It was a good thing that we started early in the day as we wanted to have a good look around Lucerne which is such a picturesque city with it’s interesting buildings, covered bridges and towers on the lake. We were lucky again to get parking very close to the city. There were a lot of students and tourists around and the cafes and restaurants were full of people, the outdoor ones. The weather had continued to be hot and sunny and we counted ourselves very lucky in that regard. It took quite a bit of planning not to take the Autobahn to Lake Konstanz as the sat.nav. kept trying to take us on it but we got there in the end after many hours of pleasant driving though the hills and towns.

The first and very well recommended campsite at Seehorn near Romanshorn was unfortunately full so we ended up at Buchhorn in Arbon which was a well run campsite with friendly staff and with the train which ran by the site. Luckily it did not run overnight and it was a handy three minutes to the station.
Maurice was feeling a bit tired the next day so I took myself off to Romanshorn where I got the ferry which took 2hours to get to the island of Mainau. We criss crossed the enormous lake and sailed by the city of Konstanz in Germany to Mainau island which is known as the garden island. Count and countess Bernadotte live in the enormous chateau on the island which is known for it’s beautiful gardens with over 12,000 dahlias and countless roses,enormous sequoias and other interesting trees.
I stopped to see the arrival of a bride at the ornate church. There were many different cafes and restaurants on the island and I opted for afternoon tea in the palm garden which was suitably sub-tropical. There were well laid out paths all over the island and I found the butterfly enclosure with a stunning array of specimens.
I walked across the bridge connecting the island to mainland Germany and caught the bus to Konstanz. I didn’t know exactly how I would get back to the campsite but I had my day ticket which luckily was valid for Germany and Switzerland and there was a manned train information office which printed me out a route map taking me to Kreutzlingen back in Switzerland and then to change to Romanshorn and then on to Arbon to the campsite. I didn’t get back until nearly 7.30pm but it was a good journey and still light.

We met up the next morning with Peter who worked for a company we were affiliated with and who had visited us on a couple of occasions in Perth. We hadn’t seen him for 5years so it was nice to catch up with him. We had coffee a few doors away from the campsite in a cafe by the lake and then he took us up into what he called the Swiss outback!
We drove past the turn off for ‘Heididorf’ on the Autobahn and on the left side was Liechenstein and Austria and Switzerland on the right hand side.
We went up into the Swiss Alps and had amazing views of the surrounding mountains and small villages. It was a Sunday and there were lots of people out and about and the first restaurant we tried was full and the one we eventually found was also very full but had room for us.
It was lovely sitting outside in the sun. I took some photos in the street and found a house selling ‘self serve’ cheese. The small fridge with an honesty box on top was next to the front door so I put the money in the tin, took my change and took a piece of cheese from the fridge. I couldn’t do that in too many countries I’m sure!

After a delicious typical Swiss lunch with Rosti and Spatzli and a nice Aperol Spritz to start with we drove along the winding very narrow roads back down the mountain and back to the campsite. We had a very enjoyable day and it was nice that Maurice had a break from driving. We caught up with computer and van housework in the afternoon. The wonderful weather continued the next day when we drove over the mountains and into Liechtenstein, a principality using the Swiss Franc. The town itself is very small and after a coffee and a walk around the mainly touristy shops we only took about half an hour to get from one end to the other of the principality.
It was strange to get the three different languages – German, Italian and French on the radio as we drove along.
All the cows we saw seemed happy cows with plenty to eat in their very green fields and we could hear them from a long way off with their large bells around their necks.

We took the long way over the mountains and stayed the night at Cugnesco near Lago Maggiore in the Swiss Italian Alps where the managers were very pleasant. They didn’t even charge me for printing out some things that I needed for our Indian visas. We had to get back to Rome fairly quickly to lodge our visas and get some vaccinations so we left early on the secondary roads down through the San Bernadino pass and over Lake Lugano to Italy and Lake Como.

We will come back to Switzerland next year to Lake Konstanz as we want to take the ferry from Konstanz down the Rhein to Schaffhausen which we didn’t have time to do this year. Maurice likened Switzerland to a good looking golf course. Everything everywhere was so neat and tidy.

