Things went pretty smooth for us in Germany, Austria and Italy for the most part on Adventure Drives AD.04. As we ventured into Switzerland that was about to change. The Swiss Police have a reputation for being very aggressive and we were about to find out firsthand.
Day 6: Sestri Levante to Interlaken Switzerland
We left the Italian Riviera town of Sestri Levante and headed North to Lake Como on the Italy/Switzerland border where one last Italian feast awaited us. A beautiful view from the restaurant on Lake Como was the perfect farewell to Italy.
After lunch, we headed north and crossed the border into Switzerland. Everyone was on high alert as we’d been warned how brutal the Swiss Police are on speeders. We were also warned that any sort of rally was illegal in Switzerland. In fact, a few members of the Cannonball European Rally were incarcerated for months over charges of reckless driving. The Swiss Police do not mess around!
We behaved ourselves on the highways but once we exited and were out of the watchful eye of surveillance cameras, it was business as usual. We enjoyed some spirited driving heading up the mountain backroads into the Swiss Alps in search of the famous Furka, Gotthard and Grimsel Pass.
When we got to the meeting point, things started to go off course. The probability for snow was high and some of the group was running late. Instead of waiting for the group, many, including us, took off to explore the passes. Once we got up to the top where you could choose which pass you want to drive on, we all got split up and the calamity began to unfold.
The $10,000 Swiss U-Turn
The signage was very confusing and the first group made a wrong turn ending up in a 15km long tunnel before realizing they’re mistake. Over the 2-way radio, Fahad pleaded with the others from the passenger seat of Ramin’s Huracan to just continue on, as he knew how illegal it was to make such a maneuver. Thankfully Ramin heeded his advice and continued on through the tunnel. The other 3 behind them decided to take a chance and turn around at the first emergency area inside the tunnel.
Sam in his Huracan and Andras in his Panemera were able to make a quick u-turn but Rawan in the Bentley got held up by some oncoming cars. Sam and Andras were able to exit the tunnel before the Police arrived. Rawan was not as lucky and as she came out of the tunnel she was greeted by 2 Swiss Police waving her down. Unsure and hoping they were not pointing at her, she drove past. As soon as she did, the officers ran to their BWM Police car and came after them.
The Swiss Police raced up, pulled next to Rawan in the Bentley and instructed her to pull over. After taking her passport and drivers license, they demanded to know who the other drivers were that had also made the u-turn. She refused to cooperate and was instructed to follow the BMW Police SUV.
As the Police were leading her off the road, Jebo and I came up behind them in our Porsche. Over the 2-way radio Rawan filled us in on the situation and told us to stay back. We followed at a safe distance only to pass them as they pulled off the highway. Things were starting to get interesting.
A short time later, Jebo and I stopped at a rest area to heed the call of nature and switch drivers. I jumped in the drivers seat, started the car and put it in reverse. I looked back to see the Swiss Police with Rawan in the Bentley right behind us! The officers were pointing at us and looking back at Rawan. She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders pretending not to know us. They quickly drove off. Man, that was close!
We came to find out over the 2-way radio, the Police were leading her through a few rest stops looking for the other drivers on the way to the Police station. Once at the station they were interrogated about where the other cars were but Rawan is a gangster and she didn’t give up the other drivers, our destination or anything about the rally. You go girl!
At the station, Police scoured the infinite amount of highway surveillance cameras looking for our crew. I treaded lightly on my way to the hotel in Interlaken. Jebo peered out the window as we drove through the amazing scenery of Switzerland to see what appeared to be a Police helicopter. This was getting crazy! I quickly took the next exit and began navigating the mountain backroads in hopes of making it to our destination without any trouble with the law.
Back at the station, the Police realized they weren’t going to get any information out of Rawan. They made her pay the 3000 Swiss Franc ($3200 USD) fine in order to be released. You read that right, $3200 USD for making a u-turn. After a tense encounter, they were finally released and made their way to the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel in Interlaken.
We came to find out later the Police had set up a temporary road block near the end of the mountain passes. The film crew van and a couple other AD.04 drivers were questioned but set free. As it turned out, we all made it, with the exception of Rawan, back to the hotel.
The Others Bite The Dust
The drivers of the Huracán and Panamera were feeling pretty good that they made it unscathed and had escaped the $3200 fine . That was until they got a call from the event organizer Rob Ferretti stating the Police had tracked them down and were waiting in the lobby!
The officers told the drivers they had to come down to the station to pay the fine. After a little negotiating they agreed to let them forego the Police station as long as they could come up with the $3200 each for the fine. Thankfully the hotel was able to get them the money and the Police left with another $6000+. All for a U-turn but the story doesn’t end there!
