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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
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    So far in our travel we had seen many more Australian camping families and groups than those of any other nationality and had not met many Americans.  Most of the Americans we had seen had been single individuals carrying backpacks near railway stations and Youth Hostels. 
    All the English speaking campers that we had met described Florence as the best city in Italy for art.
We have always been too busy to spend much time at home studying and viewing paintings and sculpture, but in Florence the art was so beautiful, we spent five days just enjoying the splendor.  When we moved on to Rome we found the same beautiful art.
Other campers who we have met while in Italy have told us how they have been cheated or had their possessions stolen. Some are frightening and all speak of the ingenuity of the thieves who steal under fantastic circumstances. Here is our story: We stopped at a toll booth outside Bologna and asked for directions to a campground. The attendant drew a map for us and we went on our way. The campground was about a mile away and when we arrived we unhooked our trailer and tried to find a supermarket before it closed. On the way back, we were honked down by a man in a car who approached us,  rolled down his window, and handed us a pencil. We had left it with him at his toll booth. Upon our return to the campsite the manager came and told us that the man had been there to find us to return our pencil, a half used, wooden lead pencil!   Many others have had their car or purse or their supplies or their traveler checks or everything taken!    We had a half worn pencil returned to us.
   When in Rome we found a wonderful campground that had a mounted police training area with their horses galloping past our camp site.
In Rome we also found some rather unusual displays in the basement of a large Roman Catholic Church.  It was an artistic/spiritual display of human skeletons.
     After traveling along the coast for two days we finally found a place along the coast where we were able to camp next to the water on the sandy beach near Saint Tropez.      Actually the campground in which we stayed was closed for the season, but since we found no other campgrounds open, we just drove in when we saw no gate to bar our entry. 
    As it happened the proprietor saw us enter and after catching up to us in his automobile, gave us permission to camp for free.

    During the next day we traveled slowly, inspecting the famous playgrounds of the international jet set and found that we Michiganders have equal or better facilities along Lake Michigan, and our small towns have equal charm.  What we lack are those beautiful palms.

    We wanted to camp again on the Mediterranean and here our equipment experienced its first sand.  When we arrived at the campground it was dark and while finding a spot to camp we drove off the road into the light beach sand and became stuck.  This was a rather frustrating situation since we hoped to eventually cross the Sahara.  After remembering all my past sand travel experience and making  a few adjustments to our equipment we managed to drive on the sand to where we wished to camp.
When traveling from one place to another in the U.S., on main highways, we always plan on averaging at least 50 mph, but not in Europe.  Barcelona is about 350 miles from Madrid, Spain and on December 13 we thought we would leave at 8:00 a.m. and arrive in Madrid at about 3 p.m.  What we didn't know, of course, was that some of the road was over terrain which required a speed of 20 mph, and had ruts in the pavement like those in a muddy gravel road (except this was blacktop) and a 50 mph headwind.  At 9 pm., after stopping only for gas and eating in the jeep,  we arrived in Madrid.
Christmas Day our family rested and watched the local shepherds tend their sheep near our campsite in Tangiers, Morocco. During the afternoon we walked through an old section of the Moslem city and experienced some of the same sights and sounds people have experienced for thousands of years in the narrow pedestrian streets with white mud brick homes. They were celebrating  La Grand Fete des Moutons. Each family had killed a sheep, allowing the blood to spill on the streets. The teenagers were roasting the heads of some of the sheep as we passed.

For the next four months we traveled and studied through nine countries in Africa.