Posted by: Marco | September 28, 2010

7 countries, 35 days, 4861 kms

Phew.

After driving 4861 kilometres through 7 countries in 35 days, we’ve arrived at our first long-term home in Alsace, France.

800 Martin Luthers in Wittenberg

After our 12 day stay in Paris, we rented a Peugeot Bipper Tepee – a cross between a delivery van and a Smart car. Loaded to the window sills with camping gear, books for a year of school, clothes for 4 seasons, camera equipment, maps, novels, a laptop, and groceries, we headed onto the narrow roads, ubiquitous roundabouts, and hyperfast highways of Europe. Luckily, the Bip (as we lovingly called our underpowered, homely transportation) had a fuel-efficient diesel engine, so we didn’t have to fill up very often.

After Paris, we visited the Champagne region of France, then the WWI memorial site of Vimy in Northern France. We drove straight

Spectacular scenery in Bad Schandau, Deutschland

through Belgium into The Netherlands to visit Amsterdam  and Scheemda. Then we had a marvelous week in Germany, visiting Goslar, Wittenberg, Berlin, and Bad Schandau.  Next we headed to the Czech Republic to visit Prague. We quite liked Prague, but the relative poverty of the Czech villages surprised us. After a very bumpy drive down the Czech autobahn, we headed into the lovely countryside of Eastern Austria and the beauty of Vienna. After three nights, a concert, coffee and cake, we headed south to Hungary to spend a relaxing 6 days at a timeshare in the tourist town of Keszthely. We spent a wonderful day in Budapest, and enjoyed our stay in Hungary a lot. Then, it was back into Austria where we saw the most beautiful scenery of our trip. Driving through the alps to Salzburg was a feast for the eyes. Huge towering mountains, dotted with ancient castles, surrounded us as we zipped along autobahns and  back roads. We encountered our first (and only) tolls in Austria. We were quite happy to cough up the 8 Euros as we had driven on perfect highway surfaces and through long tunnels piercing the mountains (the longest was over 10 kms long!!). After a couple of great days in Salzburg – and yes, we visited the birthplace of Mozart and did the Sound of Music Tour – it was onwards to Innsbruck where we celebrated Shannon’s birthday by going on a long day-long hike to the upper reaches of Nordkette mountain. From Innsbruck, we headed through Germany, got stuck in an hour-long traffic jam on the autobahn near Stuttgart, navigated through scary and spectacular roads through the Black Forest and arrived in Strasbourg, France in pouring rain…we left France in the rain and we returned in the rain.

During those 35 days, we saw amazing cities. Met nice folks. Ate great food. Heard beautiful music. Hiked fabulous trails and mountains.  It has been great.

Cool cars are everywhere in Europe!

It wasn’t all roses. Anique’s eReader died an untimely death. Our newly purchased cellphone quit prematurely a week after buying it. We took more than one wrong turn (thank goodness, you can go around roundabouts as many times as you like). And of course, there was the rain and the cold. It has been a wet and unseasonably cool early fall in these parts. We have rarely worn our shorts since we left home 42 days ago. Those are pretty minor complaints compared to all the great things we have done and seen.

One last word… about the kids. Anique and Owen have been troopers. From camping in the rain and cold (it was near freezing a few nights), to unknown foods and languages, to the LONG days of walking and hiking. We have heard not a word of complaint (except when we sit down to do school work..). They have always been eager to get up and visit new places and see new things, even if it is another breathtaking church.

To view all the photo albums (thus far…there are still 300 photos sitting on my memory stick), follow this link.

Carpe annum,

Marco


Responses

  1. Glad to hear the kids haven’t been complaining. I guess they’re tough like a couple of kids I knew about 35 years ago.

  2. Thanks, Pops.

  3. Continue to enjoy the writings!

    But, here is a note for Shannon. We had another Kilt Run committee meeting today (believe it or not – just like Ripleys!). I only recently got the Guinness records package together and sent – via high priority postal (~$50) … it is a lot of stuff – hopefully we will know by the end of the month. The meeting today was to get funds to MS. We are sending $11,248, together with the $8,752, brings the grand MS funds raised from the Kilt RUn at an even $20,000 (well done!). But have held some monies until end of the year to cover a couple remaining expenses. There was debate as to whether we should hold some of this remaining money in reserve to start up a future race – some were strongly against to hold even a penny. In the end we wait Danielles input … only if she says to keep some reserve – otherwise its all sent back to MS. As far as future race goes – still up in the air. My current best thought is every 2nd year. But we already have emails from people wanting to know where to signup – including one from Pensylvania yesterday (just ready about it in an old Runners World Mag). I am also tending to think that we need a formal registered running club to take over ownership of the race. Ok, so thats the edited version update – obviously we miss having you even on the “never ending” wrap up meetings! Happy travels Terry Stewart


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