Week 7 – Lake Garda to Home


After a nice first evening at Garda we opted to stay a second night and just enjoy the view over the lake. In typical fashion we started the week with an early morning 10 mile run which felt tougher than it ought and spent the rest of the day just relaxing and planning some future projects. We did venture back into town for a rather large meal and too much wine but as this is our last week then why not! The next day started with glorious sunshine so we chose to move to Lake Como which we missed on our way down due to bad weather.

We set a route to Como centre and one of our random GPS points from the Internet, and though this led to a car park there was a little spot hidden away which was right on the lake. A bit dubious but we saw nothing that said otherwise so opted to stay there for the day. After a little walk we had a lovely picnic on our picnic blanket next to the lake reading. Glorious! The views around Como are stunning. For overnight we saw a number of other vans and decided to join them as our spot was a little too dubious, as we had another long run planned for the morning we deemed it wiser to be somewhere a little more legitimate.

After a lovely night we had another 10 mile run as far round the lake as we could safely do, then spent the afternoon browsing the large market and chilling reading. Opting for another day at Como we had our last Italian beers before making plans to head to Switzerland the following morning. Our end in Italy has been superb and the sort of Italy we imagined before we came.

The exit to Switzerland was hugely impressive and much more picturesque than our entry. Some great engineering feats of tunnel building; some beautiful views of snow-capped Alps, waterfalls, snow; and ancient and traditional houses clinging to the cliffs. We ventured into Lucerne which is picture-postcard beautiful. Lovely old buildings, stunning lake, and mountainous background landscape.

Since re-entering Switzerland the driving standards returned to normal, and it was tough learning to obey the speed limits and actually give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings! Even more surprising to see cars stop to allow us to cross the road! Such an amazing and distinct difference in the space of a few miles.

We moved from Lucerne to a campsite that sounded nice on the edge of another lake nearby. In fairness it was nice, but reminded us why we’ve been avoiding campsites and have been enjoying out of season camping. As it was Easter weekend, the place is sprawling with noisy and annoying ankle-biters. We made swift plans to leave first thing in the morning and find somewhere wild – and in the meantime play Nivana at a loud enough volume to drown out the shrieks.

After a surprisingly good nights sleep, we rose early and did our chores brimming the tanks of the van enough to last us till we got back, and headed to Basel. Basel sounded interesting as it is the city where France, Switzerland and Germany all meet. Most of the outskirts appeared very industrial and Slough like – even to the extent of a few of the same companies! The old town is rather pleasant but despite our wishes of Swiss Easter Egg shops having massive sales on – not one was open so we missed out on all Easter Eggs. As the town really was quiet and closed we decided to head up to Strasburg.

Strasburg is on the border of France/Germany and upon entry from Germany it appears there is a war still going on. Not sure if we’ve missed the news, but the old customs building was burnt to the ground and a 100m on or so a hotel was gutted with fire as was a building opposite. The damage all looked fresh so not sure what was going on. Not a great start, but carrying on we parked up and walked into the city centre along the river and old docks. It appears as if the dock area has been regenerated recently as it was all modern and clean. Heading into the old town though Strasburg felt out of place – it felt Swiss rather than French or German – we’ll need to Google to work out why. Some really lovely buildings and a huge surprising and unique gothic cathedral like none we’ve seen before. We found lots of plazas and the place was quite buzzing.

One problem with travelling we’ve found is that as soon as you start thinking about home and what you need to do, then your mind and heart isn’t with the holiday. Sadly that day had come as we knew we had loads of things at home waiting for us, and we decided to use the empty roads to make headway towards home. Strasburg however is on our “to return to” list as the city looks like it has a huge amount to offer.

Setting off again we headed to Metz where we stayed on our way down which seems an age away! Arriving late the 8 campervan places in their free aire were all taken, and about another 20 vans were just parked nearby. We joined them and ventured back into Metz old town which still is lovely and had a lovely meal in a fish reaurant. Which is bizarre as Metz is probably the furthest point from the sea we’ve been in 2 months!!

The following morning we headed to a small aire in Belgium in Veurne. Timing a fuel stop correctly we arrived in Luxemburg with empty tanks and filled up with Diesel at 0.82€ a litre – bargain! Why didn’t we ever stop there before!?

Veurne is a perfect pre-Calais stop around 50 mins away. A small quiet town with a nice town square with numerous bars and restaurants for the last swills of Belgium beer. There appeared to be around 10 vans overnighting there so its not a new secret find.

From there, to Calais, to home, and the end of a very memorable and enjoyable trip.

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