Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tuesday 30th September while "on holiday"

Tuesday 30th September

I thought that you might be interested in a few photographs that have not appeared to-date - while I spend time getting a tan. Diary back on October 3rd.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monday 29  September / Thursday 2  October

As forecast the S & L [ Sound and Light] was great – got in for half price using YHA cards as student cards. Later to Plaka district for a souflaki (lamb wrapped in pancake). Early in morning packed camp and drove down to Pireep (Athens harbour) and parked car in multi-story car park for 4 days.

Onto ferry for trip via Tunos to Mylionos – 6 hour trip. Arrived about 3 after quite windy trip and were assailed by offers of rooms. 

Chose young girl and landed in good room with showers etc for 12/- a night – excellent value. American couple, next door, said they had lived in Nepal for 2 years - great - and wished they were doing our trip. We then settled down to four days of sunbathing on sandy beaches (first day very windy) and getting brown.

(No diary for 4 days although I will post a few photos that have not been included before)

 Cooking in our room was a bit dangerous as well had the small petrol stove with us but meant that we could have early morning coffee and tea instead of going out to café. Had good meal out of kebabs and retsina wine on Wednesday.

Trip back was a bit exhausting and we arrived back at 10.30 in the evening to find the car park well and truly shut up. After much walking, it seemed all the cheap hotels in Pireas were full, a very sharply dressed Greek – later over ouzo discovered to be a crane driver – showed us to a cheap 15/- a night hotel in the red light area. So to the sounds of bumps, grinds and the strip – off to sleep. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sunday 28 September

Up early and first a trip out to Piraeno to check on parking re our trip to museum on Monday – seems okay so back into the city for our visit to the National Archaeological Museum. Here is traced the evolution of Greek art from the Neolithic era to Roman times. In the chamber of Mycenaean (where we visited from Tolon) we saw gold encrusted daggers sword vessel, jewel cases and the famous 18 carat gold death mask.

Also two exquisite gold drinking cups in the Repousse technique and representing the hunting and grazing of bulls. Next we walked through the chamber of the Archaic Art showing the development of statue work in burial chambers – perfect nude figures showing the increasing use of detail in body mussels. Next through the four chambers of classical art all from around the 5th century BC. The highlight here was the near perfect copper statue of Poseidon (Zeus) ready to hurl a bolt or trident.

This was found as recently as 1929 in the sea near Cape Artemission. Out into a patio for more examples of statues found under the sea. Back in again we walked through rooms displaying exciting pieces of sculpture. Pan, the nymphs etc. more wonderful bronze sculpture was seen, both large and small but the most beautiful statue is the jockey, boy of Marathon, riding a dolphin – remember Sophia Loren’s film boy on a dolphin.

Finally through halls displaying Mycenaean and Attic pottery urns. Before we left we bought two large colour prints to display on the wall in NZ. Next to the Flea Market on Ipratstou Street. Lots of stalls, lots of junk and some good items. A bought a bag and I got some worry beads. From there via the Royal Palace to see the guards in national costume and the National Park to the Acropolis.

 What a place, the superbly sculptured Parthenon (all pillar and roof are of such measurements that from any angle no perfect straight line is seen – even the columns vary 2-3 cms). This is a wonderful hill overlooking all Athens. No description just a plea to everyone – go walk around on your own – this is not a place for talk but thought and imagination. Tonight it’s off to see the sound and light and then a very early start tomorrow (8/8.30) for the island.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saturday 27  September

Oh dear! I felt terrible – too, too much to drink, was rather sick and generally ill till about 5 in the afternoon. Poor Anne had a wasted day. In evening swapped food etc around from trunks etc and generally pottered about. Ugh!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday 26  September

Pottered early morning and about 10.30 left for a day on the beach somewhere near Sounion. Into the city centre first to collect info from Shell Touring and American Express, then off along the very attractive coast road. This is a must route as the good road follows the sea for the whole of the 40 miles.

Near Athens we went past small harbours full of very expensive private boats. One in particular looked like an old tea trading schooner completely refitted. Took photo that included 3 boat, water skiing, and an airliner all framed by blue sea and skies. Passed an excellent beach at Voula an drove onto the peninsular at Sounion.

[This roll of film destroyed by developer - grr]

Looked as though the beach was exclusive to the hotel so drove back to rocky inlet and settled down for 5 hours of sunbathing, sheltered from the high winds. About 5.30 left for Sounion to the see the famous sunset. Had coffee in the restaurant then up to the hill top and a quick look at the ruins of the temple and then we settled down leaning against one of the pillars to watch the sunset behind the Island of Egina. A truly beautiful sight. 

