a plan coming together

Sometimes it happens that we’re at a place we don’t want to leave. Than we have a good long look in each other’s eyes and speak the words: “We stick to the plan!”

What is that plan? Our plan is a very rough route that we set out more than a year and a half ago. We would first travel east to Romania, from there around the southern Black Sea to Georgia, than we would make our way back to the west, to Portugal and from there we would drive up north to the cape. In between those destinations we would cross more than twenty countries and we estimated to drive around 35 000 k. The timetable was simple, early fall we needed to be in Georgia so we would have plenty of snow-free mountain time, the south of Europe and Portugal would make a good destination to spent the winter and heading north would be in the same pace as spring would arrive.
Sounds like a solid plan, doesn’t it?

And if I look back at it now after ten months of travelling… we’re right on track.

We can say that the plan actually worked out fine so far. Why, because we are very flexible as well.
We choose our destinations carefully. We check out multiple weather apps, we check the availability of campsites or other cheap lodgings, we see what the next destination has to offer (culture, hiking, fishing, nature, paddling, beach, good food,…) and very important, how long does it take us to get there (and that doesn’t mean just distance). We also became very good destination-skippers. There is so much to do and see out there that the idea that you haven’t seen shit at all, easily frustrates you.
As I am writing this, we are camping in the north east of Poland in Białowieska near the Belarusian border. This week will all be about ancient forests, bison, wolf, birds, birds and more birds, excellent weather and thunderstorms. How we got here?

We left Portugal after seven beautiful weeks of mostly sunshine. We were told that it was an exceptional warm and dry winter. For the country and the people this means trouble, for us it made perfect travelling conditions.
While we enjoyed our surf days at the beach we got a message from Tim who wanted to know where we would hang out somewhere around Easter and if we were interested in meeting up.
Tough question. It meant that we had to drive up north to France and that wasn’t exactly the plan (also the weather didn’t look very promising), but it was also an opportunity.
We have friends in the Pyrenees and we have friends (who own a campsite) in the Ardèche, we really had to pay them a visit.
Val and Bruno, two very close friends, moved to the Pyrenees a few years ago. They converted a ruin into a beautiful home where peace, quiet and an incredible scenery are the main ingredients. They try to live a mostly self-sustainable life and their ecological footprint is almost zero. Jule and Guust stood out in eagerness of learning new things, it was as if we where in a 4-day-all-kinds-of-skills-workshop-thing. They cooked, worked in the garden, helped out Bruno in the workshop and did some necessary chores, Jule learned to make ecological cleaning products, Guust made a pillow cover using the sewing machine, they made eco-friendly dishwashing sponges and learned how to crochet. We had such a beautiful time there.

Although visiting Marie-Thérèse and Renée in the Ardèche wasn’t planned, it seemed the logical thing to do. We have a long history there, which began some 18 years ago when Katrien and I stumbled on their campsite after hours and hours of back road driving. It was our first holiday together and we spent quite a few summers there. Jule spent her first holiday there when she was only 3 months old and Guust when he was almost one year old. We learned to know Marie-Thérèse and Renée as two beautiful people with their hart at the right place. They live a mainly self-sustainable life and have lots of respect for nature and their surroundings.
Renée hunts and runs a small abattoir where biologically raised animals are transformed into healthy and clean food. They grow al kinds of fruit and try to keep bees (which isn’t easy without using chemicals against parasites). It’s a place that we call home.
The week we spent there on the empty campsite was all about being outdoors and good company: open-fire cooking, hiking, biking, trailrunning, enjoying the sun and sharing stories. Another week to treasure.
From there we drove through the French Alps and Italy to Slovenia. It was time to do some serious whitewater stuff.

Tell you later.

A special thanks to those who made our trip even more special;

Thanks Val and Bruno for the special time we had together. Thank you Bruno for being a hero and ultimate handyman to our son. Thank you Val for being everything that a godmother needs to be. Jule is a lucky girl.

Merci René and Marie-Thérèse for having us again. We had a great time. Your place is very special to us and always will be. See you sometime in the future.
More info on their beautiful campsite??? Just click.

Thanks Tim, Veerle, Liv and Helder for wanting to visit us and listening to all our stories. Hope you didn’t get bored with them too much.
Thanks for bringing my packraft to France, it really needed a lift.
And… Thanks for bringing that gorgeous Tentipi along so we could try it. After all these weeks, we love it more and more.
Wanna check out a Tentipi yourself, check it out here. And while your at it, check out their stories too.

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copy by Jan Bergs
pictures by Katrien de Troch, Studio Gloria

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