We should have been in Cuxhaven that morning, but we had missed the overnight ferry sailing from Harwich. So we had bought tickets on a boat going to Holland, the only other ferry leaving that day. Disembarking late at night at Hoek van Holland, we had found a room for the night at an Ibis hotel just off the highway. Cuxhaven to Rostock would have been a leisurely day driving along the coast, but it’s 530 kilometres from Hoek van Holland to Hamburg and a further 300 kilometres from Hamburg to Rostock, around 8 hours driving in all.

We drove east across the Netherlands, skirting Rotterdam and Utrecht and crossed the German border north of Enschede from where we picked up the autobahn to Bremen and Hamburg. We stopped briefly in Hamburg and then continued on, taking first the Berlin road and then heading north from Wittstock. Although a longer drive, at the time I don’t think there was an autobahn directly between Hamburg and Rostock. It’s often the case that you can travel faster on the restricted autoroutes in France than on the unrestricted autobahns in Germany because traffic is lighter and average speeds higher, but here the traffic quickly thinned out and we could make rapid progress, at least until it became apparent that there were few service stations on this section and we had to nurse the fuel.