Trip 1 (March to October 2016). Europe!!
One of the agenda points is to complete the Camino de Santiago (on foot not in the van) and this has made our route planning a little tricky. The original plan was to start the Camino in April / May starting from St Jean Pied de Port. As this lies in the Pyrenees near to Biarritz we felt that we would need to hang around the west coast of France for the first several weeks of our tour. However, we have considered the weather, and this is supposed to be the sun tour, so now we have moved the walk until September meaning that we can pass through France and central Spain rather quickly and head south first, to Andalucia. Also we have planned to tie up with my friend Kevin near Tarifa on Saturday 12th March where we will celebrate my 40th birthday.
The general gist of our route will then be Andalucia for several weeks, back through central Spain meeting the east coast near the French boarder. Work our way across the French coast up to the Italian boarder. We then plan to remain on the Italian coast as far down as maybe Pisa. At this point we will head east across Italy to the east coast and visit San Marino. From here we will move north up the coast and then onto Verona and north Italy. Next we will dip into Austria and southern Germany on the way to Switzerland where we will visit Sharon’s brother and wife in Basel. The next part will be a slow cut across inland France to St Jean where we will start the Camino. Once the Camino is completed, we will pick up the van again in the French Pyrenees and drive across the north Spain coast and into Portugal. We will cris-cross southwards through Portugal ending in the Algarve for some winter sun. The Algarve will be our last destination and from here we will head slowly home.
Well that’s the rough plan any how!
Trip 2 (January to May 2017). Winter Sun
This trip will be all about the winter sun and a long awaited extended visit to Portugal. Portugal was supposed to be our winter destination in 2016 but due to an unplanned trip back to the UK and then an even more unplanned spell of employment with the Camping and Caravanning Club which lasted until Christmas, it had to be postponed.
The rough plan is something like this: we will cross at Calais and head through France and Spain as quickly as possible stopping for the night when the days driving has been done at random places chosen at the moment. The destination for the sunshine will be the Algarve, both inland and coastal. Once the weather warms up further north we will then weave up Portugal taking in the well known (Lisbon, Porto), also we are hoping to discover (new to us) some lesser known inland destinations.
On the return journey home, we won’t be in a rush and complete a ferry dash. Instead we want to drive the Camino de Santiago backwards revisiting some of previous our footsteps. Finally nearer home once we have passed through France we will make a flying visit to Belgium as we have tickets for the music festival Labadoux where of course the Levellers are headlining.
Trip 3 (December 2017 to end of March 2018). Culture?
For this long awaited trip we want to take our time. This time we will try a new route over to France, porting at Dieppe. If the weather is not too bad we plan to spend much more time in France as it seems we always rush through this country on our way down or returning – we realise that we will need to use our LPG heating more on this trip!!!
Once in Spain we are debating whether to take a diagonal through Spain skirting Madrid and maybe visiting Toledo. Keeping on this diagonal line we would then reach north Andalucia where we might spend a few weeks.
Once in Portugal we may touch onto the Algarve coast, but this is weather dependant. Our experience of coastal Algarve is that is very heavy with motorhomes and we prefer quieter places (but colder at this time of year) in central Portugal so at this point we will play it by ear and hope that the weather is kind to us.
As per usual this is a pencilled outline. We don’t really have an end destination and on this trip we will place more importance on not rushing and visiting interesting places over sun seeking.
Trip 4 (November 2018 to end of March 2019). Being EU citizens.
The theme for this trip is to enjoy being EU citizens for potentially the last time. The final effects of Brexit as I write this still seem very unclear but we are very aware that potentially it could effect our lifestyle massively, especially if unlimited EU travel becomes restricted. I find it very hard not to believe that if the UK plans to restrict the movement of EU nationals that the EU will not return the favour. So over the next five months we are going spend all of our time on mainland Europe postponing our plans to cross the water to Morocco.
We are also not planning to drive down to Greece either, which is still one of our biggest motorhoming travel aspirations as we worry about the weather during the winter months meaning that we are going to travel down to Portugal again. On either the way there or on the return we would like to visit the north west tip of Spain passing by Cape Finisterre which is the original end of the Caminio de Santiago when it was a pagan route and the world believed that it was the end of the earth. We also want to visit central Spain passing through Castilla La Mancha and Aregon entering France at Perpignan. This is the rough trip outline and as for the timings ultimately we are in the hands of nature as the weather will determine how long we will spend in each region/country. So for the moment we will continue to enjoy our privileges of being EU citizens!!