So things have been quiet over here for a while, but that is mostly due to all the crazy things that have been happening, not due to lack of things to do. These last few weeks have been sorta (very!) crazy and we are just finally sorting out some thoughts and feels about whats happened and what is happening.
I've given a quick point form summary for those of you with a short attention span for blogs (like me):
- We put out boat up for sale
- Our boat had a lot of interest
- Sailed boat to Florida for easier viewing/selling
- Sold boat
- Wondered what to do next
- Had some spare cash and time
- Bought plane tickets to Europe
- Found our sailing friends in Germany
- Bought a caravan/trailer and a car in Germany
- Took off to see as much of Europe as we can before Christmas.
I have talked a bit about our reasons for selling the boat here, but I can mention them again.
There wasn't a pressing reason for us to sell the boat, as in we didn't like it anymore, or kids were sick or anything. Truth be told, some of the magic had worn off, but we were still usually having a good time. The main reason was that we were in the Bahamas and it was coming up to hurricane season and we really didn't want to park the boat for 3 months. It would mean paying a lot of money to let her sit, and then what to do with us? We felt like our timeline only had about 4-5 months left and we didn't feel it made sense to waste 3 of those months paying out the nose and moving the boat in and out of the water.
This adventure with the boat has ALWAYS been a temporary endeavour. My hat is off to the families who do this long term, but we knew fairly soon in our adventure that this lifestyle was not a forever thing for us.
We felt our timeline was changed a little with the path we took while sailing, which was fine, but it did have it's constraints. So instead of flying home early (which we really weren't ready to do), we took what we had leftover and stretched the plan a little further.
We've always wanted to explore Europe: I mean, who doesn't? We understood what it took to pack up a life and move across the continent, and we didn't feel up to doing that again anytime soon, so we figured: we already know how to live small and slightly nomadic - let's just convert that to caravan camping!
It sounds easy, right? It sounds like a perfect plan, right? Well, as anyone who has ever made a somewhat large and hasty plan will tell you: it's never that easy.
There was about 1.3 million hiccups with the boat sale, and then about the same while trying to find/buy a car/caravan. We had a stressful few weeks where we really looked at each other and said "we've just made the stupidest mistake of our lives".
Thank goodness for hindsight. I mean, we're ok. Looking back now, there wasn't a whole lot we could have done differently. Life is just complicated. Uprooting is complicated. Travelling is complicated.
We knew what we wanted to do, it was just a bit tougher to get there and start doing it.
The best part about all this stressful time was that we were with our German sailing friends (who are home for the summer in Germany, returning in the early fall
back to the boat!) in their home. They had lots of space for us and mountains of patience. It was a gift.
Our first week was wiped out by jet-lag and we weren't quite ourselves. We had to shop for new clothes for a new season (I mean it's summer, but it ain't the Caribbean!), keep an eye on our Schengen visa days, make a travel plan, buy a car/caravan plus insurances. Oh, and all of that in Germany where they speak German.
Yeah, we would have been lost without our friends. Literally, lost. We worried for a while that we overstayed our welcome, but our good friends believed in us and pushed us from the start to get the ball rolling and not to quit (when we really felt like we should). I'm glad we didn't quit. It's been worth it now.
A friend reminded me that even back home, with school drop off or a 9-5 job, there is still drama and still hair-pulling stress and still times when you want to quit. It's all the same, just a different scenario. Everything was new in our scenario which makes it hard, but with some help and encouragement, we figured it out.
We bought a Toyota Rav4 Diesel (2001) and a Dethleffs 4.6m caravan. Neither are too new or shiny, but they both do the trick quite nicely. I'm having issues posting the right photos right now (wobbly wifi), but keep an eye on Instagram for up to date shots.
And now, we are one month into our caravan Europe adventure. We have seen a bit of Germany, then we were off to the Netherlands, and then took the ferry to the UK. We are currently in Scotland.
Things we have loved:
- food is excellent and cheap (a litre yogurt for $0.75? Hello!)
- seeing the country via car feels like we really get to properly see places
- travelling at our own pace
- having a warm and dry place to sleep no, matter what
Things that have been a struggle:
- new road rules (nasty parking tickets in the NL and driving on the left side of the road in the UK in a left hand drive vehicle. Special sort of torture)
- finding the right place to camp
- not going crazy with 4 people in a tiny camper.
We're still happy to be on this adventure but we both take turns being homesick. There are still a lot of question marks in our future, but we're trying to be present where we are and not to worry about our futures back home. Right now, it works to plan one week at a time.
This week, we are in Scotland, maybe heading north from Edinburgh and eventually coming back down the english coast on the west side (as we went up the east side).
On that note, if you have suggestions of places to visit in the UK or Belgium or France of Italy, PLEASE let us know. Either comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.