Sunday, 14 July 2013

Travel Trade Crusade 2013 - Day Four, Sunday 14th July

Day four, officially the third and last of the crusade. Today is the fancy dress day – oh dear! We have brought with us Batman & Robin outfits, out of the Christmas episode of Only Fools & Horses one year. They only arrived the day before we left, so they are still in the bags without us having tried them on. Bad planning. Due to the sizing, I had to be Robin and Paul was Batman – even that kept popping open because it was a bit tight. No chance to get a bigger size now! We checked out of the hotel in full regalia without the receptionist even raising an eyebrow. Perhaps she had seen it all before – about ten minutes or so! We met a court jester and the grim reaper in reception – good job I didn’t meet him before I went on the Nurburgring! We loaded the car up and made our way to the car park we were meeting up in, just beside the river. Koblenz looked a beautiful town – such as shame we were in and out so quickly. Everyone was really pumping this morning – not one person was not in fancy dress. It looked amazing. The Disco Taxi had the PA playing at full blast – we had quite a crowd of onlookers. We also found out later that the Aston Martin had parked here overnight, and had got a lovely yellow parking ticket! We were 27 teams this morning, but only 26 cars. The Chavtastic’s Subaru was definitely being left to be scrapped. The guys from Avis had helped them out with a hire car, so at least they can still take part. After our instructions for the day, we all had to do a little crazy dancing (for the DVD I presume) led by a wallaby and a crocodile. After the frivolities, and the locals had taken umpteen pictures, we all started off. Three routes to get to Amsterdam – the boring motorway, the picturesque country route or the route by the river. We opted for the route by the river, as this was one of the challenges. Have your picture taken by some picturesque water. We found a place to pull up in, and had to find someone to take our photograph. After everyone had finished taken photographs of their own, we got one with our camera. It seems Batman & Robin are well known in Germany as well! We would our way towards firstly Bonn, then Cologne, Rees, Arnheim, Utrecht and then Amsterdam. The amount of people that slowly went past, waved, pipped and took photographs was amazing. Obviously Batman & Robin don’t often take that route. We had to fill up with petrol. Paul went in to pay, the attendant looked up, did a double take, and then asked if ours was the Batmobile. Ha! We went out of Germany and into Holland – and it seemed as if we had come into the back of a little village. We went from a main road, to a one lane track for a while. Couldn’t be a popular crossing point here then. We then picked up some bigger roads, and soon made our way to the outskirts of Amsterdam. Well on time! But we hadn’t arrived yet!! As soon as we hit Amsterdam the traffic started to build up. Nothing too bad, and really glad Mrs TomTom was telling us the way to the hotel. It looked a bit like a maze. We passed about a million people on bicycles, with another million bicycles locked up unattended. It really is a cycling city. We made our way, almost uneventfully, to the road where the hotel was situated. We amused most of the people waiting to cross the roads, and even waved quite regally when they pointed a camera at us. Felt a bit like the queen – but in a comedy sort of way. The hotel was on the opposite side of the road to where we were going, so Mrs TomTom told us to do a U turn. Not too bad, I managed to squeeze round without upsetting too many people – only to find that the road where the reception is situated is pedestrian only. “Can’t go up there” says a chap (how did he know we were English?) so we headed off to turn around and find another way in. Easier said than done. When we got to the top we had to turn right, and then there was no more right turns. A tram had broken down in the middle of the main road, and there was absolute bedlam. I just kept going, and ended up giving Paul a very scenic tour of Amsterdam – free of charge! We eventually found ourselves heading back in the correct direction – only to find we were now behind the broken down tram, and all the other trams were being redirected around us. All of the traffic after us had been turned around and sent I know not where – and the trams were missing our back wing by about half an inch. We sat there for about half an hour – and were the cabaret for all those on the buses that were going up beside us in the bus lane. Oh to be famous – even for half a day! Just have to wear red pants over your tights! We eventually came past the hotel again, and there was stationery traffic so we tried another road. Wrong again! Round we went again, and eventually bumped over the kerb in the middle of the road, went up the tram lane, and did a U turn into a car park that was not too far from the hotel. I expected Mrs TomTom to say “That’s the third time I have directed you to where you wanted to go, and you still haven’t got there!”. But she didn’t – we parked, and then even caped crusaders have to carry their own bags up the car park steps and the quarter of a mile walk to get to their room. We then amused all the people sitting outside having a beer in the afternoon. Just wave and smile nicely! The receptionist couldn’t find a reservation for Batman & Robin, so he gave us the Keevil’s room instead. The chap next to him asked us to remove our face masks if we went into the club room in case we frightened any of the guests. I think we had had enough of wearing them for one day, but what a cheek! A nice glass of wine was in order – minus the red knickers – before setting off for the DoubleTree Hilton for the end of rally festivities. Whilst all the points were being counted up, we enjoyed complimentary drinks. When the prize giving ceremonies started, the tension was mounting, Would it be the Green Ladies or the Kuoni Crusaders, or would someone else have nipped in? The prize for the best challenge of the day went to the Kuoni Crusaders for Day One, The Green Ladies for Day Two, and Team Rylan (yes, there was someone dressed as Rylan) for Day Three. The Best Car was awarded to Pussy Patrol for their lovely cat car. The Best Team was awarded to the Holy Rollers (Priests & Nuns) even though one of their cars didn’t make it to Amsterdam today. The disco taxi also didn't make it to Amsterdam, and was currently on a low loader making its way back to the UK. 27 teams started, 24 teams finished! The Green Ladies came out on top, deservedly so. ArtAV that had being doing the filming throughout had put together and edited a film that was shown at the end – what a lovely momento. I do hope we can get a link to it, so you can see for yourselves how much effort some teams went to. The Grand Total raised for charity as of this evening was just over £40,000 between us all. What an achievement for Sarah and Nick – who I think will now be pressured to put the event on all over again next year!

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