Day 7: Mürren to Lucerne Switzerland
Day 7 brought a choice for one group to leave the hotel very early to visit a watch factory and have lunch in France. The other group would take a tram up into a mountain town in the Alps for lunch. Seeing I don’t really care about watches, I opted for lunch in the Alps. Early that morning Jeb took our Porsche 911 with another participant on the watch factory tour a couple hours away with plans to meet us in Lucerne later that night. I arranged to drive with event organizer Superspeeders Rob Ferretti for the day in his M6.
With cloud cover in the area, we were unable to make our journey to the top of the Swiss Alps for lunch. We would have to settle for a tram ride up to the first town up the mountain, Mürren, for lunch. This bought us some time to enjoy the morning at the gorgeous Hotel. We had a nice breakfast overlooking a field where parasailers were landing with the mountains in the background. Then an indoor, outdoor hot tub and some time in the sauna took up the rest of the morning.
After a little R&R, I jumped in the car with Rob and we headed to catch the tram up to Mürren for lunch at Edelweiss Restaurant. As we sat down for lunch some clouds and light snow rolled in making for a picture perfect view.
After lunch, we headed out of town and carefully onto the highway. We knew we’d have to be on extra good behavior because not only are the roads littered with speed cameras, the Police had an all-out man hunt for us the day prior. Turns out they STILL wanted a piece of us.
As we drove through a tunnel at the speed limit we came out to ANOTHER Police roadblock just for us. They had been following us via the camera system and decided to head us off for some more harassment. After 12 of us sat on the side of the road for a while, they singled out the gray Huracán and Bentley once again.
Seems they conveniently found a speed camera which had them over the limit and wanted to give them yet ANOTHER ticket. $900 a piece for an alleged 6kph violation via a speed camera earlier in the day. Thankfully the rest of us got off without any trouble. All we wanted to do was get out of this damn country! So beautiful there but it was by far the worst place to drive because of the anxiety level of how harsh they are on any traffic infringements.
Saving The Best For Last
We made it to the destination hotel of Bürgenstock Resort which was set high upon a hill overlooking Lucerne Switzerland. This was by far the nicest hotel yet and had opened just a week before our arrival. A dinner with an unreal view awaited us.
Day 8: Lucerne Switzerland to Munich Germany
Our final driving day was set to be a good one. First and foremost, we were getting out of Switzerland and back on the German Autobahn! A visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle for a tour, lunch and then the final leg to Munich and the Charles Hotel.
As we crossed the border into Germany there was a feeling of utter relief as the anxiety of driving under the watchful eye of the Swiss Police lifted. As we entered the Autobahn there was a 120kph limit but we didn’t care and felt liberated as we blasted down the left lane as if there wasn’t a care in the world. It was raining on and off preventing the Autobahn from having any unlimited areas but we enjoyed driving 150kph+ for the duration of the trip.
My Thoughts on Adventure Drives AD.04
What an amazing time I had. Perhaps the best car adventure yet. While other rallies are fun and I enjoy them, it was a nice change to have a slower pace and more intimate setting, more like a vacation. Adventure Drives isn’t trying to compete with any other rally or be something it’s not. It simply fills a niche in the market. A “rally” for people who don’t necessarily want to vinyl wrap or sticker up their car or drive too crazy on the roads.
Adventure Drives is so much more than just a car rally. The pace is great for getting a taste of site seeing, visiting local attractions. In fact, I’d say it could slow down the pace even a little more and be just fine. It was easier to make friends faster with the smaller number of participants. While it doesn’t have the allure or perhaps the wow-factor to impress your friends like the GoldRush rally, it was surely a very enjoyable experience.
Adventure Drives is more like a nice vacation mixed with a rally. It’s like a rally in the fact there are 25 cars, but by keeping the count lower, it seemed to tame everyone down a bit. Someone who might feel intimidated by the larger rallies out there would really enjoy this as the atmosphere was very relaxed.
AD.04 is all about 5 star accommodations when available. Some of the towns we visited though had no really nice places to stay so there was an occasional “interesting” venue. Each location had secure parking set aside for us. All meals from breakfast to dinner were covered. Even drinks were covered during dinners. This had to have cost a fortune but made the experience feel so VIP.
My hat goes off to Rob, Shivam, JF and the AD.04 crew. They did an amazing job and pulled off what had to be a logistical nightmare. Everything went very smooth leaving the participants with an experience none of us will soon forget!
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