The Grand Tour 1989


Another in my “Time Travel” series… The Grand Tour has been a popular thing in history since the 1700’s, so who am I to argue! In the Autumn of 1989, I booked a coach trip and set out to expand my horizons around Europe. It seems impossible to me now, that it was 33 years ago! I shall divide this into two posts as editing the photo’s down to just one posts worth has proved impossible.

I joined the coach in central London, and it made its way down to Dover, across the channel on a ferry to Belgium, then on to the outskirts of Brussels where we overnighted in a Motel. Next morning, we were off again, and our first stop was to be Luxembourg. This was the first and only time I’ve been there. It looed very nice from the bridge with the trees just starting to take on their autumn colour beneath. I made a couple of photographs and grabbed a coffee, and we were off again. Sometime I hope to return and at least have a walk around the city. Next stop Switzerland. We were here longer, but not by much – Lucerne was our stop, a trip on the lake, a walk over the famous Spreuer Bridge built in 1408.

Spreuer Bridge, Lucerne Switzerland
Spreuer Bridge Inside

“The Lion of Lucerne, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris” Says Wiki. I remember being impressed by its scale but all too soon we were off again over the border into Italy for our next night in the middle of nowhere!

The Lion of Lucerne
Late Afternoon Sun on Lake Lucerne

Next port of call Pisa. Famous of course for its campanile (bell tower) that leans at about 4 degrees as a result of a poor foundation. It is about 57 meters tall. When I visited you could still go up, which was an experience all its own. Shortly after my visit it was closed to the public for years but is now open once again.  First due to the list, one finds walking up the stairs a bit like being drunk as you naturally sway from one side of the steps to the other.

Pisa, Cathedral and Bell Tower
Going up!

More alarming is that a few places you could just walk out onto the platform with no rail whatsoever, it’s a wonder hundreds haven’t fallen! (Perhaps they have?) Reaching the bells at the top is nearly the end but one can climb onto the viewing platform at the top via some hoop steps in the wall. This too had wobbly railings, but a fantastic view of the Cathedral, dedicated to Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the Baptistery of St. John just beyond. The Bell Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery were all started in the early 1100’s.

What no safety rail!
Hoop steps on the right!
I made it!
… and the view
Glad to be back and ground level!

Onward to Florence!

Florence Cathedral and Dome

Florence was next, the impressive Cathedral  “was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi” wiki tells me. I do remember the pink, green and white marble and of course the dome!

Florence Cathedral and Dome

Nearby was the covered market with it’s boar in a very dark corner, Il Porcellino, (Piglet) as he’s called by the locals! The  Piazzale degli Uffizi-  leads to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. There has been one here since Roman times and has been re-built a few times due to flooding.

Il Porcellino
Piazzale degli Uffizi
Ponte Vecchio bridge
Ponte Vecchio bridge

I would have liked much more time in Florence, there is much to see but all too soon it was time to move on… this time, a long drive south to Sorrento, more about that in Pt2!

Andy in Florence 1989

As for cameras, by now I had started to travel with at least two. This trip I think I had 3 – two compact 35mm’s and a super 8 movie camera. Film seems to have been Kodak Gold 200, it’s printed on the edge of the film! I certainly don’t remember.

Thanks for reading, if indeed you still are!!

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