Art & Private Client Account Executive, Robin Nathan, has been lucky enough to join Redline247 on their 2017 European Supercar Tour. Follow Robin’s journey in this daily blog where he will be sharing some of his experiences and photos from each day.
Day 7 – Amsterdam to Wiltshire (352 miles by car, 31 miles in Channel Tunnel, 35 miles on Great Western Railway)
So this is it, the final day. Last night was memorable for many people… or would be if they could remember it! And now it is time for the participants to go their separate ways. Five cars went by ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich and the other three cars, including the Porsche I had been driving all week, went to Calais to catch the train.
First things first – breakfast! A beautiful plate of pancakes and berries whilst overlooking the skyline of Amsterdam – days don’t start much better than this!
Second order of the day – trying to make our way out of Amsterdam. Sounds much easier than it is! By this time I had been in the city for 18 hours and I am still no clearer on who has priority – is it the pedestrians, bikes or cars? Who knows? Either way, we drove alongside some beautiful canals, got onto the main road and headed to the motorway.
Utrecht, Antwerp, Ghent, Oostende and Calais were on our list of cities for the day. Sadly not all were stops but cities which we at least passed. The weather was a real mix with sunshine, showers and incredible thunderstorms. We had an hour to wait until the train left so it was off to duty free to purchase presents for missed loved ones and chocolates for colleagues. The train takes 35 minutes from Calais to Folkestone so I took the opportunity to grab 40 winks.
We changed cars at Folkestone in order that Vanessa and Joe could head northwards, whilst Andy very kindly gave me a lift to Reading to get on a train to Wiltshire. The train journey was a great opportunity to reflect on what had been an adventure of a lifetime. From beautiful cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm, to the incredible roads and breath-taking views of the Trollstigen Pass and the Atlantic Coastal way, this really has been a week to remember.
I asked all of the participants to give me a bit of background behind their vehicle of choice, and this seems like as good a time as any for a bit of an insight into the mind of someone who takes part in these incredible, slightly crazy, tours.
- “I chose my M4 Convertible for a few reasons.
- The mix of quality and speed for the price is great. Amazing value for money. I was keeping up with the £100k+ boys this week!
- The convertible because it’s great to cruise around on those sunny days and burn my bald spot!
For the trip it was a dream! Munched miles like a pro, even with the roof down I could carry 1 large and 1 carry on suitcase, and a few little bits. It’s just a great all-rounder!! And looks great in that blue, if I do say so myself!”
- “The 911 Turbo has now completed 4 driving events all across Europe and done in total over 12,000 miles plus on these events. It is now 4 plus years old and still my weapon of choice for comfort, speed, economy and for its power. The turbo always puts a smile on my face when it’s booted, especially going up mountain passes, the noise is almost sexy.”
- “…We used the family taxi (Audi RS4) just luv the car and the fact it’s an estate makes me smile even more. I just hope I can hold onto the Audi for the next trip.”
So here I am, sitting at my desk writing up the last leg of my incredible journey. I genuinely feel a bit sad that I’m not going to be getting in a car tomorrow. Adventures like this can make you reevaluate what you do in life. For me, I have committed to taking my young son and my wife back to Norway so they can experience just some of what we have just done. I can’t wait. Now just have to get my hands on a supercar!
Day 6 – Copenhagen to Amsterdam (575 miles)
The last day of the official tour – although of course everyone still has to get home tomorrow! SO whilst the official tour started on 5thSeptember from Copenhagen, and will finish on the 10th in Amsterdam, I will be including my journeys to and from the start and finish as, for me, they are still very much a part of my experience.
Today we had a choice of routes – do we go with the ferry from Rodby to Puttgarden (saving 83 miles) or do we stay on the road via Odense, Kolding and Flensburg, safe in the knowledge that you won’t have to wait for the ferry?! Seven out of the eight cars chose the road route, with only Freddie and Adam in the Boxster opting for the ferry. We later discovered that this was more to do with dodgy navigating than a desire to take the ferry – they went the wrong way! And as luck would have it, they turned up two minute before the ferry was due to leave and managed to get straight on it!
