European Road Trip in a Motorhome – Part 7

Our Road Trip around Europe Continues!

Beautiful lakes, stunning mountain passes and Glaciers.  Read on to find out about the last week of our European Road Trip in a Motorhome!

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European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 31 [Total Miles: 4191]

[Country: Italy]

After a quiet nights sleep, we cooked breakfast and tidied the van.  We also took the opportunity to fill up with water and empty the waste using the motorhome service point.  Soon we were ready to depart for Lake Garda!  Our route took us along the motorway and to a small car park about three miles from the lakeside.

Lake Garda

Once parked, we got the bikes out, loaded the panniers with the camera and cycled to Sirmione.  Unsurprisingly, the lakeside resort town was extremely busy with tourists! As a result, we decided to chain up the bikes and explore on foot.

Bikes parked up in Sirmione during our European Road Trip.
Bikes parked up in Sirmione

Sirmione – Lake Garda

Sirmione was a pretty town with Scaligero Castle dominating the view.  The castle also acts as an impressive gateway to the town.

Once inside, we encountered lots of little streets with cafes selling massive ice creams!  Furthermore, many of the cafes had beautiful views onto the lake.  Soon we arrived at Jamaica Beach where the rocks made it very shallow.  We spent a while paddling and admiring the beautiful views.

Scaligero Castle in Sirmione, Lake Garda.
Approaching Scaligero Castle
Scaligero Castle, Sirmione, Italy.
View back towards Scaligero Castle, Sirmione.
Lovely archway in Simione. Lake Garda is a must on any road trip!
Beautiful plants growing over an archway.
Lovely stop on our Road Trip: Jamaica Beach, Sirmione, Italy.
The shallow waters of Jamaica Beach

Eventually we walked back to the bikes and cycled further around the lake.  Frustratingly the cycle path kept disappearing, but eventually we made it to a lovely beach cafe.  Here we stopped for a drink and relaxed whilst looking out across the lake.

Back on the bikes, we made our way to a supermarket to buy some food for dinner.  Fortunately it was only a few hundred metres from the van and so we didn’t have to cycle far with lots of shopping!

Cycling around Lake Garda, Italy.
An enjoyable afternoon cycle ride.

After dinner, we went for a stroll at sunset where we got eaten alive by thousands of mosquitoes!  Of course, this did not deter us and we soon found a fantastic Gelateria.  You simply cannot beat authentic Italian Ice Cream.

By the time we made it back to the van, another dozen motorhomes had joined us.  It was certainly a safe place to spend the night.

Motorhomes parked at Simione, Lake Garda.
Beautiful sunset over the motorhomes!

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 32 [Total Miles: 4278]

[Country: Italy]

We had a great nights sleep, along with all the other motorhomes and woke at 7am.  After breakfast and a shower, we departed for Lake Como.!

Lake Como – A Must on any European Road Trip!

Erica had established that Bellagio would give us good access to other places on the lake. Consequently, we drove for 2.5 hours along a stunning mountain road.  Luckily, there were a number of places to pull over and admire the spectacular views.

Arriving in Lake Como whilst on our road trip.
Arriving in Lake Como

Bellagio – Lake Como

Once parked in Bellagio, we began exploring.  Our route took us to the top of an extremely steep hill where there were some beautiful little houses.  Unfortunately, no sooner had we climbed, we began a steep decent down to the lake.

Streets of Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy.
Beautiful street in Bellagio.

Bellagio was once again very touristy, but pretty nonetheless.  Consequently, numerous tourist shops and restaurants lined the streets.  We enjoyed looking at the many quaint things for sale before making our way to the mid lake ferry. Frustratingly, the terminal was very busy and chaotic, but soon we had our tickets and boarded the ferry.

The views back across Bellagio from the ferry were beautiful and the fresh breeze lovely.

View over lake Como,, including swimmers.
Looking out over Lake Como from Bellagio.
Bellagio as seen from the Ferry on Lake Como.
Looking back at Bellagio from the ferry!

Varenna – Lake Como

Our first stop was Varenna.  This was a small lakeside town, very similar to Bellagio in appearance.   As expected, it was filled with more tourist shops and restaurants!  Fortunately, it was much quieter.

Arriving in Verena, Lake Como, Italy by ferry.
Arriving in Verena
Exploring Verena on foot. Lake Como, Italy during our European Road Trip.
Exploring on foot!

After wandering around, we bought some water, cookies and an ice cream and sat relaxing on the lake shore.  Soon it was time to catch the ferry for some more exploration!

Menaggio – Lake Como

Menaggio was once again very busy!  However, it was still a nice place to wander and admire the beautiful views. The sky was starting to darken and it was clear a storm was on the way.  Consequently, we decided to return to the ferry terminal where we took shelter from the heavy thunderstorm!

