A Travellerspoint blog

The Cost of Campervan Travel

Summary of Cash Flow

overcast 15 °C

When we started planning this trip, we did the usual thing and scoured the net for info on how much things would cost, but didn't find much. So in an effort to best manage our limited funds, and based on the info that we could find, Paul put together a budget (that ended up being not too far off the mark), along with a timeline that really helped us with keep track of where we were and where we had to go etc.

For anyone thinking of doing the same sort of trip we thought we would share some of our planning -

Budget
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Timeline (The blue line is the actual - the others were forecasts at various times during the trip - the light blue areas show us when and where various music festivals were, just in case we wanted to check any of them out)
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Summary
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We would highly recommend putting a lot of effort into planning and keeping track of where your money goes, even if you want to decide where you go on the fly, it really helps if you know your limitations.

It should be noted that we ate very cheap, cooking 90% of our own meals, and we spent a large amount of time either free-camping, or at camperstops (cheap version of a camp ground, and only for motorhomes i.e. no tents) - probably around 40% of the time. We also spent very little on souvenirs and junk, and spent a lot of time finding free sights, activities, walking tours and other budget options.

Also, the above does not take into account the return from the sale of our van which we estimate should be close to what we paid for it initially.

It is all very basic, but we hope it helps anyone who wants to tackle Europe in a van.

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 04:46 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

All Things End, Even The Awesome Ones

KJERAG TO AARHUS

sunny 20 °C

After spending a nice, peaceful and slightly wet night in Lysefjord, we headed south again towards Kristiansand and ended up freecamping at what has got to be one of the only rest areas in Norway with a “no camping” policy. As there was a lack of other options in the area and close enough to the port, we ignored the clear sign at the entrance and didn’t end up with anyone knocking on our door during the night. Win!

Heading back down on the ferry from Norway to Hirtshals, which is at the northernmost part of Denmark’s largest island of Jutland (not counting Greenland of course), worked for us for 2 very important reasons. The first and least important reason being, as we’ve mentioned before, it saves a few 100kms and therefore time, money and diesel going the long way around again through Sweden. There are 2 main ferry companies on this route, Fjord Line and Color Line (yes, American spelling). Both are pretty competitive with their prices, but we ended up going with Color Line as they were a bit cheaper.

The second, and of course more important reason for taking this way back down onto the mainland was because it would take us past Denmark’s second largest city of Aarhus, home of the Queen’s summer residence, the 99th largest harbour in the world, and one of my dearest friends in the world, Julie ☺

My gorgeous Danish pal came from her home in Copenhagen to our high school in year 10 as an exchange student. I’m proud to say that myself, and many of our school friends have kept in touch with her over years. 4 years ago she came back to Sydney for a holiday to catch up with whoever she could and to take a break from her medical studies – we took her to the Slipp Inn, the meeting place of Mary and Prince Frederick during the 2000 Olympics (there is a plaque on the wall outside the pub commemorating this). I could write so much about our school days and her more recent trip back to Oz as I have the fondest memories of both, but I shall try to keep focused on the present!

Julie had sent me a text with her address, and let us know we can park for free outside her apartment if there was room by the time we got there at 10pm, otherwise there was parking up the road. Of course, all available parking outside her place was taken so we parked a 5min walk away. As we were walking back down the road, Julie met us outside with her boyfriend, Kristoffer, took us upstairs to their place, and made us feel right at home. We kept them up past their bedtime chatting and drinking coffee and they trusted us to have their place to ourselves while they were working for the next few days.

When Julie and Kristoffer came home from work the next afternoon they took us out for a walk around town. Kristoffer is Aarhus born and bred, so he had plenty of history and information to share with us about his hometown. Aarhus is a very bike friendly city and it shows – it is definitely the preferred form of transport. The guys took us down into the centre of town, showed us where they each work, we walked by some Hare Krishna’s, checked out the harbour with it’s cafes and restaurants lining the water, then went into a Thai-style restaurant called Kowloon for a great tasting dinner and some Tiger beer.

Downtown Aarhus
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I think they like their bikes in Denmark...
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On the way home, Kristoffer suggested we have a nightcap at a local pub... without knowing what he was offering, we happily agreed with what he ordered and ended up with a shot of something like a cross between Jagermeister and Sambuca, with a beer chaser. After that, we sort of floated back to their place for some chamomile tea and I decided I wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet – I was a bit worried about overstaying our welcome, even though Julie had said awhile ago we could stay as long as we wanted, but she reassured me it was fine for us to stay another night.

