We were definitely on a high after meeting friends in Amsterdam to celebrate our first 12 months of full time travel. Although it was difficult at times, we have absolutely loved travelling around Europe in our motorhome, Stevie. Visiting 20 countries in those 12 months was something we never thought we’d be able to do, it’s changed our lives, our whole persepctive on life and our priorities. We are so glad we took the plunge and did it.
After Amsterdam our vague plan was to explore a bit more of the Netherlands then head south through Germany towards Switzerland, onto northern Italy then slowly make our way back to Spain as it got colder and then finally to Portugal for the winter. We started well by visiting beautiful Apeldoorn and Giethoorn, which had both been on our lists for a while. The weather was starting to turn more Autumnal and even more worrying was news that covid numbers were on the increase again. We had planned to meet our friend Petra (& her young daughter who had been born since we had left Jersey) in Germany on her way back to Jersey from the Czech Republic but with covid numbers rising & countries closing their borders and restricting movement again, her plans kept changing so we decided to take our time driving down through Germany… and we are very glad that we did.
Germany is such an interesting country with a wide variety of natural landscapes. With huge cities like Munich and Berlin, the German countryside is often overlooked. We’d already fallen in love with the Black Forest and southern Germany last year but there was even more to see! The last throws of summer brought with it a heatwave as we headed south through Osnabrück then Düsseldorf so our main priority was finding water to swim in, which we did in the most wonderful lakes and rivers. On through Koblenz then onto the (now) second longest suspension bridage in the world; the Geierlay Bridge. It is situated in the low mountain range of the Hunsrück, in western Germany. It was opened in 2015 & at the time was the longest suspension bridge in the world, overtaken by the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, in Switzerland, in 2017. It has a span range of 360 metres (1,180 ft) and is up to 100 metres (330 ft) above ground. On one side of the bridge is the village of Mörsdorf and the other Sosberg. We stayed overnight in the car park at Mörsdorf, paying €18 for overnight parking & electric hook up. They also have water/toilet emptying & filling facilities there, as you exit the car park. The village itself is very small but really sweet & the walk through the forest to the bridge is nice too. We went to the bridge for sunset, which gave us a fantastic view over the valley as the sun was setting and the sky lit up but it also meant a walk and cycle back through the forest in the dark (not our greatest decision!). Due to covid restrcitions the numbers of people allowed on the bridge at one time were greatly reduced, which suited us fine. It was still busy but we found that to be much better.
We continued on toward Heidelberg, one of my Mum’s favourite places in Germany. She loves the quaint old town and the permanent Christmas shops, as did we, but we also found a more modern, cool Heidelberg. Using the Park4night app we found a perfect parking spot right next to the river Neckar, which also happened to be directly next to a skate park that had been built under the bridge. To many people a night next to a noisy skate park surrounded by graffiti probably doesn’t sound ideal but it felt safe and the people congregating there were friendly. We relaxed on a manmade beach with a takeaway and drinks from a kiosk at the riverside (only non alcoholic drinks sold here) watching people coming and going past on their bikes as the sun set over the river. The following day we took the bikes out into the town and visited the historic sites including more bridges and the castle. It really is a beautiful place and one we’d love to go back to.
We continued to head south passing through Münzesheim and Ulm when we had an unexpected message from fellow motorhome travellers Claire & Sam from Next Stop Everywhere. They were on their way back north and, if we took a little diversion, we could meet up with them in Lichtenstein. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss so we drove down through Austria and met them, high up in the mountains in Lichtenstein. We had only planned to hang around and say “hi” for a few hours, before continuing our journey to Switzerland, but we got on really well so stopped for the night. We had great fun playing games, swapping travel stories and eating delicious food (thanks Claire!) when the next day, the whole area was covered in a thick layer of snow! It was magical. Our short stay turned into two days with fantastic new friends and memories of snow covered mountains. Exactly the kind of things we love about travelling in a motorhome full time!
The following day we parted ways and we continued on to Switzerland, our first stop was Zug, next to the Zug see, to see a friend I hadn’t seen for 10 years! We spent a night next to the stunning lake and the next day we met up for lunch and to catch up with my friend, Melanie. In the meantime, our friend Petra, had been given the all clear to leave Czech Republic now and was heading back across Germany to Jersey so we arranged to drive back up, only a few hours away, to meet up with her in Löwenstein. It all seemed pretty simple. She had a LONG drive ahead of her, with a toddler and we just had to meet her in the middle. What we hadn’t factored in was the Swiss police. Our 5 hour journey turned into 2 very stressful days as we were pulled over by the police, 20 minutes from the German border, and for the first time ever we were weighed. Unfortunately for us, we were overweight and that meant hours waiting at the weighstation and a huge fine. After 6 hours & unburdening ourselves of excess weight, we were finally allowed to continue our journey onto Germany where we finally met up with Petra (& her daughter) the following day. Thankfully, Petra had booked us all an air bnb for 2 days where we could relax and enjoy each others company without worrying about the motorhome or anything else. It was so good to be together again and finally meet her wonderful daughter. Friends really are what we miss most whilst travelling.
Our plan had been to head south again, back through Switzerland and through northern Italy for a few days before driving back through southern France then further south to Spain but, since we’d already had enough trouble in Switzerland and covid numbers were on the increase again, we changed our plans and decided to head straight down to Spain to see our friends near Barcelona, whilst we still could. After a service from José at Cactus garage and a few days spent seeing our friends again, our spirits were lifted so continued on, north back up the coast where we met up with more full time motorhomers Suzy & David from Midlife Migration. Again, we got on so well immediately and spent 2 days with them in the picturesque mountains of Villanova del Sau. Little did we know that we would be seeing them again sooner than we thought… Friends really are what make our lives so wonderful ❤
Covid really was making full time travel life more difficult and with Brexit looming in just 3 months, would we be able to continue much longer? Would Portugal hold the answer or would more restrictions complicate things even further?
Covid certainly was making full time travel life more difficult and didn’t look to be going away soon. With Brexit looming in just 3 months and covid back again, would this be the end of our travels? Would Portugal bring us what we were looking for? Here’s what happened next…