The main group of the cars were hit with torrential rain and multiple sets of roadworks which really hampered progress. Freddie and Adam, despite leaving way behind everyone else, ended up being in front of the main group of cars leaving most people wishing they’d got the ferry! Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20!
The journey was largely uneventful until we got into Amsterdam. Now I’ve been to this city a couple of times but always flown in and only ever been a pedestrian. It came as no surprise to me that there were quite a few cyclists but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re trying to find a hotel. It’s still unclear where and when cyclists have an official right of way but in reality they appear to have right of way absolutely everywhere. This makes for lots of heart stopping moments and the odd profanity! It doesn’t help when you have the owner of the car you’re driving sitting in the passenger seat, and she’s visibly shaking as we drive around!
That evening we were treated to a fantastic meal at The Harbour Club – an incredible building complimented by even more amazing food. The huge open kitchen allows the diner to view the chefs busily prepare food, whilst the lobsters swim around in two huge tanks. We were treated to culinary delights such as Wagyu Carpaccio, fresh handmade sushi rolls, beef tataki, oysters, Rode Poon, Steak – and the list goes on. The evening was brilliant and everyone was in fantastic spirits. Andy and Vanessa presented two couples with awards – one for “The Spirit of Redline” and the other for the best fancy dress. Afterwards it was off to Amsterdam proper to find a bar or two to celebrate the final night.
The overriding feeling from all of the participants, me included, is that this tour is incredibly personal – far more so than many other tours, which have five times the number of cars. Andy and Vanessa go to great lengths to ensure they cater to everyone’s needs, and they worked tirelessly not only before the event but during the event, to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. You just don’t get this personal touch with other tours. My thanks go to all of the participants for their warm welcome, generosity and laughs. And of course the final thanks have to go to Andy and Vanessa not only for organising the whole thing but for inviting me to tag along – I would not have missed it for all the tea in China.
Tomorrow it’s the relatively short drive to Calais, a hop under the channel on the train, and then home to Wiltshire.
Day 5 – Stockholm to Copenhagen (408 miles)
We had a good few miles to cover today but at the end we were promised not only the Oresund Bridge but a surprise that would blow us away. The distances covered each day look pretty monstrous, and in reality, they are. But that is the entire point of these trips; the driving is not just a means to an end – the driving IS the holiday. The company, the camaraderie, the roads, the scenery, the route planning, the random stops to meet locals, the terrible photos – all of this adds up to an unforgettable experience.
We were driving alongside the Vattern Lake in Sweden, which I later found out is the second largest lake in Sweden and the sixth largest in Europe. This lake is so massive we thought we were next to the coast and had somehow taken a terrible diversion.
At the end of the lake is a town called Jonkoping. Nothing hugely interesting in that but the next landmark after Jonkoping is the Oresund bridge. The Oresund Bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, connecting two major metropolitan areas: Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö. I have been to both Copenhagen and Stockholm previously but have flown both times so never had a chance to travel on this bridge. It is 7.8km long and took 5 years to complete. The really interesting part is that part way across, it transforms into a tunnel via an artificial island, which was built using material dredged up whilst the bridge was being built. I’m not a bridge fanatic by any means but this particular structure has always held a fascination for me for some reason!
So it was 100% Murphy’s law that when we turned up to cross the bridge the weather was awful and we could barely see in front of us let alone the impressive views! Funnily enough, when we got out of the tunnel, in Denmark, the weather had cleared up.