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We awoke at our good campsite in the small village of Neydens to a lovely sunny day and caught the bus from there with a change at St Julien to Geneva city. We met a couple of English ladies who were also staying in the campsite so chatted on the way to town.
Geneva is a beautiful city with it’s interesting architecture, vast lake and lovely places to have coffee and eat, although a lot more expensive than France with it’s strong Swiss Franc. We found our way with the aid of a city map to the Reformation wall located in a large leafy park. It stood very high with larger than life statues depicting those involved in the reformation. From there we went to St Pierres cathedral with the ruins of the old cathedral beneath it in a very well preserved archaelogical site over three levels below ground. The Reformation museum just opposite the church was in a beautiful old house and the information was very innovatingly shown with films and clever audio explanations.
We walked around the old city and down and around the promenade by the lake with stops for coffee and lunch along the way. Everywhere was very clean and tidy and we saw very little graffiti which was a change from most of the larger european cities. The only bus to take us back to Neydens was at 6pm with a change again at St Julien and we walked from a large new shopping centre/pool complex along the backroads to the campsite. The public transport in Switzerland is excellent and runs on time to the minute.
The trees on the hills were already changing colour and the nights were getting shorter.
The campsite was very well appointed with good pitches and spotless facilities and we managed some washing in the two nights that we were there.

We drove along the east side of Lake Geneva on the French side the next day – the border as such is in the middle of the lake – to Thonon where we had a walk around and then continued to a nice quiet spot with a small jetty by the lake for lunch.
We drove on further to Montreux at a nice leisurely pace and around the pretty, very orderly city with it’s very large and ornate appartment houses which had beautiful views across the lake. On the edge of the lake near Montreux was the Chateau of Chillon which belonged to the House of Savoy from the 12th century.
The location and the chateau itself was magnificent as were the views across to the other side of Lake Geneva.
The secondary roads which we took all through Switzerland were in tip top condition. Our campsite of ‘Rive Bleue’ by the lake at Bouveret a short drive away was a nice quiet one with excellent facilities.
The following day we left Bouveret to see the town of Vevey (where Charlie Chaplin spent his last years) on the way to Lausanne to meet our friend Christian.
We managed to find a parking spot very near the centre of Lausanne and walked up hundreds of steps to the Cathedral where we had a view all over the city. Lausanne was very hilly and we had a steep climb even in the pedestrian shopping area. We found a cafe ‘Blackbird’ serving healthy food and I had a delicious salad with the tag of ‘superfood’ Quinoa and pommegranate seeds etc and Maurice a haloumi, hummus and salad sandwich and with two cold tea drinks and we did enjoy it – just as well as it translated into $55 Australian! We decided not to convert Swiss Francs any longer. Even Christian a Frenchman who has lived in Lausanne and who we met in Pondicherry a few years ago said that it was an expensive place to live compared to France and for us it was many times more expensive to eat out than in the other countries we had visited other than Norway. We found some delicious looking pastries and bought some to take to afternoon tea with Christian. He is French speaking with little English and it sure did test my French but it was lovely seeing him again.

Switzerland is such a small country compared to it’s French neighbour and it only took us an hour to get to Bern the capital which we drove through and on to Spiez,a little town which I remembered from 27years ago. It it on the the shore of Lake Aare and is the most beautiful picturesque town. There was no campsite very close so we drove on and up to Stuhlegg in Kittigen another pretty site with ‘Lurch’ for a manager. A very dour individual but we only had to book in with him and then we enjoyed the scenery it afforded. The showers were good and hot which was just as well as it was like having a shower in the field – they were not in an enclosed building. Needless to say we didn’t dawdle. We left the campsite early the next morning.

