Remembering the journey across Europe

Now I’ve had time to recover from the journey and can think about it from the peace and tranquility of Lamorna.  What memories stand out the most?

The actual reality of the trip was very different from both the anticipated and the remembered journeys.
I looked forward to it with great excitement.  I now look back on it with fond smiles. But the reality was a really mixed bag of delight, despair, pleasure and discomfort, wonder and worry.
We drove from Granollers to Tuscany and then from Tuscany to Calais via Switzerland and France.
One car, two people and a Springer Spaniel.
We tried to travel too far every day and we wanted to avoid the paying motorways. This meant that although we enjoyed some beautiful meandering roads through lovely places, we  also had no time to stand and stare. We spent far too many hours cramped in together in the car. leading to  some inevitable cabin fever!
250km per day is fine – 450km is too much.
  • Duna is a natural traveller and curled up at the passengers feet with hardly a moment of restlessness.
  • Camping is wonderful and even the most basic places give you the joy of waking to the sound of birds and the smell of grass.
  • Hard ground, sleeping on a slope which rolls you downhill, neighbours who noisily leave at 6am, changing campsite (and sometimes country) every day, drunk Italians who piss over a wall only feet from your pillow(see below), thunderstorms which create a pool outside your door……. all just add to the experience.  Yet,  a hook on the door of the campsite loos can make you almost cry with relief.
  • The best toilets were in a Swiss site, the worst in Italy

If you are trying to find the nearest baker it’s best not to ask with a dog bowl in your hand.   The well dressed Italian lady shuddered and mumbled “No grazie”.  It took me a moment to realised she thought I was begging.

Mid August is not the best time to cross the Alps going north. We spent three hours in a traffic jam getting more and more nervous about the Gotthard Tunnel which is 17km long.

It reminded me of trying to drive into Cornwall on a Saturday in August.

Our other major traffic jam was crossing the border from France into Italy – we had forgotten it was market day in Ventimiglia.
After August 14th, that magical date when French and Italian people go back to work,  all the campsites emptied out and in Chalons -Sur-Marne we shared a site with a few people from the UK.   The van opposite had a Cornish sticker and it turned out the people were from Penzance.    This came in useful later the next day when we were driving north and realised Duna’s lead was still hanging on the bush.  We rang the site and asked the owner to pass it on the couple whose names we didn’t know but who had told us they drink coffee every Saturday in Renaissance Cafe.

And finally,for now,  I learnt that although my friend Tiffany  said GPS can save relationships, it can also send them into meltdown.
In 100  metres Turn Right, TURN RIGHT   (OK OK  I am)  …..Recalculating, recalculating !!!!!

Next posts – The Etruscans, Duna goes to London, and anything else I remember from the trip!

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3 thoughts on “Remembering the journey across Europe

  1. Wonderful photos – I love the one of you with the “begging bowl”. Who knows, if you’d kept it up you might have made some money – even if you’d never found a bakery!

    That traffic sounds ghastly, especially if it’s like roads into Cornwall in August, as you suggest.

    What kind of GPS do you have? TomTom? And what voice do you choose? Authoritative bossy Englishwoman sounding like the Queen, American male, ???

    Pearl x

  2. I also find going through the Gotthard tunnel a real pain, as you never know if there will be queues (there usually always are).

    It sounds like you had a great time!

  3. Hi Emma thanks for writing – I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to find that tunnel a pain. the Mont Blanc sounded worse and the Grimwald Pass was not recommended by my sisters! Have you tried that?
    Thanks Pearl – I still laugh about the begging bowl – of course when you are camping you forget how wild and strange your look. I tried to brush up a bit for Italy but obviously failed! K x

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