Flivver by the Beautiful Blue Danube

MG Car Club of Italy - MG by the Beautiful Blue Danube

This tour along one of the major rivers of Europe took us to the two Capital cities of Austria and Hungary. Starting at Salzburg we travelled through some of the most beautiful places of those two countries including the Capitals Vienna and Budapest.

This trip was organised by Pier Luigi Fusaroli (Piero) of the MG Car Club of Italy and had been recommended to us by Malcolm and Linda Sayers.

... due to the heavy rain we went through the tunnels ...

Fran and I set out from Tamworth in our TA on Monday the 2nd of July at about 2.30 pm in the afternoon heading towards Dover. The weather when we set off was not ideal, however, as usual the hood was down after about an hour travelling down the A5 we got hit by a sudden cloudburst and by the time we got the hood up we were soaked. Sitting in the car drying ourselves and the car out and fortunately seeing the funny side of it, we carried on the journey with the hood up. The hood stayed up for the next 5 days during our travel to the event.

Arriving at Dover at about 8.30 pm we booked in at the Travel Lodge had a meal and went to bed with an early call set for 6.00 am. Set out to catch the 8.10 am sailing for Calais, at the terminal we met up with Malcolm and Linda Sayers in their TD, we were to travel together to Salzburg to commence the tour.

Taking it relatively easy we drove to a village called Briey near Metz in France, here we found a reasonably priced hotel and booked in for the night. After a pleasant meal in the restaurant we had a walk around the park and river, retiring relatively early ready for an early start in the morning. We then set out for our next stopover and this was to be the Bodensee on the German, Swiss border. Here we found a hotel in the old town of Meersburg and booked in for the night, getting into the Italian mode we ate at an Italian restaurant, had a walk along the sea front and went back to the hotel ready for our next, not so early start as we were making our next stop Kitzbuhel about 2 hours from Salzburg. We should then arrive comfortably at about mid day in time for registration and booking into the Europa hotel ready to start the Danube tour. I would point out at this time that the hood had stayed up since we put it up on the Monday afternoon. Our intention was to drive over the passes on the Austrian Alps but as it would have been a waste of time due to the heavy rain we went through the tunnels instead. You need a lot of faith in your car when you are going through tunnels up to 8Km in length with very few if any in some of the tunnels anywhere to pull over in case of emergencies. Of course I had every faith in Flivver and she did not let us down.

The second oldest car was a 1937 saloon bodied SA

At the Europa the four of us met acquaintances that we had met before, Malcolm and Linda because of their extensive touring all over Europe a lot more than Fran and I but we did know friends from our time on our visits to MG events in Europe. That evening we had our first experience of the hospitality that we would have on the tour when we went to Hellbrunn Castle for dinner. Three courses and the wine included, this we were to discover was the format of the dining 'en-route', three courses, wine included for every meal including lunch!
The range of our type of vehicles was quite interesting, mine was the oldest a 1936 TA the next was an Australian couple with their daughter in a 1937 saloon bodied SA then 1x NA, 1 x VA, 3 x TC's, 3 x TD's and finally 2 x TF's. 2 from the UK, 1 from Australia, 5 from Germany, 1 from France 3 from Italy. Out of a total of 45 cars 12 of them were proper MG's before 1956 but not one MMM this year.

On Saturday morning the hood came down and off we set in not too bad a day and we headed towards our first stop on the tour at Steyr. We were following a tulip type map and with the aid of a normal road map you could work out where the route was to take you. However when you are busy sightseeing and keeping your eye on the road, leaving the navigation to Fran who was busy taking photographs of the stunning landscape we missed one of Piero's 'Attention' marks on the map and carried on blithely unaware that the rest of the group had turned off and went a short way round the Attersee lake. When we realised that the instructions were no longer making sense we looked at the route guide and the road map and discovered where we had gone wrong, by then we had gone a third of the way round the lake so we decided to carry on around it to pick the route up where we could see it leading away from the lake. It only looked a small lake on the road map; it turned out to be about 40 miles around the lake. With the time we had lost realising we were now off course and the extra time it took us to get round the lake to pick the right route up we were well behind schedule. We were due to go on a guided tour of Steyr at 6 pm and soon realised we would not make it, so we found a nice little café at the side of the road and had coffee and ice cream. This was going to be seriously late at Steyr and shortly after enjoying our break our 'phone rang and it was Malcolm asking if we were alright? Yes we replied, we naturally assumed that if they did not here from us that would mean we were OK, never assume, as you know to assume is to make an Ass of you and me!

