Caravanning in Europe During School Holidays!
It's Michael here, Monica's husband. I'm getting in on the blog action! Going to talk about our holidays during the school holiday period.
It has always been a dream of my wife and I (and kids) to travel across Europe with a caravan, seeing as many different countries as we can and experiencing European life. We have both been to the “standard” European destinations, like Southern Spain, Ibiza, the Canary Islands, Majorca, Greece etc. etc. but we wanted to get past all that and see what Europe is really like, to see those little villages in mountain regions, the small seaside towns and the vast amounts of countryside that the continent has to offer.
The first thing we had to do was think about what caravan to have. We decided with a caravan over a motorhome because of the fact we can leave the caravan in a place and then go exploring in a car, something that we may not have been able to do with a cumbersome motorhome. It would be much easier to get around in a more nimble vehicle like a car. So the next question was the size and make of caravan to go for. We had heard some good stuff about Swift caravans, a number of family members have owned or own one and have a lot of good things to say, so I decided to go on their website, http://www.swiftgroup.co.uk/
Now I don’t know if you have ever looked into buying a new caravan, but they are rather expensive if you want a decent model. £10K plus for the kind of vans the wife and I were admiring. Now that would have been a large chunk of our budget, so the obvious thought pattern was to go for something used, a second-hand caravan. That way we could get a van that met our desires, whilst saving some all-important funds that we could spend whilst we were actually on our travels. I don’t have much experience of buying second-hand caravans, so I asked a friends and family for some pointers. After some con-flab and a bit of google-ing, I found a great site to search for caravans, http://www.for-sale.co.uk/caravans. We ended up finding a nice looking caravan that was quite local to us and well within our budget, so we were very happy!!
To start off the trip we decided to go to a country that is very close yet neither of us had visited before; Belgium. After a bit of research we found there are a lot of campsites as well some beautiful little towns and cities. Our favourite city was Bruges. We found it to be more peaceful than Brussels and a hell of a lot prettier. The food in Brussels was very good though we discovered! Other highlights were Ghent and Antwerp. We enjoyed the overall culture of Belgium very much, and the locals were mostly very friendly.
As we had both previously been to Amsterdam (in our youth of course) we decided to take the next part of our trip through Luxembourg and then into Germany. Luxembourg was stunning, but we were only there for a couple of nights and wanted to get on with the big drive through Germany and onto Austria. We drove through Trier, through the outskirts of Saarbrucken, then through Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Munich and then through the border to Innsbruck. We both really enjoyed the drive through the German countryside. It was just so beautiful. We then particularly liked Munich. Was a great atmosphere in the city and again the food here was simply delicious. I’ve never eaten so many sausages in my life! And drunk so much beer. Those steins are just TOO big.
Austria was very beautiful. We had an idea about what it would look like but our breath was taken away when we saw just how pretty it was. The mountains are huge and the valleys are so green in between. Then you have the vivid and vibrant blue lakes that cut through the scenery so beautifully. We both said we could picture living there at some point in the future! Then there was the amazing food and coffee in Vienna. Austria had become our new favourite place.
To be a little bit different, the next stage of our trip would be through Austria down to Slovenia. A country that I’d not heard much about, it benefits a lot with its borders to Austria and the amazing alpine vistas. The weather here was very good, we didn’t know it had such a good year-round climate! We got to see the beautiful forests in the Triglav National Park, and the castle in Predjama is one of the most awesome buildings I have ever seen. We were going to head to Croatia also but we just enjoyed Slovenia too much, and there is always next time.
We took a slightly different route on the way back home but still through the same countries. Initially we were going to sell the caravan when we returned but we have fallen in love with caravan holidays and we are already planning our next trip abroad, in 2016. We want to see a lot more of Europe so we are both looking to get a month off work!!!