A few of these and you are in for a great night
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Perfect spot to hang with the boys I guess
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The Rainbow Panorama of the ARoS building
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With Kristoffer in Copenhagen for work late the next day, Julie offered to take us for another sightseeing walk around town when she got home from work, this time to the local palace and the surrounding parkland area. This is the summer residence of the Queen, smoking her 60 ciggies a day. For the most part of the year visitors can enter the immediate grounds free of charge. The building itself looks much like the palace in the capital – unfortunately we ended up admiring from a distance, for as we approached, we saw a guard at the gate and a sign advising what whilst the Queen was in from August 27th to September 7th, the palace would be closed to the public. Oh well! Getting to wander around the public gardens was nice enough, lots of groups out boot-camping and running, reading and just generally enjoying the brief moment of afternoon sun. Featured in the park is a WW1 memorial, with a tribute to their fallen soldiers in the form of 4 wall sculptures and a poem in Danish (Julie was kind enough to translate the moving poem into English for me)… one new tidbit we discovered for them, was that you get a really cool echo if you stand in the middle of the memorial and speak, whisper, clap your hands etc

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The Queen's holiday pad
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We finished off the walk down on the waterfront, strolling between beautiful, expensive houses and their boats on the water. When we got back to Julies, I helped her make dinner (a homecooked meal after living off canned food is awesome beyond words) then relaxed until Kristoff got home so we could say our goodbyes and thank them for having us with a box of chocolate, the brand called “Merci” – perfect choice!

On the edge of the city you will find this
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Leaving Aarhus and almost back in London, we decided that one more stop was needed before we wrapped up this crazy trip, and what better way to relax and contemplate the journey that was now behinds us, than blowing off some steam (and smoke) in the famously green city of Amsterdam!

As we have visited Amsterdam before, and had thoroughly explored the city, there was little motivation to re-do the touristy stuff we had done our last visit, so we essentially spent 3 days lazing about the various coffee shops, sampling the local flavour and talking about all we had seen and done over the last 5 months, trying to somehow let it all sink in.

After a nice little weekend unwinding in Amsterdam, it was time to head back to the hustle and bustle of London and work out the age-old question…

Where to next?

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 10.09.2012 14:38 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Strolling Up In The Clouds

BERGEN TO KJERAG

overcast 18 °C

We followed a slightly different route south than we had followed when heading north, and though the theme was the same – epic wilderness, with a smattering of the most picturesque houses you can imagine – it was definitely different the further south we went. The lush forests disappeared, and in their place were shear cliffs, with massive boulders at their base that were no doubt once part of the cliff-face, but had been cleaved off during some past seismic activity. Dotted around the boulders were the unmistakable fluffy white coats of the hundreds of sheep, seemingly roaming free amongst the landscape - they rule the road in these parts, but are very curious and friendly locals who have no problem coming up close to say “hi” and to eat the grass off your tyres.

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The scenery getting more moonlike
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We spent the night at a rest stop surrounded by our new fluffy friends, then headed down to the starting point at Oygardstol for the hike the next morning. Oygardstol is already half way up, with the fjord-end township of Lysebotn down a very steep and winding road beneath you, and the cliffs of Kjerag a very steep and challenging 2.5hrs ahead of you.

The first leg of the hike takes you up a rounded cliff, either under the steam of your own balance and leg power, or with the assistance of the pre-placed chain, and pretty much saps up a fair chunk of your energy by the time you get to the top and start down the other side. You get to do a bit of free-abseiling (or slipping and sliding, whichever you prefer) and a small flat walk before you start up cliff #2, even higher than the first. By now your rock-climbing skills (or lack of) have become apparent, and your quads and calves are screaming, but you reach the top again and have a rest going down, all the while staring up at cliff #3 and thinking “how the crap am I gonna get up this one”. You gather up the remainder of your strength and trudge up, in single file along with your fellow hikers, trying desperately not to think of the return trip….

The second hill
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Some basic rock-falling...oops, I mean climbing ;)
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At the top, the sharp hill gradually subsides and becomes a sloped, rounded, rocky landscape that still works the leg and feet muscles, before it flattens and you’ve come to the halfway point of the hike – you are suddenly king of the world, on top of the cliffs of Kjerag, with Lysefjord snaking through almost 1,000m below you.

Mercifully flattening out
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But we were pretty high up buy this point
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I think Paul found the urge to jump, or at least get as close to the edge as one can without falling off, overwhelming – I was quite happy to watch him, breath held, then venture as close as I would dare.

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If you ever do this, head down over to the right and soak it all up… the view is phenomenal and it’s quieter than the Kjeragbolten, which is the main attraction and reason most people go on the hike.