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Rain greeted us after a nice smooth crossing on the Stena ferry to Holyhead from Dublin where we returned to the lovely campsite of Riverside near the picturesque town of Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia, Wales. It continued to pour all night and the next morning until around lunchtime when we were well in to England. From then on for the following twelve days the weather was wonderful – blue skies mostly and warm. We had a relaxing week with our friends Michael and Ruth in the Chilterns. I had a lovely belated birthday lunch at ‘The Grove’ golf hotel before driving up to Hichin for a few days to catch up with another friend Barry and get the MOT and a couple of minor adjustments to the van done. The crowd at Hitchin caravans are so nice and they let us stay there van plugged in for a few days every year.
My good and faithful Toshiba notebook died and we were able to get a new Lenovo computer in the little time we had so that was a godsend. The keyboard was closer to my Chromebook so the transition went smoothly thank goodness.
We had a few good walks to the market town which boasts a few good cafes and restaurants. We spent most of our time in the Hermitage cafe/restaurant/gift shop where good coffee and good food was served and we could do vital things like book flights to India and fill in our Indian visa forms online – a lengthy process and not a successful one as far as the flight from India with Malaysian airlines to Kuala Lumpur. Their website was experiencing difficulties and we had no luck trying to book it after many attempts so we left that for another day. We had to book this so far in advance as the Indian consulate want to sight our tickets out of India.

The weather changed with a blanket of clouds on the 2nd September when we took the Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. After a lengthy wait at the port the staff were very welcoming and the three and a half hour trip got us into Cherbourg an hour late. Luckily we had decided to have our main meal in the van while we waited as we didn’t get in until 7.30pm French time. We phoned ahead to the caravan park in the lovely village of Carentan 50minutes away and I had to hurriedly resurrect my French to make sure that they would accept us after 8pm. It had the unusual name of ‘Flower Camping le Haut Dick’. It was still light and we had a nice quiet evening
with the sound of owls in the distance. It was an excellent site with very few campers. The season was officially over on the 1st September so our ACSI camping card came in handy where we only paid now between 12-18euros a night instead of the high season prices of up to 50euros. The proprietor of the campsite asked where we were from and he said he knew that we were not from England as we had no dog with us!

Leaving the village the next morning we had to turn around at the first bridge we came to as it was only 2metres wide – not enough for us. That is one drawback of the sat.nav.not knowing our size. The day got up to 32degrees with a beautiful blue sky all day as we made our way down through lower Normandy and down to the very fertile Loire valley going through the villages of Alencon, Mamers, Vendome and Blois. We decided on a break in Blois, an amazing large town on the Loire which happened to have an enormous fair all through the city with lots of activities for adults and children. There was a party air to it all and the town itself with it’s amazing chateau and associated buildings were wonderful to see. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the festivities before driving along the Loire river and then across the Cher river to our campsite at Faverolles Sur Cher not far from the beautiful Chateau of Chaumont by the river.

We stocked up on supplies at an enormous Carrefour shop where while Maurice was backing into a parking spot an impatient van driver shouted at him ‘you Anglais’ so Maurice shouted back not Anglais – Australian, to which the driver said ‘sorry, sorry, sorry!’and gave him the thumbs up.

On the 4th September we continued along the Cher river and via Mennetou sur Cher – a medieval town to Bourges where we looked for an amazing cathedral which we could see for miles before we got to the town but ended up nearly getting stuck with the van in the Sunday We luckily extricated ourselves,this time without me having to get out of the van and hold the traffic. We found the cathedral of St Etienne and departed for Nevers and to Chalon Sur Saone always taking the almost deserted country roads through many quaint small villages and agricultural land planted thickly with corn, grapevines and now wilting sunflowers. Many field had herds of the large white Limousine cows.
Many of the roundabouts had beautiful floral displays and one even told a story – a small house with farmer ploughing the field with a horse and a small vineyard. Very innovative. From the Cher we climbed into the densely forested hills and down to the Saone river where we stayed in a large but very orderly campsite next to the river. The sunset was a colourful one so we hoped for another sunny day after a cloudy but warm one.

We took all of the next day to drive across Burgundy up into the mountains and to our campsite at Neytens in France, just across the border from Switzerland.
The day was cool and cloudy with patchy rain. Although we were still in France it was only a 15minute bus ride to Geneva. If anyone asked us where we had had the best weather this year the answer was England!

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The catch phrase we heard over and over again was “well you don’t come to Ireland for the weather”.
This was very true as we were visiting many cousins and showing Maurice’s son Craig and his wife Yuko the country and introducing them to the many cousins. It would have been nice however to have some warm weather which was seriously lacking for a summer. Even the inhabitants were complaining about their lack of summer weather but that didn’t stop them from swimming in the sea and picknicking outside which we wouldn’t contemplate at home.

