We left the United States with a plan to spend the year bouncing from country to country by rail, by ferry, by bus and by plane where needed. We packed very lightly for a year (one carry on each plus one backpack each. Daniel’s backpack being just a drone and assorted pieces) After a great stop in London, a trip to Brussels and then to Hamburg, we realized that there were some flaws in our plan. Firstly the bags, albeit small, were heavy. This doesn’t bode well when walking up and down stairs for the underground, the buses and the trains onto which we needed to board. Secondly while we have been huge fans of AirBnB, staying in over 60 homes around the world in the last 7 years, all of those reservations were made well in advance. The process of living in the moment and not having any plans is at once liberating and frustrating.
We found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time searching, screening and contacting hosts for same-day room rental. Sometimes they were highly responsive and sometimes we didn’t get a reply for 4 to 6 hours. And this all, of course, was Wi-Fi dependent. So rather than being able to just enjoy being present and focused in the moment we created an unnecessary level of frustration and anxiety in not knowing where we were going to sleep for the night, not knowing how to get there, what the public transportation schedules were like, etcetera. Furthermore we realized that our preferred locations for travel are off the beaten track, behind the scenes, not the normal tourist spots. And while, of course, we do want to see some of the major attractions in each city we’re also inclined to want to get places that public transportation doesn’t go.
Looking ahead for a year of this in 20 plus countries wasn’t appealing any longer. Ten days in and we knew.
We went to a different direction.
We realized that the only way to abate the frustration of not knowing where we were going to sleep, how we were going to get there, and the condition of the place, was to buy a motorhome. With a great sense of glee and adventure we set out in Hamburg to find our chariot. After checking out a few RV yards we were directed to an eBay site and found a gentleman named Horst who had one for sale. Unfortunately we couldn’t go see it because he said he had someone coming to look at it who was very interested. We called him an hour after that person was supposed to arrive. He said that he would be happy to show it to us and told us to which train station we should go to and that he would collect us from the station. It wasn’t quite that simple but bottom line we got to see the wohnmobile on a Sunday night.
A quick test drive and a handshake and we had our selves a hotel, restaurant and car all wrapped up in one. The registration and license plates were predicated on having insurance. And you can’t get insurance if you don’t have a permanent address in Germany. Thus started four days of pure hell. There were a number of people who said that they would help us, including the American Embassy and agents back in the States and local agents in Germany, all to no avail. Ultimately an angel appeared with whom we had spoken with a number of times in the proceeding days. The most blessed message arrived, via Whatsapp: “I will help you.” In short order he registered the car, arranged for insurance, and got the car’s plates.
To make the entire transaction even more soulful, the sellers, a lovely retired couple, let us sleep in the van which had yet to be paid for. They fixed us many a meal in the ensuing week and took us around town to accomplish all the necessary tasks. To top it off, this new family invited us to spend the weekend near the Baltic Seaside town of Laboe. So we have now outfitted the rig with coordinated towels and blankets and sheets and pillows. We stocked the kitchen with plates and silverware and glasses and food. Additionally we remade a closet once used for hanging clothes to accommodate the drone. In essence we set up a home for a year. Please bless our journey in this rolling paradise, this Chariot of Adventure!