The Kjeragbolten (or, Kjerag Bolt) is a boulder that managed to get itself wedged into a crack in the mountain with a 900m drop below. Many moons ago someone came across it and decided it would be a good idea to jump over onto this boulder and skylark around with only the laws of gravity keeping them safe, and hence started a hikers tradition. They say you need nerves of steel, but from the front it doesn’t look so bad. Paul managed to get himself onto it for some happy snaps, even he said it was much worse than it looked.

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I chose not to take part because… uh, the line was too long… yeah, I’ll go with that.

Next to the bolt is a large rocky area, perfect for the tired masses to relax and have some lunch.

Couldn't wipe the smiles off if we tried
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Once we had our fill of dizzying heights, we headed back before the hoards of other hikers did to avoid traffic, scrambling our way back up and down the cliffs and boulders we’d already been past once before to make it back to Oygardstol in good time, again exhausted but feeling somewhat victorious.

Heading back down to the oil painting of a town below
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We spent that night at the campsite down in Lysebotn, as hot showers, power and chocolate were in order. We had a great view of a waterfall and mist rolling in over the cliffs, bringing some slight rain with it. It was beautiful and serene. Our wonderful day was topped off when, as it started to get dark, we heard a loud “pop” noise in the distance, and a few minutes later saw a guy and his parachute land in the campground not 100m from us. Paul was stoaked, he put the timing of the sound and his landing together and decided he had BASE’d off one of the cliffs above us. I’m sure he dreamt about jumping off all kinds of things that night! While we contemplated a possible future with Paul attempting to become a fully-fledged BASE jumper, we booked our ferry to Denmark for the day after next, and slept like logs that night.

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 06.09.2012 14:43 Archived in Norway Comments (1)

Going North...

PREIKESTOLEN TO BERGEN

rain 17 °C

Once we spent an oh-so-comfortable night at Preikestolen Camping after the hike (hot showers and laundry were most welcome), we researched our route up to Bergen and back to avoid having to backtrack too much, and to maximise what we got to see.

The main tourist route up through the Ryflyke area takes you through fjords, valleys full of waterfalls, and rich coloured timber farmhouses that make up gorgeous little villages in the shadows of huge, almost round cliffs. There are towns where the road ends and the ferry across the fjord begins, and on the other side the spectacular jaw-dropping scenery continues.

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We gave ourselves a free halfway stop in a riverside town called Odda – just one of, but perhaps the most picturesque of these fjord townships. As the sun set, the reflection of the houses glittered in the water, and we could almost feel the cool coming off the mountain behind us – which was still harbouring some massive blocks of ice and snow, and is also home to one of Norway’s glaciers, Buarbreen – welcome to the Norwegian summer!

Odda
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Yep, that is ice...
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The next morning we kept on driving towards Bergen, arriving early in the afternoon and finding no available free parking and minimal free attractions. We found some pay parking and parted with our hard earned for the privilege of 1hr worth of strolling the area immediately around the harbour.

The main and most famous attraction in Bergen is the Bryggen – Norwegian for “The Warf, here we have a UNESCO World Heritage listed area showcasing the towns original buildings from the 1300’s, possibly even earlier. They consist of creaky, wooden alleyways and floors and now mostly house craftware businesses and souvenir shops. It’s good for spending some time aimlessly looking at pretty things (silver jewellery, wintery Christmas decorations) and not-so-pretty things (moose leather goods including bags and jackets worth EUR1,000 to fur clothing). Throw in a token busker with an accordion outside on the water and you have yourself a positively touristy atmosphere.

Bryggen
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Not too far from the Bryggen are the Fish Markets – pretty much exactly what it says on the box, a lively and smelly collection of stalls showing off their catch of the day and dishing out prawns, calamari and all sorts of other fresh seafood. We wandered through quicker than most as we aren’t the biggest fans of seafood, and even if we were, the prices were extreme… instead we came across some locals handing out free samples of reindeer and moose meat and happily had a taste which we really enjoyed… so much in fact, that Paul did end up coming away with a meaty, moosey souvenir of his own.

It gets cooked as it comes off the boat...
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A few more photos of the thriving harbour area, and we called it a day on our quick visit to Bergen. Budget and weather permitting, there were certainly a couple of other things we would have done – there is a funicular railway to the top of Mt Floyen, which gives a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding area, but is not so much an option on a cloudy, misty day like the one we had.

We backtracked past Odda that night and came across a large rest area overlooking… well, I can’t really describe it, but thought it was just the perfect view to wake up to the next day, and to help us mentally prepare for the upcoming hike.

