Grand Tour of Europe. Part 2


Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Netherlands. Our tour continues. Cheers!

We’d been on the road about 44 days and at just over 2,500 kilometres, about half way through our tour of Europe as we departed Italy for Switzerland and headed north. We’d departed Baveno about 10.00 and travelled north through the Alps to the Swiss border where there was snow about 10-foot deep on the side of the road. The day was beautifully sunny and the Sunplow Pass was open to traffic. We travelled on to Lausanne through magnificent countryside, staying at a municipal camp at Vidy outside Lausanne. We drove into Lausanne to look around. There seemed to be very little traffic but lots of pedestrian malls and lots of tourists.

Roadside snow and magnificent lakes

The following day we left Lausanne after giving the van a good wash and drove up and through the magnificent Jaunpass and on to Interlaken. We found a spot with the lake on one side and on the other side, a stream leading into the lake filled with wild ducks and swans. So wild, thy ate out of our hands! This was our favourite spot so far. We literally backed the van up and open our back doors for a magnificent view down the lake. Then into town for dinner and a well-earned drink.

We were up late the next day and drove back into Interlaken to buy a present for our Aussie friends back home. The on to Zurich. Dinah went to the Post Office to see if there was a message from her sister. She was expecting to catch up with Helen when we returned to London. We had a look around town then headed for our planned camp, which as it turned out was closed, so we drove another 40 kilometres to find one open. The camp was beside the Walensee and it was blowing a gale. Not our favourite spot.

The Principality of Liechtenstein

We left camp and drove to the nearest bank, post office, service station and supermarket to stock up with provisions. One of the great things about touring in a campervan is that you can buy your food and prepare your own meals on the road, thus avoiding the expense of restaurants. You can also stop wherever and whenever you want. That’s freedom. We drove on into the small Principality of Liechtenstein and walked around the capital, Vaduz. Then on to a camp on the hills above the town. It had been drizzling all day. Pretty miserable.

Good Friday today, but all the shops in Liechtenstein are open. We walked up to a castle along a mountain trail. Beautiful views of the countryside. We bought a tin pressing from a local gallery for 10 pounds and a first day cover (stamp) for Roger, then on to our new camp just outside Vaduz. It was a really sunny day. We even sun-baked!

Saturday and our last trip into Vaduz to buy two flag emblems for our growing collection and used some of the last of our Swiss Francs to buy chocolates. This place is famous for chocolates. Crossing into Austria we changed our final few Swiss Francs into Schilling. We drove on through the Arlberg Pass. Lots of skiing, chairlifts and resorts. Really special for us Aussie travellers. Made our next camp about 45 kilometres from Innsbruck, very secluded at the base of snow-caped mountains. We nestled in beside a massive pine forest. The following day we headed for Salzburg, out of Austria into Germany and back in Austria again. All in about 20 kilometres. Arriving about 3.00 after stopping en-route to visit a chateau, we parked the van on the mountain side near Garsberg for the night. Welcome to Austria.

Day 60 of our grand tour of Europe.Cheers!

We estimated that we had a little over 2 weeks remaining on the Continent before we headed back to England and London. Loved Austria, but today our destination is Munich. The capital of Bavaria, Munich is home to centuries-old buildings, art galleries and museums. With a population of around 1.5 million people, it is the third-largest city in Germany behind Berlin and Hamburg. Best known for its Oktoberfest celebrations, Munich attracts visitors from all over the world, including a disproportionate number of Australian to its October beer celebrations. It’s fair to say that we Aussies have quite a reputation for celebrating hard in this city. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for Dinah and me, we were a few months early for the festivities.

We had a great 3 days in this city. There is just so much to see and the people are super-friendly. We stayed at Campingplatz Thalkirchen near the Grober Stadtbach river and very convenient by public transport into Munich. There are also reasonable places to eat nearby and enjoy genuine German beer. From Munich, we headed deeper in Germany, through Ulm, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Mannheim and on to Frankfurt. Located in central Germany on the banks of the river Main, Frankfurt is the financial hub of Germany and home to the European Central Bank. It is also recognised as a global hub for commerce, culture, education, tourism and transportation. Frankfurt also boasts many recognised museums. You’d think that after 2 months on the road we’d be museum-ed out. No. We loved this city and really enjoyed our time exploring the historic buildings, churches, art galleries and museums such as the Museumsufer and the Stadel Museum, one of the country’s top cultural attractions.

From Frankfurt, we travelled north to Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen, finally crossing into Holland on our way to Amsterdam, our last major city before heading to Ostend to catch the ferry back to the UK.

In Amsterdam, red lights mean ‘Go’!

Amsterdam is known for many things, including its infamous ‘Red Light” district. This is a city that is on the go, 24 hours a day. We opted to stay near the heart of the city at  the Amsterdam City Camp. Open all year round, the camp is exclusively for camper vans and trailers and being located next to a shipyard, offered wonderful river and city views. We caught the ferry across the river IJ  and walked just 5 minutes to the city centre. They say that whatever you are looking for, you’ll find it in Amsterdam. This city is go, go, go – museums, markets, quirky boutiques, department stores as well as many beautiful parks. We loved Amsterdam, even though it rained heavily during our stay. This was one of our favourite destinations.

Three days in Amsterdam and it was time to head to Rotterdam and then on to Belgium and Ostend, our final European stop, to catch the ferry back to the UK. Being on the coast, Ostend boasts a magnificent long beach and promenade, great for evening strolls or simply sitting and watching the world go by. A fitting place to bid the Continent farewell. From Ostend, we took the ferry back to Ramsgate where we had departed England some three months earlier. In many ways it was great to be back on British soil, in other ways sad, for our return signalled the end of our great European adventure.

Back in London

We arrived back in London on 29 June, staying once again with Roger and Jo in Stanmore. We exchanged the ever-faithful campervan for a Ford Capri to spend our remaining 4 weeks in the UK touring England and Scotland. But that’s another story.

What an amazing journey. In total, four months on the road. Something new and different in every European county and every UK county. Still so much to see. I thrust that we will be back.

Photo Gallery

Main picture: In true Aussie style, enjoying ourselves in Munich

  • Market day in Lausanne and a chance for us to stock up
  • Fields of natural colour with the Alps as a backdrop in Interlaken
  • Looking across the lake
  • Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein
  • A momento of our trip from Liechtenstein
  • The Bernina Pass between Italy and Switzerland
  • beautiful old Munich buildings
  • Camping outside of Munich
  • Frankfurt, in all its glory
  • Iconic river transport in Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District
  • Back on British soil at Ramsgate
  • 5000 kilometres later…