A list of favourites.

46503838_360556441182263_7995538837952528384_nWhenever I speak to family and friends back home or fellow travellers on the road one of the first questions asked is always “what has your favourite place been?”. To me this question is very difficult to answer. I’m indecisive on the best of days (particularly with food. And yes I understand my inability to decide between whether to have a plain or chocolate croissant is a serious first world problem) but that’s not the reason why I struggle to answer what my favourite place has been. To simply answer just one favourite place is far too broad!

We’ve now been on the road for nearly six months and i’ve lost count of how many times I have said “this is my favourite beach” or “this is my favourite free camp location” only to repeat myself several days later. At the time i’m sure it genuinely was my favourite but it turns out the world we live in is a truly beautiful place and there’s always plenty more to discover just around the corner, waiting to out shine the last.

We’ve spent time thinking long and hard (usually whilst laying half nude on the shores of a European beach or as we fill in time on a long, slow driving day) and together have finally come up with “a list of favourites”.  Maybe our list will help you decide on your next travel destination or act as a source of inspiration to do a similar trip, but at the very least, I hope you enjoy reading about our favourites (thus far).

 

 Favourite thing about van life:

K – Waking up every morning happy, looking forward to what the day ahead entails. Usually there’s no daily agenda but there are always countless possibilities. After that it’s definitely that van life enables endless adventuring! We really are going all over in Rover. I also love that it is a lifestyle which focuses on slowing down, being more present and valuing experiences and genuine connections rather than materialistic possessions and occupational status/success. We don’t have a lot “stuff” but we do have health, happiness and love. In my opinion they’re the most important life essentials.

B – Having freedom to go wherever and do whatever we want, everyday. Having no time restraints, no schedule to abide by, no one to wait for and no one to rely on but ourselves (and Rover of course)!

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Van life, the best life.

Top three favourite beaches:

K – 

  1. Calanque d’En-Vau, France. It’s a little secluded pebble beach in the Calanques National Park with the most beautiful turquoise water. To get there it’s about an hours hike on foot but completely worth every step!
  2. Ksamil, Albania. White sand, crystal clear blue water & no crowds. 
  3. Praia do Camilo, Portugal. The Algarve coast, need I say more? Plus with the right tide you’re able to swim through many of the grottos which open up and become your own secret little secluded beaches. 

B – 

  1. Calanque d’En-Vau, France. 
  2. Praia da Ponta Grande, Portugal. A tiny secluded beach with a sea cave. Once you swim through the sea cave the water opens up to join the North Atlantic Ocean. 
  3. Ksamil, Albania. As above. 
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Calanque d’En-Vau, France.
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Ksamil, Albania.

Top three favourite cities:

K – 

  1. Budapest, Hungary. This place has it all (well, apart from a beach. If it had a beach I’d probably be looking to relocate!). 
  2. Biarritz, France. Croissants, baguettes & the coast – what more could you want?
  3. San Sebastian, Spain. Where having an alcoholic beverage at 10 am is just as acceptable as an espresso, on any given morning. (And just as cheap!)

B – 

  1. Budapest, Hungary. 
  2. Barcelona, Spain. 
  3. Munich, Germany (however this is currently being contested by Berlin, where we are exploring now. Stay tuned!).
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Budapest, Hungary.
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Budapest, Hungary.
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Biarritz, France.
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San Sebastian, Spain.

Favourite camp site:

K – That’s an easy one, Picos de Europa, Spain.

B – As above.

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Campsite, Picos de Europa, Spain.

Favourite free camp location:

K – Arrifes Beach, Portugal or Coxos Beach, Portugal. Both locations we parked Rover on the edge of a cliff which directly over looked the ocean. It’s so nice going to bed and waking up to the sound of the ocean. We spent a least three nights at each location and even then it was difficult to leave! Or…

Foix, The Pyrenees. We drove up to the top of a mountain that overlooked the town of Foix. We had the most magnificent view from the van and there was no one else around except for us, the cows and the horses. We awoke at sunrise to the sound of cow bells jingling loudly as a herd of cows came right past the van to get their morning drink of water. It was such a magical place!

B – Arrifes Beach, Portugal. Located less than ten minutes away from one of my favourite beaches (Praia da Ponta Grande). 

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Arrifes Beach, Portugal. 
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Free camping, The Pyrenees.

Favourite natural phenomenon:

K – The Algarve coastline. It may be the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever laid eyes on. 

B – Maro Beach waterfall, Spain. And also the Algarve coastline. 

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The Algarve, Portugal.
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Maro Beach, Spain.