Como – Lake Como

Once back in Bellagio, we walked around a little more before returning to the van and driving towards Como.  As expected, the drive was enjoyable, with clear views across the lake. Luckily there were again various lay-bys where we stopped and sat chatting and enjoying the view.

Lovely view of the lake whilst on our Road Trip at sunset
Early evening view

Eventually we arrived in Como and parked 50 metres from the lake along side lots of other campers.  Unfortunately the thunderstorm  returned and the rain was absolutely torrential!  Sadly we could’t explore Como by night and sat playing a board game in the warm and cosy van!

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 33 [Total Miles: 4405]

[Country: Italy – Switzerland]

We woke early and went for a walk.  It was a shame the weather had been so bad the previous night as the views from the van were beautiful.  Luckily the weather had cleared and we were able to walk along the lake’s edge with clear views back across Como. Our route took us past a nice villa and some landscaped gardens before arriving back a the van.

Palace Hotel.
The Palace Hotel was rather impressive!
Early morning view over Lake Como, Italy
View over Lake Como from a car park in Como.

Once back in the van, we sat down with a coffee to plan our onward journey. Our road trip had taken us to some amazing places, however we were now into the last few days.  It was already Wednesday and we had to be back in Calais by 8am Saturday to catch the ferry.  Consequently, we had 11 hours driving to do over the next three days. In addition, Erica was keen to visit her Godmother in the French town of Hirsingue.  Luckily, this was en-route and so we decided to spend two days exploring Switzerland before arriving in Hirsingue Thursday evening.  Friday would therefore be a full days drive back to Calais!


Keen to explore Switzerland, we left Como and drove to the border where we purchased the vignette.  Our first visit was to the lakeside town of Lugano, however frustratingly we didn’t have any currency for the parking meter and so could’t stop for long.  After a few photos we were back on the road once again!

self build motorhome rear door view over lake lugano in Switzerland
Obligatory back door view photo!
Panoramic view of lake Lugano, Switzerland during our European Road Trip
Panoramic view of Lake Lugano

St Gotthard Pass

Both Erica and myself love mountain roads! As such, we decided to drive along the St Gotthard Pass as opposed to the Gotthard Road Tunnel.  The road was great fun to drive with lots of hairpins, however sadly it was rather cloudy and so the views were limited.  Eventually we arrived at the 2091 metre summit, accompanied by heavy rain!

A very wet St Gotthard Pass!
Cloud and rain spoilt the views.
Visiting St Gotthard pass during the Road Trip.
Cloud at the summit of Gotthard Pass

We spent a couple of hours in the van sheltering from the rain outside and enjoyed lunch. Fortunately the rain and cloud began clearing and soon it was clear blue skies! After a short walk, we continued along the pass to a small village called Andermatt where we filled up with diesel.

View from the Gotthard Pass
Stunning view from the St Gotthard Pass

Furka Pass

We made our way along the Furka Pass, climbing our way steeply from the valley on a tiny road. The drive required a lot of concentration with sharp hairpin bends and and sheer drops at times without a crash barrier!  As expected, the views were spectacular and was certainly my favourite road of the trip.  Furthermore, I remembered that the film Goldfinger included a high speed drive along the road.  Of course  I am sure it was a different experience in an Aston Martin as instead of a Long Wheelbase van!

The road took us past beautiful waterfalls and deep snow piles as we climbed to 2429 metres.  We stopped often to enjoy the view before pulling into the car park of the Phone Glacier Ice Grotto.

Van parked in front of a waterfall on the Furka Pass during our Road Trip around Europe
Quick stop to enjoy a waterfall!

Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto

After paying the 9 Euro entrance fee, we walked along a gravel path down towards the glacier. The path turned to cloth covered ice and soon we arrived at the entrance to a tunnel into the ice! Once inside, we were confronted by a stunning blue glow from the ice. It was truly beautiful. Furthermore, we were the only visitors! Consequently, we were able to stop and take lots of photographs as we explored the winding tunnels to the relaxing sound of dripping water.

View over the Rhone Glacier
The Glacier was rather spectacular
Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto
Inside the Glacier!

After an hour exploring the Ice Grotto, we walked back to the van. Both Erica and I agreed that this was one of the most impressive experiences of the entire trip.

Grimsel Pass

By now it was late afternoon and we only had a few hours of daylight left.  Consequently, we decided it was time to start heading down the mountain as we were still around 2000m high.  Our route took us along the Grimsel Pass, once again with lots of tight bends and stunning views! About half way along the pass, we pulled into a lay by with a beautiful view of a lake and decided to stop for coffee.

Grimsel Pass, Switzerland.
View from the layby

We stopped for longer than planned, and  it was now getting late. The road was relatively quiet and as we felt safe, we decided to spend the night in the lay by.  Of course, we first sat outside watching the beautiful sunset before retiring to the van.

