So if you read Part 1 you will remember that in 1990 I did a seventeen day camping trip during which we visited 6 countries (France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy), slept in canvas tents and were bussed around Europe by coach. This blog is Part 2 covering days 5 to 11. I include extracts in italics from the little diary I kept from that holiday, and this week’s blog covers the second leg of that trip- - which includes:
Wednesday Sept 5th 1990
Left Amsterdam for Heidelberg early this morning by coach. Stopped off en-route in Cologne (West Germany). Saw the beautiful and busy river Rhine with freight barges on their way to Rotterdam. Ate in McDonalds. T-shirts for sale on a stall for the 49ers which we all bought. Then visited majestic Cologne Cathedral where we lit some candles.
Drove drowsily to Camp Haide in Heidelberg. Arrived in the evening. We stayed in a loft together on mattresses. Heidelberg is stunning overlooking River Necker. It’s a buzzing student town. We went 10-pin bowling – broke all my nails but had a laugh!! Then back to the campsite for the “boot” beer drinking competition. Lots of laughs and a good sing-song.
Thursday Sept 6th 1990
Toured the enormous Heidelberg Castle, made famous in the 1954 film “The Student Prince”. Breathtaking scenery of the river Necker.
Got a group photo taken at the Heidelberg Castle.
Day spent in Heidelberg shopping for souvenirs. The pedestrianised streets allowed us to explore at a relaxed pace. Dinner at the campsite before heading into the student beerkellers and then the Hard Rock Café. Atmosphere electric at night. Back to the camp site late.
Friday Sept 7th 1990
Drove down the Rhine Valley heading to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Stopped off in Berne to see the bear pits – three poor misfortunate bears who get carrots thrown at them! Shocking! (Glad to note that since 2009 the bears have a spacious bearpark, a bit of an improvement on the old pit. Hopefully one day they’ll be replaced by virtual bears.)
There were beautiful souvenirs but very expensive. Bought Swiss army knives for Daddy & Martin. Switzerland is dear! Stopped off at Brienz in the afternoon. Exquisite carved animals, cuckoo clocks etc.
Raining as we drove through Interlacken. Very wet in Lauterbrunnen when we arrived but luckily we were able to stay for one night in some vacant cabins (after we threatened a mutiny!!) Yay!! A real bed at last! Went to the local disco which sold beer & cokes at £3 a glass. The locals were a bit distant – very serious types. Slept well in the cabin which I shared with Catherine and Bernie (nurses from Dublin). Annette lost her handbag – poor thing.
Lauterbrunnen is amazing - the valley of 72 waterfalls as this YouTube video by traveldotearth shows:
Saturday Sept 8th 1990
A tram then a train ride to Mŭrren. Breathtaking scenery, gorgeous waterfalls – the highlight of the trip. Real chocolate box stuff – Swiss chocolate of course. The houses are like chalets straight out of "Heidi".
Cable car ride to Schilthorn. We could see Jungfrau. My first time on a cable car – Exhilarating
Lunchtime was spent in the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria 360 on the top of Schilthorn. I was starving and had a salad from the buffet, a small bowl of soup and a “zurcher geschnetzeltes” (slices of veal in a white wine and mushroom sauce). I then had an Iced Tea. It came to over 35 pounds but was a treat and I enjoyed it.
(Above) The Revolving Restaurant & My Bills/Ticket - Schilthorn - 8 Sept 1990
When we came back out a freezing fog had descended; how quickly the weather changes in the Swiss Alps!!….but we took more photos:
The cablecar ride down to Mŭrren was scary on the way down as the wind had started to blow. Back down in Lauterbrunnen, many went swimming. Andrea and I went shopping. Beautiful wooden houses with window-boxes full of red geraniums and busy lizzies. Spotlessly clean. The disco later was quiet. We then played on a football table. Good craic. Freezing cold in the tent tonight.
Sunday Sept 9th 1990
Awoke to the sound of the church bells ringing in the valley. Fresh morning. Snow-capped mountains. Switzerland is the business! Drove then through beautiful countryside and through St. Gottard tunnel.
Stopped in Milan at an AutoGrill. Wasn’t expecting much from motorway stop food ….but it was fabulous. Ate the best lasagne and salad ever!!
Weather roasting. Drove on to the French Riviera….saw Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Nice from the bus. Campsite at Le Mistral outside of Biot. Not a great first impression. One guy bitten by a dog. Ants everywhere. Good campsite pub though run by a Dubliner!
Monday Sept 10th 1990
Not a normal Monday! Waking up in the South of France. How bad?? Got up around 9am. Very few people around. Headed for the beach with Andrea, Bernie & Annette. Most people had no money as the banks were closed. Bought food at a local supermarket – rolls, ham, fruit, drinks and biscuits. Then to the beach.
Lay in the sun. Many English and Italians around. Helen went paragliding. Had lunch on the beach which was a pebbly one. After dinner and a shower back at the campsite, we bussed into Nice. The Promenade des Anglais very beautiful – fantastic fountains. Headed for an ice-cream parlour. Many people eating outside on the pavement. Luscious ice-creams. Explored Nice on foot. Then back to campsite bar. The fellas taught me how to play pool.
Tuesday Sept 11 1990
Trip to the Fragonard perfume factory at Grasse. Beautiful old building. Received the tour from a Belgian lady with quite good English. The bases for all the famous perfumes are produced here e.g. Chanel No. 5. Bought some perfume for Mam.
(Above) Visit to Fragonard Perfume Factory & Shop, Grasse, France - 11 Sept 1990
Very hot. Headed for Cannes. Ooh La La! Big yachts in the marina. Lovely lunch on the quayside in the sun under the sunshades. Bought a short black dress in a boutique called Sasha’s. Delighted they could understand my pidgin French!!
Spent the afternoon on the beach at Cannes which was sandy. Many topless beauties. Saw the beautiful Hotel Carlton from the outside.
Back to the campsite by bus. After dinner, we headed for a game of mini-golf near Biot. Lovely floodlit course. I teamed up with Brian, Tony and Gerry. Good fun. Then had a lovely pizza at the on-site pizza-parlour. Alsatian waiting for us when we got back but owner had him under control so no one bitten this time!!
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 16 - Visit 8 Stunning Waterfalls
Number 57 - Travel - 7 Continents
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Blog 28 - Barbados
Blog 29 - Canada
Blog 30 - Alaska
Blog 31 - Everglades, Florida
Have you ever camped in mainland Europe? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
If you liked this post, please share. Sharing is caring 😊
My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!