With over 150 photos, four videos and some almost coherent strung-together words, here’s Iggy’s look at the Vespa World Days event which took place in Celle Germany last weekend. Almost 400 Brits made the trip and over 4,000 tickets were allocated to Vespa fans from 34 countries around the world. Vespa World Days is the largest one-make scooter rally in the world.
After riding to Vespa World Days in Croatia (2015) and St Tropez – via Spain in 2016, the relatively short jaunt to Celle in Germany seemed like a bit of an anti-climax really.
Thankfully our travelling group (above) decided to spice things up a bit by riding mostly geared scooters, rather than the arguably easier GTSs of previous years. In spice terms, that decision proved to be closer to a vindaloo and cost plenty of thyme but we’ll cover the trials and tribulations of the journey in a separate article next week. If you missed the story of my own last-minute.com Vespa build you can catch up on it here.
After four fairly hard days on the road we finally arrived in (well limped into) Celle on Friday afternoon, a little later and dirtier than planned. We’d just missed the VCB ride out to nearby Belsen, which was a shame, but we saw hundreds of British scooterists heading there as I nursed my poorly scooter towards town.
A quick wash and it was time to head down to the Vespa Village to see what was going on. With typical German efficiency and un-typical German humour we were checked in, then fitted with a crimped on numbered wristband and corresponding scooter sticker. You could only leave the site if you had the correct scooter to match the number on your wrist. Clever stuff. Goody bags in hand, (complete with t-shirt, stickers, cog badges and VCB yellow sunglasses) we were allowed through to the scooter parking area.
Just going back to Croatia for a second, the setting on the harbour was stunning; the whole feel of the event was spectacular, as was St Tropez last year. In comparison the Vespa Village in Celle was a little drab. Set on a former army base which was turned into an events arena, it didn’t look quite as attractive, or have the same kind of buzz about it. That’s not taking anything away from the organisers, it ran like clockwork and they could only work with what they had, but a more picturesque setting can either make or break the atmosphere of an event. Thankfully the fine selection of scooters decorating the graffiti-sprayed skate park jazzed things up a bit.
The trade stands didn’t seem quite as impressive or plentiful either, although Scooter Center, the title VWD sponsor had a good stand, complete with their new Vespa GTS demonstrator, with dropped bars and styling that even my anti-GTS partner found attractive; it drew a crowd over the weekend. Pinasco were also in attendance, as were Bollag Motos, Tucano Urbano, Remus, Maskes and a selection of Vespa parts stands. I was going to book my scooter in to the service centre for them to try and sort a few issues out but at €67 per hour I decided to get my hands dirty again, although after being robbed of €35 for a litre of gearbox oil and a gasket set from one of the Italian stalls I was a little perturbed.
Vespa Club of Britain
Aside from a variety of merchandise and parts stalls the Vespa Club of Britain also had their own stand in the Vespa Village. Although a shortage of volunteers/helpers meant it closed early on the Saturday. With 361 Brits in attendance it could have been sorted without too much fuss.
Having scrubbed as much of the grime and oil away as possible (a few days of running repairs, plus a couple of weeks leading up to it frantically building the scooter, had taken its toll on my usually clean writer’s hands) it was time to hit the town.
Celle is a pretty town in Lower Saxony. It’s famed for its abundance of timber-framed houses, over 400 in total. Aside from that it has a fair smattering of bars and restaurants and the town centre had got into the swing of the event by decorating shop windows with scooters, welcoming stickers (that depicted a Lambretta – doh!) and various other Vespa themed ornaments. All done in the spirit of the event rather than trying to take over or cash-in.
After a few bars we ended up in a cracking pub where the Brits were kept entertained by a large circular table, nothing amusing there, until you add a circular rotating bench around it and a free-flowing beer pump in the centre. Spin yourselves around the table helping yourself to the beer. Great fun for thirsty scooterists and before long it turned into a freestyle, beer-swilling seat surfing event, see video above. Stupid but great fun. We ended up staying there until the early hours of the morning when we were swept out by the cleaners.
