Worthersee 2019: Part 2 of 2


Posted on: June 5, 2019

Words and Photography: Michal Fidowicz 

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Click here to read Part 1

 

Quick recap before I continue: Our convoy has pulled into Motorway services in Cologne which also happen to be the local police headquarters. We walked out of the restaurant after dinner to find a swarm of officers inspecting our parked cars.

9:00 comes and goes and things are still unclear. At this point the Polizei have spent 2 hours wasting our time and checking random documents which probably meant naff all to them anyway. The sole fact that there was about 2 officers involved for every 1 of us tells me that they didn’t actually know what to do with us – we were far from intimidating, definitely not misbehaving and actually quite communicative. Would they slap us with a fine and let us go or worse?

Well around 9:30 they broke the news that all the cars were going to be impounded. Fuck. Initial panic spreads across the group followed by a wave of confusion. Lewis lights his 17th fag since arriving at the services. Hold up, are they actually taking the cars? I mean some of the cars with us were practically standard. Why are they being taken? Where? What are we supposed to do?  It’s 9:30 in the evening, it’s starting to get dark, and a slight drizzle of rain starts spitting down. As you can imagine, we’re trying to figure out what is going on.

Errr, let’s call the embassy. Nope, it’s outside of their working hours. What next? They tell us to get our belongings out the car – sure, whatever will shut you up officer. Let me just unload two weeks worth of luggage, two camera bags, a laptop bag, all of my snacks, endless battery chargers, paperwork and oh – don’t forget the sunglasses in the glovebox. And then the same again for Lewis’ stuff. And then the same for all other 20 people that were with us. At this point it’s clear that we won’t see anything that we leave behind for a while. It starts to rain more – nice. A camera shutter sounds behind me. Huh? Local paparazzi. I kid you not. Nice, probably a tabloid. I mean an actual newspaper has better things to report on. Either that, or I’ve really over estimated how interesting Germany’s current political situation must be.

Fucking brilliant, my friends and I are stuck in the middle of a foreign country, in the rain, late at night. Our cars are going to be taken by the Polizei and now I’m going to be on front cover of Sunday’s Das Sun newspaper. I hope they got a good picture of me. Imagine flicking from a pair of boobs on page 3 over to page 4 only to be greeted by my post-teary mug next to a Lupo. On a totally an unrelated note I know for a fact the Polizei are reading this now, and I’ve got the biggest grin on my face knowing they’re going to chuck that sentence into google translate. Good luck guys!

Anyway, you can tell Sargent Helga and her gang are getting a nice kick out of this. Not like a well morally driven pleasure though, they were acting far more like heroin addicts and we were the syringe needles. It was raining, a lot of us were panicking and clearly shaken, and they were actually laughing amongst themselves. But hey – we deserved it, right? …right?

 

Photos from XS Car Meet, Monday 20th May

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Might as well make some social media noise, I mean we do need help at this point and we know we most definitely won’t be allowed to drive the cars out of the country. They explained how the cars will be going off to get tested. Can they even legally do a TUV test on them? Some people linked us to the Vienna Convention – ah yes let me flash this wikipedia page up on my phone and show the Polizei, that’ll do the trick. Realistically the only thing which could have helped us was a lawyer. But funds are a little tight 2 hours after bumping into the Polizei. My phone keeps buzzing with questions from people asking what’s happened? Have they taken the cars? Are you stuck in Cologne? Sorry all, but at that point I literally had no clue.

I asked if we can charge our phones from the cars because at this point the Polizei took all the car keys.

“Why?” I don’t know you thick fuck, maybe my phone is going flat and is my only chance of finding shelter instead of sleeping on the floor tonight. You’d imagine a police officer wouldn’t need this explaining to him. One of the more sympathetic officers there hands me the keys and their colleague follows me to the Lupo. You know, just in case I decide to unleash the 98bhp of doom on ‘em and make a run for it of course. I walk up to the soaking car in the dark – poetically the only light on the whole car park that didn’t work was the one above the car I needed to open. I put the key in my passenger door and turn it. Nothing. I turn it again. Nada. The officer starts laughing at me, and I stop. I look at the woman. She’s wide in build, but not intimidating. Ginger hair, a fairly masculine face and skinny legs. Laughing at me for not being able to open the door.

