After six years using public transport to get around in Switzerland, I bought a car in 2010 and gave it its nickname: the “Four-Wheeled Tripod”. The only stipulation for choosing a car was that it had to be comfortable and efficient enough to do the journey from home to England with no difficulty.
After deciding against a more powerful four-wheel-drive version of the Golf Mk. 4, I bought a silver 2002 TDI and immediately took it for an inaugural drive – and photo shoot – in the Diemtigtal valley. As cars must apparently be named, we christened it “Bernie” after Bernhard Langer: a German golf pro. (Geddit?)
Little did I realise at the time that we would travel quite so widely with it. The odometer stood at around 89,000km at the time and after over four years of adventures, and amazingly few maintenance bills, it now stands at 245,000km. I would’ve liked to get to 249,000km, as this would’ve meant a round 100,000 miles, but time tells and so it is time to trade it in for a newer car. (More to come in an upcoming blog post.)
It’s been great fun driving the Golf and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to it. I’ve always loved driving; especially when my car has done me the favour of not breaking down. The Golf has been true to the tradition of diesel efficiency – a tank of fuel gets us from home to the Channel in northern France – but the turbocharger allows for what car nuts call “plenty of poke” when accelerating or winding around mountain hairpins. The cruise control has been an additional boon and I’m so glad that the garage at Grosshöchstetten who sold us the car agreed to fit it as part of the deal.
We’ve collected those kilometres from all over Europe. I’ve driven onto the mountain passes here in Switzerland several times, as well as to many national destinations from Geneva to Lake Constance and from Schaffhausen to Ponte Tresa. Further afield, we’ve travelled to the south of France, to Florence and (via ferry) to Elba, to Bayreuth and into the Czech Republic.
We’ve travelled to the south of England, to south Wales, to East Anglia and to Kent. I drove to Amsterdam to spend Christmas there with Jo and my parents, then all the way to Inverness and the Cromarty Firth. That was the longest journey I’ve ever driven in one round and it was a fitting final big adventure in the Golf. 4,500km in two and a half weeks, with no problems and comfort all the way.