Rome – Paris – London.
Early morning, Rome.
“Never!” Eszter laughs at me. “Nice try, Till, but Rome-London is just too far to be covered by car.” Her grey eyes sparkle amused but challenging: “Almost 2000 kilometres! By Paris at the latest, it won’t be me throwing in the towel, but you.” I grin and say nothing. Our S-Class quietly glides through the empty streets of the Eternal City. I glance at Eszter again and in the brief glow of a neon advertisement we are rushing by, I see it: she has laid her right arm back, her hand resting on the door beltline. Her fingertips are gently, almost imperceptibly stroking the soft leather of the upper door panel. I already know that I have won. From Rome to London in one day and one night: a magical journey, and she will be utterly delighted. Ok, we’re doing this the classic way: Rome, Florence, up to the Alps, past Geneva, a few kilometres through the Rhône valley heading north.
A stopover in Paris. Then continue driving north. Until we reach the English Channel. Having crossed the channel it’s only a short distance to London.
The autostrada is as straight as an arrow as it takes us north. I am excited and Eszter is as chipper as a teenager. I love these early morning hours on the road. The warm ambience lighting in the interior makes the large saloon seem like a fast-moving cocoon, a haven of calm as it passes through the early morning mist. It took me some time to realise why I prefer the silky effortlessness of comfortable cars to the demanding and uncompromising vivacity of a sports car. I do not want to be consumed by my car, by a piece of technology that imposes its rhythm on me, that seeks to appeal through imperfection – sorry, but I consider engineers who can make technology stress-relieving and comfortable to be the true masters. And my S-Class is a masterpiece.
At the dawn of a new day.
Without any harshness we glide along the broken surface of the undulating autostrada. With utmost stability the Mercedes-Benz courses unerringly around the long bends on the Umbrian hillsides. And yet the S-Class is by no means boring: I have the car under wonderful, precise control, and receive sensitive feedback as it glides along.
Eszter is now fast asleep, with a little luck she will only wake up when we are in Florence and scarcely believe that we have already covered the first 300 kilometres of the journey. I am almost sorry for her as she is missing the wonderful view of the city perched on a hill. But “Mission: London” comes first.
Music! I want music!
Some time later and wide awake again, Eszter demands: Music! I want to hear to some music! I press a button and a pop song quietly issues from the speakers of the Burmester® high end 3D surround soundsystem. “Can we have that a bit louder?” – Oh yes, we can! “Frontbass”, I shout above the wall of crystal clear, multi-layered sound pressure. “The bass speaker is installed in a body cross-member, and uses it as a resonance chamber! It certainly has oomph!” – “Oomph?” Eszter shakes her head and laughs. “I like oomph!”
After we could enjoy a fabulous view at the Mont Blanc, Eszter is looking at the COMAND monitor: “What’s that, Driveshow? Looks the same as in an aircraft! Estimated time remaining… time of arrival…” Then she starts to think: “Just a moment, that means that even if we stop in Paris for a meal, we can still make it to London?”
I nod briefly and give her a broad grin “Well off we go then! I’m fit as a flea.” As we glide along the Périphérique in Paris, then head into the Quartier Latin, one of these grey evenings begins to descend, the kind that makes Paris seem so unreal, enchanted and ethereal.
“Come on! We can make it to London!” While the first raindrops are falling, the S-Class glides over the cobblestones in Paris. Even the notoriously sluggish traffic around Paris is not too bad today, we head north and after less than three hours we are rolling slowly into the rail car of the English Channel shuttle. “You’ve won,” Eszter admits when we reach our parking position. I would never have thought that we could drive from Rome to London in one day. And look forward to going out at night as well!” “Now I recommend a little NIGHTLIFE MOOD!” Eszter watches me with interest and begins to smile: “Hmm, a slight smell of wood and cigars. But only a whiff… your car is really amazing. I feel as if we had flown here on a magic carpet.”
Shortly before midnight, I stop the S-Class outside a brick building in London’s East End, out of which trickles the sound of electronic beats. “Too late for the fashion show. I’m sorry, darling!” – Eszter looks at me: “Never mind. The night is still young. I want to go dancing! and see the sun rise.”