“Yeah this is fucking hilarious isn’t it love? SO funny. Yeah, 22 Brits stranded in a place they don’t speak the language, having their personal belongings taken from them in the rain at 11:00 at night. I’d be laughing too.” She stopped laughing. Perhaps this Dr. Eggman lookin-ass spoke better English than I thought. I hope she did anyway. All of this over some stretched tyres.

Lewis came over and took the key from me, and unlocked the car through his door. At least we had some warmth whilst the Lupo idled and charged our phones.

 

Photos from the SlammedUK meet, Tuesday 21st May

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This also gave me a chance to see if someone local messaged offering help. Bastien messaged me. “Mike, I live 20 minutes away, I’ll help you get to a hostel.” Bastien you gem, you and Andy saved us from sleeping in wooden service station chairs that night. At this point the officers told us they wouldn’t let any of us leave until all the cars were recovered by their company. *psssshhh* I look over and see Josh airing out the Benz. “Well it’s not moving any time soon is it?” he said as 3, yes 3, old women wearing Police outfits (officers I presume?) swarmed the Benz and started taking photos on their cameras. For the third time that night. This was like a comedy sketch show, the officers clearly had no clue what they were surrounded by. In fact there’s something to back me up here as there was one car in convoy which did not get taken. One of the lads we were with was on standard wheels and aired up his car. He unplugged his controller and hid it from the army of officers. After a back and fourth chat he blagged that the bagged suspension was a factory feature and adjusted with the car’s suspension modes. They scratched their heads and went to catch bigger fish in our group.

After painfully watching the cars get lifted onto flatbed trailers via straps around the wheels, the clock struck 3:00. We were finally free, at 3 in the morning. Earlier on in the night I called around asking if any Hostels had space for 22 individuals and we were lucky enough to fit everyone into Cologne’s Station Hostel which was conveniently placed above a bar. After a number of lifts from Bastien and Andy, we were all in the Hostel for 4:30ish. The bar staff could clearly tell something was up, as it’s not everyday 22 foreigners come stumbling into their Hostel at 3 in the morning. The lovely guy behind the bar was pretty sloshed up as he was drinking with guests earlier that evening. He insisted on joining him, and gave us free drinks. A few of us headed into bed, whilst the rest of us went to the bar.

The next morning was gloomy. It started to sink in that the Worthersee dream was on hold. We finally got through to the embassy who were very usefully in communicating across what was going on. We soon learnt that Cologne is the strictest part of Germany regarding car modifications, and it dawned on us that we literally drove into the lions den. We went out for lunch and did some thinking. Also it’s worth noting that Germans know how to make a good Kebab.

 

Photos from Velden, Wednesday 22nd May

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The end of Friday neared. We now wasted a day of Worthersee in Cologne not really getting anywhere. Information slowly started to arise, and we ended up learning that the cars will not be tested until at least Tuesday. It was now 5:00 in the evening and we found out we couldn’t stay at the hostel was it was already booked out for the weekend. So we don’t have a mode of transport for at least 4 days, the drivers have big fines coming to figure out how to pay and we had no where to stay. The ambiguity was terrible, and we needed to do something about it.

Rental cars. Fuck the Polizei, we’ll rental car it down to Austria. They can take our cars but they won’t stop the adventure. We did some digging about, and after going through a few companies we ended up in Europcar. We were mentally wounded, but we were not out! We set off that night at 7:30. After a constant 130mph dash across Germany’s Autobahn system we arrived in Austria in the dark at 3:30. Sure, I missed out on the views but that didn’t matter. My close friends were literally all around me, and we made it together.

