Summary of Darren’s 2006 camper van tour of Europe

Best bits

  1. People – I met so many people from so many places in the world.
  2. Weather – lovely and warm
  3. Food – cheap and tasty (especially tasty in France)
  4. Surf – varied and good
  5. Views – from the green mountains of Northern Spain to the massive dunes of France

Worst bits

  1. Getting an infection and seeking hospital treatment in Santander (the hospital staff where excellent thought)
  2. 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 🙁
  3. 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

  1. ParisFrance

    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.

  2. San Sebastian (Donastia)Spain

    Beautiful old city streets and great beaches.

  3. BrusselsBelgium

    Grand buildings, great food and beer, and an excellent musical instrument museum.

My favourite campsites

  1. Gran PinsLacanau-Ocean, France

    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.

  • Sleeping bag

    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.

  • Surf board

    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.

  1. buying a van in france
    any good sites for buying a used van (camper) in France other than ebay?


  2. buying vs hiring
    Hi we are going to spain and just checking the web to see if buying is better than hiring a campervan, and wanted to no were is the best place to buy or hire if anyone knows?


    1. It depends on how long you
      It depends on how long you are going for. Anything more than 3 or 4 weeks and it’s generally better to buy one, as it is cheaper and less restrictive.


  3. RHD or LHD
    So inspiring! One question… did you get a left hand drive or rhd? That’s the bit that is most confusing for me as I would want to travel the uk as well as mainland europe…


    1. It was a UK RHD vehicle.
      It was a UK RHD vehicle. Being on the other side of the vehicle made no difference when driving in mainland Europe. When pulling out of some junctions it was a little hard to see traffic. But I could just slide across the seat and take a look. I know some people buy LHD vehicles if they are spending considerable time on the mainland.


  4. Sprinter Conversion
    Brilliant conversion mate, really helpful you posting all the photos showing the progress. Cheers!


    1. Thanks mate.
      I hope it

      Thanks mate.

      I hope it inspires


  5. Hi Ady
    Good news on your van.

    Hi Ady

    Good news on your van. You can get your van insured as just a van, but the contents wont be covered. If you want to insure it as a camper van you’ll need to change the classification with DVLA first.

    Are you going to do a comprehensive conversion with a proper bed and kitchen?


  6. sprinter conversion
    Hi mate,Ihave just got hold of a 1998 SWB Sprinter.I am going to convert mine using your ideas as a starting point with the idea of adding a telly and a porta potti.Thanks for the help.I was just wondering about insurance and if you have any advice?…Ilook forward to hearing from you soon.Ady


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