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Monday, October 3, 2011 | The tour begins

Time flies, as the saying goes. And more especially in these final moments of getting everything ready, – it has cost me the weekend but flexibility is the name of the game.

Half six in the morning, I’m tired and in an hour I’m supposed to be on the road.

Motivated, but bleary-eyed, I stagger into the Editourmobil. I’m pretty confident I haven’t forgotten anything. Well, I hope not, since the van is packed to the gunnels. Finally we’re ready for the off.

What’s happening on the German motorway system? It’s the Day of German Unity, a long weekend, so there’s no traffic, the weather is unseasonably warm, an Indian summer. But there’s something I find quite awe-inspiring – incredible banks of mist engulfing the orchards of the Kraichgau and lying like a veil over the motorway. The Kraichgau, for those who are not familiar with the area, is a region between PETpla.net’s home in Heidelberg and Heilbronn, which is around 60km away.

It's now getting on for 11am. My first appointment is coming up, a photo shoot to mark the official start of the Go to Beviale tour with MesseNürnberg forming the backdrop. The weather is perfect and the photographer takes several shots at various locations round the Fairground. 45 minutes later I'm back on the road, next stop Austria.

I needed to stock up on a few things (notably a mid-morning snack), and I got a useful tip at the Austrian border: try the Klessheim shopping centre, they said.

Well, I get there, but there’s absolutely nowhere to park. Clearly they are not geared up for the likes of the Editourmobile. A fruitless drive round half a dozen roundabouts until I discover a space at the back of a Swedish furniture store (which I am actually not allowed to use – still, can’t worry about that). The journey has only just begun and I’m beginning to wonder just how difficult finding a suitable parking space will be.

The time now is 9:00pm and after an interesting first day, I've found agreeable lodgings at a farmhouse in Radstadt. I’ll spend the night camped out in the grounds, and tomorrow we head off to Slovenia.