Yesterday was another 500-mile plus day on our trip around Europe in the new Nissan Qashqai as we continued the push for home. It was also the day when we began to see the finishing straight in the far distance.
Team Autocar woke up in Krakow, Poland, which proved to be one of the most intriguing and exciting cities we've visited on this journey around the continent.
Snapper Stan has some local knowledge, so knew good places visit. His choice of breakfast, a bacon, egg and cheese bagel at a back street cafe named 'Bagelmama', was so delicious that we had to order a second round.
You'll have to excuse our excitement about something so trivial: on our travels we've run the gamut of hotel breakfasts, most of them over-priced and underwhelming. We've also subsisted on motorway snacks, to the point where we've got so bored of insipid sandwiches that we've pretty much abandoned lunch altogether.
Anyway, back to the plot (what there is of it). We wanted to visit the Czech Republic on our way back, and I was curious to drive around some of the old Masaryk Circuit, which I'd heard many stories about.
Back in the 1930s, an 18-mile race circuit was laid out around public roads to the south west of the city of Brno. The course was a huge challenge for drivers and teams, for it included 81 corners, some ludicrously fast sections, hills, hairpins, village streets, kerbstones and cobbles.
Pre-war racing legends such as Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer did battle around the track, which was gradually shortened in length over various iterations until in the mid-1980s it was replaced completely by a new purpose-built facility that's situation inside the roads that make up the first course.
I was interested to see if we could find many signs of the old circuit. Some of it is long gone, buried under new housing developments and roads. But I knew the old pit buildings still existed in a fairly tumbledown form. We could easily locate them, because they sit alongside route 602.
The buildings aren't as spectacular as, say, the remains of Reims in France, but it is still pretty clear to tell what their purpose once was, even if they are now used by various businesses, including a tyre fitting company.
Later we drove the Qashqai out into the woods, where the track twisted and turned through the trees and plunged downhill towards a hairpin in the small town of Ostrovacice, after which the route sped back towards the start/finish line. Stan spotted some stone marker posts that looked old enough to have possibly marked out part of the old course.
Contemplating the likes of Rosemeyer wrestling his massively powerful Auto Union along this narrow, bumpy country road was quite humbling as I cautiously trundled along in third gear.
History lesson over, we pressed onwards past Prague, where rush hour traffic forced us to avoid a visit to the city centre. Taking advantage of the motorways, it wasn't long before we'd crossed the border into Germany, and at this point it became all-too evident that our journey was entering its final stages.
Today we strike out for Autocar Towers in leafy Middlesex. We're keeping a very close eye on the trip meter to note when this monster journey clicks over 5000 miles. We're also preparing to keep telling ourselves to 'drive on the left' after long days of motoring on the opposite side of the carriageway...