Holland (January 2015)

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We drove from Antwerp to Amsterdam and stayed three nights in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam (3 nights)

Our arrival in Amsterdam was delayed somewhat trying to navigate Rotterdam as our GPS maps weren’t up to date with the roadworks which made following the directions given by the GPS almost impossible.

By now we were just about holidayed out. Our Holiday Inn was close to Schiphol Airport and the weather was inclement so we didn’t venture into the heart of Amsterdam.

Each morning we waited for the weather to clear, which it didn’t, so we caught a taxi to the local shops. The first time walking back to the Holiday Inn it started to rain heavily half way between the shops and the motel and we ended up getting drenched.

The second time, when we wanted to go back to the motel, we looked for a taxi rank and couldn’t find one. When we inquired, we were informed that the nearest taxi rank was at the railway station which was on the other side of our motel. We ended up buying some cheap umbrellas and walking back to the motel in the rain.

Belgium (January 2015)

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Having driven from Paris we stayed two nights in Antwerp.

Antwerp (2 nights)

We were surprised just how big the port of Antwerp was. We decided on a whim to take a “Port of Antwerp” bus tour. The tour included personal use of an iPad which was used to interactive with video of the port whilst we drove around the port areas. This was one of the best tours we took.

France (January 2015)

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From Genoa we enjoyed a majestic drive to Marseille. The highway was relatively flat as we drove through the mountains and over the valleys.

Marseille (3 nights)

The south of France was beautiful. We visited the Ch√Ęteau d’If on If Island. Enjoyed walking around the old port area. Took a bus tour around the sights of Marseille.

Toulouse (1 night)

We enjoyed a Chinese buffet at Wok 31 restaurant which was situated near to our Holiday Inn.

Bordeaux (2 nights)

Moving on from Toulouse we stayed two nights in Bordeaux. Whilst at Bordeaux we heard about the terrorism attacks in Paris and had thoughts of bypassing Paris where we planned to stay overnight before going to Antwerp in Belgium.

Paris (1 night)

Fortunately the terrorists were found and killed, so we were happy to have another day in Paris. This time we stayed at a Holiday Inn near the main international airport.

 

Italy (December 2014 & January 2015)

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Having arrived in Turin and obtained new tyres, we revised our holiday so as to not having to cross the Alps again. This meant that we would not be visiting Venice, Vienna, Zurich or Luxembourg.

Pisa (1 night)

We visited the leaning tower of Pisa.

Rome (5 nights)

The first two nights we stayed at the Holiday Inn. Then we stayed at the West Rome Mecure.

Genoa (1 night)

From Rome we drove to Genoa.

France (December 2014)

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Following our two weeks in the UK we boarded the ferry to Calais and then drove on to Paris.

Paris (3 nights)

Whilst in Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Elysee. We stayed at a beautiful Holiday Inn on the banks of the River Seine.

Gaillard (1 night)

From Paris we drove to Gaillard which was close to Geneva, Switzerland. We drove into Switzerland and drove to Lake Geneva and admired the lake and the architecture in Geneva.

Crossing the French/Italian Alps

This would have to have been the most harrowing days driving. We left Gaillard with light snow falling. As we proceeded up the mountains, the snow became heavier and heavier. What was a three lane highway reduced to two lanes and then to one lane as snow plows pushed snow away to keep the road open.

Eventually our speed reduced to 20kph for the best part of two hours as we inched our way to the Mont Blanc tunnel. Along the way there were a number of cars stuck in the snow. Fortunately for us a snow plow pulled out just in front of us and we were able to follow the snow plow without getting stuck.

Once we got to the Mont Blanc tunnel and entered the tunnel, travelling was easier until a few kilometres before our Holiday Inn accommodation in Turin we got a flat tyre which was replaced. We were told the following morning that the tyre needed to be replaced and that we had driven the previous day on “normal” tyres.

If we had know we were driving on normal tyres and not on winter tyres as we believed, there was no way that I would have contemplated driving in the conditions that we had met.

That night as we were watching the news on TV, a report advised that over 13,000 people were trapped in the Alps due to the extremely bad weather.

Thanks for small mercies we got through without any serious incident.