.
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