We had been promised a surprise that evening, and Vanessa and Andy did not disappoint. We all arrived outside the hotel to a fleet of bicycle powered rickshaws, which whisked us through the streets to our destination. We arrived at what appeared to be a closed supercar rental garage. Andy made a call and the owner of the garage came out and opened the roller shutter. We all went in, still a bit bemused, as we walked past two Lamborghinis and an R8, into the back of the garage where there was a secret bar, with a Ferrari, McLaren, another Lamborghini and a Porsche. What a place to socialise! We had a fantastic hour and half chatting with the owner and the other guests, and then walked the short distance to Pluto – one of the foremost restaurants in Copenhagen. Half way through the evening, we noticed a bunch of paparazzi camped outside the restaurant and discovered that there was a princess in the same restaurant! The food was incredible – and almost never-ending! The final dessert course was served at midnight!
Another day over and I’m a bit sad that tomorrow is the last official day of the tour – Copenhagen to Amsterdam!
Day 4 – Are, Sweden to Stockholm
This was due to be a day to munch some miles. We woke to a stunning view of the mountains which we hadn’t seen the night before. It was also fancy dress day… Swedish fancy dress day!
So we had a full troop of Abba, 5 chaps in lederhosen, 2 Swedish chefs from the muppets, Beeker from the muppets, a couple of chaps in Morph suits and a ‘beer wench’! To say the other guests in this five star hotel were bemused is an understatement! Especially when we had all the cars arranged outside the front of the hotel and Abba’s greatest hits was being blasted from the M4!
We travelled pretty much as a group for the first 120 miles. Lots of changes in speed limit and the accompanying speed cameras meant that we had to keep rather under the radar. Which is tricky when you are travelling in 8 super cars and the occupants are all in fancy dress! Oh, I forgot to mention, my co driver was was also in a bright red ‘beer wench’ outfit. His name is Joe. He’s 25. He forgot his outfit so he had a forfeit!
Once the roads had opened up a bit we were able to make some progress and so as not to draw too much attention, we split into smaller groups.
Mark and his son Luke were driving a beautiful RS 4 and we all stopped at a garage which had a couple of really interesting cars outside – a Dodge Charger in full General Lee colours and a blue Charger. We went and had a chat with the guys in the garage who were typically friendly. It took a little explaining as to why Joe was wearing a red dress but they really didn’t seem too fazed! They invited us in for coffee and snacks and we discussed the tour, they were a great bunch.
It was then off to Sundsvall, a right hand turn and South to Stockholm.
The participants in the Redline 247 European tour are an incredibly diverse bunch. We have everything from a defence consultant, a telecoms guru, a nurse and an IT specialist. The one common factor is a love of cars and having a good time, and everyone has committed 100% every day. The motivating factors in Andy and Vanessa Carter can’t be underestimated. Quite how you organise 16 people in 8 cars, have them drive across Scandinavia with hotels and meals all sorted , and it running seamlessly, is absolutely beyond me – you two are amazing.
We arrived at the Hotel in the centre of Stockholm and the feeling of turning up in 8 amazing cars never gets old! We were rhen whisked across the city to an amazing restaurant on the 26th floor with 360 degree views across the city.
Tomorrow is Stockholm to Copenhagen and apparently a very special surprise in the evening.
Day 3 – Lom, Norway to Are, Sweden (480 miles/13 hours driving)
Today was to be the best day, as far as driving roads are concerned, of the trip so far. It was also billed to be one of the longest – in excess of 11 hours driving. The highlights of the day were the Trollstigen Pass and the Atlantic Ocean Road.
Driving into the mountains in Norway, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had been transported to the moon. Incredibly rugged and beautiful, we found ourselves above the snowline, and it was at this point the guys from Redline 247 decided to have a team photo opportunity!
The Trollstigen pass is a tight, steep mountain road with hairpins, waterfalls and views that take your breath away. It’s a 10% gradient, which is steep at the best of times, let alone when you add in hairpins, oncoming coaches and scenery that makes it tough to keep your eyes on the road. We managed to keep together as a group for most of the pass until we got struck behind a coach, with part of the group being able to get past whilst others had to wait their turn.
Having driven up, and then descended the 2,300ft pass, we were all looking forward to the Atlantic Ocean Road. It was another drive full of tunnels and ferries. I lost count of the number of tunnels, but we had three ferries. Due to the number of fjords in Norway, they use ferries as a quick and cheap way to cross a stretch of water without having to build a bridge.
