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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 | The tour begins

The moment has come, and we are finally about to start our epic Go to Brau Beviale Tour 2012, taking us from Nuremberg to Ekaterinburg! Naturally, things don’t go exactly to plan. There’s a slight hitch which makes us a day late. What has happened?

After all the meticulous planning, the ferry company calls to tell me that the ferry we are booked on has some mechanical problems so we can’t depart on the Monday as planned. At the last minute we are re-booked on another ferry, departing from another port, causing a day’s delay. But how did we get to this point? Let’s turn the clock back for a moment. The last few weeks have been a constant panic to get things organised, whilst trying desperately to keep up with all the office paperwork. As with the previous tour to Azerbaijan, we are constantly rushing to get everything ready in time for departure, wondering at the same time whether we have forgotten half the things we are supposed to have done. Finally the day arrives, and it’s time to go, ready or not.

This time there are three teams on the tour, each responsible for a particular stretch: Team 1 consists of my colleague Rolf and Felix Popp who take the role of driver and photographer and, last but not least, me, Kay Krüger. Team 2 is made up of our editor Michael Maruschke. Joining him will be photographer Christian Buck. Finally, Team 3 features our editors Alexander Büchler and Waldemar Schmitke. The plan is as follows: Team 1 will be taking the stretch from Nuremberg to Ekaterinburg, at which point Team 2 will take over. If all goes according to plan, we will hand over the reins to Team 2 on July 19. Provided we get there on time! The journey to Ekaterinburg will take us a few thousand kilometres through some of Russia’s most fascinating regions, and, even more exciting, will also include some in-depth PET interviews!

But back to the present. My first appointment is at precisely 1 o’clock: a meeting with our supporters at the Nuremberg Fair to run through some details with them. Loading up the Editourmobil at the company HQ in Heidelberg takes a little longer than expected and there are delays on the motorway this morning due to roadworks which takes up valuable time. It’s supposed to be summer, but it’s not very summery, and that causes a few problems with clothes selection, so we have to cope with the cold one minute and the next minute we are stripping off layers. Nonetheless, the sun is shining. We are a little late for our appointment with Mrs. McNally and Ms. Brandes-Reinel, but we were looking forward to a little tour of the Fair offices and in particular a visit to the canteen, since we had had no time for breakfast after all the morning panics. Suitably fed and watered, we had a photocall at the entrance to the Fair, where our departure for Russia was to be recorded for posterity. The moment reminds me vividly of our first tour, where we only met up with the photographer on our free days.

In no time at all, the photos are all wrapped up, and after bidding farewell to Mrs. McNally and Ms. Brandes-Reinel, the next job is to fill up the Editourmobil with fuel and water. At around 4 o’clock, we are finally underway and on the road to Lübeck, where our ferry to St. Petersburg awaits. Not wishing to cover too much ground on the first day, Rolf and I have agreed to call a halt for the night in Leipzig. We have to keep in the forefront of our minds that we are covering a huge distance, and although the Editourmobil is very comfortable, it is not a racing car. So each stage of the journey takes just that little bit more time. We arrive in Leipzig at 8.30. Two friends of mine happen to live here, so after a quick telephone call, we decide to meet up that evening at the "Sol y Mar" restaurant (appropriate name!). Topic number one is, of course - how could it be anything else - the tour. It was to be a long and convivial evening. Later that night, back at the Editourmobil, too tired to talk, and no time (and no energy!) to sort out all the bits and pieces piled up in the interior of the vehicle. Boxes, suitcases, bags, all strewn over the unmade beds. It’s almost 3 in the morning before I finally get off to sleep .....