Yet Another Eurotrip -- 2018

Marianne and I just got back from our usual summer tour of Europe: most of a week on the road heading South in our 2003 VW Multivan, about 3 weeks camping beside some lake or ocean, then another 4-5 days on the way back home to København. Pretty much same thing every year, except that we visit different places. I suppose someday we'll run out of unexplored towns and destinations, but not yet, Europe is a pretty big area and it's a joy to be living here. The camping itself is mostly about just spending a good chunk of time outdoors in nature, sun & sea, it doesn't matter so much where we end up as long as it's near water and some interesting bike trips.

This time we went south via Düsseldorf, where we'd spent 4 days in the middle of winter, so we wanted to experience it in the summer. Followed the Rhein river for a while, just for the scenery. Then a favorite little German town, Bad Durkheim, a spa & wellness center.

On to Switzerland, mostly all virgin territory to us because we've usually been too cheap to buy that somewhat costly all-year's pass just to drive through for a few days. So we visited the Rheinfall waterfall at Schaffhausen on the Swiss-German border.

From there we drove into the city of Zurich, here's the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station. And a sample of some of the art found around town.

We found a great parking lot right on the big lake where we would pay in the day but get to stay overnight for free. It was also time for some kind of bath after 4 days of living in the van.

Onward through the Swiss Alps. Scenic, of course. We also visited the tourist-office praised town of Altdorf, famous for William Tell & his bow & arrow. (Reccomendation: DON'T go there, never seen a more boring town, half the shops were out of business, we had to eat in a grill bar and there was no sign of William Tell. Although the lake was beautiful.)

Into Italy to the big lakes, Lago d'Isso and Lago di Garda, where we spent most of a week in a campground at the west-side town of Maderno instead of our usual hangouts oj the eastern side. Campeggio Riviera, quite cozy, especially since we managed to get a pitch right beside the lake: beachfront property.

Moved on to Chioggia on the Adriatic coast, where we finally put up our tent and stayed for 10 days. Chioggia is a mini-Venice, canals and bridges, which is mostly undiscovered because foreigners can't pronounce it to ask directions (kee-yo-zhiah). We've been there several times, the town's a nice size, got some great grocery stores and one of our favorite campgrounds-- Camping Villaggio Atlanta --with a big Olympic pool that never gets crowded.

Hey, it must be time for a Spritz Ventiziano at our favorite local cafe-bar. Comes with tapas, traditionally. Seems that Aperol has now become popular, but I remember when we first tasted an Italian spritz about 10 years ago. Yeah, we were pioneers back then.

Camping life.

We had nice warm weather pretty much the whole trip, except for one very dramatic rainstorm just after we had set up our tent, so that we could enjoy being snug and dry all night long while being entertained by all the thunder and lightning. Next day was all bright and sunny again, as it should be in Italy and it stayed that way while we were there.

We were lucky when we took the tent down to head home, having already just packed everything away dry in the van about an hour before the REAL storm arrived, flooding streets in minutes. Then it rained for the next 5 days, violently at first, then on and off, all the way home to Denmark.

But just before that rain started, as we were all set to happily vanish over the horizon, our good luck suffered a glitch. Our usually faithful VW van has developed a nasty trick: sometimes, if the door is half-latched, it jump-locks itself when you try to open it. CLICK, all 4 door latches automagically sink into locked position. No problem if you have your keys on you-- but we'd been ready to leave, so my key was in the ignition. Marianne's was in her purse on the front seat, because we were ready to drive away. Which we suddenly couldn't, since both keys were inside and we were locked out of the car. Nor could we get to our cell phones to call a locksmith. All windows were rolled up tight, even the sliding side window we usually have open just a little bit for ventilation. Smashing a window is an absolute last resort, of course, when you have to drive 1500 km home.

But because the driver's door was still only half-latched we had some wiggle room, our Italian camping neighbor saw us struggling and came over to see if he could help, as did our Austrian neighbor on the other side. We all tried jamming and prying the wiggle in the half-latched door with some steel pipes, ended up designing a thin little lasso of wire and painstakingly wishing it would please snag on the lock latch and maybe pull it up. It was hopeless, but our Italian friend was incredibly patient. Then suddenly-- that is, suddely after an hour --the door popped open and the day was saved! We gave our Italian neighbors a big tin of Danish Butter Cookies, which was appreciated since they had 3 kids.

Lucky once again, that approaching rainstorm had politely waited for us to be finished, because after that it really let loose. So then we were driving half-blind with traffic-spray from above and below, which went on for hours. Still, we made some stops along the way. Had a mini-birthday party for Marianne at a rastplatz along the Autobahn wheree we had overnighted.

Marianne's birthday falls on the 2nd of September and we are almost always on the road on that date, so it can be tricky to pull off any surprises when you're together 24/7. This time I had to secretly buy candles and the bottle of Campari days before in Chioggia and pick up a little cake at the rastplatz cafe with the excuse of getting coffee, sneaky-like. But she was happy to be surprised, so it was a success.

Villach in Austria, wearing plastic ponchos in the pounding rain. Salsburg for a few half-sunny hours, stopped into an interesting little Bavarian village named Aying (avoiding München and all attending traffic), hopped off the Autobahn and took the landstrasse to Würzburg, where the weather was okay on and off and we spent the night, having miraculously landed in our favorite parking spot once again this year. We even got to say "Guten tag" to Hildegard, whom we'd met last year while parking just outside her window.

We passed Fulda, where I'd been stationed as a GI in the US Army from 1964-66. Yeah, that's a while ago by now. We have visited the town a few times, but it's changed so much that I don't like it any more, grown so much that it's an intolerable mess of traffic to get in and out of. So onward north, stopping instead in a small town named Hammelburg, "the oldest Franken wine town". It was a nice little village to spend a couple of hours in, free wi-fi on the town square, etc. It was only today when I Googled how to spell it right that I discovered it was the actual site of "Hogan's Heroes" -- you know, that silly TV sitcom from the late 60's about American prisoners of war during WWII --it seems that Stalag 13 actually existed. The TV show is still popular as reruns in Germany, guess they love to laugh at Nazis.

On to Göttingen for the nth time, dinner at the India Haus, where I can always get my Masala Dosa, then driving on to find the next rastplatz along the Autobahn where we could spend the night.

Next day we ran out of Autobahn, stopped in Lübeck for some shopping and lunch, then trudged on home to København. Where the sky was blue and there was no rain. Hmm, that was weird, it's usually just the opposite.

Okay, that was our summer report. Auf weidersehen!

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