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In the first 51 days of our journey, we drove more than 3,700 km with our camper, crossing 5 countries and staying in 29 different locations. Hardly a place where we stayed longer than a day at the beginning. So it is no wonder that in the first few weeks we did not manage to reach the actual project for the start of our journey: namely to travel slowly and to let ourselves be drifted. We drifted, but we were too driven of our curiosity and bad weather forecasts. Both us and the children noticed that the daily changing places and impressions were stressful and we had to adjust our speed. One of the words we have heard from many travel families is: “Travel slowly, you can not keep the usual pace over such a long period of traveling with children!” We did not follow these words. But as so often in life, you have to make the experience yourself …
Actually, we have really done it at the end in Italy to reduce the pace and mentally not always to be busy with the next destination. We stayed several days in places that we liked and this gave us the opportunity to look back on the impressions of the past few weeks.
And indeed, we were already able to experience many things: the amazing mountains of Austria, an impressive Slovenia with the seaside town of Bled and the caves of Postojna, the natural spectacle of the Plivice Lakes in Croatia or the fascinating hilly landscape of Tuscany, to name just a few examples. But what remains of these weeks are not only the special places, but also the encounters with people, whom we got to know on the way up to here.
So we got to know like-minded people in different places, who – like us – are on the road for a longer period of time. At the same time, motivation and general conditions are quite different. Some are looking for a new direction, while others just want to have a good time with the family. Some have quit their jobs, others use parental leave, unpaid leave or are fortunate enough to be able to do their job on the go as “digital nomads”. At this point, Frauke and I became aware once again how privileged we are through the sabbatical and that such a program is far from being offered by all companies.
Another encounter remains in our memory near the Plivice Lakes in Croatia: Vivi, an elderly lady who offered her private field for little money as a campground. She told us that she is living her life in modest circumstances. Her only possession is the farmhouse inherited from her parents, including 3 hectares of land, which she is no longer able to maintain properly. However, you couldn’t recognize that on her mood. She was a loving, extremely accommodating hostess and did not seem frustrated with her situation. She tried to make everyone feel comfortable. So she fired a campfire that evening in her field and invited all the guests to gather around it. No one was able to reject this invitation in the growing cold temperature in the evening. When Vivi had provided blankets for some freezing guests, she withdrew herself and we had some exciting conversations with the other guests.
From Volterra, a small town in Tuscany, located directly on a small mountain and known for its beautiful sunsets, we will certainly remember another encounter for a long time to come. It was breathtaking how the sunset spreads the red light over the horizon and makes the play of colors in the Tuscan countryside even more beautiful. That evening, we were fortunate that an elderly gentleman musically accompanied this scene with its hang (a musical instrument made from two hemispherical steel sheet segments glued together). A fantastic atmosphere that made us stand silent for several minutes. When the sun had set, the older gentleman introduced himself as Giovanni. He told us that he has lived in Volterra for over 30 years and is still fascinated by this Tuscan sunset. He accompanies tour groups through Tuscany, who come here to do Tai Chi, yoga or meditation. That’s what he said … something like this… At least that’s how we understood it, because he spoke only Italian, and we tried to answer in Italo-German. So there was a conversation, where both sides barely understood each other, but smiled at each other and in the end were totally satisfied with the conversation. A funny situation – but certainly not the last of its kind on our big trip …
The European tour is now over for us, but the journey and our adventure is just starting. Southeast Asia is the destination with the countries Thailand, Myanmar and Philippines. We will fly to Bangkok and spend some days there. And then we will see where we are going. We have now found the right traveler’s speed….