The Netherlands, Germany & France..
We’ve been travelling for over three months and I haven’t really ‘documented’ any of it. Mainly because I only usually write when I’m feeling down; sad, reflective, deep in thought. I’m not feeling like that at all right now, in fact it’s been one of the most amazing summers of my life so far – but I don’t want to forget any of it, and to only write when you’re sad is a pretty terrible habit. So, here goes – this is essentially a ‘best bits’ that I’ll probably add more to over time..
We arrived by ferry to The Netherlands – our loyal LDV Convoy survived the turbulent (not really) trip across the water (as did Pat, the hamster. As did we, the humans) and we set off with no real plan other than the usual things you might expect a tourist to do on arrival in The Netherlands. *Some Text Missing*.
The Netherlands is a beautiful country. It’s completely flat, which is great for an old van, and there’s a relaxed and welcoming nature to the place that makes it easy to settle in. Rotterdam and Eindhoven were personal favourite stop off points – Eindhoven in particular is an absolutely awesome city.
At this point I have to mention how damn hot this trip has been from the very moment we arrived on Europe’s mainland. It’s like a couple of hours East from England, it made no sense. Anyway, it was a scorcher. I’m a lover of scarves and hats, they keep me warm and comforted – this was officially shorts and vest tops weather from day one until about two days ago. (It’s September 21st. Maybe the heat had something to do with the lack of blogging. The good news though is that I’ve written a hell of a lot of songs, particularly using the loop pedal and guitar combo. More on that at some point, probably.)
It was hot. The van gets hot when it’s hot. We bought a fan, it helped a bit, but regardless – we’ve been up with the sun almost every day this summer as we slide open the side door in a panic and gasp to let in some fresher and cooler (although not really, at all) air.
Wild Camping / Freestyle Parking / Non-Official Stopping & Sleeping
Wild camping isn’t that easy in Holland – well, I say it’s not easy, it is, but there aren’t really many designated places for it like there are in Germany. We stayed at a campsite for at least one night. Wild camping in Germany is so easy, and welcomed – they have many a Stellplatz where you can park your campervan for up to three nights, you can even fill your water up and empty your loo at a lot of them – some even have power hook ups.
I love Germany. The problem with Germany this time around though was that it was one of the only countrys in which our portable internet device didn’t work. We bought a temporary sim card but that was smashed out within a week, so we went to France. (It’s worth pointing out that this has since changed – Three updated their signals and it works great in Germany now; I’m currently just outside of Munich. We went to Oktoberfest – Beer by the litre – Lederhosen – Brass Bands – It was ermergerd good.)
Last time we went to France we only stayed a day – this was about 8 years ago. This time we stayed a couple of weeks, it was fantastic. Language barrier aside (German is our friend, French is something of a stranger still, despite consistent Duolingo efforts) the Eastern side of France where we mosied around for a while was beautiful. We made a few acoustic videos there, we ate out at some lovely restaurants, we did some slacklining in the woods. We even stumbled upon this incredible portable pizza van in a fairly random village that was miles away from anything else, and they made us the absolute BEST PIZZA EVER and gave us free peach wine and Ouzo while we waited. That was a damn good day.
Other good days include numerous (numerous!) street parties and local festivals that we so frequently stumbled upon. Every weekend, every Tuesday, and most Thursdays, there was some sort of outdoor, live music and beer based event taking place in whatever village or town we happened to land in. It was amazing. There was a real sense of community across all of these places, and a feeling of really embracing the summer time to the absolute fullest. Furthermore, at no point did we feel unwelcome – even with our fragmented attempts at other languages. The good vibes were out in full force just about everywhere we went this summer, and it’s really had a wonderful effect on us. Always travel! Don’t be afraid of the world.
We also stayed at many a lovely campsite in all three of these countries. At least once a fortnight we’d check in somewhere official – peace of mind for the night, showers, laundry facilities, etc. About three weeks into the trip we stayed at a lovely site in Germany that had fresh water streams filling up the facilities. It rained in the morning, but later on we set off on a long and lovely walk through the forest and up a hill and saw a deer. We also saw lots of black squirrels on our various walks.
Anyway, here are some photos of this first part of the summer, 2016. The inside of the van is pretty awesome now – I guess it had to be, it’s both our chilling space and our office space; we spend quite a lot of time in there. The outside parts of the van are the best though (you know, the world and that..) being able to live wherever you want feels amazing. I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try.
(Above) The best pizza ever, fresh, with wine and ouzo..
Bargain world.. (Above, obvs)
Street Party (Above)
France – we made a video here, in light rain.. It was nice 🙂