- We love to travel
- At the moment, we are in southern Finland in the middle of nowhere.
- How can it be that it’s already mid-September??
- Exploring Europe full-time, converting a campervan, and working on the road is a LOT.
- We feel guilty for keeping you in the dark for so long
From Iceland to Norway
From Iceland, we flew to Oslo in Norway in October (did I just write October? ). It was on the way and was a cheap and short flight.
Oslo surprised us. We had no ideas and, as always, no plan when we explored this city. I particularly liked the opera, which was build like a glacier.
It seems the opera rises straight out of the water like an iceberg. On the opposite side, sauna huts swam along the harbor wall. While sweating at 100 degrees C, we had a breathtaking view of the sea and the opera. Although Oslo was much warmer than Iceland, we longed for the sun and sea again.
So we flew on to Turkey to explore the western part with a rental car. We started in mysterious Istanbul, which we explored on foot and with our taste buds. From Istanbul, we went to Cappadocia, where we walked in the shadow of thousands of balloons between the world-famous “fairy chimneys”. From this “land of horses,” we continued south, where we explored the Mediterranean coast to the west. We had some coves to ourselves. In November, vacationers and locals had already left this dreamy area. We hiked on the Lycian hiking trail and in the footsteps of ancient cultures. In old Telmessos (today’s Fethiye), we experienced terrific days on lonely white sandy beaches.
Turkey in three words: Magical, Eclectic, Hospitable.
We went to Austria, plagued by the lockdown, to have a new passport issued. There we spontaneously bought a Van (VW Crafter) – unseen. All this in 72 hours. It was the first time we experienced Covid restrictions. We couldn’t escape it fast enough. With our new vehicle, we then went to the southwest of France.
"An adventure for 72h: New passport and a car purchase in our first Covid19 lockdown country"
While caring for a 14th-century country estate and 13 sheep, we set about turning the Van into a new home.
When we weren’t building the van or working our jobs, we explored the completely untouristy surrounding area. The estate was situated halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse and featured medieval Xmas bazaars and local markets. Everything was bought here. Meat from the butcher, vegetables from the market, and bread from the baker in the neighboring village.
We experienced some fantastic stories. One of them was when a dog suddenly accompanied us on our walk on Christmas Eve. He didn’t leave our side. The search for the owner was an adventure with friendly people, all in Christmas spirit, and of course, a happy ending. We went west along the Mediterranean coast in the still young new year 2022.
The south of Spain
The south of Spain was sunny and probably one of the ugliest stretches of coast we had ever seen.
Concrete structures lined every square inch of what was probably once a beautiful coastline.
We stopped in Marbella, rented a small apartment, and continued to build on our new home. We explored much of the countryside during this time. We were astounded about the surprisingly cold south of Europe. We continued to Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea ended and the Atlantic Ocean began.
The concrete buildings also suddenly disappeared and made way for a beautiful coast. We followed this further to Portugal, where we rented a small hut on the property of a German family.
"the Portugal experience: Medieval castles, cobblestone villages, captivating cities and golden beaches on a stunning shoreline"
The north of Spain
Galicia. A unique region with its own language and distinctive culture. Home of Santiago de Compostela, the destination of more than a quarter of a million people who travel the Camino de Santiago each year. But Galicia is much more than just Santiago.
The wild and desolate coastline is dotted with cliffs, beaches, islands, and fishing ports along its 1200km length – arguably bringing in some of the finest seafood in Europe. I’m talking about the barnacles here.
The interior is a maze of deep green valleys dotted with stone villages, medieval monasteries, and ancient vineyards. Camping free with our Rusty was also possible again without any problems.
From Galicia, we went straight to Asturias, the only part of Spain that the Muslims never conquered. As some locals here claim, Asturias is the real Spain: the rest is simply “tierra de reconquista”, meaning reconquered land. In the national parks, we hiked alone in deserted regions, saw wild horses, and enjoyed the untouched nature of this region. The Basque Country was just as beautiful. Here we explore the cosmopolitan cities of Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastián. Roamed Pamplona without bulls and visited abandoned magic towns.
We spent my birthday on June 4th in a coastal town near Biarritz, where friends from Alsace came to visit us. The French coast fascinated us with its diversity. In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, there is one seaside resort after another dedicated to surfing in the wild Atlantic. Pays de la Loire further north surprised us with a little heat wave and a taste of the summer that was yet to torture southern Europe. In Brittany (Brittany), we ate galettes and hiked the wild dramatic coast.
For us, Normandy was a sign of Europe’s rich and cruel past that took place here.
"France is for explorers. It seduces travelers with everything: beaches, Mountains, Lakes, Oceans, and wonderful people."
We briefly and intensely experienced Belgium, the following country on the coast. The picturesque Ghent fascinated us like the touristy Brugge a few years before. Antwerp, the busy port city, welcomed us with a lot of multiculturalism and said goodbye with a big fire at the university. Terrible accident.
We explored Zeeland in the Netherlands and spent Nina’s birthday on July 5th in a picturesque village surrounded by nature. We explored Rotterdam and its gigantic harbor, and Amsterdam welcomed us from its most beautiful side. We had the opportunity to explore still unknown parts of this crazy city.
From there, we continued via Bremen to Hamburg. Where we extensively explored the Hanseatic city and the surrounding areas. It wasn’t difficult to fall in love with the lovely landscape of Lüneburg Heath and this peaceful area’s friendly and generous people.
"The friendliness in this city and the surrounding area is amazing."
From there, it was only a short distance from Sylt to Denmark, where we could watch a tank exercise on the beach in Westerland. A surreal experience when a dozen tanks rumbled past hundreds of sunbathers on their sun loungers with a loud noise. We continued west via Odense, the home of Hans Christian Anders, and then over the big bridge Storebæltsforbindelsen, where Copenhagen and the Karen Blixen Museum awaited us further north.
"Hygge is social nirvana in Denmark: a sense of cosiness, camaraderie and contentment"
With a tiny and unexpectedly very expensive ferry, we crossed to the Swedish west coast, where we could experience Gothenburg. We were also in the first country where “wild camping” was still allowed. So park “anywhere”, get your chairs, tents, BBQ, and whatever out of the car and make yourself comfortable on the side of the road, on the lake shore, or a stretch of sea. And that’s exactly what one billion German vacationers thought too. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here.
After a few days, we were already in Norway. We visited Oslo for the second time in a year of travel and were again amazed at the beautiful city. From there, we started our Norway experience, which you can read more about here soon! At the end of August, we said goodbye to beautiful and adventurous Norway and drove east.
"The essence of Norway's appeal is remarkably simple: this is one of the most beautiful countries on earth."
We always crossed Sweden in an easterly direction until we reached Stockholm. A ferry took us across the Baltic Sea to Turku in Finland in just 11 hours. We have been enjoying a little cottage in the middle of nowhere for a few days, surrounded by sunflower fields, forests, and lakes.
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