We picked Craig and Yuko up from Cork airport after a cancelled flight into Dublin from Amsterdam and in the two weeks that they were with us we managed to cover a great deal of the island as well as having lots of family time which was really enjoyable and all the cousins made them very welcome.

In two weeks we drove from Dublin to Clonmel and to Cork where the McCarthys came from then back to Dublin then to Avoca. We zigzagged a bit so that we could catch up with some of the cousins and friends who were either on holiday from England where they live or to see cousins who were about to go on holiday.

We continued on to Wexford where Maurice’s paternal grandmother was born to Galway (an interesting city) and found where his great grandparents had lived and then via the cliffs of Moher and across many counties to Belfast on mostly bumpy narrow roads. Only Maurice had been to Belfast before and we found it a small but interesting city architecturally and culturally. We did a Black Cab tour around the former troubled areas of the city where tensions can still run high but are a far cry from what they were when the British military occupied the city.
What they call the ‘Peace Wall’ circles a part of the city dividing the catholic and protestant areas of Belfast. Interestingly part of the wall was taken down while we were there and luckily it caused no problems. We met up with Marcella, a friend we had not seen for ten years and it was lovely to catch up with her.

Maurice and Craig went to the Ulster Moto GP – the crazy motorbike road race – which they thoroughly enjoyed while Yuko and I were more sedate and went to the amazing Titanic exhibition which is a fixed one as the original Titanic was built there. We also managed a tour of city hall and some shopping.

We had our only two really warm and blue sky days on Craig and Yuko’s last day in Dublin and the day after.
The free walking tour of Dublin on the sunny day was most informative and James did a great job while giving us a few laughs along the way. We sampled some Irish food and also a lot of seafood and fish along the way.

People were friendly and helpful all over the country – north and south.

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The previous day in Berlin Maurice and I had both worn shorts for the first time since leaving Sardinia and we started off via Potsdam in 24degree warmth but within a short time on the Autobahn it had dropped to 18degrees and driving rain for over an hour! I think it was preparing us for England and Ireland. We reached Rinteln near Hannover. The campsite which we reached after about 6hours was called “Doktor See”

By the time we got to The Hague the sky was blue again and it was 26degrees. We parked near a canal and walked for two hours around the interesting city with a mixture of new buildings and old historical ones. The city had a very multicultural feel to it not surprising as it is a UN headquarters and home to many international companies. It was only another fifteen minutes to our campsite at Hoek van Holland where we were to catch the ferry the next day to Harwich.

We had the smoothest of crossings with a very calm sea and blue sky all the way to England and we had a nice quiet seven hour trip paying 16euros for the Stena lounge which gave us free wifi, refreshments, papers and no children. The next day also started well with a blue sky and we set out early for the next leg to Holyhead in Wales. We had stayed at a place called “Dovercourt” which was awful so we left early the next morning and opted to take the A roads not the motorway and there was
little traffic for most of the Sunday which made for a relaxing day.

The service areas in England are well set up with cafes and M & S food shops and some with bookstores. After a couple of breaks and lunch at Telford in a large mall complex we drove through to Wales and through some beautiful scenery to Betws-y-coed where we stayed the night in a lovely campsite. It was very windy and cold and rain fell towards evening. The hardy English and Welsh were out with their T-shirts and shorts pretending it was summer.

After an hour’s drive the next morning we arrived at Holyhead and boarded the Stena ferry to Dublin on the 25th July. It was again a smooth crossing but we didn’t opt for the lounge this time as it was 18pounds for a three hour trip and they allowed children in as well. We were looking forward to seeing all of Maurice’s cousins and their families and to picking up Maurice’s son Craig and wife Yuko on the 2nd of August. They were going to join us for two weeks to meet the family and see a bit of Ireland with us.

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More strange weather followed the next day with us putting our jackets on and taking them off every ten minutes. We walked along Berlins premier street the Kurfuerstendam to KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens an lovely old department store which has been upgraded to be quite modern inside with a large winter garden with glass roof on the top floor.

