All good things must come to an end.
After a difficult night – 4 people in one small bed is never easy. I was awoken by the purring of the engine, around 6am. From the back of the camper, I opened the curtains and found out that we were on the highway and that Nick was driving … in pajamas! He explained to me that he could not sleep anymore, that he had been up since 4:30, and that suddenly he decided to get started on the day with the sleeping family in the back of the vehicle. Yes, I know! This is totally forbidden, and fairly irresponsible, but if you have read my chronicles since the beginning of our trip you know that we have progressively evolved into little rascals (see article day 2 and 6).
Around 7:30 am, the girls woke up and were amazed that their father dared to drive while they were sleeping. More than any other request, the girls constantly asked to go to the bed while we drove and we forbade them to do it. And if you add that their father was driving in pajamas… It was too much for them! This has been marked by a succession of “OH – MY – GOD !!”, “Are you crazy dad?”, “You’re such a pirate”, “What if the police arrested you?”, “And you, mom, nothing to say? “… They were both (allegedly) angry, shocked and completely in awe at the same time. 😀
So we left on the German roads, heading for Belgium, passing through the Netherlands. And so, for those keeping track, you may notice that we didn’t end up visiting Hamburg either at the beginning of the trip or now, nearing its end … but I still managed to convince Nick to make a stop in Münster for the lunch. It was a sort of pilgrimage for me. I went to this city on a school trip, when I was 13 or 14 years old, and I had excellent memories of it.
Münster has not changed a bit. It was still this pretty little college town, with a marvelous historical center, perfectly preserved. We went to eat in Va Piano, a restaurant where everything is fresh, homemade and cooked right in front of you. We were already familiar with the restaurant chain – it’s well known throughout Europe. When it was time to choose our dishes, we were in the queue and Abby began to make a fuss. She hung on her father’s arm, and when she let go … her elbow dislocated! She screamed in the middle of a crowd of people waiting for their meal. Fortunately, it wasn’t the first time and an osteopath had taught me how to fix her arm without pain. I brought her to the toilet to take care of her in quiet and 10 seconds later it was over… Phew!
Rather than finishing the trip in one final long drive, we decided to stop for a final night in our camper van. The idea was to find a campsite where the girls could have fun, but not too far from the way back. Nick found one that looked good, with a playground, mini farm, and a pony club.
The campsite was rather welcoming at first glance. We asked where the pony club was, and the campsite manager told us that the holiday had not yet started in this part of Germany, so the pony club was still not open (nooo!), but that the mini farm and the playground were (Haaaa cool!). After this small emotional roller coaster, we left with the girls to see this famous little corner of paradise.
After crossing the entire campsite, we finally arrived at the coveted place. There were actually a few hens and rabbits, but they were in a deplorable health. And the playground was no better… Completely rusted with some parts completely unusable. And, for the final touch, there were cat droppings in the sand. In fact, the whole campsite clearly had not been updated in a very long time, and even the toilet facilities were not really pleasant. We finally opted for an afternoon of party games in the truck and bided our time enjoying a well-deserved rest.
This is the end
We left the campsite in the morning, determined to return to Brussels in short order.
When we arrived, the girls realized that the road trip was over and that it would be necessary to give back the camper van. Realizing this, they began to cry… When suddenly the Brussels magic started to take hold… We heard the music of the ice truck in the distance! We ran to get an ice cream and the rain began to fall, so we ran back to the truck to savor them. A proper farewell to the camper van that treated us so well. After that, the girls were more willing to let him go. One last hug and we’re off to the races!
Tips about trip
Things We Learned:
- Danish and Swedish kindness. I have traveled a lot, and I must say that I did not expect such sweetness in those Nordic countries. I imagined them colder, almost distant, but they are not. Every person we met was lovely, thrilled to help, certainly not exuberant but smiling, sincere and easy to approach.
- The direct approach to children. It’s a bit destabilizing at first, but so much healthier when you think about it. Children are considered to be full-fledged people and no one is offended by their behavior – it’s just normal! Even the cities are designed as much for them as for the adults.
- That’s why we find trampolines everywhere. It’s fun to walk around town and see a corner of a building with a trampoline built into the landscape.
- The obsession with lawn mowing. I’ve talked a lot about it already, but the amount of people we met mowing the lawn is notable enough for me to bring it up again.
- The quality of the Danish and Swedish campsites. This is surely coupled with the obsession with lawn mowing, but I have to admit that rare are the campsites that I have seen so clean and suitable for the family with, among other things, the private bathrooms for family, or even the collective kitchens with all the equipment of a modern kitchen. There is also a detail that I did not mention in my articles but which is, however, HYPER important when you spend a lot of time on the road: there is no more noise allowed from 22H to 9h … What a treat when you just want a good night’s rest.
Things to think before departure:
- Distance management Vs. child resistance. We had overestimated the resistance of the girls, and we were able to do less than expected. Without regret, however, as we took our time to enjoy every moment. From now on we will know that 200 – 300 km a day is a lot to ask from girls their age.
- And so: Do not hesitate to reinvent your planning without taking umbrage.
- Pick a good guide (a book or an app – whatever gets you the best information) that can tell you where the best spots are for a Campervan vacation This is very useful and it adds some variety – so you aren’t always going to campgrounds, or wasting time searching for a place to go.
- Travel less, if possible, on highways. By traveling too much on the highways, first you’ll lose all the picturesque views and lifestyles, and second, you’ll miss the unexpected! Highways are only to make it across long distances in one go.
- “””Warning burning information!””” … You won’t be able to shower daily. During our 15 day trip, we only took 4 or 5 showers – the rest of the time, it was sponge baths! And no, we didn’t stink. 😛
I asked every family member what they will remember most from our trip:
Kat (me so): I loved Fjälbacka and the sweetness of the Danish Lifestyle.
Nick: Was enchanted by the beauty of Swedish landscapes.
Josephine: Loved Legoland (of course) and living in a Campervan.
Abby: Especially liked our “Adventure expedition” (it was just what we called it when we went for a walk, but giving it a cool name helped her love it, so it rocks!) and especially the toilets of the campervan. Actually, the first things she asked after we left the campervan was: “Is someone else gonna poop in it?” 😀
I hope you enjoyed reading my chronicles as much as I enjoyed writing them. I hope to be back soon to tell you about more family adventures. Until then, stick to the road, weary traveler! May the route be beautiful, the lawns well manicured, and your children calm …
The Mc Adam Family.