Waking up in a dream
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Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 02.09.2012 04:45 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Living on The Edge

OSLO TO PREIKESTOLEN

rain 18 °C

With Oslo in our rear-view mirror, thankfully so was city life for the most part. Once you get out of the city areas Norway really opens up and starts to show off her beauty almost immediately, with amazing lakes and lush green forests. The roads, although narrow and slow going in most places, are fantastic, with minimal tolls – something the rest of Europe should figure out how to do! The drivers also seem to have less of a death wish than the rest of Europe, which has been a nice change for Paulie.

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Heading west along the south coast toward Stavanger, we decided to break up the 6+ hour trip in two with a stop over around Kristiansand, which also gave us a chance to suss out ferry schedules and prices back to Denmark so we didn’t need to go the long way round through Sweden again (which was nice the first time, but no-one likes to back-track). One of the (many) fantastic things about Norway is the right-to-roam policy I mentioned before, which lets you camp anywhere on public land, meaning that the world was our camperstop, and for free! Sweetening the deal that much more is the roadside rest areas – they are better than most campsites we have been to, and are generally in the most beautiful locations you could picture.

Typical rest area
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A free nights rest taking the sting out of the food, fuel and fun prices a little bit, we got to Stavanger in high spirits, but apparently the weather was not. Not long after pulling into Mosvangan Camping (a pay site, but we needed some internet to do important stuff like watch football etc.) our old friend ‘rain’ had made and appearance in a big way, and did not look like letting up anytime soon, so we went to bed and prayed for blue skies in the morning.

Morning came, but the blue skies didn’t show. We trudged off into Stavanger anyway, still thoroughly enjoying the fact that we were in Norway. The city itself is more of a really big town, or possibly even a miniature version of a city, with it’s small buildings, small population and even it’s little harbour, it takes on a very charming and cozy vibe, without being backwards or the land that time forgot. The harbour, as I mentioned is small, but not lacking in beauty or sea traffic. Surrounded by quaint little cafes and the compulsory souvenir shops, making it just touristy enough, without going overboard. Then there is the ‘Old Town’ area filled with cobble stone streets and glorious old timber houses painted in brilliant white and covered in extremely well manicured gardens. It is the sort of place you could really picture as being the most comfortable place in the world during the long cold Norway winters. In addition to its warm cozy side, we had also heard that being an oil city and a base for employees in the industry, the bars down on the waterfront around the town get lively on summer evenings, but sadly as our stay had coincided with weather more fitted to winter, we did not get to see the livelier side of the town.

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That afternoon we left Stavanger and headed towards one of the most impressive fjords of Norway, Lysefjord (Light Fjord) home to some of the most breathtaking views on earth. One in particular had caught Paul’s eye while searching the web earlier in our trip, a place called Preikestolen, roughly translated ‘Pulpit Rock’. The rock itself is actually part of a 604m high cliff face, and it sticks out over the fjord like an altar in a church. Considering the elevation and surrounding terrain, for someone fit and in good health, it is an easy, rewarding and fun hike to the top that does include a lot of scrambling over rocks, taking 4 hours for the 8km round trip and climbing around 300 – 400 meters. The view from the top is well worth the effort. With no barriers between you and the edge, it truly feels like you are standing at the top of the world, and for the brave, you can even sit on the edge and eat your lunch while your feet dangle 600m (or around 1800ft) off the ground, which is an unbelievable feeling and beats lunch in Hyde Park any day!

Lysefjord
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Hiking Over Lysefjord
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Preikestolen
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Yes I did eat lunch here ;)
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Kitty even had a stint at the edge
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Happy as pigs in the proverbial...
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After spending some time clicking away like mad photogs and climbing all over the nearby rock faces, we had a nice leisurely lunch (while dangling over the edge) then headed back down the trail. You would think the downhill part would have been the easy bit, but with the steep descent every step had our toes ramming into the fronts of our hiking boots, and each time we jumped down off a boulder our quads would get a blasting, so by the end of the 2 hours we were the most well spent we had been all trip, but happy as pigs in mud.

The hike back was less fun
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You would have also thought that a big hike like that would have turned us off anymore big treks for awhile, but to the contrary, we got talking to a Norwegian/American couple who gave us the directions to another famous cliff. Kjerag (pronounced che-rag) is located at the opposite end of the 42km Lysefjord to Preikestolen, and is one of the reasons Paul had been looking forward to Norway. The 960m cliff-face is a dream spot for B.A.S.E. jumpers worldwide, and became very well known to Paul during his stint as a recreational skydiver. As it is around 400m higher than Preikestolen, it was recommended that we wait for better weather before attempting to make the hike (the rain had still not buggered off!) and as it looked like it would be at least a few more days before we would get good weather, we made the call to head north to what is commonly called ‘the most attractive city in Norway’, also known as Bergen, before we came back south to tackle the more challenging hike.

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 25.08.2012 14:19 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

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