After a nice lunch at a non tourist little cafe a few streets away we walked to the Kathe Kollwitz museum. She was an artist and sculptress married to a doctor and they lived in a working class suburb in Berlin around the turn of the century. She was a humanitarian who depicted the lives of the working class people and portrayed the poverty and despair of the people in many of her works. She lost one of her two sons in the first world war and a grandson in the second world war. She worked for fifty years in Berlin and died at aged 78 two weeks before the end of the war.

Maurice had bought a new tablet in Stade and since the programmers decide to change things with every upgrade he had some questions so we went into a media markt in Alexander Platz in Berlin and had it sorted out.

The refurbished “Hamburger Bahnhof” was now a museum of modern art and was previously the main railway station. Maurice felt that he had seen enough of modern art so we went over to the former “East zone” and found our way to a bar called the “Macke Prinz” to see a friend of Maurice’s cousin Lulu however she was in England so we had a drink and then wandered around the interesting neighbourhood and found a bar serving Russian food.
The sky had cleared by the time we made our way back to Gatow and it felt odd to have our sunglasses on at 8.30pm.

A busy morning followed at the campsite, washing, drying clothes and sorting and cleaning the van again. Housework in the van takes about half an hour so it will be hard going back to cleaning a house in the future.

We took a bus back to the city at 4.30pm after having to change trains because a problem on the line, we got to the city about 6pm. It was a warm and sunny thirty degree day so we headed back to take some photos of the Brandenburg gate and then to the “Bundestag” to see where
Germany had it’s seat of government. A large glass dome had been added to the historic building and you could walk around inside it however it had been booked out weeks before so we just viewed it from the outside. There were many government buildings on the opposite bank of the canal. We walked from the Bundestag back to the railway station and then back to the campsite via train and bus.

We left Berlin for Rinteln near Hannover driving through Potsdam, another historic city before taking the backroads for the five hour trip to Rinteln which was about halfway to our final destination of Hoek van Holland.

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It was a pleasant drive on the 16th July to Berlin on the backroads through a lot of the old “East” Germany where some of the buildings and houses were rather forlorn looking and some still grey in colour. It did not generally look as prosperous as in the “west”. There was much agricultural land with vast fields of grain and potatoes. It took us about seven hours with stops for coffee and lunch but it was a much more pleasant drive through the avenues of trees and with us passing tractors instead of large trucks on the Autobahn where you see little of the country. We detoured to Dahlem, a leafy suburb in Berlin. I found the house belonging to the Goering family where my mother lived for a few years during the second world war and taught their daughter English. That was not the infamous Georing (that was a cousin). I remembered the house from seeing it in 1994 however it was quite different now. It had been the Japanese embassy then. It had obviously been sold and part of the rear of the large garden had been turned into two modern block houses. There remained some garden and a gate house at the front but the garden was very overgrown. Someone was renovating the place as it had a new roof and new windows and I was pleased as it would have been a shame to see the beautiful building demolished.

The campsite at Gatow to the south east of Berlin was about an hour away from the centre of town by bus and then S Bahn or the U Bahn (underground). We got to the point near the Brandenburg gate where we met our guide for our free walking tour around many points of interest around the city. It was raining but not cold when we started off but we were lucky and it eased off during the three hour tour. Louis a Dutchman who had studied political and general history had lived in Berlin for nine years and was an excellent guide who gave us information in a very objective way. The original “Checkpoint Charlie” had been demolished however a building like a site office had been erected where it didn’t impede traffic and one could have photos taken with fake police in front of the small building.
We walked afterwards over to museum island and into the Jewish quarter where we had a nice lunch at “Hummus and Friends”.

We had been recommended by one of Maurice’s cousins to see the “Sammlung Boros” a private modern art collection over five levels and over which the owners had built a large Penthouse. It’s history was fascinating. It had been a bunker (air raid shelter) during the second world war and it’s walls were 1.80metres thick and the top of the building was 3.20metres thick. It was built for 1,200 people however up to 4,000 sheltered there during the war. It was then taken over by the Russians after the war and used for prisoners of war. It was later used as a textile warehouse and then a seedy techno nightclub before being closed. The Boros bought the building and over many years had it remodelled taking some of the ceilings and walls out and making larger spaces to house their artwork. The building was a constant 14degrees and it was an eerie feeling to be in some of the smaller rooms which had sheltered people during the war and then used as a prison.

