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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Euro Road Trip; Do Small things with GREAT LOVE

Or do GREAT things with GUSTO!

If you haven't already, please do have a read of the intro post.

It was January 3rd, we had had the usual family Christmas followed by a quiet New Years with friends.  This was it.  This year 2015, I am to turn 40 years old, it was time to plan how I would celebrate this milestone, this, 'middle age'.  Whilst browsing the possibilities and skimming through emails an email popped up for a save the date.

Gary and Tim 124th Birthday party 29th August, Campello, Italy.

Me 'Oooo, Johann have a look at this.  Can we go?'
Johann, 'I don't know'
Me ' We have time to plan and save'
Johann 'I don't know'

I pick up my iPad and pop the date into our shared calendar, done!  We're going.  Well he did say he doesn't know, it wasn't a 'NO' which is always a good sign.

It took weeks of planning, umming and ahhing mostly.  We looked at flights, and then, after a camping trip in May it hit me, Tim had said that he had driven several times; we had wanted to hire a camper van, pouring over various sites, drooling over the romanticised idea of a camper van born the same year as myself, but, as that trip had a total of 7, it was not going to happen; but, a trip to Italy would be Ok as there would be only 6.  We had survived the drive to Cornwall, how bad could it be?

Our eldest promptly turned the trip down as his preferred to be freezing and wet at Notting Hill Carnival than to be sat in a vehicle driving over 1,110 miles with his family!  Go figure.
Now we are 5.  Even better.

After researching camper vans that could be driven across Europe we realised that the upfront costs were more than we could stretch to in the immediate term.  We were paying for 4 holidays at once you see.   Louie had his school ski trip, the hubby had a cycle trip to Spain and then there was my birthday trip which was planned to be a week in a castle in Brittany, adding the trip to Italy was more than my frugal husband could cope with for the year.  He began to have palpitations at the rising costs; it's always better to give him bills in bite sized chunks!

At that stage I thought it best just to revisit this particular trip after my birthday in May.  Compromise saves a marriage!
I hadn't told him that there was provisionally booked a camper van awaiting it's deposit...  Shhhhh!

As soon as he returned from Spain in the 2nd week of May I trawled the internet for accommodation. The closest large town to Gary and Tim was Spoleto.  I always think, especially when there is a party, that giving the hosts a bit of breathing room is best, Spoleto looked really close to Campello Sul Clitunno on Google maps so seemed perfect.

At this point, I think I should tell you that I am super optimistic and have a strong belief in a positive universe!  I usually do little research into an area which, later on in my story you will see, has bitten me in the @$$!  You can, like me, wing it, or...  the internet has amazing sites and blogs that can give you an idea of what to expect so you can plan before you arrive.

So where were we?  Ah yes, I put a pin in a map!  There are several online companies advertising places to stay, previously I have used cottages4u and had browsed through Air BnB, but was so impressed with the look and feel of the site Home Away that I focused all my attentions on searching with them.  A little like Owners Direct, and Air b'n'b,  properties are placed with this site by owners of rentable holiday properties; with a large group booking a Villa/apartment has always been my default.

I was extremely impressed by a 2 bed apartment large enough to accommodate all 5 of us.  It had a living area, separate dining and a large kitchen.  Sold! At just €330 it seemed an absolute steal.  €100 to secure the booking with the balance required a minimum of two weeks before arrival.  Done.  Next.

Looking at the route roughly on Google Maps I could see we could drive through Paris, then on to Switzerland.  Camping!  Florence, Milan, Rome.  Ive got the travel bug now.  So why not.

Please note, if you have not already, I had been itching for an adventure, and, on a map everything looks close! 40 year old me is that girl that is going to grab every experience with both hands once it seems within reach.......  On Google Maps of course; lol!

Some people hate social media, even if they have signed up to every available platform, then there are people like me who love it, for all the connection, learning and inspiration it can bring.  Yes there are downsides but why worry about those when the world has just opened before you.  With that, I put out a simple question.
"Camping in Switzerland, where shall I go?"  
The answers came in thick and fast on my FaceBook page.  Interlaken.  The reviews of the area were fantastic, it looked beautiful, it looked, kind of, on the way!  There was a highly recommended campsite...  Jungfrau.  Booked.  I pressed booked faster than my brain had kicked in!  On to the next.  It was all moving so very quickly now.  I had the app on my phone but had only used for the UK.  I wondered how it would fair internationally, my mind was racing ahead and my fingers were working in subconscious mode.  I had found a list of great places to stay along the route, a hotel in Paris, Florence and Rome, all preliminarily booked.  It was great as all of them had a pull out clause.  Book now, pay on arrival.  They also gave the option of 24 hour free cancellation.  There were months to go so I had plenty of time to make up my mind.

Hmmmmm, reading this back, I was so erratic and spontaneous, my husband would have been stressing out if he knew what was happening in bed beside him, in the car next to him, at the dinner table opposite him!  Hahaha!  I was a travel hungry, beast of tech.  Feeling more empowered with every decision. Bonkers really!  But the plans, as loose and vague as they were, were in place.

I'd worked it out.  Some things were paid for straight away, others in stages up to leaving, and the rest we could tackle closer to the time...

Trip planned, we were going.  That was it!

Did I mention that I barely knew Tim and Gary, in fact, I'd met Tim through our love for community and gardening, and I'd met Gary, ermmmmmm once,

Well, I had promised myself that this was the year to build and foster beautiful friendships, memorable moments and fantastic experiences.  We were going!

Intrigued so far?  Please come back for the next segment of our travels...

-Tomboy X -

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