4 countries, 2 days, 1 car, 3 crazy fans and a lot of snow
4.30am the alarm goes off. Head straight to the window to see if there has been anymore snow. Quite simply, if there had been more snow, we’d have not have left the warmth of the house and into the freezing cold.
Three of us, myself (Gregg/ Gillingham), my dad (Andy) and a mate kev hit the road at 5am into the great unknown.
Building up to the weekend, i had spent a huge deal of time trawling weather websites looking at the weather forecasts. To say that we were taking a chance driving to Germany, is an understatement. Friends, family, work colleagues all basically told us we’re mad and that they’d see us at Christmas.
My dads car is kitted out with a European sat nav. It planned the route and told us that from Gillingham we’re 326 miles from Gelsenkirchen. Unfortunately, the sat nav came with a very annoying women (surprise) that passed on very confusing directions. Chuck in listening to England throw away the cricket against Australia and my dads ‘chill out’ CD, entertainment on this trip was at a premium.
For this trip we used the Euro Tunnel Train and we were on the French motorway for 7.45am. Flying along the motorway at 90mph, we were thinking ‘easy, we’ll, be in GE for 11.30am.
The closer we got to Belgium, the worser the conditions got. 3 lanes became 2 lanes and the roads quite icy. Progress had slowed. By the time we got to Gent, we were down to 1 lane and in nasty traffic jam (why not look here to find any alternative route to the destination).
The road has dissappeared. No tarmac, just white snow and ice. At this stage we were considering turning around. I text Chris to ask what the weather was like in GE – No snow, just cold was the response. Once we got past the jack-knifed lorry we decided to continue on and review at Antwerp. The roads were clear in Antwerp so positvity returned to the car.
Signs for Duisburg we now upon us as was the next traffic jam. The feeling of ‘why the fuck are we doing this?’ had returned to the car. Also reports were coming in from the UK that severe snow storms were battering the south east.
After negotiating some questionable directions from the Sat Nav we finally made it to the hotel at GE. Operation dump bags and put on extra clothes commenced. We hailed down a taxi and then proceeded to the clubhaus – some 35 mins later we arrived. Tired, emotional, stressed and to be honest worried about getting home. Whether it was because we arrived quite late, there did not seem to be as many members today and the atmosphere was not quite the same. 3 Veltins later we headed to the Nordkurve.
We took up our usual spot in the far left hand corner of the Nordkurve. It was a shame that no other members could join us today. The game itself was low in entertainment but the result was great. The atmosphere in the stadium was very flat and probably the quietest we had heard it. We had some good banter and chat with some other Schalke fans during the game and after.
Back to the clubhaus, a couple more beers and then back into central GE. The plan was to go to the Hibernia Brauhaus but it was closed. It was also about -10 degrees and very very cold. We walked up the street and found another place to eat. Good meal, but we were all beaten and worried about the level of snow that may fall overnight. So back to the hotel for an early night.
There had been some snow, but not loads. Getting out of GE was a nightmare and pretty dangerous. Soon as we were on the motorway it was fine. We made it to Calais for the train and got home no problems.