Its’s been three months since we moved into our camper van! Can you believe that? Three months as a vanlife family! Today I am sharing how things went from the end of the second month until the end of the third month …
After two months on the road, we finally got that feeling of actually arriving in our new life. We left that constant rain weather at the Atlantic coast behind us and continued our way through the beautiful Pyrenee mountains. One sunny day we drove a little deeper into the mountains and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by snow! There were some 15 cm of fresh snow around us, sparkling in the sunshine! Our girl was over the moon and we all jumped out the camper van to build a snowman and roll around in the snow. Since the sun was shining, it was still warm outside and we had a really wonderful day. Later that same day we drove a few kilometers back and left the snow behind.
We really enjoyed the Pyrenees a lot and we didn’t regret leaving the Atlantic ocean behind us for even a minute.
Although our motor home weighs 4.5 tons and is some 8m long, we got through the mountains very well. We stayed a few days in the small town of Duilhac and had some wonderful hikes to old castles and small waterfalls. Finally we actually enjoyed staying in one place – instead of just rushing to the next (in hope for better weather). Finally we slowed down, we got into a rythm of staying in one place for three nights before continuing some 50-100km. Finally we got that feeling of having arrived. We stopped searching for anything. From our third month on we began to just BE. Just here. That’s all.
We stayed at the Spanish border for a few days, drove over to Spain and then back again to France, walked in the footsteps of Walter Benjamin through Port Bou, drove a bit into the mountains to go hiking again and then back to the sea to play in the sand. As we passed the border on the coast back to France, we were stopped by the border police for the first time for a passport control. Nothing else happend, the police was friendly and I had all our passports ready to hand. For our girl however, this was still a very exciting moment and she played border control for the rest of the day.
Spain welcomed us much nicer this time around (compared to last time): in the small town of Peralada everyone greeted us kindly, and our girl got a free vegan croissant every time we went to the bakery to buy bread. We fell in love with this cute little village but decided to move on anyway after a few days. We still wanted to go further south so we drove alongside the Costa Brava for a while. We kept our pace and always spent three nights in one place. This rythm allowed us to truly enjoy the spots, to take a deep breath, to work with no rush, and to actually just sit in the sun with a book for the first time since we started our vanlife!
We really enjoyed the Costa Brava with its cliffs, orange rocks and clear water. However, we we’ve been really happy to visit in winter, because in summer it must be so crowded here! On the campsites (which are all closed at this time of the year) there are up to 4000 people per site! And there is like one campsite next to the other, more or less along the entire coast. Now in December it is quiet and beautiful and you can actually enjoy the beach promenades almost all by yourself.
We weren’t really getting into that Christmas mood though. We tried by making an Advent calendar for our girl and by celebrating the first Sunday of Advent with gingerbread and a Christmas story. However, with the palm trees and warm temperatures around 20°C we were rather getting more and more into a holiday mood instead of Christmas mood. Also, we had no idea what to do and where to go for Christmas, and we kept postponing the topic.
Instead, we drove further south and eventually left Catalonia. We were now getting closer to Valencia and continued to spend wonderful days here on the beach. We spent two nights on a dune and park on the hard sand … well, not quite that hard anyway; because on arrival we got stuck in the sand and only got out with the help of other campers. Later it was us helping other vans and motorhomes who got stuck. These little difficulties did not make us enjoy the place less! The dune was a beautiful spot to park for a few nights and we had a great time there!
So this is how we experience our little adventures on this journey, which has otherwise been pleasantly quiet so far. We are happy that now, after three months, everything is going smoothly, we have found our routines and created an everyday life on the road. The children sleep well, are in a good mood and get along well, we are (most of the time) relaxed, able to find enough time for ourselves and for us as a couple, and we have loads of good time together as a family. Yes, we somehow finally managed to get things right.
Finally, towards the end of our third month we finally got to know other “Vanlifers”. Even though we have met other people on the road, they were usually locals and didn’t speak German or English – so it was difficult for the kids (and for my husband) to connect. Now we got to know other Germans for the first time; other Germans who, just like us, actually live in a motor home. Finally we’ve been able to exchange experiences, ask questions, and get answers; and our girl was finally able to play proper role games with kids that understand her! After three days of intensive playing she got a fever though, so we decided to take a break from socializing until she is fine again.
The plans for our fourth month – and for our entire trip – are constantly changing. It has been clear for a while now that we will definitely be on the road for 1 ½ years instead of just one year (as initially planned) and we will not be going down to Portugal yet. It is colder and rainier on the Atlantic than here on the Mediterranean and we are still very sensitive to rain after spending two months with hardly any sunshine – so we decided to stay on the Mediterranean until spring, then drive over to Portugal and sometime in early summer 2020 we hit the road for Italy to Slovenia etc. But there is still so much time until then and everything can change a million times in between. We go with the flow and allow life to surprise us.
So here we are now; somewhere in the middle of nowhere at the beach, ready to celebrate my 32th birthday the day after tomorrow, and Christmas two days later. Happy. Sunburned a bit. Grateful a lot.