The tour had been sold out when I looked on the internet (with only small groups of twelve allowed at a time) but we were advised to go and see if there were any no shows. We were lucky and were allowed to join a tour where the French guide gave us the tour in English of many of the works which did then make sense in many cases as the artists’ concepts were explained. An interesting one was a large copper sculpture done by a Vietnamese artist which was one of many that if assembled, made up a copy of the statue of Liberty. The works had been on display for five years and a more unusual exhibit was a popcorn machine which had been running since then which was activated when a tour group entered the room. The popcorn lay in great mounds around the machine. Some of the work was very quirky , some very innovative and some strange. The owners curated the work with the assistance of the artists who were from various parts of the world. It was interesting to hear the history of the building and that the owners only bought artworks from artists in the year that they were created. The 130 artworks were only twenty percent of their total collection which was housed in a storage facility out of Berlin. Mr Boros had made his money since the nineties in advertising and in publishing houses.

Berlin is a sprawling open city with few high rise buildings and many parks and leafy tree lined roads with the Spree and the Havel rivers and canals criss crossing the city. The city has 3.5million people and we saw no real congestion of people or traffic. There were many cyclists and cycle paths all over the city.

We made an early start the next day taking the bus to the city with firstly a visit to the Gedachtnis kirche on the Kurfurstendam, Berlin’s premier avenue. It had a direct hit during WWII and apart from filling in the holes in the ceiling and putting some glass to prevent rain entering the building, it has been left as a reminder of war.

The 7euro day pass for all city transport came in handy that day as we caught the U Bahn to the East side Gallery a 1.6km section of the Berlin wall which had been painted by 118 artists from all over the world. It was a cool and windy day but we luckily only had a few spits of rain as we walked along both sides of the wall to see the various works and then over the historic bridge to the Freischwimmer restaurant for lunch which had been recommended by Maurice’s cousin Lulu who had lived for a year in Berlin. It stood over one of the Spree canals and was a lovely spot for lunch with little birds coming for any spare crumbs. A bit of sunshine would have been nice.

Another long walk took us to the huge Treptower park and the impressive and large Soviet war memorial. With rain threatening again we caught a bus to the Neukoellner Arcade where we eventually found our way up a car park ramp to the “Klunkerkranich” an eco bar and cafe with herbs, leafy vegetables and plants dotted around the former rooftop carpark. The view all over Berlin was lovely and we could see as far as the TV tower near the centre of the city.

We had been on the go from 9am but as we were close to the former Tempelhof Airport we decided to catch a bus there and walk around about a quarter of it before our feet gave up. The vast area is now used by the community for recreational purposes and many families were picnicking and BBQing and cycling around the park even though the day was cool and not very bright. Luckily the S Bahn was not far away and we got back to the campsite about 7.30pm after changing trains and then taking the bus back. It was worthwhile to make the most of the long evenings.

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On the 27th June after many roadwork hold ups and some heavy rain we arrived in Schwetzingen near Heidelberg to Maurice’s cousin Margarete and her husband Philipp for a few days. They had moved into their new house ten days before but it was already pretty well organised. We had a nice few days with them and two of their children and their spouses and babies.
Schwetzingen is a very orderly and pretty town with a famous Summer Palace in it’s centre. We didn’t expect the vast and beautifully manicured gardens at the rear of the castle. It was a rainy couple of days but we were lucky to have some sunshine in between the showers and we were able to take a long walk around the palace gardens.
We had an appointment on the 1st July at “Frankana” in Marktbreit to fit our flyscreen door on the van. This was a continuing saga….We bought the flyscreen over the internet and had it shipped to England to be fitted when we returned there last year. When we got there they had sent the wrong one – for a left hand drive vehicle contrary to all the information we had sent them. We paid for this to be sent back to Holland and they then sent the correct one (or so we thought) to Italy where we had someone lined up in Roccamandolfi to fit it. Unfortunately they had sent the wrong manual with the door (for a mercedes not a Fiat) so after many emails a correct manual was emailed to us. The carpenter could still not fit the screen as he said that it was not the correct one. We therefore carted the screen in a box in the back of the van through Italy to Germany where it was then be fitted in Frankana’s workshop at Marktbreit. When we arrived the technicians there told us that it was not correct for our model van but that they would try and make some modifications to make it fit. They had success after a few modifications with German efficiency and know how! We could then continue on our travels up to Lubeck in the north of Germany.

