Over the last few days we’ve been putting an unusual amount of thought into the route we’ll be driving in April. Our Lonely Planet and Rough Guide arrived last week and we’ve been reading them through, one region a night, and choosing a couple of places each that we’d be interested in visiting.
In fact, we’ve actually gone so far as pinning a map to our living room wall and sticking post-it notes to keep track. Iva was kind enough to pose for a photo with the map to demonstrate.
This is just one of the ways we’re approaching this trip differently that the past few, and there are a few different reasons.
First and foremost, this will be our last trip for a while, and probably our last ever in Camperissimo.
The main reason is – I’m very happy to say – that in September we’ll be having a baby and so there’s no chance of another big trip for a least another year after that. That being the case, we’re also planning on selling the van at the start of May.
We’ve made a ton of improvements over the last two years and as a result of last year’s events the engine was completely replaced for a much newer one and we still have a year of warranty on all of that work. Since we would hardly be using the van anyway we’ve decided to trade it in for a “normal car” for 18 months and then hopefully buy another van in 2013. I’m a big fan of the D-Line Pössl models, although it would be a stroke of luck to find a reasonably priced one second-hand.
I think we’re also learning from the last few trips we’ve made.
Our first big tour around Romania and Bulgaria was an amazing experience, but we could have done with a bit more background knowledge, occasional campsite stops to recharge mentally and – maybe partly for those reasons – a whole month was a little bit too long.
With our trip along the Adriatic coast last year we just followed the coast, which made planning very easy, but by the time we got to Greece we felt a little bit disorientated and unsure of how to spend the 3-4 days we were able to spend there. And again, we found that 20-25 days would have been enough.
On the other hand we don’t want to lose sight of the best experiences we’ve had so far, and more importantly, how these came about: by chance.
The most lasting memories have been of the places, things and people we stumbled upon by chance (like the beach in Sköder, the monument in Shumen, the beaches in Vama Veche or sleeping outside ancient Corinth). If we had been travelling according to a fixed day-by-day plan we would have missed out on a lot of these, and of course there’s also the risk that through precise planning you lose that sense of freedom and adventure altogether.
So what have we decided on so far?
- We’ll be setting off in exactly two weeks on the 30th March in the morning, driving an entire day to arrive in Orléans in central France.
- From there we’ll drive along the Loire valley through Tours to Angers
- Then it’s north to Brittany: Mont Saint Michel and then Roscoff to meet my good friend Pete, who’ll be taking the ferry over from Plymouth.
- Brest will be the last stop in Britanny, then south along the Atlantic coast through Bordeaux and La Rochelle to the Spanish border
- Meeting the camper van friends that we met in Romania in Irun in Basque country
- The heading east along the Pyrenees through Carcassone to Montepellier
- And then home!
Here’s the latest map …