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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Vintage travel: Traveling France in a Camper Van - Page 2

Written by Fiona McArdell
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On The Roadsm

However, the beauty of traveling in a classic vehicle far outweighed the odd low spot. Wherever we drove or stopped people waved, beeped and flocked around us. We were mini celebrities in each town with locals and tourists alike asking for photos in front of the van and wanting to know our story. At the campsites we were guaranteed to be the only split screen and were yet again the center of attention. Our puppy, desperate to get away from the crowds of people, started hiding underneath the van, and it was then, as she crawled out covered in oil that we discovered we had an oil leak. Luckily our mechanic had advised how hard it would be to find non synthetic classic car oil on the continent so we had planned ahead and bought a five liter can of classic car 20w50 oil. We therefore found ourselves four days into the trip using a food funnel to top up the oil morning and afternoon.

The thrill of overtaking a cyclist, after hours of being over taken by everything from mopeds to trucks and tractors proved to be one of the highlights of the trip, maybe you had to be there, but our whoops of delight at actually being faster than another road vehicle still brings a smile to my face.

We arrived in the Genoa campsite three days before our ferry crossing and settled in for a mini-break before the ten hour crossing to our new home in Sardinia. Unfortunately, our arrival coincided with one of the biggest thunderstorms we had ever encountered; being in a campsite surrounded by trees and in a vehicle which is effectively a tin can, was scary to say the least. It was inevitable our awning didn’t make it through the night and collapsed under the sheer force of the storm flooding all our possessions and traumatizing our pup. That coupled with me standing barefoot on a hedgehog in the middle of the night ensured that the end of our road trip didn’t disappoint on the drama front.

Capa Caccia Sardinia

Despite the frequent overheating, the twice daily oil top ups, the five hour breakdown in a town no one could locate and the frustrating inability to negotiate tight bends, the trip was something neither of us will forget. The pace of our travels through France allowed us to take in and appreciate the sheer beauty of the countryside and the friendliness of the locals wherever we went never failed to amaze us. We were advised against using the free campsites or aires because of fears of vandalism but on a couple of occasions we ignored this advice and came to no harm. In fact, one free aire was in the shadow of a beautiful chateau which we would never have seen if we had stuck to the main roads and didn’t deviate from our route.

Destination Reached Algehro

We both learned patience from our road trip, with each other but more importantly with the journey to our destination. The adventure was in the trip itself, not in our move abroad, and the trip lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, after five weeks on the road without problems, within a week of arriving in Alghero, Sardinia my beautiful van was vandalized – losing the VW badge, a wing mirror, the original metal AA badge and the wiper blade… But that, as they say, is another story!

With a bit of patience and a willingness to abandon premade plans and time scales, road tripping in a vintage camper is one of the most fun experiences I have had and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again …

Alghero Sunset 1 

©Fiona McArdell

Twitter: @FionaMcArdell


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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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