?

Log in

 
 
30 September 2008 @ 11:40 pm
Mathilde vs the Countess  
I don't know if you're aware of the introduction of low emission zones for vehicles in cities throughout Europe. I wasn't until about six months ago. Unfortunately, it turns out that our beloved tour bus - The Countess, a converted mobile bank (yes, you read correctly, she is a former mobile financial institution!) - was no longer allowed into London from July 2008, and she's equally barred from entering the German cities Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Bochum and many more...

In the UK at least you are able to retrofit your vehicle, but in Germany any retrofitting - even if it results in the vehicle passing the emissions test - is not officially accepted, so you still aren't able to enter any low emission zones. That left us with two options: buy a much newer and obviously more expensive bus (that kind of seems to be the real motivation behind at least the German low emission zones) or buy a much much older one, that is even worse in terms of emissions, but as a historic vehicle is excluded from the new regulations and can stink as much as it likes...

We decided on the latter option and started looking... I had absolutely no idea how many online forums are dedicated to old buses and lorries until we did! Unfortunately, because everyone was affected by the new regulations equally the prices for the kind of bus we needed shot through the roof... At the same time the price for buses like our Countess - perfect in every way but no longer wanted in inner cities - dropped big time. But we kept looking...

...and eventually, in a very specialist hippy forum we found an ad for a little old bus at a price we could just about afford. Lutz travelled up to Berlin to take a look and while it wasn't exactly love at first sight, we thought it was worth a go - despite the brown and orange butterfly wallpaper on the inside of the driver's door and the flowery wallpaper in the driver's cab. So Mathilde got a little facelift, a few new bits and bobs and also a completely revamped interior: 7 beds and a bathroom area. It was bloody hard work, but it was so worth it: Mathilde turned out to be a beautiful and cosy old lady and we were very happy when she took us safe and sound to all destinations of our mini tour of Germany in September.

While we love Mathilde we really wish we could also keep the Countess. She's been agreat companion for many years and we'd hate to give her away for a pittance to someone who might not really appreciate her. I keep crossing my fingers that we find a way to keep them both...