Travelling through Germany on a scooter in 1965

Created by Dietrich Limper at 16:12 on December 15, 2021

Our friend Paul Hart from the "Veteran Vespa Club" has sent us a story that is so beautiful and nostalgic that we have to share it with you. In 1965, the Swede Erik Anestad went on a tour of Germany with two friends on a Vespa and a Lambretta.

Paul writes: "Spending too much time on Flickr looking at photos of old scooters, I came across this excellent album taken by Erik Anestad while travelling from his home in Sweden to Germany and back again. Below is the German translation of a letter he sent to his parents while travelling. Many thanks to Erik Anestad for allowing me to publish this story and photos!"


Text and photos by Erik Anestad

I had been offered an internship at a shipping company in Hamburg for the summer of 1965. I had also received a scholarship from the Swedish Board of Trade to finance the whole thing. At the same time, my best friend from Hedemora High School, Per Forsling, had got an internship with a forestry company in Austria. We decided to travel through Germany together on our scooters. Our best friend, Ingemar Melin, wanted to come along, so the three of us travelled on our two scooters. We set off together from Norberg at the beginning of June. After a while, we parted ways and I wrote the following letter to mum and dad. Gärd and I were cleaning Nut's house when she moved into a retirement home, and we found this letter in the desk where she had kept it all those years.

The letter read like this:

In the rain 1965
Germany 1965: Rain, rain, rain ...

Friday evening, before Göttingen, 11 June 1965

"They say that when someone is travelling, they have stories to tell, and as it's been a few days since I left, there's a lot to tell. I'm about 20 kilometres from Göttingen, on the way to Goslar. The pub I'm sitting in is an old, dilapidated village pub, and the old men of the village are sitting around me, playing cards and drinking beer. They also speak an incomprehensible language, but I'd better start at the beginning.

Everything went well on the way to Olle (my brother), but of course I was my usual scatterbrained self, and when we did the tyre check in Fagersta, my camera bag with my traveller's cheques was left there. When we got to Stjärnvik, I realised this and called Fagersta immediately. Sure, the Bag and the cheques were still there, but I now had to turn around and pick them up. Then I stowed the cheques somewhere else so that I would always have them with me. In the evening, Olle served meat fondue and we had a great time. On Tuesday we started at 8.30 Clock and everything went well until we arrived in Ljungby where something happened: We saw a dead man in the ditch, but there was nothing we could do, so we called the police and continued our journey. Shortly afterwards, Pers' scooter started making a lot of noise. Then it stopped, and so did we. At first we thought something had happened to the Piston, but we soon found out that it was the Fanwheel scraping against the protective cover. After a lot of back and forth, we got the cover off and were able to tap it out so that the Fanwheel wasn't touching the cover. But none of us could understand why the Fanwheel was suddenly touching the Cover.

As we passed Markaryd, we realised that it was high time to buy groceries for the evening, so we drove like a bat out of hell to Höör, where we arrived just before 6 Clock. We then found out that the shop had been locked since 5.30 Clock, but there were still people in the shop, so we were able to buy something to eat. Finding Eje and Kaj's [my cousins] flat in Trelleborg wasn't difficult with the help of the map, and I made myself an omelette and meatballs with fresh potatoes there.

The ferry ride to Travemünde went well, but when we left in the morning, my rear tyre was flat. So I changed the Tyre in Travemünde. It had started to rain as we were heading towards Goslar and we were quite late, so we took the motorway towards Göttingen. Driving on the motorway saved us a lot of time. About 20 to 30 miles south of Goslar on our way to Fulda, we found an inn. As we sat there eating, a drunken old man came up to us, sat down and started talking unintelligibly, but the more we talked to him, the more clearly he spoke and then you could understand what he was saying. As the evening progressed, it became clear that he had been a soldier for 16 years, from 1929 to 1945, and had been in a prisoner of war camp in Russia, but we never understood what he was doing for a living. He bought us beers and then a cherry liqueur (or schnapps), which we only understood the next morning when we paid the bill. We left him money for two beers and hoped he would get them the next evening. That day the drive was painful for our bums, but we went to Rothenburg where we had a look round the town. (I forgot to mention that it started raining so hard on the motorway that we stopped under a bridge, where we sat for about half an hour, during which there had apparently been an accident on the other side. Police cars, tow trucks and an ambulance arrived. As we drove off, we saw a lorry lying on its roof and facing the wrong way, with a small former car underneath. We then spent about an hour and a half looking round Rothenburg and then drove on towards Nuremberg.

