Friday, 24th September, 1965
17.09.1965 - 24.09.1965
Well it’s over! We arrived back in London last night by train, after the Bedford had finally packed up 9 miles out of Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday night. It just stalled at some traffic lights and never started again. The valves were gummed up like they were when we bought it. We could not afford to have it fixed again and it would not have been worth it anyway, considering the money we could have sold it for in England, so we just abandoned it there in a parking lot at Langen in Germany. As far as I know it is still there. It did a damn good job for the £10 original purchase price; it got us 5000 miles over often difficult roads and up some very steep hills, with very little trouble except at the end. It was certainly a worthwhile buy, and I saw just about everything I wanted to see for now.
After leaving Rome we took the route back up through Florence and across to Venice, which is really the most spectacular city you can imagine. You have to park your car on the outskirts, as there are no roads whatever in the central area; just narrow alleys for walking and of course canals. In Venice, ‘taxis’ are launches, and ‘buses’ are small ferries. Gondolas are on the smaller canals, but are mostly for the tourists. Nevertheless they are extremely picturesque, and are what makes Venice ‘Venice’. St. Marks Square, with the Cathedral, Campanile, Doge’s Palace and pigeons is a most relaxing spot on a hot afternoon and everyone was doing just that. The absence of motor traffic makes the whole atmosphere of the city relaxed and slow moving. It is such a beautiful city, so colourful and different, and a completely new and unforgettable experience, no matter how many photos or films you have seen of it.
From Venice we drove on to Milan and then north, through the Italian Lakes district and into Switzerland. We drove over the Simplon Pass, which the car took slowly but very well - perhaps its finest moment. There were snow covered peaks much like those I had seen in Nepal and then we were over the other side and down on the shores of Lake Geneva. We followed the shore around through Lausanne and to Geneva, then north again to Berne and Zurich before crossing into Germany. In Germany we visited Heidleberg before coming to the abrupt halt near Frankfurt. We all pushed the car for a while, down the main street of Langen, trying to jump start the motor, but without success, and eventually had to give up and run the old rattler into the parking lot. We had asked a lot of it and it had pretty well met the challenge, but it had just had enough. We made our decision, packed our bags, left most of the gear behind and headed for the railway station.
The train journey was at night, through Germany and Belgium to Ostend, and though not terribly long, was rather sleepless. Changing to the Channel ferry was chaos as usual ; third time across the Channel was boring; getting off was even more chaotic, and then, thank God, a fast, comfortable train trip to London. We are staying in Tony’s place in West Kensington at present. I don’t know what Ade is planning, but I think I will look for a place on my own again.
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The Run of the Red Rattler
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