Another early start, but the enticement of getting an early hot shower to start the day was enough to get me out of bed, knowing that I needed to get my bus into town and be registered before 9am. There was bound to be a queue, so I wanted to get down to the town centre just after 8am, as today was show time!
Turned out there was a small-ish queue, but unfortunately the bus was not allowed into the town centre until I had my registration pack details sorted. So I had to pull over to the side of the road in a waiting zone and then walk to the centre to join the hoards on foot to get my registration details sorted. It was a good job I came early to get all of this sorted! Along with getting my welcome goody bag and registration details sorted, I was assigned a number for the event. It just so happened that my number turned out to be 666, which I had to admit made me leave with an (evil) grin on my face, did they know something about my bus that I didn’t?!
So with my registration sticker proudly in place on my front windscreen, I was now allowed into the centre of town to park with the other vehicles on display for the weekend. Unlike the show in Ninove where things are looser and more random in terms of where things are displayed/parked, because of the rarity of some of the vehicles (and I suspect because of the organised cultural mindset of the organisers), we were directed to different areas of the city streets and open spaces depending on what you were driving.
Buses were in one zone, Barndoor buses another, bugs in one street, Schwimmwagens another. Yes I used the plural of the word Schwimmwagen as there was more than one driving around the streets!! These are things you can often think of belonging to private collections, or being on display in museums. Here they were on the streets for all to see… a dream come true for me, I love these crazy little amphibious vehicles!
The show seemed really, really busy. You heard accents from all over the world, some of which even I could just about understand (American, Australian, New Zealand!). I even managed to bump into a couple of people who I actually knew from the UK, even some from little ol’ Hastings which was nice 🙂 There was just so much stuff to try to take in, it was in some ways quite overwhelming, but in a very, very good way! 🙂
I’ve taken a fair few pics from the event, so I’ll make a gallery for them when I get a bit more time/better internet access, as there will be a lot to process! Keep your eyes posted for blog updates or subscribe so you don’t miss them!
I then headed back to the bus for some food and a brew. I had some nice chats whilst there with various people about the bus, which with the cargo door canopy on, seemed to attract a fair amount of attention. The mornings highlight for me was three young boys who came to look at the bus, they were just so excited to see it! I let them come an explore in the back and then they asked if they could sit in the front and pretend to drive it. So I opened up the cab door for them and they were straight away playing at driving the bus off on their own little adventures! Happy moments for them 🙂
The early morning start and all the walking around left me a bit jaded by the afternoon, and I sort of lost track of what other things were going on. Fortunately I bumped into someone I knew who reminded me about seeing a group of the Schwimmwagens (literally a 4×4 amphibious floating/swimming car) that will be playing around and giving people rides in the nearby Weser river! This was a show highlight for me that I just could not miss! It was all a bit confusing about where it was all actually taking place, but I found the name of the village from one of the very helpful event marshals who kindly put it in my TomTom sat nav for me. I suddenly had a renewed vigour as this was something I had always wanted to see!
Time to leave my spot in town and drive off to go see some Schwimmwagens schwimm! 🙂 It was taking place at a small village a few Km’s outside of Hessisch Oldendorf. There was a small ferry-boat service that crossed the Weser river taking cars over a few at a time. A cruise around the local area was an option for the show, so various air cooled vehicles were making good use of this ferry. The river at this point had a concrete entry/exit ramp into the river, so this would be the perfect spot for the Schwimmwagens to get in and out of the water.
By the time I had got there and found a spot to park, there was a big old crowd surrounding the slipway. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Schwimmwagens as they were schwimmin’ their way downstream to arrive at this point. I worked my way through the people on the river bank to try and get a good vantage point and waited along with the rest of the crowd for their arrival… It wasn’t long before a few shouts were heard, along with the fairly unmistakable sound of the vintage flat four air cooled engine chugging along, slightly muffled by the water. Everyone was soon on their feet and cheering as the Schwimmwagens came into sight, and one by one, they exited from water to land, morphing seamlessly from one moment being an amphibious vehicle, to the next being an off-road 4×4 vehicle. Seeing this alone was worth the drive over to Germany in itself! 🙂
Seeing these actual ex-wartime vehicles in peaceful/fun use today was amazing. They are both very rare and very expensive, but it was so great to see them actually being used on land and in water rather than kept in a museum. People had booked rides in them raising money for charity, and as a spectacle to sit and watch them making a splash and schwimmin’ around really made my day, and quite probably the whole trip – this was just not something you see everyday!
So do you fancy seeing some more pics from the show itself? First gallery created here…
So that’s some of my photos from day one of the event, I’ll process and upload another gallery along with some more updates from the show… please feel free to share the blog and subscribe for news and picture updates that will be coming along soon…