Picnic by the wayside

When we filled up the tank in Ausbach, we were told that it had been raining for three days and the roads to Austria were flooded. When we told them that we hadn't had a single drop of rain recently, they didn't believe us. When we had been driving for about ten minutes, it started to rain like crazy. We wanted to stop at an Aral petrol station, but before I could, my Vespa stopped. It wouldn't start and I was worried that the Ignition Coil had become damp. I did at least get a spark at the plug, but it wouldn't start again. We then asked at the petrol station where we could spend the night and they told us where we had to go. While I was unpacking my things, they called a pub and asked if there was still room for us, which there was. Then one of the guys drove me, while Per and Ingemar followed us on Pelle's scooter, who didn't want to ride either. But it was downhill all the way, so it was no problem to get to the inn. Very wet and grateful, we were able to settle into a very clean, tidy and nice inn, where we ate and drank beer in the evening and got very full. Here in southern Germany the beer is tastier and served in larger lenses than in northern Germany, but the beer was also very good and cheap, at least I think so, when it costs a German mark for 0.25 litres.

This morning both scooters started very nicely and well, which had failed yesterday due to the humidity being too high. The hydrometer read over 100 %, but we were on dry land anyway. We parted company in Heilsbronn. Per and Ingemar travelled on towards Austria, while I headed back to Hamburg. From Würzburg, I took a beautiful road towards Vogelsberg, high mountains and deep valleys. Then I continued towards Kassel, but I found a slip road to the motorway and took it to Hanover to gain some time. With a leaking tyre and a puncture on the spare wheel, I continued on my merry way. I found a company that sold scooter parts, but they didn't have a suitable Inner Tube, but referred me to the largest tyre company in Göttingen. However, they didn't have an Inner Tube either, but sent me to a company that was on the way to Hanover. So I drove towards Kassel, but discovered my mistake and instead wound my way back through the whole city towards Hanover, where I finally found a company that had closed for the day. However, an employee was still there and was able to help me, so I got a new Inner Tube. Stupid as I am, I didn't change the Inner Tube straight away, but carried on trying to find an inn on the way to Goslar, as the air in my Tyre wasn't escaping so quickly. The only answer I got everywhere was "all busy", and in the end there was no air left in the Tyre and no petrol station nearby. I changed the Inner Tube and had to hitchhike to the nearest petrol station to pump up the Tyre and then back, but it was fine. Finding a room for the night wasn't easy at eight Clock, but I eventually found one. The main thing was that I had a roof over my head. As I write this, I had dinner, drank three lenses of beer as usual and realised that the quality of a room and food can vary. It's surprisingly difficult to judge the rooms from the outside and sometimes you have to take what you get.

Tomorrow I'm travelling to Goslar and then Hamburg, which should be fine if there are no problems with the Vespa. It has run perfectly apart from the problems mentioned above, which had nothing to do with the mechanics. I've done over 1,100 miles now and my bum is pretty sore so I'm taking more breaks and I'm sleeping tighter and tighter. I understand if you have great difficulty understanding my letter, but this way you get more out of it. But it was very long anyway [seven handwritten pages], and now you know more about what happened while I was travelling.

Could you please send me a copy of my transcripts so I can have a look at them. It's now after 10 Clock and it's time to go to bed.

Greetings from Erik."

Policeman 1965
German constable 1965


Per and I had agreed to meet up in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance at the end of our internships. The evening before I left Hamburg, my colleagues at the company took me to an amusement park, where I lost the keys to my scooter. I only realised this the next morning. After considerable problems, I finally found a locksmith who was able to drill out the Lock and I was able to get on my way. After a "wild" ride south, Per and I met up at the right place at the right time. We then travelled further north to Kiel, where we boarded a ship with our scooters that took us to Västerås on Lake Mälaren. There is no letter from this part of the journey, but I still remember one incident:

We usually took smaller roads in Germany to avoid the fast traffic on the motorway, and at one point we were driving at full speed (70-75 km/h) through a small village and were stopped by a policeman for speeding. We told him that we hadn't seen any speed signs and he explained how the signage worked. In the end, he imposed a fine of DM 3.50 for "speeding". I had kept the fine notice for a long time, but it has since disappeared. Sad.

Picture gallery of Erik Anestad

Trip to Germany 1965
Dietrich Limper
Dietrich Limper

Dietrich Limper works as an editor for SIP Scootershop and also writes for local and national publications. When he's not geocaching, he enjoys the amazing antics of Bayer Leverkusen.