We arrived in Steyr at about 6.30pm checked into the hotel and sorted out where the evening meal was to be, it turned out to be the Mader Hotel and that is where we enjoyed our usual three course meal with wine. Here we had to relate where we had gone wrong on the route, but as we had enjoyed hood down motoring for the first time in five days, we were only too pleased to tell everyone what a good time we had had going around Attersee Lake.

... on Sunday the 8th we visited Melk and the cathedral there

Sunday the 8th we set off to visit Melk and the cathedral there and it was on the way there that I had the first of my obligatory tyre problems (those that know us will understand that every time we go abroad we have tyre problems). The cord had snapped on the inner rim of the tyre and the inner tube was bulging the tyre off the wheel. We put the spare on and when we got to the Hilton Danube Hotel in Vienna a very efficient receptionist sorted out where we could obtain a 4.5 x 19 tyre from in Austria. This he did but as they could not guarantee what time it would come the next day we opted to having it delivered to our last but one destination in Graz. Knowing that there were enough 'T' types amongst us to have a loan of a wheel if the worst came to the worst and we had another tyre problem.

That night we had dinner in the hotel and the next day a change from the car, a guided coach tour around Vienna. Dinner that evening was at the Griethenbeisl Restaurant (the oldest one in Vienna). Then it was back to the hotel ready for an 8.30pm start the next day as we were to set off for Budapest, heading for the Mecure Hotel. It should have been the Novotel but the Hungarians cocked up the booking and had us transferred to the Mecure hotel. On the way to Budapest we stopped off for another three course lunch with wine at Hagyeshalom village. Then we continued our journey to Budapest, here we had dinner in the hotel and a wander round the city with a couple of MG enthusiasts from Budapest who had helped organise this part of the tour.

The next day we had a full day's guided tour of the city by coach and that evening a meal at a Greek restaurant next to the cathedral. In between the tour and the meal I went to the hotel and replaced my exhaust manifold gasket as it had started to 'blow' sometime before Budapest and I had been applying exhaust gum, gum for a few days before and it was now that bad Flivver sounded like a tractor. I had a spare one with me as before I set out on what was to be a 3,000 mile round trip I had replaced the clutch the week before I set out. I had fitted a new one then as the previous one had blown. To make sure I had two good surfaces to clamp the gasket between I had gone to the trouble of having the face of the exhaust manifold machined flat and had liberally applied gum, gum to the two faces. It still did not work and here I was 1,000 miles later fitting a new one. Whilst I was working on the car a passer by who was a fellow enthusiast for old motors asked what the problem was. As he was Hungarian and this is about the most difficult language for anyone to learn we had great fun conversing. He told me of two shops in Budapest where I could have proper gaskets made, funnily enough just off Octagon Square. So after I had replaced the gasket I got the underground to Octagon Square and just round the corner as he had drawn on the map were the two shops. The first one was closed but the second one was still open, as we arrived a guy was wheeling his bike out of the shop, when we found the proprietor he explained that the guy we had seen wheeling his bike away was his mechanic and he could not therefore make us a couple of gaskets. However he did sell us enough of 'proper gasket material' to make a couple of gaskets out of. I have since returning home made one and fitted it, as you can guess the new one I fitted in Budapest was blowing away quite merrily by the time I got home. I will tell you after I have done a thousand miles or so how my home made one fares. It is made from a much better quality material than that, which purports to be gasket material that the spares trade supply to us.

We did a night run in the cars around the City, we should have ended up in 'The Square of Hero's' in the city centre, unfortunately we got split up at the traffic lights and as we did not know where we were going we and the cars with us did an impromptu tour of the city finding our way back to the hotel. One good thing about our tour was that we went over two of Budapest's most famous bridges including 'The Chain Bridge' designed by a British engineer.

9.30am the next morning we set out for Band village and yes you have guessed correctly another three course lunch with wine at the Udvarhaz Gasthaus Restaurant. At 2.00pm we set out for Tapolca and the Pelion Hotel the rest of the afternoon was spent by the swimming pool or relaxing in the hotels other facilities.

... yes, it was that hot!

Friday the 13th we departed for a tour of Lake Balaton and the Sir David Castle for lunch you could then go swimming in the lake or go for a walk or stay in the Castle grounds and while away the time. I played chess with Fran on one of those large outdoor sets that you often see, Fran had a lot of help, why is it that the ladies always get the help and not the men? The temperature had by now picked up and we were monitoring the weather back in the UK whilst you were struggling to get into the 20's we were by now getting into the 30's. That afternoon at 4.30pm we went to Sumeg village for folklore, rodeo come medieval event ending with another three course dinner.