A crowd of German behaved badly while taking pictures and hissing and shouting at anyone getting between their cameras and the sun. 

Took photo of them just for proof. Back along the coast road to Athens where we discovered Transit [Company that runs tours round Europe in mini buses] camped.

Met Graham and John and that night drove into Dafni (in bus) for the wine festival (5/- each and as much wine as you can drink). Greek dancing, music made it a good evening. (This festival occurs every September – worth a visit). Back to camp at 12.00 and talked with Graham and his girl friend till about 3.00 in the morning. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thursday 25  September

Woke this morning to hot, hot sun – so straight down to beach until 11.30 when we returned and packed camp. Left for Athens via Napflion to collect info on Corinth from Tourist Police.

Anne was asked out ‘till they realised I was with her – cheek! Very good literature from Tourist Police (one in every main town), well worth getting.

Arrived in Corinth after lunch and saw ruins from outside fence. Instead of going in we decided to drive up to the old castle on top of the hill. 900 metres up at Akrokorinth. This was the site of a temple of Aphrodite, where a thousand sacred prostitutes plied their trade in the goddess’ honour. The Byzantutes built a fortress (can you blame them!!) here, which was later enlarged by the Crusaders, Venetians and Turks in succession.

A lot of the ramparts and 3 “keeps” are nearly in tact. Walking over them you could just imagine men walking about in chain mail, carrying large shields with white or red crosses on them. In parts the grounds has been opened to reveal large pillared cellars. The outer wall cover a huge area – quite a walk but well worth it. 

Leaving there, we headed via toll motorway over the Corinth canal – A saw it (I was avoiding a Greek driver at the time) and said it was superb. Had trouble finding Camp Athens – no sign anywhere but eventually found it 3km back from the roundabout on the left s the drive into Athens. Looks a lively place – everyone here for the wine festival I guess. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wednesday 24  September

Quiet day today – spent this morning on the beach swimming etc and calculating mileages from Turkey onwards in the afternoon as the now familiar clouds had gathered and decided to go to Epidarus to see ruins and old port. 

This was a good trip – the theatre there is in perfect condition – a half circle with steps and “seat” going up at an angle of 450. Very high but from the top you could hear a penny being dropped onto a stone. (Isadora Duncan would have liked this – her democratic theatre personified).

The small tidy museum alongside the theatre contained very good statues and stonework from the “find”. We did not examine the rest of the excavations but they looked quite interesting. A false start on the wrong road delayed us getting to the Old Town of Epidarus with its attractive port.

A few colourful fishing boats completed the scene so this called for a coffee at a quayside bar. Returned to camp, via a grocer, to fill bottle with draught wine (2/6) and got ready for chicken nosh and ouzo. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tuesday 23  September

The wind blew all night, so neither A nor myself got too much sleep, so the 7.15 rise was not too difficult. Away from the camp, by 8.30, along the road to Corinth. We did not stop this time as we shall have more time on the return trip going to Athens.

We had some superb bread (from a proper bread shop, sold nothing else) for breakfast and lunch. Prior to lunch we saw some 1300 BC ruins at Mycenae – the walls of the city were 12’ thick with small doorways on 2 sides.

Arrived at Tolon and set up camp at camping Lido (cheaper than the others – has own beach). Quick swim and then rest after bad night. After evening meal talked to Transit drivers and discovered that there had only been two bad days during the past two months – the rain must be following us. That night walked along the only street, looked into the shops and returned to the bar overlooking the sea. Had bottle of wine and Greek coffee (expensive total 8/-!) and went to bed. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Monday 22  September

Today is wash and do car day plus sun bathe and swim. Camp is very good with excellent facilities. Anne has managed to get a washing done – and dry (had no chance since Munich!) and I changed tyres round (slight wearing on inside of rear ones so increasing pressure to see if this cures it). Topped up battery and washed car.

Got two swims in during morning. If batteries on razor finish, I think I can run off speedo light (dimmed to reduce voltage to 1½) – 'tis not needed yet as still using main one but just a thought. Late afternoon we went into Patrai, bought some vegs and had some Turkish coffee near the seafront. Back to camp, had dinner, Turkish coffee at the camp bar and, due to the very high wind, went to bed early. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sunday 21 September

Spent a disturbed night, but not sorry bout using sleeperettes as opposed to cabin and arrived via Corfu at Igoumenitsa at 9.30. Through customs (took quite a while - and we were the quickest) and off on the road to Toannina (we were told by Shell Touring service on boat that the road due south had not been finished yet).

