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Family camping  & home schooling adventures in Europe.  Jeep & tent trailer camping in France, Holland, Spain, Switzerland & Italy.  Biking in Paris, Rome, & Barcelona as a family.  Urban Planning study of transportation, housing , & solid waste disposal.
The Blickley Family's
European Study/Camping Adventure
       After graduating with an Urban Planning degree Bill wanted to see how European and African countries designed public transit, housing, solid waste disposal, and neighborhood organizations.  We visited 7 countries in Europe and made many professional contacts following advice from  The International Federation of Housing and Planning. On our voyage from New York to Europe, we were caught in the struggle  between labor and management operating the passenger ship S.S. France.   We were  virtually held captive by the Merchant Marine who threatened to sink the ship.   

Coming near the coast of France, the crew took control of the ship and dropped anchor 3 miles off shore.

After being delivered to shore, the passengers were taken to a railroad station and given a ticket to Paris and told that we were "on our own".

Several passengers, including our family, decided that we would just "stay put".  We arranged the furniture in a room in the station, and decided to stay until someone would make arrangements for us to stay until our vehicle and camping supplies were given back to us.


After all the other passengers left the station, about a dozen of us were left, and we were not very happy!

We had nowhere to go and planned to let someone in authority know our displeasure. We took down a travel poster, printed a protest in six languages on its back side, and chained the doors shut so even the police could not enter to evict us.  Yes, the police came and read our protest poster, but we did not let them in.

   After being ferried to shore,  we lived in the Seaman's Hotel at company expense for a week . 
 During that time we tried in vain to find someone to get our Jeep, tent trailer, and equipment off the ship and onto dry land. 
     After a lot of  media  pressure, the  S. S. France ship Co.   rented  a small camper-truck for us  to leave them and travel through N. W. Europe for the next two weeks.
   On October 12, 28 days after our arrival in Europe, the labor dispute ended. When the ship arrived in port and unloaded, we were the only family, out of 2000 passengers, who were there to receive equipment  held hostage by the strike.
    Our happy faces were printed on the front pages of all the local and the major French newspapers.
    While waiting for our our Jeep and Jayco tent trailer with our living supplies, we traveled for two weeks with a small motor home furnished by the management of the SS France.  They got us out of town so that we would not be able to continue our public protest the ship management and unions holding us hostage.
    A friend of ours  had given us a letter of introduction to the official historian of Periers, France, whose specialty is World War II history as it relates to the city in this province of Normandy near Omaha and Utah beaches.

     This is where the allies began the effort to ending the German occupation of Europe. Mr. Henri Lefauve, through his collection of maps, letters, photos, and copies of U.S. Army daily troop records, was able to reconstruct the situations in his area during the war for us. 

     With his personal experience there as a young boy, he was able to explain the traumatic experiences encountered by the city.

After camping in Normandy our next stop was Paris where we stayed in a large park in central Paris, the Bois de Boulogne, (where we had excellent facilities for camping). It is located close to a subway station and within biking distance of many points of interest to us.

Bill spent two and on half weeks of fruitful and exciting urban study in Paris where the material was both plentiful and easily accessible. The people were friendly and the weekends were full of touring monuments and museums with the family.  Then we packed our things and headed for Zurich, Switzerland.
      Our stay in Zurich was much less fruitful than expected.  The weather was wet and very cold and urban officials were not very friendly.  At our camp site, in the surrounding mountains,  the snow had already arrived weeks before us.  Our stay in Zurich consisted of a day of securing supplies, a day of rest and walking in the snow on the mountain, and a day of riding and surveying the transportation system.  The fourth day we left heading South towards Milan, Italy where we hoped  the weather would be warmer. The drive to Milan took us through the Saint Bernardino Pass and some of the most beautiful snow covered mountains scenes we have encountered.

Milan, Italy was worse for study than Zurich.  As we approached within ten miles of Milan we thought it was another Gary, Indiana covered with industrial pollution.  While searching for a campground ( which we later found out had gone out of business) we traveled through the dirtiest, most auto-congested, unplanned town I have ever seen so far.  Where we traveled,  they have actually paved everything not built upon for auto parking.  Although it was dark when we finally found the closed campground, we headed west toward Venice where we could rest and see historical sites before deciding whether to travel south to warmer weather and campgrounds not closed for the season.

Venice is often heralded as a center for art and culture.  When we visited the city at night with the main streets crowded with happy tourists, the building fronts lit up and the gondolas traveling the canals, we found it enchanting. 


 Our camping site for Venice was located on the Adriatic Sea within view of the island of Venice. It was here that the boys lost their new sail boat.

As well as being bordered by the water we were neighbors to a large oil refinery.  Since most of the campsites in Europe are closed for the season, we were happy to have a camping spot.

With the usual tourists at home, the campsite was very quiet until the last night.  At about three o'clock in the morning we were startled out of a sound sleep by a long blasting sound that could have been a jet plane barely missing our tent camper.  The sound lasted about a minute,  followed by a short burst, and then repeated again thirty minutes later.  The sound came from the oil refinery only a few thousand yards away.  We also heard a frantic voice on a loudspeaker.  Remembering the 24 hour industrial strike the day before, and hearing the frantic voices on the public address system,  we decided that our best interest was to make a quick exit before we were victims of another strike.
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