It took us 8 hours to get to Lubeck with many traffic hold ups due to roadworks, a couple of accidents and rain. We had at least sunlight until nearly 10pm so we did not have to drive in the dark. We met up with our friends on the Saturday morning for a sumptious breakfast in Ruth’s lovely appartment in an old Lubeck house with very high ceilings and ornate door frames and furniture.
It rained most of the day and after lunch we had to stop in at the University eye clinic to check out the bleed in Maurice’s eye which was eye strain and he was advised not to drive for a couple of days which was fine as we were with friends for a few days. We had dinner at a nice little Vietnamese restaurant. There was no traffic on the roads with the final of the European soccer between Germany and Italy so most were glued to the TV’s. Germany won so there were many German flags flying from cars in the town.

On the Sunday a group of us went to the “Marane” fish restaurant in the for DDR for lunch and then had a drive around the countryside where we found a group of Rheas (the Germans call them Nandus) which looked at first like small emus however they have a pointy beak and different feathers. The feral community in northern Germany were bred for meat but some escaped. They originally came from South America.

We had an afternoon tea in the garden of an old farmhouse after we saved a small dog on the road which came running towards us in the middle of the road. The poor thing was hyper ventilating and exhausted and she jumped into the car straight away and didn’t want to move so we drove her to the next village where no one knew her but two nice men said they would take care of her until they could notify her owners. Luckily she had a little capsule around her neck with their name and
number. They must have been out looking for her as there was no answer when we tried to contact them. We later found out that the owners had put garden furniture away and a clap of thunder had scared the dog and she took off and we had found her on the road about 5kms away. Our friend later contacted the owners and they were so grateful that we had picked her up. A few kilometres later we saw a tiny kitten in the middle of the road but it luckily took off before it could be run over. It
was an eventful day.

We were collected by our friend Katrin who took us to see the Ploener castle and some huge land holdings with enormous houses. The weather had not improved much but we could at least sit outside and enjoy lunch over the Ploener lake at “Seeprinz” before driving through the former DDR at Meklenburg where we had coffee and cake (a German institution) at a lovely outdoor cafe. We stayed the night in her appartment in Eutin and and it was a humid evening but overcast.
We followed the Baltic sea to the Timmendorfer beach area where we shopped a bit, ate Chinese run by Vietnamese and after a heavy downpour Katrin drove us to Travemunde where we caught the train back to Lubeck.

Our first stop on Tuesday was the Niederecker marzipan factory shop after we had left the camping ground and we drove back to Travemunde to see another friend Baerbel where we had another delicious fish lunch before driving to Lohne near Bremen on the 6th July.

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Saturday was spent first getting to the funicular when it opened at 9am to take us up to the “Festung hohensalzburg” or castle fortress before the onslaught of the tour groups. We were well rewarded as we virtually had the place to ourselves for the first hour. The fortress town had been a very large one. An excellent presentation showed how the fort developed from the 800’s to the mid 1800’s. We had a wonderful view from there over the city, river and surrounding countryside. The funicular took us back to street level and we took a long walk to the Mirabel gardens which were full of stunning roses and floral displays. There were many civil weddings taking place during the morning with groups of well attired men and women congratulating the happy couples and having photos taken in the gardens. Lena gave us the name of a vegan restaurant called “Heart of Joy” and we had a good lunch there just opposite the gardens in a leafy part of the city.

An old lady at the bus stop in the morning told us that the weather was to change drastically in the early evening so we decided to make the most of the sunny, hot day to continue half an hour away to Hellbrun palace and gardens. You must join a group to visit the trick fountains found there and a guide showed us the many trick fountains where most of us got a bit if not very wet along the way. It was good fun and no-one minded as it was still hot. The gardens are vast so we had a bit more of a walk and had photos taken by the conservatory used in the film “The sound of music”. It was donated to Hellbrun after filming had finished and was restored and placed in the gardens. Back in the city we lashed out and had afternoon tea at the Sacher hotel before getting back to the campsite where a huge storm had started about 5.30pm with much thunder, lightning and rain which went on overnight. By the next morning it was overcast and much cooler so we were back in long sleeves again.

