Because getting stranded in a cow-field in Belgium, is only the beginning…
The alarm went off at 4:30am. Christian and I had managed to LITERALLY wait until the last minute to start packing so we sprang out of bed and began cramming our piles of items to bring inside our various bags. We knew we didn’t have a lot of space in the Pink Mini so we kept our packing fairly light and simple.
What We Packed:
- Clothes for two weeks. We needed black tie formal wear for the Gala dinner at the end so we had a hard shell carry on suitcase to pack our formal wear and Christian’s business suits since we would be attending a conference in Germany along the way. Apart from our formal wear we carried an assortment of light jackets and clothes we didn’t mind “getting dirty.” After all, you never know when you might need to check under the hood…
- A few spare parts. Ok, so there would be a service van tagging along during the event, but before and after Italy, Christian and I had opted not to follow the service van and risk it for a chance at going our own pace. We knew we couldn’t go faster than 60 mph on the motorway and didn’t want to be forced to rush. Because of this we carried: 5L of OIL, (one of the most important items when driving a classic mini) a small tool kit, spare spark plugs, and light bulbs as well as plenty of dirty rags. We also had our spare tire and tools for changing the tire as well as bottles of water dedicated to filling up the mini should she overheat or run out of washer fluid.
- Toiletries and essentials (including multiple pairs of shoes in my case!) which go without saying
- Camera equipment including: Canon Camera, 2 Smartphones with a UK Sim (which works in all of the EU without charging roaming fees) for our GPS, a Go-Pro, and a Drone.
That’s pretty much it! I told you, there’s not much space in the Pink Mini and although we would be gone from home for 2 weeks, both Christian and I were happy to travel light and result to wearing the same T-shirt more than once to save some space.
We began our long drive and after 3 hours made it to the Channel Tunnel where we caught the train. The process was easy and straightforward and we drove onto the train and arrived in Calais, France after just 35 minutes. It was so much easier than the Ferry which takes 3 hours!!! We didn’t even need to leave our car and enjoyed the ride.
Once landing in France we drove North into Belgium. France has a LOT of Toll roads which we were adamant to avoid, plus we needed to head towards Germany anyway for Christian’s conference in Stuttgart the following day.
After driving into Belgium we pulled over at a fuel station to fill up on gas but Christian realized two things:
- The fuel was more expensive in Belgium
- The fuel had a mixture of Ethanol called 95 E10
Because Christian is from Eastern Germany, he loves to save money wherever he goes. Instead of putting in the more expensive fuel with less ethanol he opted for the cheaper fuel with the E10.
20 minutes later we were stopped on the side of the road, unable to carry on our journey to Germany. The Pink Mini had been acting very strange and was coughing and backfiring into the engine. Our top speed of 60 mph decreased to a top speed of 30 mph!!! We couldn’t carry on the motorway that way so we coasted off the nearest exit and parked beside a cow field in the Middle of Nowhere, Belgium.
After two hours of being stopped, Christian had checked EVERYTHING. He couldn’t understand why the Pink Mini was acting so strangely. A very nice Belgian man pulled over and also began to help Christian discuss what could have gone wrong with the Mini. They concluded it was probably because the quality of the fuel was not what the Pink Mini wanted and so Christian and Krystal decided to push on.
But they couldn’t very well continue on the motorway doing 30 mph so they re-routed to their hotel for the night with the “avoid highways setting.” A 2 hour journey turned into a 4 and a half hour journey, making their ETA well after midnight. For good measure, Christian phoned his friend, another MAHLE Powertrain employee for advice but with the same conclusion as a result.
Krystal and Christian began their long, slow journey to Germany through rural European roads. The Pink Mini wasn’t happy but carried on and gave her best efforts. Halfway to their hotel, another problem occurred… the Pink Mini’s headlights went out! Luckily, there had been no one else on the road and Christian was able to pull over immediately into the grass. He removed the switch he had installed and connected the cables, old-school-style. The lights came back to life and they continued the drive to their destination.
But the real question was, would they make it? And was it really a fuel issue? Read on, and remember to check out the Pink Mini Facebook Page
for all the photos and updates on the little car’s adventures!
This is for a good cause, to raise awareness and money for the BUTTLE UK Children’s Charity
! Please visit our fundraiser page at JUST GIVING
to contribute to the kids!
And lastly, a big thank you to our sponsors at MAHLE
for believing in a little Pink Mini!