The Atlantic Way is famous for a number of reasons. The first of which is an incredibly steep, and short, bridge. The road itself is only just over 8km long but with the majority of that being in the Atlantic Ocean, it is an incredibly impressive road. We crossed from islet to islet over countless bridges. The vista was stunning. I would recommend anyone who likes driving to come and visit this part of the world. It’s an absolute mission to get here but when you do you are gifted with roads that challenge and reward in equal measure, and landscapes that would make Turner weep.
There is a huge amount of work being done to both the Norwegian and Swedish infrastructure, which means that not only were we frequently confronted with road works, but that the sat navs often got confused and had the cars in the middle of the ocean!
During the final leg of the journey, up to Trondheim, back into Sweden and on to the Copperhill Lodge in Are, the weather sadly took a turn for the worse. For the last couple of hours, we were driving in the near darkness in the pouring rain, having already driven for 10 and a half hours!
But it was worth it; the hotel interior is absolutely stunning, with full height six-storey atrium – I can’t wait until tomorrow when we can see the views of the surrounding countryside, I bet it’s going to be stunning.
Day 2 – Denmark to Norway (555 miles/11 hours driving)
My first amazing day of proper driving.
We left Copenhagen early – I was in the first car with one of the event organisers – with a view to arriving at our destination before the rest of the group so the organiser could ensure rooms were ready and welcome drinks were poured.
We drove to Elsinore and caught the ferry to Helsingborg in Sweden. The crossing took 20 minutes and was just about long enough to have a hot chocolate and a pastry. We drove up the west coast of Sweden, which was stunning. Sadly the weather was a bit against us and we had drizzle, rain and/or very low cloud for most of the day, which meant we really didn’t get to see the best of the views.
Up through Gothenburg and past Oslo we drove, only stopping for a comfort break or fuel.
The tour has a very active WhatsApp group and is constantly posting on social media throughout the day. Late morning we heard via the grapevine that some of the group had been, and I phrase this carefully, re-educated at the hands of the local constabulary and had their wallets lightened somewhat! When you’re taking part in a supercar driving tour you rather expect this to happen at some point!
Despite the weather we were in great spirits all day and we laughed until we cried as my co-driver realised that whilst she was directing me left, she was pointing right and we were in dire danger of going totally the wrong way!
The majority of the day was spent on motorway as we had some serious miles to cover but the last part of the journey was through Lillehammer, where we saw the ski jumps from the 1994 winter Olympics and some truly stunning driving roads. Sweeping bends following the shore of a Norwegian lake – truly breathtaking.
We arrived at the Fossheim hotel in Los – a beautifully quaint traditional lodge where a cold beer greeted us on arrival. We have another long day ahead of us tomorrow and fingers crossed the weather lifts!
Day 1 – UK to Denmark
Many of the guests had spent their day driving from the UK to France using the Eurotunnel or ferry and had spent the rest of the day driving through France, Germany and into Denmark. Unfortunately for me it was a case of car, train, plane, train and walk!
The flight to Copenhagen was pretty standard; the journey only became a little hairy when I had to get the train to Skodsborg and there were no maps to show which trains were going where!
But I found my way to the hotel in Skodsborg eventually, at about 17.50 on Monday afternoon, met with Andy Carter from Redline 247 and waited for the other drivers to appear.
They arrived in a couple of batches – a few Porsches, an Aston Martin, BMW M4 and Audi RS4 completed the group. Welcome drinks were enjoyed and then it was off to the restaurant. Starters were scallops, followed by a main course of fish and local vegetables and dessert of truffles and chocolate brownie with berries.
All in all, a great first day and looking forward to tomorrow which will take us from Copenhagen to Norway, which will consist of around 10 hours of driving, covering 550 miles.
Don’t forget to keep checking in to see what we’ve been up to!
Author: Robin Nathan
Tel: 07557 562868