Newbies adventures in Euroland

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by mwark, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. mwark

    mwark Read Only Funster

    Apr 23, 2015
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    Hello. I registered on this forum sometime in 2015 as I started planning my mini retirement and camper van trip through Europe for four months. I just wanted to "give something back" for all the help we received. My partner and I are in our 30s, so this was always going to be a one off journey, at least for the immediate future. Our motorhome was bought with the intention of reselling it when we completed the journey. I won’t be using it enough to justify keeping unfortunately, though it would be fantastic to have it for a month every summer.

    So here are some random ramblings about our adventure.

    The vehicle
    After quite a lot of research, lots of website scanning, visiting a few motorhome shows, we eventually decided on the base vehicle and the layout we wanted. Since we were expecting to be driving a lot and going in and out of small towns and possibly cities, we decided on a van conversion rather than coach built. The van we ended up with was an Adria 2011 Twin SP. The one with the fixed rear bed (well, it can be raised) and “living area” at the front. I’m informed this vehicle was owned by a member of this forum previously. This was my biggest fret of the entire trip, the decision and whether we’d buy something decent. Well, we had luck as the van gave us almost zero problems. A minor niggle was a missing bong from the gray water tank but that aside it’s been great.

    The packing
    So, once we had the vehicle we did a test run with a weekend away camping with friends. After that I got down to doing what I do which is to research everything a bit too much. But it paid off I think because we used pretty much everything we took with us. The electric fly swatter in particular was useful, even though I initially got grief for this purchase from the other half. One thing I’d like to have done was take a low watt slow cooker or similar item. Cooking in the evening sometimes felt like a bit of a chore when it rained. When it was sunny I mostly used my nifty cadac portable bbq.

    The trip
    We were away for almost exactly four months. Due to circumstances we had to leave later in the year than we’d have liked - around 20th July - and we arrived back around 20th November. The last few weeks the weather was turning a little bleak and this was the point that we really started to long for home. But for the first few months we seemed to be incredibly lucky with the weather. In fact it was too hot at times as some of you might have found with the heat wave hitting Europe for a few weeks in August. The peak was 39C when we were walking about Budapest.

    We had to make decisions about what we wanted to see and what to skip and the pace of the trip. In hindsight I’m relatively happy with how we did it. We saw a *lot* in those four months, which meant we did do a lot of travelling rather than staying at one place for lengthy periods. Quite roughly, this was our route (just listing countries):

    UK -> France (just Calais) -> Belgium -> Luxembourg -> France (Strasbourg) -> Germany -> Austria -> Hungary -> Slovenia -> Italy -> Croatia -> Montenegro -> Croatia-> Slovenia -> Austria -> Germany (went right back to for Oktoberfest) -> Switzerland -> Italy -> France (med etc) -> Spain -> Portugal -> Spain -> France -> UK.

    There were parts where we had dates to keep which put a bit of strain on the itinerary (and at times on us), and when I’d liked to have relaxed in the same place for a bit longer. But for us it was about seeing as much as we could reasonably fit in. If we go again, we’ll take everything slower.

    Some highlights:
    First day on the trip, in Bruges, eating mussels and drinking white wine. This reminds me of the thrill of starting out. First swim in a German lake, Titisee. Swimming in the Bavarian lakes, in particular Alpsee by Neuschwanstein castle. Konstanz by Bodensee is a beautiful town and really enjoyed our time there. Camping and relaxing in Croatia. No free stops in Croatia that I could find so we camped and stayed multiple nights at each, relaxing. A real treat for us as most of the trip was free camperstops. And Croatia is stunning. Tuscany was a treat. Nice free stops, beautiful countryside, nice towns, nice food. Waking up next Lago di Fusine after we’d arrived in darkness the night before, driving over the mountains between Slovenia (Soca) and Italy. Listening to the sea breath at Bufones de Pria in Asturias. Walking in Asturias. We did lots and lots of walking, in forests, mountains and around lakes, which we both love. Austria in particular provided a 20km walk from Gosau around some nearby lakes, complete with an isolated nude swim.

    Some tips for other newbies:
    - Things have a way of working out but you could save yourself a bit of stress by understanding your vehicle in advance. There were certain little things that I didn’t know (hard to recall what now) that I had to work out as we went.

    - Take metal hooks. These came in so useful for hanging things.

    - Flies. Flies everywhere! Once they get in the van they are pesky little beasts and my electric bat was used a lot.

    - Wasps. They’re also everywhere but for some reason I felt worse swatting these and my partner made me usher them out more humanely. Still a darn nuisance.

    - Make sure you have tap adaptors for the different sizes we seemed to encounter in Europe.

    - Water was our biggest issue. When it was so stupidly hot we had to shower every day (sweat). We ran out every 3 to 4 days. Fill up when you can.

    - Load camperstop coordinates onto the GPS in advance. while you still have decent internet.

    - Take a lot of underwear. I could wear my clothes multiple times but we drew the line at underwear. And we only did clothes washing every few weeks.

    - Try not to let your bicycle rack break in the middle of the day during 37C heat.

    - If your cassette toilet is very full, note that pressing the air inlet valve can also result in stuff coming out, not just air going in.

    - Try not to drop the lid of the cassette into the sewerage disposal hole.

    - Splashback is a b!tch.

    - Stock up on bio washing liquid (for the cassette). It’s not always easy to find in Europe, but I think we worked out that those containing ‘enzyme’ were the bio liquids.

    - Have goto easy meals, for the days when you just do not feel like putting in much effort.

    - Beware of horrible nasty satnavs that send you down dirt roads instead of real roads. We used copilot on my Android phone and found it very prone to do this.

    Motorhome folk are very friendly in general. The waves as you pass on the road, the greetings when you arrive at the stops. It’s great.

    We saw surprisingly few Brits on our travels but those that we did meet were very friendly. Maybe some are even registered on here. If so, we were the couple with the silver Adria Twin, with bicycle rack.

    Italians are very friendly but wow, they love to talk, loudly, until all hours of the morning :)

    Italian drivers are nuts and cannot stand to be going slower than a motorhome, and speed limits seem voluntary.

    Montenegrin drivers, especially inland are worse! They are terrifying and if I and an oncoming vehicle had not braked hard on a mountain road, at night, the vehicle overtaking me would have killed us all. And that sort of thing happened often. I was glad to leave Montenegro actually, though it was pretty.

    What a truly epic adventure. We loved it and are so glad we decided to resign from our jobs and go on the trip. We can understand how this hobby becomes so addictive. We would love to keep the vehicle and travel each summer but unfortunately it just doesn’t make financial sense at this stage in our lives/careers. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll look at acquiring one again.

    Thank you all here for the help you’ve given us when we asked for advice.

    PS. If anyone wants to buy a 2011 Adria Twin SP, let me know :)
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