1970: June 1, Natters – Strasbourg

Monday
A fine day, thank heaven, so no problem about packing the tent etc. Took photographs of the gang and names and addresses so that we could send photos to them and got on with packing up. All yesterday’s washing had dried, fortunately, so nothing damp to pack up at all, and gradually got everything in, despite Colin’s disbelief. The caravan people off to Italy so the gang really broken up. Found we’d packed our tent number again, just as in Holland, and, of course, too late to do anything about it, so promised to post it on.

Drove down to Natters through the flowery meadows, now being cut for hay and saw a wild doe grazing. Did a quick shop in the supermarket, including a minute quantity of costly butter and then down to Innsbruck and west to the Swiss border, along awful roads (bumpy, roadwork delays, heavy traffic). Villages nearly all lovely, with numerous gasthofs, tourism must be a terrific source of revenue. Timber industry also much in evidence and, of course, farming – several small farms using horses and keeping cattle, mainly the Alpine variety. Saw lots of small chapels perched on rocky outcrops, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and of course numerous wayside shrines. Scenery became more and more mountainous as we approached the Arlsborg Pass – the river rushing and frothy, all greeny white through a gorge. Up in the snows again as we came over the pass, then a long drop down to the Swiss border, leaving behind the essentially Tyrolean architecture. (Tyrol is like a picture book, but it all looks right, the pretty chalets, the Tyrolean dress, worn widely by both sexes all blend in with the landscape and don’t look self-conscious or over-touristy).

The Swiss border aged in coming, we ran parallel to it for some time, but eventually crossed over and pulled into a parking place for lunch. This place organised with Swiss efficiency and very nice, in a proper lay-by, planted with flowering shrubs, with picnic tables and benches, little bins, a water tank and clean toilets. We ate in style, watching the trains passing (Gareth ecstatic).

Drove on through undulating lowland scenery, with dairy farms, down to Lake Constance with is enormous and dotted with sailing boats. Then on to St Gallen, a spotless industrial (textile) centre – the advantages of nice clean H.E.P. [hydro-electric power] very obvious, and down the motorway to Schoffhausen and the German border.

Changed some money then drove down again through the Black Forest – these German forests are huge. Houses changed again – very steeply pitched roofs and coloured shutters. Lots of timber industry, pretty villages with wood carving (lots of huge carved bears outside inns, etc.) and basket making as well as tourism.

Hunted unsuccessfully for a camp site at Offenburg, in the end went on to Strasbourg, filling up with petrol first. French prices unspeakable. Found the Baggersee site easily, soon obvious we were back in scruffy France! However, site OK for a night, got tent up fast and children into bed then ate and went for a walk round the lake. A tremendous supermarket nearby, quite the biggest we’d ever seen, hundreds of parking places and a vast range of goods inside. Unfortunately the opening hours not suitable for a visit by us, but interesting to have seen as much as we did.

310 miles

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