A bit of Strasbourg, a bit of Rallye de France and a lot of trains

I had to cut down the photos quite a lot, but there are still over 100. Can be seen here.

Before I came to Germany I checked out the F1 and WRC calendars for the months that I’d be here. While I ran out of luck on the F1 front, the WRC Rallye de France Alsace was taking place while here. And not that far away, just across the French/German border, due West of Reutlingen.

SS19

A week before the rally I started asking around to find out if anyone else was interested and got a few responses. Looking in to getting to the rally was a bit trickier though. The rally was about 180km away, buses didn’t go at appropriate times, and were similarly priced to trains, fairly expensive. Looking at over 100 Euros for a return ticket on the fast trains. And that was only a trip to Strasbourg, never mind trying to get to the stages themselves.

SS21 – left: Loeb (won the rally, and thus his 9th championship) – right: Solberg

A car rental would have been ideal, but the agents in Reutlingen don’t keep great hours on weekends, meaning complicated arrangements and collecting a car in Stuttgart, this linked with expensive rates meant that we were left with our old friend the Schone Wochenende train ticket.

SS21 – left: Atkinson – right: Hirvonen

I asked a few friends if they were interested in going, and before I knew it, we had a group of 13 people walking to Reutlingen train station at 05:30 on Sunday morning. Not all specifically interested in the rally, but interested in travelling a bit. Four hours of trains got us to Strasbourg where we had to take another train to Haguenau, the scene of stage 19. The stage was taking place in the town, and as soon as we walked out the station we saw thousands of spectators. First thing to notice, people with ladders. Lots of them. Apparently veteran rally spectators know how difficult it can be to see the track.

8 Russians, 1 Belgian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Jordanian, 1 South African, 1 Swede

We spent almost two hours there and grabbed some lunch. Then hopped on another train to Bischwiller, another small French town. A short walk to the edge of town led us to stage 21 where we spent the next two hours. We managed to get there before the stage started, so could get a decent spot.

Although it was great to be at an official WRC event, with the top drivers and cars, I think the lack of spectators and barriers back home mean I can get better photos in SA :P

European Union Buildings

After that another train back to Strasbourg. We had hoped to catch the closing ceremony in Strasbourg, but couldn’t find it, so instead opted for a walk to the European Parliament buildings. I found Strasbourg extremely beautiful, lovely old buildings all the way through. We had to stop in front of the Russian, Belgian and Swedish consulates for photos for the respective citizens. Eventually we made it to parliament where we had a look round for a while.

European Union Parliament

Two tram rides back to the train station, grabbed some supper and had to make a mad dash for the train back to Germany. 3 hours later and a late train, we were about to miss a connection. Another mad dash, and fear about missing both trains, and we were lucky enough to make it home just after midnight.

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