Being art lovers as well as Mercedes enthusiasts we were interested to learn that there was a Lawrence Alma-Tadema exhibition in Leeuwarden (he was born nearby in Dronryp). Too far away - we would find it difficult to get there. Except... We were already planning to be in Ghent for New Year: could we combine the two? Plus we have friends in Stadskanaal (which is only an hour and a half away from Leeuwarden), so could we put a trip together? And wouldn't it be fun to go in Bertha? She's in reasonable shape after all the work we have done to her!

And so began the planning for the trip. Yes, we have Ghent booked. Yes we can stay with our friends. Yes there is a nice looking hotel in Leeuwarden at a very reasonable price - and it has its own parking. All we need to do is get in the car and go. Here's a map of the whole trip that is planned:

Whole Trip

So we are planning a trip of around a thousand miles in a car who is nearly thirty-two years old, who burns oil requiring regular top-ups and has been sorely neglected before we got her... What could possibly go wrong?

After an uneventful drive we arrived at Folkestone and boarded the train no problem.

Bertha At Folkestone
Bertha On The Train

As we were about to leave the train one of the staff came up to us and said that they had noticed that Bertha smoke a bit going up the ramp into the train and would we mind leaving a whole carriage in front of us before we moved off in order to let the air conditioning systems deal with any smoke! Ooops...

Anyway, we did what he asked us to do and went on our way without incident. Next stop Ghent!

Calais To Ghent

A little over an hour later we were parked up in the underground carpark of our hotel. Success!

Bertha In Ghent

The first people to walk past were a Dutch family who indicated Bertha and said that they also had one! I said to them that I thought that theirs probably had a lot less rust and they said that yes, she was in their garage for the winter.

The next day we left Bertha to enjoy a well earned rest and went for walk in one of our favourite European cities. It was very cold and there was ice on the branches of the bushes in one of the parks!

Icy Branches

On New Year's day we went to Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, which is a local nature reserve run jointly by Natuurpunt and Stadt Ghent. It is absolutely wonderful - a haven of nature 10kms from the town center. As we parked a Belgian lady came over and said what a beautiful car we had! It is so nice that people notice her and comment.

Bertha At Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen

The nature reserve was bitterly cold and utterly beautiful...


After a couple of hours walking round and birdwatching it was time for a cup of ceffee in the cafe, then it was back to the hotel for a last night in Ghent before setting off on the next leg of the journey.

We have only been to Stadskanaal once before (and not in a classic car!) so this is something of a step (further) into the unknown as far as Bertha is concerned. It is about a four hour drive, so it will also be the longest single trip we have done so far in Bertha. It will also be the longest leg of our outbound journey.

Bertha Abroad 2