Spring 2015. After trips to Croatia, Sicily and Turkey, we’ve taken our caravan family to the western part of Europe. And took a little side trip to Morocco. We left home in early April and were back in late July — over 15,000 kilometers of adventure. The longest trip we made.
The Original Plan
On previous trips we’ve chosen a destination and drove there, while working during the trip as well as enjoying local life. This time, we had a plan to go to Morocco & back. But, on the way, we got affraid of the ISIS buzz, so we changed the plan to only visit Portugal and stay in safe Europe.
Luckilly we met Peter, owner of Surfoffice coworking space, in Lisbon. And he advised us not to worry at all. “OK” we said, and purchased a ferry ticket to Morrocco. That was where the adventure started.
Meetups & Surprises in Spain
Before we even got to Portugal and its great food, big ocean waves and nice people, we spent about a month in Spain. Meeting Antonin and Amos who both moved recently from continental Europe to follow the sun.
We also met Honza, who lives in Alicante for several years and owns a shop with skateboards that we accidentaly found. And guess what — now I’m a practising skateboarder.
The Spanish Incident
Yes, Spain is great and relaxed. It holds the hottest spots of Europe and the culture there is well balanced, so one can enjoy good food & awesome people while being able to work effectively under the empowering sunlight. But, Spain is a bit less law enforcing and so, it’s a magnet for strange people.
We experienced a weird situation in a campsite near Portugese border, where an old german couple had fun with their dog. It was a late night. First it seemed like an emergency situation, lady screaming “Hilfe!”, then when I took a closer look, I realised it’s whole another story. So we and other campers called reception. In a few hours this couple was departed by Police. Departed where? Probably just behind the campsite gate. That is Spain.
Traps of Morocco
After Turkey in 2014 we felt confident to see another non-western country and thought that Morocco might be just a baby step more adventurous. Well, the Strait of Gibraltar makes a huge difference in culture & values.
“Just wait a little, the boat is delayed.”
First thing that striked us after coming to the port in Spain 3 hours before ferry departure was that nobody knew much about our ferry or exact departure. Even after visiting the operators’ office the only information I got was “Just wait a little, the boat is delayed.” Well, it was delayed 6 hours. With that my idea to come to Africa, for the first time, with daylight, was gone.
Nevermind we said — things like that happen. Well, on the way back, the delay was just around 3 hours and they even lost information that we have a caravan with us. No surprise. As always in Morocco, there was a man who offered help — but not for free.
Visit to a Police Station
Another story worth remembering was when I was taking photos in Casablanca from a car and accidentaly took a picture of a policeman. Which, I quickly realised, is illegal in Morrocco. Policemen are mostly everywhere in cities and it’s difficult not to take a picture without one. This boy with a funny hat was so loud and confident, that I took his picture on purpose, that we had to leave the car and family on the sidewalk, and walk to the police station. Where, after some time, we happily deleted the photo from my GoPro using my USB cable and their french Windows XP. It was this policemans’ head in the dark behind a car. So yeah, I was guilty. Most detectives gathered around me, watching our travel pics — and checking if there’s more suspicios pics.
There were many other stories & scams. A berberian student who told us his tale, took us in his favorite bar & when we thanked him and wanted to leave, he asked for some money to support his studies. Or bunch of beggers who suddendly appeared on a gas station when I gave a few coins to an old man.
Fun in Morrocco
Luckilly, this was just a part of our Morrocco experience. There was a lot of fun as well. We had eaten in Tripadvisors’ best spots in Casablanca or got our car hadwashed for €2. Or trying to go from Tangier to Casablanca using a regular road, which turned into dirt road, where we would need days to get to the destination. With a contrast of bulevards full of Lamborgini, Porsche & Masseratti showrooms in Casablancas’ suburbs. Or another story, where after checking out from a campsite I reminded the owner not to forget to bill us also for kids — he didn’t understand English well, and gave me a discount instead. A country of negotiators at its best.
With kids, I’d probably warn you to make sure you’re getting clean and safe food. We’ve been in good places as well as in places where restaurant blended with butchers shop and so flies were our constant companion. We also bought food on local markets — which probably was a little dangerous.
Morrocco to Croatia & back to France
After leavning Africa, we enjoyed way higher temperatures on the Spanish & French coast. Right then blasting trough Italy to meet our friend Martin (a campsite operator), Bob, Tom and their families in Croatia.
Summer in France
After Croatia, we were invited to join Robert and his family in France for a 3 week AirBnb stay in awesome mansion looking pretty much as A Good Year movie scenes. French village of Bize-Minervois was really awesome — a pétanque tournament, a daily dose of coffee and handmade croissants and a private pool — that really healed our minds.
After France, we met our friend Lucy in Switzerland and went back home. It was a 3 and a half months on the road — the longest trip so far. During the travels I was working as usual and designed a few websites such as this for Profiq Company mostly communicating via Skype & email.
Sleeping for free — on a Stellplatz
And one last thing. As we got deeper into the summer season, we realized that campgrounds cost twice or more (€30–40) than what’s a regular price off season (€12–18) and so we tried to sleep on dedicated parking lots for campers — called Stellplatz. There is over 18 thousand of them in Europe! That experience, as many before, opened our eyes and paved the way for adventures in the future.
Experiences we wouldn’t forget
- An awesome Marcelino burger on Portugese coast & huge ocean waves
- Best restaurants in Lisbon gathered in a refurbished market
- Pool and apartment house in Bize-Minervois, France
- Contrasts in Casablanca — ladies in fashion dress walking the dirty, muddy city & bulevards with top car brands above vintage trucks and taxis full of locals
- Campsite Parque Tropical in the southern part of Spain for it’s awesome pool and flowers & french campsite Les Marsouins for the biggest waterpark included in daily rate of only €12 (off season).
- Granada — a spanish city full of nature
- Photos from this adventure
Since our first caravan trip in 2012 we are collecting information about campsites & places where we stayed with a caravan. Sometimes enhanced with info about WiFi availability or price per stay — this might help your travels around Europe and beyond.
The Caravan Family
In summer 2011 after a road trip around Europe with our first kid, we were thinking how to make our travels more fun. At the same time I was thinking why there’s so many caravans around. And so an idea was born.
We joined the digital nomad movement and we love it. It’s not easy to bend our lives so that everything works at all times, but this is the way we’d like to live for some time. It benefits us as well as our kids and that’s more than anything else. Life is for the living.
How about you? Do you you work in online biz? Try it too. Or, feel free to ask me for an advice about caravaning in Europe. I’d be happy to help.
More about me & my work at www.vitavalka.com