Talked to two girls (one had been in L/Rover to Bombay 3 years ago, said was a super trips – good!). 1 NZ and other English hitch round – very interesting and obviously having a good time. The road is not too bad as far as Toannina (with superb scenery) but after turns into a fast 2/3 lane highway all the way to the ferry for Patrai. We did not see any place to camp so decided to drive onto ferry and on to Camping Rion.

The weather is already good, temperatures are rising (quite hot in fact!) and oh how much more pleasant the people – in shops, garages and even the drivers! I actually got waved on once. The ferry service is very good and goes about every ½ hour. Full of people with worry beads but the boats seemed okay. Camping Rion looks good so after sorting out car (by now very muddied after rain etc) and good nosh down to water’s edge bar for two Ouzos pre bed. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Saturday 20   September

Still raining so in between showers we packed tent and set off via Autostrada (don’t know why AA don’t mention this route) Saleno and Potenza.

Took sorter route to Scanzano on sea and found to our delight a superb motorway not marked on any map running right to the coast. Just short of Tarranto we both decided that it was crazy staying in Italy if this rain continued, so we would drive to Brindisi, catch the boat two days early and arrive in sunny Greece with days to spare.

This we did, arriving in Brindisi at 5 with the boat going at 10.00. Changed tickets without trouble (boat was half empty and other lines go the same way) and walked around the town – went into supermarket to restock with margarine, biscuits and cheese and set off for a pizza.

The best one without doubt is 3 turning up on the left and the first shop down the side alley. (This is from the grass square on the sea front)(It may not be open now!).

Here a fat man takes order and then you wait while your cheese, sausage plus “various extras” pizza is cooked. We had a total of 3 pizzas and 1½ litres of wine and the bill came to 1400 lire (including tip). Not bad. Got onto boat a little merry, found sleeperette and settled down for the night. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friday 19  September

A writes “The first day of Tone in sandals – and no socks!” – cheeky! 

Today woke just as rain finished so pottered about in mud for a bit then climbed down to the small fishing harbour back up to tent collect cheese etc for a bread based lunch - and off along the coast road as for a Amalfi. A very attractive drive but all in all I do not think the diversion to Sorrento is a worthwhile one.

The small beaches all have to be paid for and it seems everyone is out for “lire from the tourist”. All leaves rather a nasty taste. Tomorrow off to the beach at Pilsana prior to leaving Italy for Greece!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thursday 18  September

Woke to no rain so hurriedly packed the tent and set of to find the Catacomb of Sebastian on the Appia Antica. Here for about 3/-, a monk showed us part of the eight miles of tunnel which were once the burial places of St. Peter and St. Paul. After the catacombs we drove south through Latina and onto the coast road at Sabandia. Miles and miles of sand beach here and so an "overdue" lunch was eaten.

On to see a women holidaying in a villa with some friends at Terracina. Had lemon tea and cakes, discussed the beautiful villas we had seen at S. Felice and left about 5.30 for the long drive to Sarrento. Driving through the chaos of Napoli traffic at night, with no idea of where to go is not the best of ideas – but eventually we arrived in Sarrento at international camping at 9.30.

The night drive along the coast road was fantastic – shimmering sea and twinkling lights. During the night it really rained – so much so that water was under the ground sheet. Thank goodness for a good tent. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday 17  September

Another sightseeing day so up early and into town via bus 35, change to bus 64 for St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican City. Walking across the vast square, it is possible to imagine the Pope blessing the crowds (his window is top row second on right in the square building to the right of St. Peter’s). Inside the Basilica di San Pietro on the right just past the 15th century bronze doors is white marble “pieta” carried by Michelangelo at the age of twenty-five. 

This is a high church – the dome, again created by Michelangelo in 233 feet in circumference. The main altar is directly under this high dome with 7 smaller altars leading off. Downstairs in the vaults we saw tombs of Popes gone by. Next I went into the Vatican Museum (A had been before so sat outside reading). Here for 500 lire (how the church is “poor” and continues to beg for money is beyond me – the treasurers in this museum alone would feed Africa). I walked through the beautiful Sistine Chapel and Raphael Room plus picture galleries and apartments. Very beautiful.

