Vichy 2004 - Report from an ill Frank - Part 1

Well, 2004 has been a good year for MCH. We managed to meet with the whole crew in Rome around Easter, which was a very pleasant experience. I’m still very grateful to Stefania and Francesco for their kind hospitality. While talking about later events this year, two of them looked quite interesting for us: the AIC meeting in Faenza (1300Km) and the 25th anniversary of the AFC in Vichy (800Km). Travel-wise, the Vichy event looked much more realistic though. A trip of 8-10 hours with two drivers that take turns for a short weekend was acceptable for us, and since George decided to come to Vichy too, we chose to visit the latter. Most sadly we wouldn’t see Francesco then, but let’s hope we will soon be rejoined somewhere in 2005!!!

Hilde and I left home at Friday the 1st of October at 5.00am and we went to Gierle to pick up Stijn. I already felt my throat playing up, but this could not spoil the good atmosphere, yet. After filling up our Toyota Avensis with diesel fuel, we headed for France! Vichy (and George), here we come!!!! I drove the first part as I already  worked 2 morning shifts on Wednesday and Thursday, and after stopping for a cup of chocolate just before the French border, we were set to drive the long distance to Vichy while respecting all speed limits. 100Km before Paris Hilde took the wheel and she did a remarkable job driving through the French capital. I drove the part right after Paris, and I managed to take the wrong highway. I chose the A6 instead of the A10! A bad sign? That evening I also missed the Vichy exit after picking up George, Johnny and Thanassis at the Clermont-Ferrand airport. Well I was able to find a shortcut so we didn’t lose too much time and soon we were on track again! Up to the next “péage” or toll house. This was the longest part of the journey, and with the cruise control set to 130Km/h the landscape passed along very quickly. Hilde did the last Kilometres to Vichy, and I fell asleep for a short while. Hilde woke me up as soon as we entered the town, so together we navigated our car to the Ibis hotel where we finally got out of the car. I must credit our 2003 Avensis for being an extremely good travel car, because we were all quite fresh after driving 800Km. Apparently the air conditioning did some harm to me, as some coughing started to appear…

The auction hall was part of the very nice omnisports park near Lake Allier in Vichy.

We checked in at the hotel and took a look around, as we had plenty of time to get to the event hall and pick up our Greek friends at the Clermont-Ferrand airport. We walked to the “Centre omnisport” to register ourselves and to have a first look at the auction hall. It surely was an impressive sight with all these tanks set up in long rows. There were already some fish, but most of them would arrive on Saturday. After a quick tour around the tanks we walked back to the hotel and we ate a sandwich in a nearby café. We tried our mobile phone that we had bough especially for this occasion, and found out that it didn’t work! The damned thing didn’t find a network! When we were back at home I contacted the shop where we bought the mobile, and after consulting the technical services, they let us know that some French operators reject foreign devices. We were advised to power off and on our phone up to six times to get connected the next time we are in France <sigh>. Anyway we used the phone in the hotel and managed to get in contact with George who was waiting in Milan for his second flight to Clermont-Ferrand and told us that everything was fine. We were reassured and took a short nap on our bed after setting the alarm on the mobile. At least it served us well in this way!!!

At 7.00pm we left Stijn at the auction hall and we drove to Clermont-Ferrand. We took the small roads and after refuelling the car close to the airport, we parked it and went in to wait for the Greek team. Finally we saw each other again, and after exchanging hugs and kisses the first problem damped our enthusiasm. The luggage of  George, Johnny and Thanassis didn’t make it to Clermont-Ferrand. You can read more about this in their report, so after spending some time at the luggage desk, we drove back to Vichy. Vichy was our destination, and we really intended to go to Vichy, and we saw the sign for Vichy but it was too late… we lost the Vichy exit!!! DAMN#!!^$$VICHY?#!!!!! No problem we thought, but to our horror the next exit after Vichy was 25Km further!! After getting off the highway in Moulins, we had to return on the small roads and hooray, it was “only” 55Km to Vichy… We were getting late,  and it was 11.00pm when all of us finally reached VICHY!!!! Although I was happy now, I started to suffer more and more from my throat. We finished our dinner and talked along, and soon it was 1.00 am. I was exhausted and we got back to the hotel to get a good sleep.

Friday evening and finally together: from left to right Stijn, Sonia, Dave, George, Thanassis and Johnny.

Stijn and George discussing about a very philosophical issue that involves all of us: fishkeeping!!!

Meeting Thanassis was also a very very pleasant surprise! 

The auction hall on Saturday. I didn't count the tanks, but these rows are a very impressive sight indeed!
In the meantime you can see Johnny falling in love with the C. salvini.

Heros severum "rotkeil". I started to like these fish more, more and even more !!

continued in next page

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