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European Adventure Week One

Being of noble birth Katie and I are taking in the sights of Europe on a three week grand tour.

However, having a chequebook that is of more moderate means we decided to conduct our trip in our campervan.

As I write this, we are driving from Salzburg to Lake Garda through the Alps. The scenery is breathtaking and a road sign tells me it’s 27 degrees, perfect driving weather, if our air con still worked.

Driving over the Alps
Driving over the Alps

At this point we’ve covered 1,703 km and aside from a little smoke up some of the steeper sections of motorway our van is performing well. From our home in the south of England we took the tunnel from Dover to Calais, then to an overnight stop in northern France at Saint-Amanda-les-eaux.

Our first night at Camping des Bruyeres
Our first night at Camping des Bruyeres

To be honest, it wasn’t the most spectacular campsite, but it was clean and spent a very pleasant evening drinking beer and watching some men playing boules, one of whom looked suspiciously like Paul Whitehouse.

Feeling bolstered by our success driving on the other side of the road, we decided to head for Baden-Baden and Camplingplatz Adam the next day; a distance of just over 600km. Actually, the drive turned out to be pretty straight-forward aside from one incident when we somehow missed the road closed signs and found ourselves driving over freshly prepared gravel, workmen shaking their heads in disbelief as we passed.

The view from our van at Campingplatz Adam
The view from our van at Campingplatz Adam

We stayed in the beautiful campgrounds for three days, swimming in the lake and generally not doing much of anything. On the second day we managed to peel ourselves away and drove into Baden-Baden, where we partook of some very European things like eating outside and strolling along the promenade. Our Britishness didn’t like that very much and forced us onto the Dotto train so we’d feel more like tourists again. Phew.

Lunch in Baden-Baden
Lunch in Baden-Baden

Sad as we were to leave, Salzburg beckoned, so we packed up the van and set off. This was another sweaty drive along Euro-route 52. Six hours later we were lost in the city. In situations like this Katie stays calm and I tend to overreact (a little). Ahem. Anyway, luckily on this occasion Katie was behind the wheel and did a sterling job of navigating the 5pm traffic until we finally reached Panorama Camping.

Wow, what a site! Brilliant views and with WC and show blocks that wouldn’t have been out of place in a five-star hotel. It’s also here that I first discovered the local brew, Stiegl.

The next day (despite really enjoying the beer) we made an early start into Salzburg. I’d once been here on a school trip but the only thing I remember with any clarity was the McDonalds. Katie kept insisting that the hills were alive with the sound of music, but I wasn’t sure what she meant by this.

Arriving by bus into Mozartsteg we made our way through the square, past the stalls selling Bavarian hats and up the hill to the fortress Hohensalzburg. After exploring for a bit we sat, pretzel and beer in hand, admiring the stunning view over the mountains.

Downtown Salzburg
Downtown Salzburg

Next, I discovered a little more about those musical hills with a Sound of Music themed bus tour of the city. I secretly really enjoyed this ride around the sights of the city made (even more) famous by the film. We ended our day with a plate of Snitzel at the Stiegl brewery restaurant with (yup, you guessed it) a refreshing cold beer.

Katie outside the "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" pavilion
Katie outside the "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" pavilion

Next is Lake Garda, it’s already hotter than Austria, so onto Italy!

To be continued…