The old joke says “Join the army. Travel the world. Meet interesting people. And Kill them” It’s not the only way to travel the world and meet interesting people, try touring Europe in a caravan!
Barbara and Maurizio in Vietnam. Carol and Steve in the midlands of the UK. Barbara and Allan in Normandy. Jordie and Lisette in the Netherlands. Tony and Katty in Belgium. Irene and Nick in Venice. And Davide and Sara in Rome.
We’ve met them because we are not staying in Hotels but in caravan parks and campgrounds, or because they are travelling with their children. They are all wonderful in their own way and they’ve all become friends.
It began with Barbara and Maurizio in Vietnam. Here was an Italian couple who had come to South East Asia to adopt their little boy, Marco Long. Marco spent his first two years in a Vietnamese orphanage. Barbara and Maurizio have spent thousands of dollars and months of work to get him out and to take him home. We were hoping to meet up with them in Rome and see how they were all doing. Unfortunately we arrived in the peak holiday season and they had already left for the Dolomites for their annual holiday.
Welsh couple, Steve and Carol forced black pudding on us on our first few days of camping in the caravan. They were alongside us and despite being only our age, they had their three grandchildren that they look after with them. Their sense of fun was just too infectious to ignore.
Barbara and Allan asked us to house sit for them for a month in Normandy. Our task was to water their vege garden and feed the chooks. They have also become friends, along with Barbara’s mother, Vera.
Next was Jordie and Lisette in the Netherlands. We were alongside them and their three kids for a week. The children played together and shared toys and bikes and scooters, and the four of us forged a friendship where perhaps under normal circumstances it may not have flourished.
In between the campsites we caught up with Denis and Tanja Katzer. We first met Denis and Tanja when they were walking a team of camels from Broome to Rockhampton between 2000 and 2003. It turned out that they were at home in Nurnberg as we passed through. The caravan was parked in the street for two days and we ate and laughed and drank wine like the old friends we are.
In Venice it was Irene and Nick. Nick is an upfront friendly Englishman. He just came over and started chatting. Later that evening they both came over with their son, and ther 5 of us chatted away like old friends catching up.
Our most recent friends are Davide and Sara. We met them in the caravan park in Rome. Davide’s eyes popped just a bit when I told him we were from Australia. They went even wider when he found out how long we were travelling for. Their little boy Lorenzo had already made friends with James and Emily despite him being 2 years old and only speaking Italian, and our two speaking only English.
All these people have offered to help us if we ever need it while travelling in their country. All these people have offered us advice and hospitality and friendship. Both Jo and I think that perhaps if we had a more conventional holiday, staying in hotels and cottages, not living side by side with others in their wheeled houses, we would not have made the friends we have.
Perhaps it would be more like other holidays, were you have a polite chat with people and move on. That’s just not the way it is when camping and caravanning. Emails have been exchanged. Handshakes and kisses and the occasional hug have marked our goodbyes.
We are travelling the World. We are meeting fascinating people. Not once have I wanted to kill any of them!