Blogs headlights, Exploring Europe 2016, Vanlife
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Nomadic feelings

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#1 Taking a Break
It’s been almost 3 months since we left Nantes. We’ve driven 18,489 km through 12 countries, taken more than 8,000 photos, and written more than 65,000 words. We haven’t wasted any time. We’ve seen things, met people, tasted delicacies, tried out activities. We’ve thrown ourselves 100% into this trip and never forget how lucky we are. We’re moving every day, taking roads, ferries, tunnels, and bridges, marking them on our map. But lately we’ve felt the urge to stop, set up camp, take our time, stay more than a few hours or one night at a place. In the first three months of this road trip, we realise there have only been two days when we weren’t driving. We’ve decided to add a third! We’ll find a pretty and welcoming spot and we’ll stay there for one, two or maybe even three days. Before that happens, though, it will have to stop raining and get warmer than 10° because these conditions don’t really lend themselves to curling up in a hammock or sitting on a rock to play the guitar. The cold forces us to stay inside. Since we’re already stuck in the van, we’d rather keep moving. There’s no rest for the weary… but we aren’t giving up hope. Our break is coming soon and you’ll be the first to know about it.

© Bertrand Lawal

© Bertrand Lanneau

#2 Wandering Inspires Dreams of Settling Down
It’s funny how wandering European roads has sharpened our sense of observation. At the same time, our eyes are this trip’s most important tools. They take in the scenery, roads, colours, lights, animals, plants, and houses around us. The houses we see come in all shapes, styles, and ages. Without really mentioning it, we’re creating a secret list of favourites and imagining the house we could have when we get back. Do we want uneven stone or coloured wooden walls, a roof that’s thatched or covered in plants, the geometry of a modern home or the beauty of an old building, a terrace or a picture window, a trampoline or a swing in the garden, a vegetable patch or an orchard, a sauna or a Jacuzzi…? We’re amused by these questions because they’re so disconnected from the nomadic life we’re living right now. But, even from the other side of the continent, we can’t stop envisioning the life that awaits us back home. This imaginary home we’re building might be our next big project. And it will be born from everything we’re seeing and experiencing now as we wander these roads all over Europe.

© Bertrand Lawal

© Bertrand Lanneau

#3 Daily Life in 6 m2 on Wheels
Daylight filters through the gaps in our van Patrick’s curtains, tickling our faces. It’s so lovely to wake up with the sun. No annoying mobile phone alarms or buzzers. We stretch and start our morning routine: Elsa rolls the sheets, folds the bed, and sets out breakfast. Bertrand opens the curtains and puts things away. Habits form quickly even on the go. After downing tea, rusks, and cereal, we look at the map and choose our destination. This is one of the moments we enjoy most. We’re free to go wherever we want. To choose and then take off.
Bertrand drives more often than Elsa because he gets bored as a passenger. Like every couple when they’re driving, the pilot and copilot don’t always agree but that never lasts long. We can stop anywhere and take any detour. “Public toilet” breaks are the most common and if there’s a sink, we use it to wash dishes so we can save our 30L of drinking water.
Our day is filled with visits, excursions, contemplations, and encounters. We talk to a few locals or share a few tips with other travellers. We’re fed by each smile, each accent, each story. It’s important to stay open to others, rather than locking ourselves away in our cocoon on wheels.
When evening comes, we hunt out a spot to sleep. It needs to be quiet, pleasant, and flat so we don’t roll into each other while sleeping. It doesn’t matter whether it’s occupied or not. Fellow travellers would add more faces to our trip. We have our bedtime rituals, as well. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the golden rule for van life. In Patrick’s narrow but comfortable bed, we aren’t missing anything. We’re carrying everything we need in this vehicle. We realise a bunch of stuff we thought was useful isn’t really necessary here. We have very little, but it feels like all we need. Good night, everyone.

© Bertrand Lawal

© Bertrand Lanneau

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