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It seemed strange that we feel we know more about America than our own back yard, and armed with a desire to quit the UK, what better place to start looking than in Europe. It seemed a pretty sensible choice, no visas required, easy crossing from the UK and hey we can take the car!

Having bought the Banana Wagon (pictures available on 2006 Photos)and crammed it full of camping gear, we planned a route that would take us down through France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and into Italy and finishing in Venice, before we would come back to the UK via a long detour around France, and perhaps some idea of where we fancied living (for five minutes or a little longer perhaps).

The reality worked out a little different. Having reached the Alsace region of France, we sat directly under a major weather front. Four days solid rain in a canvas tent is not good for:
 

  • The tent

  • Us

  • Marriage (esp when you have to take a soaking wet tent down in the torrential rain).
     

Fearing for our sanity and suspecting one of us may resort to murder shortly we packed up, abandoned the plans and went South to the French Alps, dried out and replanned on the fly.

Our new route took us through the fantastic (and expensive, 31.90 for a 5 mile one way trip) Mont Blanc Tunnel and into the Italian Alps. We visited beautiful Aosta and then travelled on to Lake Garda, enjoying the beautiful Italian landscapes as we travelled. Italy is certainly a country of contrasting beauty, both in the people who are warm and friendly and totally different from their French cousins, to the scenery around what is probably defined as Northern Italy. We were very taken with it. On then to Venice, our planned ultimate destination and a chance for a four night break in this city of romance, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. A visit is highly recommended.

After soaking up the history and culture in Venice we opted to follow our original route (pre-rain) back up through Austria and Switzerland. This was a good plan, we stopped briefly in Austria near Innsbruck and again we were impressed with the scenery, as we were with Switzerland, a chocolate box scene visible in most of the valleys we passed through.

To Craig's delight we then re-entered France driving into the little known area of the Jura mountains. Although we only stayed a short while in this area, and cheated (ok Bel so its not camping but hey it was warm & cosy), the attractions around the area looked very interesting. Once more dodging the rain we worked our way back north to the final true tourist destination - Versailles Palace. Unfortunately we were sadly disappointed with Versailles (maybe the rain did not help) so we took advantage of a 20 minute train journey to Paris to revisit a city we visited last together in 1999, then as work colleagues.

Overall we did a whirlwind tour of Europe, getting a flavour of each area and picking some very specific atttractions to visit. Like America, Europe is a big area to cover and it would need another 3 month road trip to further explore Europe properly. We didn't feel we wanted to take that length trip right now so perhaps you might, and tell us about it, or perhaps one day we will return to Europe.
 

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