Had lunch sitting on the pillars of St. Peters and then walked to Castle Sant’ Angelo. We could not of course use the famous escape corridor of popes last used during the sacking of Rome by troops of Charles V in 1527. This castle, first built in AD136 and later extended by Bermini. From the roof we saw a wonderful vista of Rome and the Tibes River.

Next over the river to the Piazza di Spagna. By this time we were so tired that we could not climb the Spanish steps only sit at the attractive fountain at the foot. On then to the Cometerum Capuccinorum on the Via Veneto near the Piazza Barberini where the monks have made decorations out of the skeletons of their dead brothers – morbid but worth a visit. A quick look at the famous Via Veneto and then a bus back to the Termini to catch our 35 to the tent. A long two days in Rome – very exhausting but oh so worth it. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tuesday 16  September

Woke early today to the sound of light rain – which soon cleared – left tent, having emptied car! for garage. Pleasant man who said service (short one) plus mending wipers would be about 4700 lire. Leaving the car we walked to Piazza Vescono, caught # 35 bus to main station (Temini) for 50 lire each. Went into tourist office to obtain the usual excellent street plan free (why people buy maps I’ll never know!). Then to Italian Auto club to complaint about Autotrade cost. As we thought we had been overcharged and tomorrow are going to see man about it. Next back to the station, caught the # 20 bus headed “Circolane Sinistr” which for 50 lire drive right round city i.e. round walls, up to Vatican etc.

We got out at the Coliseum and had lunch overlooking the Amphitheatre. What thin cats there are and 2 English women are in Roma raising money to feed them! They must be mad. The Coliseum can be entered free if in possession of YHA “pass” (saving 150 lire each). Built in AD80, parts are still in good condition. We saw the Arco di Constantino erected to commemorate Constantine’s victory over his rival Mascentius in AD312. A longish walk with a visit on the way to Basilica di Massenzio, now a church but was the courts and exchange to Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill) overlooking the Roman Forum (closed unfortunately).

The steps and approaches were designed by Michelangelo and the beautiful bronze statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback overlooking the Via Vuttorio Emanuele. From there it was a short walk to the Pantheon at Piazza della Rotonda, the only complete building of ancient Rome left standing. Built by Agrippa in the time of Augustus Caesar (around 27BC) as a temple to Venus and Mars. From here to Piazza Colonna for a coffee, and with living feet to see the beautiful 18th century Fontana di Treri, showing Neptune in a chariot drawn by two tritons – we did not throw the 2 coins over our shoulder.

 From the fountain a walk to the Termini and # 35 back to collect car. Bill in fact came to 3133 lire so quite pleased. Back to tent via shop for some 3/6 Chianti, exhausted!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Monday 15 September

Early start, despite sleepless night, and into Florence. Parked the car easily and walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a high square atop a hill overlooking all Florence. Early morning this was a truly breathtaking view. 

Then down into the city to visit the Piazza della Signora – a main square overlooked by the lovely outdoor sculpture of the Loggia and the high white statue of Neptune. Next into the Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchoo) – a beautiful place where some of Florence’s most historic events have taken place. Of special interest was the Hall of 500 and the views of the city from the palace’s roof and towers. 

A short walk took us to the Baptistery opposite the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Here doors by Lorenzo Chiberti (27 years to make) depict scenes from the Old Testament in glittering gold. (Michelangelo on seeing them said “These doors are fit to stand at the gates of Paradise!”) Inside one colourful 13th century miscues which cover the high ceiling. Across the road we entered the cathedral with its simple lines and high soaring dome – a beautiful church. On next to the leather factorise around the Church of Santa Croce (note to buy, prices “upped” for Americans but best selection). Lunch of pizza and wine and then we returned to the car for the easy drive to Rome. It would have been but for the wiper motor packing up. And of course it was raining – kept speed up and the wind helped clear the rain. Arrived at Rome, set up camp at camping and had early night ready for Rome tomorrow. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sunday 14 September

Woke up to pouring rain and so stayed in bed until it stopped at about 11.00. This was quite welcome as the previous night we had been to a sardine party given by the camp staff. This was free and the fish, freshly caught, was cooked over a wood fire. Got to bed, after much singing, about 1.00.

Packed up a very wet tent and set off for Florence via Padora – Fewara and Bologna. An uneventful drive made at a high average speed. It was still raining in Florence so we decided to stay at the YH. So had every other camper it seemed but we got in okay. Despite the low price, I was disgusted with the men’s accommodation – two tier bunk beds crammed into a fairly small room. Many rooms like this plus more bunks in the corridor. 

