Wonderful holidays! Over an entire distance of 3.667 km, Hector and his inhabitants enjoyed a diversity of landscapes: from bourgeois Swiss Alps to the mellifluous Lago Maggiore, through the limestone hills of the Provence to the great mountain chain of the Pyrenees along the Spanish border, passing by medieval towns, Cathar castles and all kinds of beaches along the Mediterranean coast.
Linda joined for 15 days, which was not enough for a) boring me / her / us or b) fulfilling all the plans that we had in mind.
The list of activities that we missed – lack of time, changing weather or too much pleasure when being just lazy on the beach – contains the following:
- Dancing on the beach at nightfall
- Boat trip to the islands close-by, this time with warm and sunny weather
- Swim the distance of approx. 1000m to the next bay. And back.
- Marry the chef de cuisine (or at least the cook)
- Find some sporty, successful camper hero with long hair, knowledge in physics, philosophic education, playing the drums in a rock band, being tattooed and sharing his camper van with a wonderful dog (oh, wait: I think that one was not one of the common plans, but rather an individual one…)
- Exercise balancing the slackline
However, we did do a lot of wonderful things: We danced at early sunset in front of our van, not caring about the bemused and sometimes envying looks of other campers passing by. We enjoyed wonderful meals, either home-made or in restaurants along the way. We went swimming every day when the sea was within reach. We went to see beautiful towns, climbed up to old chapels on mountain peaks, rode the tourist train through Collioure, talked and laughed and sunbathed and just relaxed and enjoyed.
We have been to 6 different nations (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain), ordered drinks or chatted with others in 6 languages (Dutch, German, Italian, French, Spanish, English). No wonder that at some point we got lost in translation, talking to an Italian / Swiss waiter in a mixture of Dutch and French. Avoiding looking up vocables, we used German and Dutch whenever our personal English lexis showed their limits. I learned about Haringen, Schuimkopjes, Markiezen, Wasknijpers and Afwasmiddel while Linda got used to talk about Heringe, Schaumkronen, Markise, Wäscheklammern and Spüli.
Along the way, we experienced that two ladies in a camper van seem to be sort of a show. We got used to wave back to friendly strangers that smiled at us, greeting us when driving through small villages or started talking to us in order to find out what’s behind this unusual couple of two girls with no husband or male driver in sight. We met interesting people every now and then and received fantastic recommendations for places to go and things to see.
Special greetings go to the young-oldtimer couple with the red Morgan and the neat little Eriba-trailer as well as to all our neighbours of Criques de Porteils (with the old VW van and the trailer-tent and the sunset and the wine and everything) and to my brother and his wife and the “special horse-Äpp”. The good karma of travelling with Hector is based on the fact that it is a common success: the equipment has been given by friends and family who became part of the project “camper van” and make it feel a home wherever the roads lead.
From a more practical point of view, the combination of ADAC camp guide, France Passion and TomTom + constant awareness of Hector’s outer dimensions led us more or less nonchalant through space and time. Hector was as reliable as possible, even though he irregularly constitutes his very own character (e.g.: Most of the time, the water system is dense. You should respect that “most of the time” is already a good ratio for a middle-aged van!). The equipment offered luxury comfort, even though it would not be a bad idea to add some more “Haringen” to it (for stormy days). Although I respect any other form of holidays for any other human individual, for me the spontaneous travelling with Hector and (whenever feasible) friends is the best way of spending summer holidays across Europe.