The next few days went by and we did the usual. Consumed loads of Austrian food, drank loads of Austrian beer and just got on with the holiday. I had an absolutely fantastic time. I won’t get into those details here though. Eventually Wednesday and Thursday came around and the drivers had to go to collect their cars. The fact our story got so much social media attention meant that the drivers managed to organise transport back to the UK for far less than usual. All 10 of the impounded cars failed the TUV tests despite the authorities legally not being able to test them. The German authorities confiscated the V5s and number plates and sent them back to the DVLA along with failure to meet TUV regulations certificates, in turn meaning the cars had to get towed back to the UK on flatbeds. We must have clearly pissed off the officer who decided that was the correct course of action. Either that or someone poured dog piss into their cornflakes for breakfast. The law was bent over backwards by the Police here (as it had been since the start of this episode) and all drivers were slapped with a 896 euro fine which covered the cost of recovery and TUV testing. Make of that what you will.

Every single year worthersee takes place a group of foreigners get shafted by EU police and have an example made out of them. This year it was our turn. For every 20 people offering to help there was of course a person who said we deserved it. I didn’t realise how many people were actually offended by modified cars, stretched tires and camber. Of course, every single person who told us we deserved it must have never broken the speed limit in their life, let alone perhaps answer a text message whilst driving. We’re the true criminals here, and I’m sure there was nothing more important going on in the area for the Police to attend to on Thursday night.

 

Photos from Turbo Kurve, Wednesday 22nd May

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It’s easy to feel down after something like this. But who knows, perhaps this is fate looking over us. It’s very easy to say that if the Police never took our cars we would have had a flawless holiday, and the chances are we probably would have. But for all we know, if we continued driving on, there is any chance that someone on the Autobahn over taking our convoy could have had a blow out at 120mph, due to say, low tire pressures, resulting in them crashing into our pack and causing an incident I’d rather not think or write about. Life has always had a funny way of figuring things out around me in a weird manner I guess.

 

Photos from Worthersee,  Thursday 23rd May

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After a chat with Lewis I decided to stay in Worthersee an extra day and a half and got a lift back to London with my good friends RnO Customs in their work in progress E91. After hearing about other people’s issues at the border we did some tactical thinking. Olli’s E91 is static which already puts us in the danger zone. We raised the front as high as it went without destroying the wheel geo, and peeled off all the stickers. Fully loaded, the car was ridiculously low in the rear and due to the way the E91 was set up, there wasn’t much we could do to raise it. We crack on regardless. We left at sunset and headed for the German border. Driving around Switzerland and through Italy was too uneconomical and time consuming, and we all just wanted to get home, so we headed towards the German border.

It’s 1:00 in the morning, and we hit a traffic jam. Shit, this isn’t ideal. We could see lights ahead. The closer we get, the more apparent it becomes. Germany have set up a hard border between Austria and Germany to monitor cars entering Germany. Of course, they wave us down and drag the car under light. Once again, I parted my passport over to the Polizei. 10 minutes go by and we’re still waiting. 15 minutes go by. 20 minutes go by. Then a fella comes out from his Police cave.

“Too low, you have to raise it.” Oh shit, here we go again.

We pull over to the side and beg them to just let us continue. Nope, not happening until the rear isn’t tucking anymore. Slight issues, we can’t raise the rear. Olli and Ryan get out their jack regardless and get the car up in the air. At 1 in the morning, I find myself once again being surrounded by German police. Olli manages to get three or four threads out of his coil overs. The car gets dropped back down. Still tucking.

The police bloke comes all over and gives us the classic chin scratch as we beg him to let us go. He explains how we have to pay a 110 euro fine for being too low. We didn’t even get the chance to turn around. We cough out the cash and he scratches his chin a bit more. “Okay you’re free to go.”

 

Photos from Velden, Friday 24th May

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And off we fucking went. We arrived at Calais at 11:30 in the morning. I’ve never, ever been more glad to get home from a holiday. I say holiday… it was a hectic adventure.

I could go into more detail, but I’m already over 2500 words deep into this article. I’ll wrap it up here.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this write up. Definitely one for the Candy archives.

In order to raise some funds for our Hostels and rental cars, I’ve released a limited run of 100 Worthersee stickers. We’ve sold 80 as I type this – if you’re interested in helping us out, head over to our store and grab one. All money from these stickers will go into the gofundme someone kindly set up to help us out whilst we were in Germany.

Up next, VW Days…