A very nasty smell hung about and my worst fears were founded when time came for lights out. Once again it was Italians causing trouble – talking and even playing the radio [gosh]! Still on the credit side the food was good and cheap and the villa (the story goes it was Mussolini’s Mistresses) delightful. We drove into town to see Florence at dusk – a truly beautiful city, a beauty that cannot be described (at least by my pen) nor can it be accurately photographed. 

[so I did not try]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saturday 13 September

Today’s tourist day so back to the 700 lire parking chaos. 1st to San Marco to see what a difference daylight makes – well very much. The city is still impressive but now one sees the effect of water – dark wet buildings and smell. Not bad everywhere but noticeable in the smaller canals.

 A long queue at San Marco so a long walk to buy 2 aerogrammes and then onto Fondamente Nuora to  cross to Murano to see one of many glass blowing factories. I will now remove Jews from 1st place as traders and put Italian there. I personally found the whole atmosphere very unpleasant. True you can watch glass-blowing free but with a tip plate waiting for you. Salesmen follow you around the showroom talking like records, “we ship goods to all parts of the world”. Ummm!!

Took ferry back and walked to S Maria Formosa square for a drink and a rest. Wrote postcards and letters and then onto San Marks. Well worth the visit to this twice re-built church. Pay the combined 150 litre tickets and saw tower, jewels, and altar backing. From the balcony got a superb view of Central and Easter Venice. Now into the Palace of the Doges.

What a place, vast panelled rooms in both courts and meeting places including the Room of the Council of Ten (Star chamber type!!) and the cells and moaning bridge (prisoners on way to execution gave it this name). Back into the square and a walk across to Riallo bridge and the self service restaurant of Rosticcera and Bartolomeo at 5423 Calle della Bissa.

Here we had noodle soup, white wine and pizza for a cost of 8/-. Back to Roma and to camp site to write up two days’ diaries. Tomorrow to Florence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday 12 September

Up early and had breakfast overlooking the still blue waters of Lake Come. Packed up camp slowly and set off for Venice via Lecco Bergamo, onto the motorway to Camping Fusina 3 km south of Venice. Pleasant camp site just past the industrial zone with, in the high season, a ferry across to Venice. 

Had early dinner and drove into Venice. Parked car in multi-story car park with the most unorganised methods possible. Lots of little Italians doing nothing but giving out tickets, stamping or signing them! Ah well! Caught the slow Lina boat from Roma to San Marco. Slow indeed!! But at night well worth the time and 75 lire each. 

Walked through the beautiful square and side streets back to the Rial Bridge. Here we had 2 expensive beers. Should have had wine or coffee and boarded the ferry back to Rema. Collected car and returned to camp and slept. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thursday 11 September

We have to leave – what a pity – Basel is a beautiful town but we must move on (we should perhaps have planned a year and not 4 months). Back to Zurich, on and past Chur and then into the magnificent Swiss and Italian Alps. 

On a secondary road we cross the highest mountains at 4120 feet through the Sipluga Pass. Again no trouble with the Customs, except for an exuberant Italian Automobile Club man trying to sell passes for this and that and it took five minutes saying “no”. Got the petrol coupons stamped with entry date and off down a series of terrifying hairpin bends and snow tunnels to the town of Chiavenna. No border that we have crossed has been as absolute as here.

The high mountains have meant little or no intermingling – how poor the Italian farmers look compared to their Swiss neighbours. On down twisting lanes to the night camp stop at Colico at the head of Lake Camo. There were many camping grounds to choose from but this one near Abbey  Piona seems the best. Bottle of 3/- wine, good nosh and bed. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wednesday 10  September

The meal last night – for three including a carafe of wine and kirsch coffee – was £2-12-0 – very good value. Today is lazy day. Peter was going to come round to the flat but had to work (what a pity Rolf has left for New York). Sat round in Ursey’s flat reading till she came home from work at lunch time – had ravioli.

During afternoon went into town to clear parking ticket (working on our old idea if it’s a man to deal with A speaks, it it’s a women I do – and it works!) Also found good shop and bought new wedding ring for A.

In the evening round to Mumah and Ponah Vogt for a superb dinner of duck plus so much booze that we walked back to the flat singing. What good parents those two are – very boozed in bed tonight. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tuesday 9 September

Early start and after buying postcards and stamps in Vaduz – scene of previous night’s visit to see floodlit castle and walk along streets – plus a present for Ursula - we left, via Zurich, for Basel. First stop the bank to get money. All transfers had safely arrived and we felt rather grand being shown up to the first floor – full of private rooms. Altogether collected 948 dollars. I would suggest this method for everyone as any currency can easily be obtained plus travellers cheques.

