Summary of Darren's 2006 camper van tour of Europe
- People - I met so many people from so many places in the world.
- Weather - lovely and warm
- Food - cheap and tasty (especially tasty in France)
- Surf - varied and good
- Views - from the green mountains of Northern Spain to the massive dunes of France
- Getting an infection and seeking hospital treatment in Santander (the hospital staff where excellent thought)
- Spanish mountain roads - having to drive up one mountain, down the other side, then up another mountain, and down the other side, just to go to a town 5km from where you started :-(
- Portuguese minor roads - really bad quality, and constantly shaking my van. The roads are worth taking though, to reach the beautiful countryside and beaches that they lead to.
My favourite cities
Great sights, great museums, great food and a great street vibe. Paris was better than I was expecting. The Eiffel Tower was my highlight, and the L'Ouvre close behind.
Beautiful old city streets and great beaches.
Grand buildings, great food and beer, and an excellent musical instrument museum.
My favourite campsites
This campsite has everything you could think off, is reasonably priced, has its own private access to the north beach, has surf reports, is a great place to meet people, has a great Pizzaria, can you tell I like it?
Things I bought
A mountain bike
I bought a mountain bike for €99 from a Decathlon store in Spain. It proved to be excellent for exploring towns and cities, as well as the countryside. I stored the bike inside my van, which was a little hassle, but well worth it.
The zip broke on my old sleeping bag in Spain. I couldn't find a decent camping shop until I got to Portugal. I got a great, very slim sleeping bag for €30 from a sports shot in the shopping centre in Viana do Castelo.
I took a 6' 10" board for the bigger waves, but had spent the summer that year learning to surf on a longboard and got frustrated at not being able to surf when the surf was small or messy. I decided to buy a mini-mal to catch smaller waves. I could also store a mini-mal in my van without making big changes. I tried to find a board in Viana do Castelo, but the surf shops had closed down or had little stock. When I got to Peniche I found the excellent 58 Surf Spot at the Baleal beaches and bought a great 7' 5" mini-mal for €390. They had cheaper boards with better graphics, but the board I bought was very high quality, tough, and flexible. The staff at 58 Surf Shop are great. The board immediately proved excellent and I happily started catching waves.