We arrived in Paris at Place Vendôme where next week the Tour de France ride in. The first car had arrived around 1 pm and we followed along behind at about 2.30, being waved through the streets by girls on roller skates. We actually did an extra circle around Place de la Concorde which is an enormous roundabout because one of the girls on the roller skates seemed to be waving the black and white chequered flag in a languid fashion in the wrong direction. It must have been her fault because my navigation was perfect.
Tom and Aurélie, Tristan, Clémentine and James were all standing there waving us through. It was fantastic to see them all and we had to stop the car to give them a big hug. We were both quite emotional and it was wonderful to finally reach Paris safety after experiencing so much. We drove through the finishing arch, had a glass of champagne and mutually congratulated a lot of the other competitors who were all very happy to arrive. There were family and friends everywhere and much hugging and kissing.
Paris is a beautiful city and we couldn’t imagine a more exciting place to finish the rally in.
We had a big gala dinner last night in the beautiful dining room of the Intercontinental hotel La Grande where Naplolean 111 has stayed.
There were prizes given out and speeches made. We received a bronze medal for our efforts. Our final place was 32nd after all the penalties for the time we missed when the water pump and castor bar broke. Tilly has driven like a champion since her new water pump and I am very proud of how Gunther has driven. We didn’t even get a ding after all those incredible time trials. Well, maybe the bash plate underneath looks a little bashed and the rims are a little cracked, and the duco somewhat stone damaged but other than that the car is as good as new. I wish I could say the same about how I look. I think my crows feet are about 3 cms deeper and I definitely have more white hair!
The experiences we had and the people we met throughout Russia, Belarus and Poland as they helped us get Tilly back on the road was worth every kilometer in the tow truck.
The stories we have and the other people in the rally have been marvelous and we hope that we will have made some new and valuable friends. Watching how people overcame their difficulties and how they kept on going; driving 4000 kms alone to catch up, wearing ski goggles and driving 2000 kms through the rain and cold in Mongolia with a broken windscreen and a very bashed car after rolling, the heroism in rescuing a crew after a very bad accident and helping each other in many different situations in the spirit of the rally, has all been a big learning curve in living and working together.
We came from many different countries; Australia, Norway, England, Belgium, Ireland, America, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, China Hong Kong and of course Wiesbaden. The rally has opened our perspective and taught us about other cultures and also shown us that despite differing languages and cultural Mores, the bottom line is that we are living on an amazing planet and have very very much to be grateful for. It sounds glib and we have heard it all 1000 times, but jumping out of our comfort zones and living it is very different.
Thank you to everyone who helped us and believe it or not Gunther and I are still talking to each other after being joined at the hip for 6 weeks night and day. A big ask for any person, especially when there were certain times of the day where there was a little stress. Gunther is bloody lucky that I am so placid. (I’m safe there because he probably won’t read this last blog)
OVER AND OUT FROM THE DREAM TEAM AND TILLY. THANKS FOR COMING ALONG FOR THE RIDE.