Life in our camper van.

I’ve been getting a few requests for photos of the interior of the van so here goes.

The bed is really comfortable and we have lots of space. 

The bathroom/toilet is in one space with the shower opposite. Both have sliding screens. The shower works really well and has been used quite a bit, like when it is raining or we are not in a campground. 

The kitchen is small and requires a bit of juggling but we mange fine and have enough storage for everything we need. It’s good to have an oven. Pride of place belongs to our Nespresso machine which has its own special pull down shelf- definitely a worthwhile purchase. When we are on the road we often pull into a rest stop and make our coffee. Actually the coffee in Germany hasn’t been too bad but I can’t see us having coffee out in Norway too often as it will probably be too isolated. And expensive.

The lounge area is big enough to sit 4 in comfort when it is too cold to sit outside.  We have had fellow campers over for drinks a few times. We have a really good 12 volt TV and blue ray with enough TV series to last several months. Mind you, we seem to spend a lot of our time in the evenings working out where to go next – all part of the fun. 

After the really hot weather the last couple of days (34 deg in the shade) we both agree that we wouldn’t want to travel in really hot temperatures for more than a few days. The van is well insulated but gets really hot (38 deg yesterday inside) even with everything open. Yesterday was the first day we put the awning out! Until now it hasn’t been hot enough or we have had good shade from trees. 

Everyone is friendly in the campgrounds but in Germany we have not come across anyone with English as a first language. The only people in the campgrounds tend to be Dutch or German and very few Germans speak any English even in shops and restaurants. The Dutch are very friendly and nearly always speak good English. We have struggled at times in Germany with the language  –  thank god for Google Translate. Maybe we are in areas not travelled much by English speaking people. Even the campground managers do not usually speak any English. A big contrast with France where English is more widely spoken. 

Having now experienced UK, French and German motorways in the van, we definitely prefer France. The much vaunted autobahns often become giant truck parks. The other day we pulled out of the stationary “slow” lane where we tend to spend most of our time, and passed a few hundred trucks. Then we discovered there were road works ahead and we had no choice but to go in this narrow 2.3m wide lane for several km- I swear that the wheels on Twiggy’s trailer were no more than 150 mm from the steel barrier each side often less. R said he couldn’t even change gear for fear of going off course slightly. So we “zoomed” through at about 70 km – very scary.  The road surface is often really poor too yet cars zoom past us at 150+km/hr. There are often long stretches of road with road works which is often what causes the traffic jams. Having now driven into Denmark, we are finding the driving very relaxing. Good roads and not too much traffic. 

We were initially concerned about using communal bathrooms but it hasn’t been an issue. They are usually very clean but the showers are another story. The Germans in particular are very parsimonious about hot water and in most campgrounds you are given tokens- sometimes it lasts as little as 4 minutes. Try washing and conditioning your hair in that time especially when it is not warm enough to turn the water off. I was badly caught once and ended up finishing off with icy cold water. Another time (in France – our only bad campground and it was part of the Castels group which are 4-5 star) there was no hot water at all- a fault apparently. R being a softee showered in the van. Other times you have to keep pushing a button to keep the water flow going- ok when each push gives you 20-30 seconds but not when it’s 4-5. R says he has had no problems and it must be a girl’s thing. 
We have created our wine and beer storage and stocked up the other day in Germany for Norway where an average bottle of wine will set you back $100. Everyone we have spoken to who has been to Norway has warned us to stock up on wine, beer and food. We wished we had done the wine stock up in France where there is a MUCH better selection than in even the biggest supermarket we have found in Germany. Update- Denmark has good wine selection in supermarket. We have a couple of crates in the garage plus our easily accessible  stash inside. 

Navigation is still causing us a few headaches even using both Gertrude the Garmin and CoPilot. We have decided that we are going to buy more detailed maps of each area so we can cross check the route. Today in Twiggy we went round and round in circles in this German town where the main road through was closed for road works. Co Pilot kept sending us down dead end streets or up cobbled lanes so steep that poor Twiggy could not manage to get up them even in first gear so we had to back down. We started getting this trapped feeling when the GPS told us to go down the same route that hadn’t worked the first time. After about 20 minutes in desperation we decided to follow some other cars only to find we were on a route that was 20 km longer . Now for long trips we are using both GPS systems  but sometimes I have to make instant decisions on which route to take when they differ. Normally in favour of Co Pilot. 

So we are enjoying our nomadic way of life. Richard hasn’t played as much golf ad he had hoped mainly because the ground has been too wet from the rain when we have been in a good place for golf. 

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