From the bank we phoned Ursula and arranged to meet her at a bar at 6.30. This we did and after a hair-raising drive in her new car (no dents so far!) back to her flat. Bath and change and across the street for a cheese fondue at Restaurant Chardon. Next to one of the gates out of the old city (directly across from Spalentorweg 4). This place and that food is a must for anyone coming to Basel.

After food Ursula took us around Basel and then to an old pub for a drink. We collected a parking fine here, Anne chatted up a policeman next morning and we didn’t have to pay. Late to bed, very tired. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Monday 8  September

Early start for our drive out of Germany through Austria to Liechtenstein. Drove down through southern Bavaria to the Austrian border – again nobody really interested in passports or any other documents, down a deadly pass into Zirl and onto the Innsbruck. An attractive town and one which we’d both like to visit again. The centre shop area was very old with small shop windows and narrow covered pavements.

We had to move and so drove along the E17, stopping for lunch in a wood at Pians. More driving until we reached the Austrian and Swiss customs at the Liechtenstein border. This drive from Innsbruck to Liechtenstein had been through superb scenery. On to a height of 5912 ft through the Arlberg Pass, down through valleys flanked by high, high peaks. All along the route grass was being dried on small ¾ ft high sticks in the fields. These, when covered with grass, look like little men.

A has just reminded me of the castle just before. Ober-Aramergan, there’s a turning off to Lunderhof leading to a castle. Didn’t go in because they change 2.50  which we hadn’t got – but the outside and the well kept gardens are worth a trip. We arrived at camp near Triesan on the road to Zurich. This camp site is quite the best I’ve seen (and that includes Scandinavian).

 With small chalets costing £1 a night (30/- in high season, and they hold 4), swim pool, barbecue area, hot showers, clean toilets, washing and drying machine and a room with small tables and stool with cooking facilities – all free except the washing machine. A great camp, but more fun when people around!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sunday 7  September

Last night was quiet a shock. Hofbraüchaus was full of very drunk Germans. Nasty atmosphere, cannot understand why people rave about it. Moved onto Mathäser Bier Stadt. Here on the ground floor is a restaurant, upstairs another restaurant and in the middle a vast beer hall with a band playing in the middle. The atmosphere was very friendly if only we could speak German.

Two fights started but were soon stopped – mainly by the waitresses! A full litre of beer cost 3/-. Today did nothing but strolled along river, sunbathed and washed car (long overdue rest day). On river during afternoon, large wooden raft drifted along with singing and dancing people aboard. They were made of logs (the rafts!) and “shot” some rapids near the entrance of the camp, with much shrieking from those on board and clapping from the onlookers.

At night we went into town and eat a none too original, but good never-the-less – cheap meal. Soup, hamburgers (German type and good), salad and potatoes at ? in ? (near the station) where we meet a very pleasant Aussie travelling around on his own. He was only away from Australia about 3 months so had a lot to see. He was staying at rooms costing 12/- a night. Tip : Every railway station has info room, go there and make it very plain you want cheap rooms and they’ll quickly find them. After the meal – cost including litre of beer for us both £1. We walked up to Mathäser Bier Stadt and finished the evening with a litre of beer each, back to camp – just got in as the gates closed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saturday 6 September

Up at 8!! Breakfast on the road for what seemed a full day’s sightseeing. First, after several attempts to find the correct road, we head for the Memorial site concentration camp Dachau. The road finding trouble is caused by preparations for the Olympic Games to be held here in 1971. Dachau has a horrible history being the first German concentration camp built in March 1933. Political opponents, Jews, clergymen and so-called “undesirable elements” were to be isolated here as enemies of the “National Socialist” regime in 1937, the camp originally planned for 5000 proved too small. The prisoners had to build a larger camp, finished in 1938. 

The camp office files show a total of more than 206,000 prisoners, registered between 1933 and 1945. In addition many prisoners were taken to Dachau without being registered. The exact figures are unknown. The excellent museum, planned by the Comite International de Dachau shows, from the beginnings of the Third Reich through the rounding up of Jews etc to vivid pictures of prison conditions. The camp buildings excluding the main gas chambers were raised to the ground and now 3 white buildings contain the museum and a reconstruction of “living” quarters. In place of the original huts are white foundations surrounded by stone paths. Three churches have been built, all of modern design, for Catholic, Jews and Protestant. Disturbing morning but worthwhile.

