The first ArchieVan adventure is done.
And we completely loved it.
Wonderful scenery in the German mountains and forests, the Slovenian Triglav National Park, the Dolomites, and even driving through Kent yesterday as the trees turned.
We met some great people.
Ate some great food.
Swam in lovely water.
Marvelled at so many things.
And then we came home and went to The Star – and we knew that we are very lucky indeed.
What would I do differently next time?
Drive fewer miles overall – this is about slowing down and seeing an area properly. The time for that will come. This time there were a few places we were committed to getting to – and they were a long way apart.
Wild camp more – we’ll do lots more of that when everything on the van works.
Cook more – again, this will come. On this trip we were always moving on, often tired, and the temptation of great food at reasonable prices was too much.
Many of the sites we stayed at were special in their own ways. The unnamed one in Hammer, near Simmerath, in Germany’s Eiffel National Park was the most lovely.
Wild camping on the mountain outside Zurs was certainly the coldest night and had the most spectacular views on the odd occasion that the clouds cleared.
I think the art of appreciating travel depends on avoiding the temptation to directly compare places that are often very different.
Although on a long trip there are often areas that you have to drive through that are a bit of a drag, we were lucky on this trip to also have many we’d love to explore more.
The high points for me were the wilds of the Austrian Alps, the drama of the craggy Dolomites, the still beauty of the German forests and the natural joy of pretty much all that we saw in Slovenia.
This had to be parking ArchieVan in Ljubljana.
When your three point turn has more than fifteen points you know you’re in a tight spot. When that fifteen point turn is just to get you to the place from which to then reverse through a gap only a foot wider than the van then you wish you’d got a cab. At any price. But with Minty’s help we pulled it off without breaking a sweat.
Was it the great bed in the van?
Or was it Google Maps combined with a real paper map? Not using a paper map would mean missing out on a huge amount. Combining the two is the ideal solution.
Well, I didn’t learn this on the trip, but I ensure that it’s reinforced whenever I get carried away with the excitement of the new.
And that is the amazing beauty of this place we call home.
It’s all too easy to become over-familiar with home.
To not notice the subtle nuances that make the far west so special.
But as I sit at my desk now, staring out at the back of the Commercial and the decidedly ugly old post office, I know that just down the road is among the best scenery to be found anywhere.
I hope we travel lots. And I hope we’ll always come back to St Just.
The vital statistics.
98 hours of driving.
113 gallons of fuel – 32.6 mpg average.
At an average cost of 1.20 a litre that’s a scary £617 of fuel!
Still, that’s not bad for a beast with the aerodynamics of a wardrobe.
It was so tempting to hit the accelerator and get home faster yesterday, but I was determined to keep our average mpg over 30, and that necessitates keeping under 70mph (as of course does the law).
Appreciate home for a while, after all it’s one of the most beautiful places I know.
Get the van completed.
Plan next trip!
And make this blog into a great source of information for van travellers and those planning their first van adventure.
A huge thank you to everyone who has emailed, sent texts and put messages on blogs. There’s no doubt that the world is more interested in polly than anything else – but she hasn’t mastered typing, so you’ll have to put up with lots of van talk, and the occasional woof!