Kiri and


Great expectations

September 5th, 2014 (by Steve)

Hindsight is a funny thing. We thought that we had a pretty good idea about what we were letting ourselves into when we set out in Bertha. So, let’s look back on some of the questions that people asked us prior to the trip, including the answers we gave then and our answers now we’ve actually done the trip.

Which countries in Europe are you going to visit?

Where are you going first?

  • France – it’s quite difficult to avoid (not that we want to avoid it!)
  • France was indeed the first stop of both loops. We took 4 days to get to the Swiss border on the first loop, then only 1 day to get to the Belgium border on the second loop. We spent a few days in the south of France on our way to Spain in January and a few days in the north of France at the end of the second loop, but aside from that, we’ve left France for exploring properly at a later point in our lives.

How long are you going for?

  • A year…but with a gap in the middle, as our breakdown cover requires us to return to the UK after 180 days. We’ll use this as an opportunity to visit friends and family that we’ll no doubt be missing by then.
  • In reality, this turned out to be 8 months on the road, with a month back in the UK between the 2 loops. We were right about missing family and friends though; they were the biggest draw back to the UK for us.

What will you do if you get pregnant?

  • After extensive research we have concluded that it won’t be possible for Steve to get pregnant, so we’re not worried.
  • No medical miracles here.

What languages do you speak?

  • We both have GCSE French…and Steve can say “with cheese” in many languages, but otherwise we’re a little stuck. We’ll make sure that we can say a few basic phrases in the language of each country that we visit so that we can at least start conversations without using English
  • We were quite successful with learning a few stock words and phrases for each country we visited, although Greece proved to be the trickiest (due to the different alphabet). Often I’d start a conversation with a practised phrase, then have a moment of panic when I realised I didn’t understand the response and therefore would have to revert to English. As we spent such a short time in each country, I don’t think the languages had time to make it into our long term memories!

Do you know a lot about engines?

  • It depends on your definition of “a lot”. If by that you mean “very little”, then yes. We do have breakdown cover that covers us across the whole of Europe and we will have duct tape, cable ties and a hammer to hand.
  • Our knowledge of engines has certainly grown in the last year as various things have needed to be tweaked. Our two breakdowns turned out to be very minor problems; the first a blocked air filter (caused by a leaky exhaust manifold which we fixed between the two loops) and the second a disconnected idle cut off solenoid. Not bad at all for a 24 year old motorhome. The duct tape, cable ties and hammer were all used at various points, but not on the engine!
    The morning of the first breakdown; checking oil level

What will you do if you meet a bear?

  • Kick it where it hurts. Maybe not. We’ll probably have to get some bear pepper spray as apparently motorhomes can be a little vulnerable. Either that or we’ll rig up an electric fence to the solar panel which should suffice in the daytime…! We don’t underestimate the danger of a bear attack
  • We didn’t meet any bears. In fact, we didn’t have any run-ins with wildlife, apart from mosquitoes! Actually, that’s a lie. A duck flew into Bertha in the early hours of one morning as part of what we can only assume to have been a mating ritual.

Are you taking an umbrella?

  • Probably not…although we will no doubt find some rain as we travel. We’ll make sure that we’re well kitted out for all weathers, but in as lightweight and quick drying a way as possible
  • Although it didn’t always feel like it, we actually had a lot of dry days as we were travelling. We did actually take an umbrella, which came out probably once or twice as we preferred to wear waterproof coats.

How are you funding a year of travelling?

  • We’re mainly paying for this as a result of living frugally and saving over the last few years, but we have also been thankful for money that people gave as wedding presents. It may be that the money doesn’t last a year… in which case the trip will be cut short
  • Well, the money did last a year. Our frugal living had to continue on the road as well to make sure that the money lasted, so we had very few meals out and always thought hard about paying for visiting attractions. But there was so much that we could do, see and appreciate for free in each country, that we didn’t feel like we were missing out just because we were keeping an eye on our budget.

There were some areas of our travels where we realised how naive we’d been in our expectations (thinking that we’d be able to cover the WHOLE of Europe in a year), but other areas where we were spot on. One of the biggest lessons that we’ve learned from all of this is to not hold on too tightly to plans and expectations. It’s when we’ve ventured into the unknown and just gone with the flow that some of the most exciting things have happened. Let’s hope we can carry that forward into our lives post-trip.

4 Responses

I don’t believe you kept a weather chart.

No, I’m sorry, I’ve met you, I absolutely do believe that you kept a weather chart, I just hoped for so much more…

Oh, it’s okay James, there is so much more… we also recorded miles we each drove, what the main activity was, highest and lowest altitudes, expenditure and of course exchange rate 🙂

Well I for one am so impressed by all the charts and data you have posted. But maybe that’s my brain!

I have enjoyed your blog! Keep going with the flow and enjoy the next part of your journey!

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.