It dawns on me - some days it feels like I just fell off the turnip truck and woke up- that we've been doing trips like this for a LONG time and MANY times. Besides the recent set of 5 trips starting in 2010, linked in my signature, we've been to Y'urp over 30 times, lost count actually. And most of them were driving trips BUT not in old Alfas; that only since 2010. The first in 1973 at 3 weeks and 3rd in 1978 at 6 weeks were both by Eurailpass. Several, some 4-5, were business trips in Paris with taxis to/from the airport and all public transport, living in a furnished apartment for 3 and 6 weeks. One in Monaco on a risk study for 3 weeks (Cap d'Ail actually).
BUT the rest were driving trips and we drove all over Y'urp (usually in a Peugeot 504 Family Estate with 3-4-5 kids and even my Mom in tow once for many weeks). We had a roof rack with 4-6 bags. We looked like Okies in the Grapes of Wrath. We did picnic lunches. This every year from 1977-1984 and several since. We've been over more CH & FR Alpine and Austrian passes than I can recall. This was before internet and IF, repeat IF, you made reservations around busy times you did it by snail mail which was very slow and tedious so we did not often do it. We'd make a a mad dash for hotels around 3-5 before they filled up and pray. If a drive went slower we'd stay in a zimmer frei or gasthaus. Yipes. There was no RyanAir, just SNCF/etc. There was no Euro. Think that one through going through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy on a trip. There were no ATM's and no cell phones or internet. There were no Autoroutes, just Rue Nationals. Relatively speaking it is a piece of cake now but with a bewildering array of options and info. AND - UNFORTUNATELY - a shitload more of tourists. And I mean a SHITLOAD. Yea, we remember when we could go to Mont St Michele and have only a few locals and French retirees in buses roaming about on a weekday. And the Chinese are just getting started with their invasion the past few years.
Why do I mention this?
Not to brag. But to inform "would be's" that we've been planning and executing these Euro driving trips for a long time and learned a few things, usually the hard way. And it seems we are still learning new things as travel and accommodation change in Europe and we try various trip alternatives (hotels, to rental agencies, to VRBO and Booking.com, and now Air BNB). Driving here is different. In EVERY country we've been in they say behind every driver is an F1 racer. But the rules are different and they have traffic circles (love 'em) and now one-way chicanes entering villages in addition to speed humps, flashing lights, radar emplacements, and reduced speed limits. Traffic direction in foreign languages (to us) like Czech. My 2017 blog discusses the kamikaze driving and motorcycles, scooters and bicycles and tractors and trucks.
The point is that planning and executing these types of trips is a learned art and many things are learned over time the hard way. You can only read and absorb so much. Throw in an old car with some long hard driving and you really have a challenge. Throw in unpredictable inclement weather, especially heat with no A/C. Throw in "tourist days" that tax the feet and calves and patience (like the Sintra day still sore 2 days later). In summary, it may behoove newbies to really keep it simple the first time or two insofar as possible.
But there is one thing that has not changed in our 46 years of coming here - the lack of ice. This former rant captures that ethos perfectly and I have still not had a reply: RANT on ICE
PS: I looked back at the 2017 trip blog
to find the "ice rant" link and there is some really good hard-learned advice from many folks toward the end, at and after the "ice rant" link.