About this time I had my second tyre problem but as we were travelling with Rolf and Sylvia in their TC they loaned me their spare to get me through until I could sort out a repair. We had only gone a couple of miles when lo! A tyre service station loomed on the horizon, I quickly pulled in followed by the rest of our entourage to see if they could repair my tyre, yes they could. In no time at all the tyre was off and they came to fit one of my spare tubes, here we met a little problem, of the 5 wheels I had on Flivver ,4 were large holes for the valve and one was a small hole. The 2 tubes I had were large diameter valves, you can guess which wheel had the puncture, the small diameter! To the rescue came Dieter another German he loaned me his spare tube which was a small diameter valve. This was fitted the wheel swapped back to Rolf's TC and away we set off again, wonderful co-operation amongst the MG fraternity.

Saturday the 14th we set out at 9.00am for Graz stopping just inside the Hungarian border for lunch at the Desperatos Restaurant, three courses with wine, naturally. Over the border into Austria, purchasing our vignette to enable us to use the autobahns once more. Then on to our hotel in Graz, the Waiter where my spare tyre that had been ordered in Vienna, was awaiting me behind reception. Thank you the 'Vintage Tyre Co. of Austria and the Hilton in Vienna, where it was ordered from, brilliant organising.

We now had a guided tour of Graz and dinner back at the hotel, marvellous town, people and scenery. Up for an 8.30 start we departed for a farewell lunch at the Arabella Restaurant where we had, had lunch the previous Saturday when we set out on our tour. Now the two MG's and parties said their farewells. We picked up our luggage from off the trailer that had been our constant companion for the week, not being used for breakdowns but for carrying our luggage on the tour, very well organised I must say.


On the way back we were to go the way we should have come in the first place, over the high passes. Well they were 1773 and 1675 metres high so we are talking about 5,750 ft. This was as high as Flivver had ever gone and in temperatures of 30°+ in the shade at mid day. We almost made it up both the passes but stopped ˝ Km short of the summit due to fuel vaporisation, we cooled the fuel system with spring water which happened to be pouring out of a very handy well nearby, After a while the pump stopped clicking away to indicate that it had cooled down sufficiently and a quick pull of the starter and we were away once more. The same thing happened at the next pass but this time we were prepared and the delay in getting going was much less.


The scenery that we were now seeing was in itself worth the trip, the scenery along the Danube had been beautiful but what we were seeing now was stunning! This panorama was with us all the way to the Bodensee where we stopped overnight in time for the Festival of the Sea. This consisted of celebrations to of all things a rabbit, I never did understand what a rabbit had to do with the festival, but they had a guy dressed up in a rabbit suit leading the bands and procession. It was most entertaining especially as they had all of the usual fairground amusements, beer and food stalls. Malcolm and I had a half metre Bratwurst sausage, incredible and the beer in 1 litre steins, what a wonderful evening. The next morning Malcolm and I went to the Zeppelin Museum whilst the girls went off for a little retail therapy. I had thought as we were in the area it would be nice to visit the museum as I would probably not be passing that way again and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit

Zeppelin gondola.

We then set out in the direction of Metz to see how close we could get to end the days motoring as it happens we made it comfortably in time to book in at the same hotel we had stayed at previously. After liquid refreshment and a most enjoyable meal we had a stroll and turned in for the night. The next morning we were to get up early and make a start on the run to Calais.

8.30am the next day saw us setting out for the channel ports as it was we were travelling through the part of France that is rather boring especially after the scenery we witnessed in Austria, so we travelled along the motor ways at a brisk 55-60 mph. We made good time especially around Strasburg where we expected heavy traffic but it did nit slow us down too much and eventually we were closing on Calais. We had hoped to catch the 5.00pm sailing but we arrived at the docks at 3.20pm and they asked if we would like the 3,30pm sailing, yes we said and 10 minutes later we were leaving France. With the 1 hour adjustment in time in our favour we docked at Dover after 2 hours wondering what to do. Originally we were going to stay the night near Calais or if time was on our side over in the Dover area but as we had arrived back in England relatively early we said goodbye to Malcolm and Linda and started driving back to Tamworth. We arrived back home at about 1010pm having travelled 505 miles that day and a total for the tour of 3008 miles in 16 days. What is more I did not feel at all uncomfortable or tired I suppose this supports the statement 'The more you use them the more they like it' In case you are wondering what my fuel consumption was it worked out at 31 miles to the gallon.

All in all a very good tour, well organised and supported by Piero's back room staff and helpers our thanks go out to them for making 'The Tour of the Beautiful Danube' a trip to remember.

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