Summing it all up

There is no way to sum up our trip succinctly. We’ve already been asked several times about THE highlight, but over that length of time and given the range of different things we have done, we just can’t choose a single highlight. So the best we can do is divide the trip into phases, or epochs, and pick one for each.

We also thought we would try to summarise the trip in statistics, so here goes…

  •  total mileage driven – 2, 743
  •  total mileage cycled – 164
  •  boat trips – 8
  •  train trips – 18 (excluding the Channel Tunnel)
  •  cable car trips – 9
  •  bus trips – 2
  • funicular trips – 1
  • nights overseas – 41, of which 21 in Germany, 6 in Italy, 5 in Switzerland, 3 in France, 3 in Austria and 3 in Belgium
  •  camping spots – 23
  •  castles visited – 13
  •  lakes visited – 12
  •  churches visited – 14
  •  city walls walked – 8
  •  glaciers visited – 4
  •  ice caves explored – 1
  •  the most times an international border was crossed on a single day – 7 (between Germany and Austria on 31 August)
  •  ice creams (each (generally double scoops)) – 12

And now for the highlights…

Week 1:

  • Aachen Cathedral
  • the remembrance service at the Menen Gate
  • the constant procession of trains and boats through the Rhine valley

Week 2:

  • Schloß Weikersheim
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Nördlingen train museum with its wealth of steam engines
  • the Rodelbahn in Schwangau
  • dinner at Schwangau Schloßbrauerei accompanied by an umpah band

Week 3:

  • the Zugspitze railway and glacier
  • Schloß Herrenchiemsee
  • Berchtesgaden salt mine

Week 4:

  • the idyllic camping spot by Lake Garda, offering wonderful views at sunset
  • revisiting Verona
  • lunch in Padua

Week 5:

  • Saturday afternoon in Ascona with yodellers, race cars, Fiat 500s etc.
  • Locarno lido and flumes
  • dinner in Ascona on Sunday night (and the seafood pizza Mark hoped for in Venice, but was denied)
  • driving the Susten pass
  • the view from the top of the Brienz Rothorn Bahn
  • the Rhine Falls

Week 6:

  • peach wine tasting in Cochem
  • battlefields and memorials at Verdun and the Somme

Lastly, by way of balance a few lowlights…

  • finding Venice over-run by tourists and trying to find a decent, vaguely authentic restaurant
  • cycling the D929 near Albert in search of the Grande Mine crater in torrential rain surrounded by lorries
  • German Umleitungen or deviations around roadworks (we’d really expected the Germans would be more organised)
  • the quality of Belgian motorways
  • sleepless nights when rain was thundering down on the campervan roof

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