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 34 [Total Miles: 4550]

[Country: Switzerland – France]

We both slept very well in the silence of the mountain and clear air.  Once up, we cooked pancakes before setting up the tripod to take some photographs of the van with the stunning view behind. Furthermore, we were able to get some shots with us both sitting on the roof which was good fun!

View of the motohome on the Gimsel Pass whilst on our European Road Trip.
Lovely shot of the motorhome

Reichenbach Falls

Eventually we left the lay by and continued along the Grimsel Pass to the car park of the Reichenbach Falls. We discovered that there was a cable car, however we decided to climb the 1500′ path instead! Unsurprisingly this was hard work, however we enjoyed the walk before arriving at the base of the falls made famous by Sherlock Holmes.  The Reichenbach Falls were spectacular and well worth the climb.

Funicular Railway Reichenbach Falls
The Funicular Railway would have been easier!
Reichenbach Falls
The climb was worth it!

Lake Sarnen

After some time sitting at the falls, we walked back down the path and returned to the van.  We continued along the road until we arrived at Lake Sarnen where we found a secluded lay by.  Here we cooked lunch and baked some rolls whilst sitting outside in the sun. Erica even took the opportunity to swim in the icy cold water!

Swimming in Lake Sarnen, Switzerland.
Swimming in the icy cold water

France –  Hirsingue

After several hours sitting by the lake, we continued on our journey towards Erica’s Godmother.  Frustratingly, traffic was heavy around Basel, however we eventually arrived in the picturesque village of Hirsingue by early evening.

We spent the evening enjoying their swimming pool, chatting and eating delicious food cooked on the bbq.

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 35 [Total Miles: 4974]

[Country: France – Luxembourg – Belgium – France]

After a good nights sleep, we had a lovely breakfast of pain au chocolate with Erica’s godmother and family.  Of course, they were keen to see the camper and so we spent time explaining how it all worked! Soon however, it was time to leave and continue on our return journey. First though, we stopped off at Carefour to buy cheese and wine to take back to England!

Driving through Hirsingue, France.
Leave Hirsingue

We planned a route through Luxembourg and Belgium which avoided the expensive French toll roads. There is very little to say other than it was a long day’s driving, broken up by a couple of coffee stops and of course lunch.  Eventually we arrived at our overnight stop near Dunkirk where we had a lazy evening enjoying pizza cooked in the oven.  Thank you to Carefour for providing electricity, waste and freshwater points!

Fully serviced Carefour Camper stop in Dunkirk.
Carefour Welcomes Motorhomes. Behind me is a fresh water point and electric!

By now the wind was picking up, and so I checked the weather forecast for the following morning.  Unfortunately there was a weather warning in place for strong winds! Not great considering we were returning via ferry! Unphased, we had an early night ready for the return journey the next morning.  

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Day 36 [Total Miles: 5085]

[Country: France – England]

We woke at 4am to the sound of strong winds howling outside.  We decided to get up and drive straight to Calais to attempt to get on an earlier ferry using our flexi- ticket.  Amazingly, we arrived at the terminal at 4:50 and were allowed to drive straight onto the 5am crossing! We were almost the last vehicle to board. Furthermore, the ferry departed just 10 minutes after we arrived at the port!

As expected, the captain announced over the Tannoy that there was a gale in the channel which may delay us. Fortunately, it was a relatively new ferry and had modern stabilisers which allowed for a surprisingly smooth crossing, despite the gale force winds!

Unfortunately, we  had to wait outside the Port of Dover for two hours before a tug towed us into port. However, once docked, we drove straight back to my parents house for a late lunch.  Our decision to leave at 4am was a good one as we heard on the radio that all other crossings had been cancelled due to the winds!

Tug Boat at Port of Dover pulling our ferry into the dock. Arriving at Dover marked the end of our European Road Trip
We needed assistance form the tug boat.

European Road Trip in a Motorhome: Thank You

What an amazing 5 weeks we had experienced.  Furthermore, I hope that you enjoyed reading about our European Road Trip as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Just two years ago, the van was a dirty and oily commercial van.  However, after a lot of hard work we had made it home for 5 weeks.  From sub zero up to 40 degree temperatures, from baking sun to snow, we were always comfortable.  Everything worked well, especially the solar panels and hot water systems. We never had to worry about power, and always had a hot shower available! Please do explore the site further to find out about how I built it.

Thanks to Erica for all of her help and for her input in this blog. Also thanks to my parents for all of their support during the build process.  Finally thanks for our wider families who treated us to dinners and days out in both Greece and Italy.

Where Next?

Our Road trip may have come to an end, however there are lots more adventures planned! Why not read about our Road Trip around Scotland?

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