(Also check out Nico Van Steen's London Pics)
Marcus Buck (BuckKonz@aol.com), the roving videographer, captured the highlights of the Tour on tape. He has graciously offerred to make copies available to those who want one by providing it at his cost - about 30 DM (about $20 US). The 60 minute tape is available in PAL or NTSC (North America), VHS or S-VHS.
If you are interested, please contact Marcus directly!
Allan and Petra began nagging me last summer about coming to the 4th Annual London Tour. At the time, I didn't take them especially seriously. But after Petra and Robin made an appearance at Miata '96 in Toronto, it was difficult to come up with a convincing reason why I shouldn't go. So I went ahead and booked a cheapo airfare for my fabulous weekend trip to Europe!
March 20, 1400 - I took a short flight from New Jersey to Washington before catching the plane to Amsterdam. Naively, I assumed I'd get some sleep on the plane so I'd be ready to go upon arriving in Amsterdam the following morning. NOT! It seems the Dutch national soccer team, having just placed third in an international tournament sponsored by - get this - the US Central Intelligence Agency (or was it the Secret Service?) - was also on the same flight. The entire team was right behind me! Sleeping wasn't on their to-do list. Which meant it wouldn't be on mine either.
March 21, 0700 - I stumbled off the plane at Schiphol and made my way to the exits. Someone was calling my name. Aha! There's Keith and Jocelyn! We're off to a good start! Another 10 minutes and Petra came bounding through the airport to fetch us. Robin was waiting in the big sedan outside. He then shuttled us back to his flat outside Amsterdam. Keith was a bit too excited about jumping into a European MX-5. So he amused himself for awhile in Robin's toy Miata. (After we put a Miata.net sticker on it, of course.)
March 21 - 0930 - After Keith, Joce, and I took a few minutes to freshen up, we jumped back into Robin's car and headed off to downtown Amsterdam. We parked next to a new Mercedes SLK roadster, and booked ourselves a canal tour. The tour was great, of course. Amsterdam is a beautiful city. At this point, we were wide awake - especially with the cold, damp air blowing in our faces. After the tour, we went for a stroll through Amsterdam's famous Red Light district. It was, er, interesting. Maybe our puritanical, self proclaimed United States "moralists" could learn a thing or two in Amsterdam. But enough about politics. We stopped for lunch in a small downtown cafe before heading back to Robin's flat to fetch the Miatas!
March 21 - 1400 - From Amsterdam, we took a beautiful backcountry route to Petra's flat in Zoetermeer. There's an awful lot of water in Holland! Little canals everywhere! And the roads are so narrow, that its necessary to drive on the grass to allow oncoming traffic to pass without "kissing" fenders! What a pretty country! I only wish we could have found a place to pull over to take photos of those incredible windmills.
March 21 -
1500 - Waiting for us at Petra's was most of the Dutch contingent as well as
Espen Tandberg who came from Norway to join the fun! It was great to meet Nico and
Jaqueline van Steen and Cleveland Indian's fan Frank Mom. Together we caravaned to Antwerp
to have dinner with the Belgian crew and Werner and Petra Cassel from Germany!
March 21 - 1800 - We pulled into the parking lot of a small Italian restaurant in Antwerp. There were already a couple of other Miatas waiting for us. Within 5 minutes, we were greeted by Werner and Petra Cassel, Frank Brochoven and his significant other, Hilde, American expat Karyl, and MX-5 lunatic Lino and his wife Kati.
Dinner was, well, long. Evidently, this little establishment had never seen a group quite this large before. It kind of threw them. It was almost 2 1/2 hours before they served dinner. Some of us were starving by then. Others of us (your's truly) were about to collapse onto their dinner plates from total exhaustion having been awake for 36 straight hours without so much as a catnap.
Still, it was fun and exciting to meet so many Miata netters for the first time.
After dinner, we piled into the MX-5s, the North American contingent all taking passenger seats. We knew we wouldn't make it to Calais in one piece if we were driving, so we decided to just play it safe and sit in on the other side of the car. I was out cold within about 10 minutes. Keith said he was in a coma as well.
March 22 - 0030 - We arrived at the Formula 1 "hotel" in Calais. Let me tell you a little bit about the Formula 1. This is just one step above camping. The place is unattended. When you arrive, you put your credit card in the little machine out front. Out pops a slip of paper with a code number which you punch into the box next to your room to get in. The room consists of a double bed with a single bunk bed above it. In one corner is a sink. In another corner is a little shelf and a TV. That's it. No closet. No mini-bar. No bathroom. No shower. No phone. No room service. There wasn't even a pillow or towels! To bathe, one must head down the hall to the shower rooms. No towels there, either. After your shower, the little shower room whirrs and rumbles as it self cleans! Ingenious. Fortunately, I was tired enough that I didn't really care. Somehow, though, I don't think Michele (my wife who didn't come along on this particular trip) would take too kindly to it.
March 22 - 0730 - A knock on my door. I opened it and there, staring at me, is this tall, goofy looking guy with a big smile on his face wearing a Miata.net shirt. It dawned on me that this was Allan Elegeert from Belgium - my PowWow buddy and confident! I quickly slammed the door. (Gotta make the right first impression after all. )
March 22 - 0800 - We all took a few minutes to chat out in the Formula 1 parking lot. Then it was off to the ferry terminal. On arrival, we found another 20 or so MX-5s from all over Europe! There was a group from Italy, another from Germany as well as others from Belgium and Holland. This is truly an international event!