Even after performing some surgery the previous afternoon my scooter was firmly on the naughty step, so there was no ride out for me; instead we had a lazy start followed by a walk back down to the Village.
The site was still busy enough, although many of the scooters had gone out for the ride out. Unsurprisingly the Germans had the highest number of members in attendance (see numbers at the end) but there were far fewer radical German street-racers around than I expected, which was a shame.
Rumour has it that the new Lambretta V-Special was seen razzing around town and the Vespa Village, the first time it’s been spotted being ridden and at a Vespa rally, rather than its planned initial test ride at EuroLambretta in Adria.
We left site after a mooch around and called in at the nearby pop-up Vespa museum, housed in a local stable yard. Plenty of nice Vespas on display, including a dredged-up and very rusty Low Light model. It was a bit too packed in the stables to stay for too long though so we headed back to the hotel for a quick freshen up before the gala dinner. Apparently we missed a Vespa stunt riding team performing to a huge crowd in the town square, which was a shame but you can catch them in the video above.
Trying to feed almost 2,000 Vespisti at one go in a marquee isn’t an easy task and the caterers did a fairly good job of it. The waiting time between courses was a bit longer than it could have been but the food was hot and delicious. One of the hour long gaps between courses was filled with a marriage proposal from one of the Vespa Club of Britain couples, the lucky lady said yes to an approving cheer. Elsewhere an Indonesian film crew captured the whole event, in 2020 Bali will host a Vespa Days event so that will be one worth visiting if you want to see extreme Vespa customising up close.
The massive tent was very hot though and the security guards wouldn’t let us open the sides to get some air in, or at least not until Shaun Hodgkin quoted a few health and safety rules at the boss. The flaps were opened quicker than you can say ‘bombs away’. Talking of bombs, we left the army base after the meal and missed out on a spectacular and very noisy fireworks display to close the event, we also missed an AC-DC tribute band but weren’t really too upset about that.
During the weekend a beautiful green Vespa small frame, built by Scooter Center, was raffled off and won by a lucky Englishman. He faced the dilemma of trying to get it (and his own scooter) home, so placed an appeal for a van to take it back to the UK for him. Bob Downs came to the rescue and agreed to load it in his van on the Sunday morning. In a cruel twist of fate a green small frame was parked at the side of Bob’s van in the morning and was duly loaded, strapped in and various items of luggage placed around it.
Luckily Bob also had another scooter to take home so didn’t leave straight away because a couple of very worried (but I must say more than reasonable) Italian scooterists turned up demanding to know what Bob was doing with THEIR scooter. He’d unwittingly ‘stolen’ the wrong machine. No real harm done and a genuine mistake but the outcome could have been very different.
All that was left for us was to bid farewell to a few friends and ride away into the developing storm for a couple of days touring around Germany and Holland, with a few more mechanical mishaps thrown in for good measure.
Our trip was around 950 miles in total, with mostly fantastic weather, pretty villages and great company along the way. The 2018 Vespa World Days event is even closer to home in Belfast, will you be part of the largest one-make scooter event in the world?
Words and photos: Iggy
Additional gallery: Erasmo
Thanks to the army of people behind the scenes who make large scale international events like VWD go ahead for us all to enjoy. Without the clubs, staff, medical staff, security and individuals we’d never be able to share good times with fellow Vespa fans from around the world.
Vespa World Days in numbers
- Number of participants: 4200
- How many countries? 34
- 4,000 scooters on the Friday ride out
- 7,000 on the Saturday ride out (police figures)
- Countless daily guests
- 1936 seats
- 20 chefs
- 70 waiters
Top three countries represented
- Germany 2097
- Belgium 539
- Italy 522
- Great Britain 361
- Netherlands 117
Vespa World Days Rallery by Iggy
Rallery by Erasmo
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