Favourite man made phenomenon:

K – Ronda, The Puente Nuevo bridge. It’s 2018 and I can’t even put an Ikea flat pack together so i’m completely amazed at how man kind built something so grand all these years ago. 

B – As above. (NB: Blake can put together an Ikea flat pack!)

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Ronda, Spain.

Favourite van meal:

K – I go through phases but my current favourite is Blake’s banana crepes for breakfast! It’s a Sunday speciality. 

B – Lentil spaghetti bolognese, hands down.

Favourite scenic drive:

K – The Pyrenees. For the majority of our trip we have followed the coastline so when we headed inland for a couple of days in the Pyrenees it was such a nice change of scenery. The landscape is magnificent – luscious greenery, rocky mountains, glacial rivers and plenty of friendly cows! The roads wind along with long tunnels through the mountains or dizzying zig zag turns to clamber up to the summits. There’s always plenty to see out the window making it the perfect location for long scenic drives. 

B – Llogara Pass – A high mountain pass from the Alps down into the Albanian Riviera. The views down the coastline overlooking miles of crystal clear water and such an epic landscape was insane to see.

Favourite lake: 

K – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia. We visited in Autumn and although it was far too cold to swim it was still a beautiful time to visit. The vibrant orange colours of Fall were all around and provided such a contrast to the turquoise colour of the glacial lake. 

B – Ruidera, Spain. We spent hot Summer days with the van parked right next to the lake. It was so good being able to hop out of the van and jump straight off the cliff into fresh cold water!

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Ruidera, Spain.
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Lake Bohinj, Slovenia.

Top three favourite hikes:

K – 

  1. Lac d’Oô, The Pyrenees.
  2. Sija Mountain, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia. 
  3. The Cares Route, Picos De Europa. 

B –

  1. The Cares Route, Picos De Europa. 
  2. Sija Mountain, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia. 
  3. Calanque d’En-Vau, France. 

 

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Lac d’Oô, The Pyrenees.
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The Cares Route, Picos De Europa.
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Sija Mountain, Slovenia.
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Sija Mountain, Slovenia.

Favourite van life moment:

K – For me there’s not  one particular stand out moment. Instead it’s celebrating & finding joy in the little everyday moments. Our lives have become slower and simplified yet more meaningful and deliberate. I get so excited by the simple things like finding the clearest water, a cosy beach corner, the yummiest croissant, an idyllic free camp spot, successfully conversing in another language or being able to step outside the van and gaze up at the stars on a clear night.

B – My favourite van life moment was being posted up, free camping on the point at Coxos in Portugal. We spent 4 days there waiting for this swell to arrive and waking up in the morning, opening the blinds and being able to see how good the waves were from bed was incredible. To surf amazing waves all day and have our home parked right up on the point was one of the best days ever.

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Coxos, Portugal.

Favourite food/cuisine:

K – Can I cheat and have two favourites? The patisseries in France & the tarts & fresh seafood in Portugal.

B – Italian pizza & pasta.

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Daily diet, Italy. 

 

Favourite playlist whilst on the road:

K – 70’s funk.

B – True blue Aussie classics.

Favourite alcoholic beverage:

K – Aperol spritz, Italy.

B – Super bock, Portugese beer.

Favourite time waster:

K – Editing photographs and documenting our travels through visual story boards. Oh and I absolutely love the question game! (Who could ever get sick of making up hypothetical scenarios?)

B – Playing cards and drinking cheap local beers. More often than not, this occurs simultaneously!

Favourite free activity:

K – Swimming in the ocean, exercising and exploring new places/adventuring. The ocean is where I feel most grounded and calm, exercise keeps me sane & feeling myself while exploring new places/adventuring keeps me constantly learning, curious & happy.

B – Submerging in water whether that be the ocean or a fresh water lake. Anything to do with water and I’m happy! Oh and I also love constantly being on the move (although this requires petrol which is far from free!) because I want to do as many things & see as many places as possible.

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Swimming spot, Montenegro.
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Blake, en route to Bratus Beach, Croatia.

Favourite language: 

K – French. Personally I think it sounds the most beautiful when spoken aloud compared to some of the other European languages which can sound quite aggressive. Contrary to the common stereotype of the French being rude and abrupt we have thankfully found the majority of people to be warm and welcoming towards us. As always a few learned phrases go a long way!

B – English. It’s not only my first language but also the most common second language in most countries we visited so that made it pretty easy!

Favourite piece of advice for people thinking of doing a similar trip:

K – No plan is the best plan. 

B – Make sure you are adaptable. 

 

** K – Kirsten & B – Blake (stating the bloody  obvious). 

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