A short tour of Europe

Peter and Diane spent three weeks in Europe and Scotland and finished with another week in England

We left home at four in the afternoon, transported to San Antonio International Airport by our friends Sunni and Peyton

We flew to Dallas, London and finally Milan, grabbed a car and drove 30 miles to Como

By this time it was 7pm - 34 hours without sleep counting the 7-hour time difference



Our hotel was an old grande dame across the road from the lake and the ferry terminals. Great breakfast, great coffee (this is Italy after all) and comfortable beds.



Outside our room was the main square with restaurants opposite. Being dog-tired AND hungry we staggered across to one of them and ordered a Marguerita Pizza between us. It was excellent and plenty big enough for both.



As well as the square we had great view of the lake and hills beyond. Later, we would take the road to Bellagio which is beautiful. Unfortunately, looking at the hills one might think that the road would be narrow and winding. It was, in spades, and we turned back having had great lake views.



Beyond the square is Il Duomo - the cathedral. This was a landmark when driving on the confusing one-way streets. The whole center of the city is pedestrian-only so driving around it all to our hotel was a challenge.



The interior of the Duomo is beautiful



The lake had several breakwaters. They did not connect, but they were great for walking on. They also had pleasant sculptures.



Lots of gulls and swans



Our second day we drove to Verona. A beautiful city with lots of pedestrian areas. We walked along the river to the Castelvecchio - the old castle, and to the . . . .



. . . . Arena - a colliseum to rival the one at Rome that is fitted our with seating, pyrotechnics etc to hold fabulous operas. That night was La Traviata and we deperately wanted to go but it finished about 11pm, it was over an hour home and we were dog-tired. Oh well. We walked past La Casa Julietta and looked at the balcony. I pretended I was Romeo. Finally, the Duomo, the car and a very tiring drive home.



After four wonderful days in Como we set off for Zermatt over the Simplon Pass.



Zermatt is a car-free town. A few special electric wagons are permitted for hauling guests and their luggage to hotels. It is wonderfully organized. We parked 10 miles down the hill and were immediately whisked up to the edge of town where there was a buggy waiting to take us to the hotel For under $20.



The town has one main street about a quarter of a mile long and then piles and piles of hotels, cabins and houses sprawling out from there.



Next day we took the cog railway to Zermatt. It rained. It was cloudy. The day before and the day after were brilliantly sunny. Despite the weather the ride was great and we saw lots of mountains and glaciers peeking through the fog. The biggy view was of the Matterhorn.



At the top we wandered around, got coffee, looked at the local church and had our view of the Matterhorn . . . .



Behold, the don't matter horn



We took our ride back down the hill and set out for Lucerne. The first village was San Nicholas



The next segment of our trip looked rather interesting on the map



This is what it looked like for real - the grey on the far hill are switchbacks and our road had been the same



The view from the top was great with a gift/coffee shop and an ice cave, a spa ..



. . . . and a waterfall to look at. This is the top and it went all the way down to the valley.



We were in lake country and the views were fantastic. Swiss mountains are different from any others I have seen - They have patches of trees and patched of grass. Lots of cows. We even heard the cowbells across the valley.



Lake Lucerne is huge. We chose to stay about twenty miles away from the center of the town to get a fabulous hotel at a reasonable price. We were right on the lake



Good coffee, great food. I had the veal liver in port wine sauce two nights in a row - it was that good that Diane joined me in trying it.



The local villages had various statues



One day we drove to Bern through yet another statue-infested village. Bern was a very well organized town. Virtually every street was one-way and street signs were very carefully hidden. The combination made it literally impossible to plan a route. I left Diane to go into a shop downtown and got so lost that I ended up in the railroad station parking lot.



I eventually found her and we did a short tour of the town - beautiful water with bridges. Of course the tour was inadvertent when we were trying to escape the town



Finally the goodbye day and we headed up the Gotthard Pass. The "pass" is actually a 10-mile tunnel. Switzerland seems to have more road in tunnels than in the open air and tunnels several miles long are not unusual. We finally got back to Milan, dropped the car and got on an Alitalia plane for Edinburgh



We stayed a week with brother John and his girlfriend Linda. Her house has a typical British back garden - overflowing with flowers, looking over the neighbors' yards.



We took a walk to the village and thought we had found a Scotsman called Geoffrey who opened his shop when he was drunk. It turned out that this was a fish-and-chip shop and town was Gorebridge hence Gore Fry



Family picture



Linda had a cute little dog and a larger one, and was looking after another for a friend. They were the most energetic dogs. John and I took them for a longish walk most days but it didn't seem to slow them down



Linda's grand nieces provided on of the cutest pictures I have ever seen. We had a discussion to determine what the girls were doing - the two women thought they were hiding their nipples. The two men thought they were pretending to have breasts. No wonder psychologists get paid so much money.



Finally we drove down to Derbyshire. We stopped briefly to go over to Holy Island. This is an island that is cut off from the mainland each high-tide. It was the place that, during 500-800 AD, the monks bridged the "dark ages" gap after the romans left, copied religious books, blogged what was going on and generally acted as historians. 4 hours later we were in Derbyshire

Continue to our next week in England

Look at previous trips