[This should have been included on the 4th - oops]

Back to the town centre, obtained map from tourist office and had lunch in Kanfhof department store (best lunches are always in the store basement – “stand-ups”). Feeling a lot better, we drove on to the Deutches Museum of science and technology, situated on an island in the River Isar about the Ludwigsbrücke. Here for 2/- each we saw superb models of ships, machinery, planes and real planes, boats and submarines. At the top is the Zeiss Planetarium (very good but in German), whilst on the “transport floor” there are hourly demonstrations of railways with model trains. The best 4/- I've [we’ve] spent. Back to tent about 5. This evening is a visit to the Hall of Braichaus (16) beer hall on Platz 19. Here on the first floor we can drank beer on benches and long tables, on the second floor a cheap but good restaurant and on the third floor there’s beer and a ballroom. No Anne and I did not go there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Friday 5 September

Well the Red Ox was great – all German (bar 4 Americans), cheap beer. Had 2 litres and moved next door to another bar, better atmosphere but dearer beer. Not quite so drunk this time! Early start, left Heidelberg at 9.00 and down the autobahn as far as Baden-Baden (slight panic over petrol), then off on the scenic route via Freudenstadt, Tubingen, Uhn, back onto the autobahn and to Munich. The drive was very easy through the black forest then down to Tubingen. Saw the casino and other very beautiful buildings in Baden-Baden. All the houses seem to have flower boxes on them which marks for very attractive streets.

The university town of Tubingen and the oldest cathedral in Germany (6th – 11th century) set on the river Moselle make a welcome change from the dark tall pines of the Black forest and the very touristy Germany village of Freudenstadt (fashionable health resort). Just after Tubingen we saw 4 eagles (yes they really were). On through more superb scenery until we came to Blanbeuren and stopped to see the famous Blantopf (blue lagoon). Here, complete with 2 white swans, a deep pool (32 ft) for some reason has blue water – I think it is the plant life – which cascades over a small dam into a larger pool/stream. Also working from the lagoon is an old water wheel.

From there into Ulm is a short drive. In Ulm, once a free city of the Empire, now the second largest town in Wurttemberg, we saw the 14th century cathedral with the highest church spire in the world (528 ft), a fine foundation in the market place and the Rathans (town hall). A short drive onto the motorway of 82 miles brought us to Munich and Camping Thallarchen. This camp is by far the best we’ve stayed at (and there have been some good ones!) with a large well treed area leading down to the river Isar. Excellent washing facilities for clothes, dishes and bodies!

Some other thoughts – have travelled 1886 miles and am doing 30 m.p.g. and 128 m.p.b. (miles per beer). Both good figures. Money seems about right – we are at present spending – all in inc petrol – about £1-5-0 each per day.

We reckoned on Europe being expensive so am happy about the accounts side. Food I think Anne’s choice was good – and I’d take the trunks again – they are proving invaluable as “hold-alls” i.e. no odd boxes banging around. The car is going well – there’s just enough room for everything and the driving and passenger room is okay. I intend to fit a far more powerful horn for Asia in the next few days, but am having second thoughts about the laminated windscreen – depends on cost. The tent, lilos, and sleeping bags are ideal as is all the rest of the equipment. The tent light and map light are invaluable. No more punctures yet!! 

To bed after great meal and a litre of red wine between us!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thursday 4 September

Good night last night! Walked round town first and then to the Zillafel beer hall. Not very many German but very good fun with a 3-piece band in leather shorts etc. Round the ceiling from the bar to the band ran a miniature cable car carrying beer for the band (about every ¼ hour). Very touristy but a good spot – drank a total of 3 litres of beer between us and drove back to the tent (all okay despite sounding horn by mistake on arrival).

[I know. Would not do that now but then was then]

Early morning start at 11.30 (to be fair A had done a lot of clothes washing) to see Heid! A very beautiful town nestling between a high ridge of pine topped hills with the river Neckar running between. We exchanged some Swedish money at a bank and walked to American Express for some free information on the town. From there via a store to buy a corkscrew (litre of wine 4/-) to the Cable Car for a ride to the top of Koenigstuhl Mountain. Although cloudy, great views of Heidelberg and surrounds. Back in cable car to go down to Heidelberg Castle, a large castle transformed into a romantic ruins by the wars of Palatinate Succession in 1689 and 1693. Built in various stages from 1100 to 1550.

