Holiday Mode / by Lara

  Sunset at Zaragoza vineyard

Sunset at Zaragoza vineyard

Three months to the day since we left the UK and started our drive around Europe. In these three months we’ve learnt a huge amount about the van, each other and how to sustain a balanced and positive outlook. We’ve learnt how much stress the van can withstand, in terms of hours on the road as well as roads we really should be avoiding in this heavy beast, and of course we now know the answers to “Is that creaking sound okay?” and “That clunk that just happened, that’s nothing right?” We’ve learnt that depending on the weather we tackle different tasks and chores; there’s no point in doing laundry when it’s pissing it down, and we get it done first thing if the suns out, who wants to miss the day? When the weathers not so great we tidy the van, maybe review some places online, and try and write a blog! We still need to work on the tidying of the van but we’re both messy creatures and you got me, I bought way too much stuff. We also split the jobs that need doing and have certain roles in the van that we undertake.

We are continually learning how to live in a confined space with each other. So far so good, I’m going to give a lot of credit to Paul for it being so harmonious because he’s super chilled most of the time. The biggest factor in us having a happy home is because we actually really like each other, it’s not just about being in love, we have a mutual respect that keeps us balanced and grounded. It’s all pretty perfect.

So by all accounts we are winning. You’d think wouldn’t you, but no, we are struggling with something that could make or break this trip that we really need to get a handle on… Our budget. We are still in holiday mode; we’re still making allowances for spending on this or that. But we aren’t on holiday, we live in Claude and have a plan to spend at least a year living and travelling through Europe. At the rate we’re going, we won’t make it to Christmas.

  Claude parked up at the vineyard

Claude parked up at the vineyard

We spent far too long on the Mediterranean and far too long staying at campsites with showers and pools and other luxuries we just can’t afford. Our plan was to wild camp and as much as possible and from all our research it’s very easy to do so in Europe, what I failed to read was that along the Med there is very little leniency with wild camping and a campsite every few miles who charge extortionate rates during the school summer holidays. What I also neglected to realise when planning this trip is that I’ve turned into a bit of a scaredy cat and don’t want to get into trouble, and rumour has it there is more of a van culture in the Basque Country.

So we fled the Med and headed North. We stumbled upon a lovely family run Vineyard just outside Zaragoza, which was free for the two nights we stayed. We also stopped at an incredible cliff top car park in San Sebastián, that was also free but that’s not the only thing we were spending money on. I love food, and in Spain and certainly San Sebastián you have some incredible chefs, restaurants and food; you can’t go into a bar without glaring at the counter full of pintxos or tapas options that would compliment that beer so nicely. You go online and type in San Sebastián and the majority of hits will be food related. Whether it’s learning about all the Michelin stars and regional seafood on offer or the markets you must venture to. I am determined to get out of holiday mode though. 

  San Sebastián coastline

San Sebastián coastline

For me, cooking a bean chilli in the van would be outrageously offensive to the food that is on offer in this City or so I tell myself. I have to weigh up the predicament I am in, a glorious meal with a price tag out of my range or a fairly delicious, within budget meal that will keep me from starving. It is a real struggle and I need to reign myself in If we are to see more of Europe than just Spain.   

Any suggestions on how to keep costs low would be greatly appreciated, and hopefully by the next blog we will have tightened our purse strings to enable more travelling and then more blogs!