Finishing university is an achievement. But what I really looked forward to – the thing that gave me motivation to plough on while I sat through numerous examinations – was the graduation trip after. While most students are content backpacking their way across several countries, I wanted – nope, needed – to visit a few destinations in Europe enshrined in the automotive world. I couldn’t miss the opportunity while I still had the chance, being based in the UK and having access to a car I could call my own.
The eventual end destination would be the Alps, but to my good fortune, I would be crossing Germany before I got there via the Eurotunnel. With a bit of research online, I realised that the Nürburgring and the Black Forest would be on the way to Switzerland – a perfect route to break up what would have been a rather dull drive across France and Belgium on the highways. With the rough itinerary forming nicely, I then focused on planning the Alpine leg.
It’s a common misconception that the Alps are only in Switzerland, but it is in fact a mountain range that stretches 1,200km across eight countries, from France in the west to Austria and Slovenia in the east. With such a scale and magnitude, one can become lost really quickly in deciding which parts of the Alps to explore.
With Grindelwald (one of my favourite towns from an earlier visit) marked out as my base, I searched online for nearby mountain passes to drive on. Fortunately, four of the finest roads lay within the vicinity, although with no highways around, it would take an hour and a half to get to the nearest one. The greatest them all – Stelvio Pass – was almost five hours away, but I couldn’t pass up this side trip.