Mark Twain (wrote about Perkeo, the well known court jester who consumed 15 bottles of wine every day from the vast 50,000 gallon barrel of wine in the castle vaults – saw it together with two American girls spending a year in Europe after graduating and before going to Israel) standing on the castle’s ramparts and gazing down upon the city, declared it was “the last possibility of the beautiful”. Quite. Looking down we could see, and later visited, the university which was founded in 1386 and is one of Europe’s oldest universities containing today approximately 15,000 students – many from foreign countries.

The Olde Bridge built in 1786 by Elector Karl Theodor and spans the Nackar River at Steingasse. This bridge was for centuries the only entrance to the town. Later walked to the House Zum Ritter built in 1592 with a magnificent Renaissance façade is the only private house to survive the fire of 1693. Also saw Church of the Holy Ghost more than 500 years old. Very tired, returned to tent late afternoon. This evening will be going to the Red Ox Inn – one of the town’s oldest student inns. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wednesday 3 September 

Early rise (no more rats, although I did see tiny field mice) and away by 9.00, round the city ring road to the E4 autobahn. These really are super roads – average speed to Heidelberg was 62.5 mph! But the best thing about them is the rest places. About every 3 miles large lay-bys with trees shielding the autobahn have been built. In some, the Ministry of Transport (or whatever) have put wooden benches and tables.

Not a foul motorway type “Fortress” in sight. Good picnic lunch and on to arrive in Heidelberg (nearly  without Anne's company just because of a slight disagreement re map reading!!) at 4.30. Visited 3 camp sites before finding “Harman”. (The AA did not do a town plan of Heidelberg).

 Camped about 10 yards from R Elbe with large barges chugging along. Very pleasant. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tuesday 2 September

After pitching camp we discovered that the site had rats – big ones in my torchlight. One group of German lads had their tent eaten by some (not all, just a small part). However the night passed uneventfully.

Lie-in this morning and then into Hamburg to have a look around. Not an outstanding city – nearly all the war damage has vanished. Lot of banks in modern buildings. Good shops but managed not to spend any money in them. Had lunch in a very attractive park just outside the city centre, overlooking the Elbe. The grounds of the park went, be it steeply, right to the water’s edge, where a small man-made sand beach provided a pleasant lunch place for the people of Hamburg. Returned to the camp site and sat out in the sun all afternoon.

Good meal – wedding anniversary – and then off to the Soho of Hamburg – the Reeper Bahn. This is a wide street just off the city centre, running alongside the Epos centre (tall building with large forecourts for men only, built by the city council to house the prostitutes). The whole place was devoted to strip, sex and perversions of all kinds – great!

[Certainly no photos !!]

Being with my wife I spent the evening having a good piece of pizza pie and a beer (not that I would have wanted to do anything else, mind you!!) The two best looking places were “Palace L’Amour” and “Stage Coach”. I think we probably went a little early but still a good evening – back to tent, bought two beers and a packet of biscuits from the camp shop and consumed them in bed. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Monday 1 September

Woke early this morning, packed the car and drove towards the Tuborg Brewery in Strandvagen, stopped at Crundturig’s Church (marvellous design, so simple, which took 7 bricklayers from 1921 to 1940 to complete. Organ pipes of stainless steel, took some photos but may not come out. Climbed up tower – each slate tied to brick or wood – that’s workmanship).

[The photos did not turn out !!!]

The brewery was interesting – own harbour, power station and workers can drink up to 6 bottles a day. The guide spent 14 years in England, and so his opinions are valid. Doing the work during university hols gives him good pay and regular employment for the 4 years of his study. He remarked how low an opinion of Britain most of Europe has. The Germans, French, Spanish and Italians are now much respected for their improved economy. “A friend of Wilson’s is an enemy of Britain” – sounds familiar but it came from the guide! Drank two bottles of Tuborg (A felt quite hic!) strong stuff so drove rapidly out of Kobenharn towards ferry for Germany.

Ferry very efficient – need not have bothered to book – both in loading and unloading. Journey to Puttgarden took 1.45 mins – had good coffee on boat (always seem to be off boil though) and through German customs. In reply to questions, “any booze or cigs” Anne replied “no” and simultaneously I said 180 – still mad English (or NZ!!). Down some very bad road (being resurfaced though), neat attractive homes, thatched and tall. Turning off autobahn not clear (3 alternatives and having already nearly driven up a down lane) but after much talk got to Camping Bruning about 4 miles from Hamburg’s Reeperbahn.