We had decided to visit a couple of museums in the afternoon and as it was sprinkling with rain it was a good move. The Dom and Residenz complex was a vast one which took in the abbey, church and state rooms of the Archbishops and we could visit them all and didn’t get wet as they were interconnected . We moved on from there to the “Moenksburg” where we took the lift up to the top of the mountain where the museum of modern art was housed . There was an interesting display of poster art from 1869 to 1918 by Toulouse Lautrec and other artists as well as some very modern art adorning many rooms. It was still sprinkling when we arrived at St Peter’s restaurant which dated back from 803. An enormous restaurant made up of many rooms and a beautiful outdoor area. You could have a set menu with music upstairs (Mozart of course) or eat a la carte downstairs which is what we opted for.
The service and food was excellent and I had the apple and apricot juice which they said was hand picked! It was the best I had ever tasted and Maurice said the same of his apple and pear juice.
By the time we got back to the van it had started raining a little harder so we were pleased that we had had the best of the weather to see such a beautiful city.
We left for Schwetzingen near Heidelberg to Maurice’s cousin the following day which was a very grey cloudy one.

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We left Cortina a couple of days later through the scenic south Tirol where you could speak German or Italian to the locals as they learn both in school although they follow the German standard of schooling. We passed into Germany to go to Berchtesgaden and up to the “Eagles Nest” Hitler’s former meeting place. We had to leave the van in the carpark and buses took us up the winding roads to 1800metres and the “Kehlsteinhaus” which is now a cafe and restaurant. We had to walk through a tunnel and take the polished brass covered lift 124metres to reach the house. An hour and a half was enough to enjoy the views to Germany and Austria and have a bite to eat. We couldn’t believe how many tourists visited the site. The views from there were spectacular as were the views from the neighbouring peak in the national park which we visited in error on the way!

Salzburg was only about half an hour way through the mountains and through a five kilometre tunnel. We arrived on the 23rd June at our campsite “Panorama Stadtblick” which was a very well run family concern which had views over Salzburg and to the “Festung Hohensalzburg” which we could see in the distance. The facilities were first class and fresh Appel Strudel was made every day. A short walk through the meadows took us to the bus stop and we were in the city in fifteen minutes. We bought the “Salzburg Card” at the campsite which gave us unlimited travel on all public transport as well as for the funiculars and entrances to all the sights and museums. It was excellent value for three days at forty two euros.

We met up with our doctor friend Lena who drove us to town, showed us the clinic where she was working with natural medicines and then we walked to the “Steigl” restaurant through the historical city and the beautiful cemetery. The restaurant known for it’s beer was housed in a very large and old building which had beautiful views over the city. It was still hot and sunny and 34 degrees so we sat outside and watched the sunset while we ate our dinner. Lena then took us on a walking tour around the city and it was a lovely atmosphere with many buildings lit up across the skyline. We walked across the bridge full of padlocks. We had seen several such sights on bridges before but never as many as in Salzburg. Lena took us on a walkway cut through the mountain into a parking garage and to the other side of the city – it was well hidden and could easily be passed if one didn’t know it was there. Lena dropped us back to our van which was very kind of her. Salzburg is very easy to get around and nothing is too far away. Within a short time you can be hiking in the mountains or enjoying the lakes nearby. The city is full of museums of all kinds and there are many Mozart concerts to be found every day around town.

We had a relaxing start the next day and didn’t get into town until the afternoon. We visited Lena again and after a long walk around the city and visiting the house where Mozart was born we decided on an Italian restaurant called “Cavalli” which Lena had recommended. The food and service was excellent and we could sit in the garden until late in the evening enjoying our fish meals. The Austrian restaurants were very meat based with very few vegetarian or fish choices. We had a long walk back to the bus stop on the other side of the river and then a walk up the hill to the campsite. The buses run very regularly and are spotlessly clean and void of any graffiti

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