When we drove our van overland to India, we intended to explore Europe on the way home, but we had seen so much in the six months that we decided to visit Europe seperately, at a later date. Two years later on June 5th 1978 we loaded the van and attached 2 cycles on the back, one with a seat for Sarah. We obtained permission to take her out of school for the rest of the term and headed South for Dover. The following morning we caught the ferry and headed for Paris, arriving in the late
afternoon. We parked on the Champs-de-Elyses and visited the Arch de Triumph before driving to the campsite in the Bois de Bologne. The next morning we cycled into Paris to explore the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Louvre Museum. It was a lovely day
and we took a picnic to the top of the tower for lunch.We returned to the campsite for the night and the following day drove back into town and visited the Place del a Concorde, and Sacre Coer church, We had another picnic lunch in the Montmartre district as we watched all the artists and colourful characters passing by. The time had come to leave this lovely city and we headed west to Versailles parking in the car park at the palace for the night. In the morning we toured the palace and gardens before heading 208 miles to
Mont St. Michel and stopping at the campsite. We had a lovely day as we walked the cobbled streets and explored the abbey, it was very hot and we all needed ice-cream to cool us down after the climb to the top.Continuing our adventure we drove to
and were very impressed by the number and formations of the standing stones, Sarah wanted to climb each one. We followed the coast road to La Rochelle, a wonderful harbour with an amazing selection of fish and seafood for sale. Our next stop was to be the caves at Lascaux but on arrival we found that they were closed to the public so we visited Rouffignac which also has caves with drawings although reputedly not as good as Lascaux. Andorra was to be our next destination, and we had a wonderful drive through
the Pyrenees, the scenery was incredible, and we were sorry when we had to head for the coast and our next stop at Nimes. It was well worth the visit, we visited the arena which is still used for bullfights, and then drove to the Pont du Gard, An ancient aquaduct. There was no one there and we walked right along the top of it stopping to watch a beautiful sunset from this high vantage point.After spending the night in the car park we headed for Avignon and the Popes Palace, and of course the famous bridge. We followed the Mediterranean coast via St Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo where we stopped to look at the casino. Continuing along the coast we entered Italy and drove South to Pisa. We had great fun climbing the leaning tower and enjoyed great views over
the town, we visited the Basilica and Baptistry which were also very impressive, and were sorry to leave the next day and drive to Florence. What a beautiful city the Duomo was fantastic and the museum superb. Every way you looked there was something to see. Just South of Florence we visited San Gimignano with its beautiful towers and then on to Sienna, where we had a suprise. After visiting the cathedral, we saw crowds of people heading for the Piazza. We followed and were lucky enough to see the famous horse races where all the local villagers dress up in medieval dress and ride races bareback around the piazza. It was very exciting. Next was Rome, the Colliseum and Forum, followed by the Vatican City and its incredible museum. Sarah was most impressed by the ceiling in the Cistine Chapel, and kept herself amused for days by drawing her own plans for her bedroom ceiling.Having exhausted ourselves we drove a little way on the Appian Way before taking the main road to Naples. Versuvius looked really high, and we paid a visit to Pompei before taking the van around the incredible Amalfi drive and wallowing in the scenery. We crossed over to Scicily and visited a Greek theatre at Taormina, The temples of Hera and Zeus at Selinute,before going to Palermo to visit the
We left Scicily via Messina and drove along the south coast of Italy to Otranto to take a ferry to Greece.We slept on deck overnight and arrived in Greece at 7am.passing through customs easily and heading inland to visit the monastaries at Meteora.They were really great, perched high above us on pinnacles of rock amid wonderful scenery. En route to Athens we visited the temple at Delphi,a lovely setting and then on to park at the Acropolis car park in Athens .We spent a few days visiting the Parthanon, Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and the museums then headed south across the bridge over the
and on to the Pelloponis. The canal was spectacular with very steep sides. Our next stop was at Olympia and the site of the very first olympic games. Sarah had fun running the length of the track in the hot sun. We camped on a beach for the night then drove through a fantastic gorge to Mycenia, and visited the Lion Gate and some underground tombs.Our final stop was at Ancient Corinth before we returned to the mainland and caught a ferry at Pireas for Crete. We spent a week on the island and visited Knossos and lots of really interesting places before ending our tour on the beach at Rethimno camped under a canopy of shooting stars. We caught the ferry back to Athens from Hania and drove north past Mount Olympus to the Yugoslavian border.We drove straight through Yugoslavia as we wanted to spend time in Austria and Switzerland. The countryside in Austria was breathtaking and as the scenery became even better we kept finding lovely free camping places beside rivers and in the woods.We were enjoying going more slowly and meandered our way towards Salzburg and camped in the forest for the night.We took the motorway past Innsbruck and then drove down the Piztal Valley to Mittleberg. We spent a few days here walking the mountain paths to a glacier and visited lots of lakes up in the mountains. We left and drove through the Altberg Pass to Litchenstein,where we only spent one night before driving over the Oberalpass and camped near the summit. In the morning we were woken by the sound of cow bells, from here we drove up the Furka Pass towards Zermatt, enjoying great views of the Eiger range and finishing the day with a picnic in a field of flowers with the Matterhorn as a backdrop. Our next stop was Grindlewald surrounded by mountains and then down another valley to Lauterbrunnen and even better views. Reluctantly we headed back to the French border and Calais . When we arrived back in England we discovered that the world speedway final was being held at Wembly the next day. We called home and Daves mum managed to get us some tickets from a friend who had chickenpox and couldn't use them. Daves brother brought them down to Wembly for us as he already had tickets for himself. It was a grand final and a great conclusion to a wonderful holiday. Three months and 8,400 miles seeing fantastic scenery and enjoying all the great buildings and museums of Europe. What and adventure!......and more to come.
A word on the van............. It was a 1962 Austin LDO4 diesel, Hull City Corporation 'Meals on Wheels' van. We bought it for £125 and converted it to a camper. Previously, in 1975, it took us 20,000 miles overland to India and back.