Eleven month! We are on the road since almost a year! In our eleventh month on the road as a vanlife family, we crossed the broder to France and managed to get the quiet life back … after a few rather challenging weeks.
Our eleventh month started off in Portugal at one of our favorite beaches ever, took us all the way through central Spain and ended in southern France, where we are right now!
We had very, very good time during our last days in Portugal; we had found this wonderful beach with loads of small pools for the kids to play in, we went to Braga and Bom Jesus, and we fell in love with northern Portugal and the authenticity of this area (it’s our favorite area to be honest!).
However, we had decided beforehand to leave Portugal around July 15 and so we did … we crossed the border at the coast to get an idea of what Galicia is like. Initially, we had planned to spend quite some time in Galicia, but with the very strict corona action plan in Spain, we rather wanted to leave the country again as fast as possible.
Spain really is SO beautiful! The landscape is breathtaking – but we didn’t get to enjoy it as much as we wanted to. In Spain in Summer 2020 we had to wear a mask whenever outside; even in the middle of nowhere. We saw the police several times every single day, driving around and check on people.
They got us once when we walked on a road surrounded by fields with no other people around and not even houses around – and they told us to put on our masks. We were lucky that we didn’t get charged the fee of 250€ (I guess it was because we made them understand that we a tourists, not knowing anything).
Well, walking around at 41°C in central Spain where there is hardly any wind with a cotton mask over nose and mouth is no fun.
So we drove quite a lot. We mananged to go through the almost 1000 km from Gallicia to the Pyreenes in not even two weeks; which is extremely fast for us.
The time in Spain was a little bit of a challenge; the presence of the police made us all a little tense and the fact that we weren’t able to move around as freely as usual (without wearing a mask) wasn’t good for our mood.
Then, after only a day in Spain, we actually got into a bush fire. We drove on the motor way and suddenly we saw all these extinguishing airplanes and helicopters. We wondered where the fire was; as suddenly we saw a burning tree right next to our motor home; and then a buring forest just a few meters away. On the other side of the motor way another forest burned; and the firemen were alongside the road on both sides of the motor way. It was an experience that I prefer not to have again in my life. The heat, the smoke, but before all of that; seeing all these beautiful trees die!
Moments like that remind us that all that counts in this life is to be good to our planet. If we continue with our excess-lifestyles this bush fire in Spain was certainly not the last one that I will witness during my lifetime.
We also had our first flat tire in Spain. We drove A LOT and it was HOT and both together was simply too much for one of our tires.
As we didn’t manage to fix the issue ourselves, we called the ADAC and waited three hours for them to arrive. In the meantime Alicia and Eduardo showed up (in the middle of nowhere; 20km in each direction to the next village) and even though we weren’t able to talk to each other, we managed together to change the tire. When we were almost done, the ADAC arrived, charged us 100€ and left again.
We don’t care about the money and the ADAC being not as useful, as we thought it is; but what we will forever remember from that evening are Alicia and Eduardo; this young Spanish couple being so kind, helping us in the heat!
On our way we still got the chance to see a lot: Valldolid, a beautiful city in central Spain, Aranda, the Rio Lobos national park, the Mont Rebei canyon, and the wonderful lake Pantà de Sant Antoni with it’s warm water (perfect pool for the kids!).
The Mont Rebei canyon was definetly our highlight and we had a lovely four hours hike there.
And then we were suddenly back in the Pyrenees!
It’s been somehow so strange to be back here … we crossed the border somewhere in a small village, no police control, nothing. And suddenly we were in France; where our journey began last year! Well okay, it began in Germany and we went through Holland and Belgium before France, but it FEELS like it was in France where it all began.
We felt so relieved! Mainly because we were free to walk around without mask; but also because we managed to make it through Spain, because we actually made it to FRANCE! I don’t even know why but it felt so special to us. It felt like we had returned home already.
For the first time on this journey we’ve been to places that we had been to BEFORE, that we had been to last year! We stopped at the same Super U to wash clothes where we washed our clothes last year.
But we still needed a week before fully arriving in France. We still felt the tension of the past two weeks in Spain and we were looking for a place to stay a few nights to just calm down and relax. But we didn’t in the first place. After two nights in the Pyrenees (and a bath in a hot spring) we decided to go to the beach and find us a nice place there.
However, the French Mediterrean coast isn’t the Portuguese Atlantic coast and we weren’t able to find a quiet spot. So we continued and finally found a wonderful vineyard in the Camargue where we parked between pine trees and horse paddocks.
Here, for the first time in two weeks, we really felt like letting go and calming down. It was wonderful! And after that stop we found an even nicer spot close to Avignon where we now park next to a village park and the Rhone river. There is a playground some fifty meters from our door, we have our hammock out since four days and we just enjoy being here for a bit.
We spend our days working and playing with the kids, watching the sunsets at the Rhone, dipping our feet in river, getting ice cream in the village’s small mini-market, and just enjoying being here.
It feels really good right now.
For the past four weeks we’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that this journey is now slowly coming to an end; we had all kinds of emotions about it. Now, that we only have some five weeks left, we somehow went through all possible emotions and managed to get back into the moment.
We fixed the travel plans for when we arrive in Germany (we will meet people almost every day 😀 ), we arranged where to park when we arrive in Leipzig, we organized what needs to get organized … and now we just enjoy these last two weeks in France as a vanlife family – for just a few more weeks!