As we are having a rest day today, I thought I would do a what-do-we-think-of-it-so far, blog.
This is the office, the secretary is having a kip with her bed-wetting dog before she has to do the editing.
The driving part is a piece of cake. I thought I would be at a big disadvantage being a right hand drive and driving on the right, but it really is no probs ... as on the narrow lanes I can get a fag paper width away from my side much easier. When overtaking I leave it till we get to specific overtaking lanes, but let's face it we don't overtake much!
Roundabouts are OK - just don't trust them as they often are in the wrong lane, but my Aussie driving experience puts me in good stead as they are always in the wrong lane!
The van is going superbly and is easy as a car to drive. I am incredibly comfortable in my driving armchair, I could drive for hours, but Elaine gets more tired than me.
So far we have bought everything with us that we need to hook up to Euro elecs and water. The gas is still going well so hopefully we will have enough for our trip, but if we run out we will worry about that then.
We have really enjoyed staying at the Aires sites, the obvious reason being they are either free or up to 6 Euros for a night. Some are just a park for the night, some have water, toilets, showers and 240 hookup. The Aires books are a must if you intend travelling through Europe and you don't want to stay in a campsite every night.
Unfortunately you have to buy an Aires book for each country - we were luck and have been given all ours. We have also got auto route on the pc which gives us a massive list of wild camping sites, Lidl supermarkets and of course Maccas!
Motrorhome or Caravan??? For Europe if you want to tour it must be a motorhome. Caravans are not welcome at the Aires sites! I think if you were driving straight to Spain, Portugal or France and were staying in a couple of spots a caravan would be good. We are in a proper site at the moment and there are a lot of caravans, they bring so much stuff with them, including the kitchen sink! A lot of them all light up their vans and awnings at night like bloody Christmas trees. Each to their own, to me it's far too much of a work up, we can be up and off in 20-30 mins whereas the caravanners spend a day setting up and packing up.
What I have noticed is that heaps of the motorhomes have a scooter on the back, which is a fantastic way to get into town as you can park them anywhere. If we end up keeping the van I would definitely get a bike, but would probably have to get a small trailer as we would go overweight for sure, as I am sure most of the motorhomes are. Oh and it would have to be a motorbike, I don't think I could do a scooter!
Of the places we have seen so far, the most impressive has been Northern Spain and the West Coast of Portugal. There were very few tourists, very little English spoken and absolutely no Watney's Red Barrel.
The Algarve is very pretty with superb beaches, but we are struggling a bit with the English and Irish themed pubs, all day English breakfast etc. But I can absolutely see why they do it ... the average pommie tourist loves England but knows that most summers the weather is crap, so they want all the home comforts but in the sun. Gawd the other night we went to an Indian restaurant for some comfort food, but up till then we have been on a very fishy, salad and fruit diet.
Tomorrow we are definitely heading back inland to get a taste for the real Portugal before cutting back to the coast and heading for Spain.
How does this compare with narrowboating.......it doesn't, you cant compare the two. The only like factor is that the dunny is identical and we are always looking for water! This is a lot easier, for me and the co-pilot, the maintenance factor is virtually zero. I am just so grateful that we have had the opportunity to do both.
Elaine just reminded me.....yesterday we were listening to an Algarve radio station, it was an English programme with an English DJ. The adverts were for companies who specialise in bringing goods to and from the UK, they will bring your favourite things from Tesco, Boots. Screwfix and John Lewis etc!! It's a small world.