ON THE ROAD IN EUROPE

MELODIE SHAKE­SPEAR AND HER BOYFRIEND HARRY DE ROTH SWAPPED THEIR COSY HOME IN CORN­WALL, FOR A FEW MONTHS OF FREE­DOM.

Surf Girl - - Indian Summer Travel Guide -

The trip

Pack­ing for our van ad­ven­ture was so ex­cit­ing. I hadn’t done any­thing like this since I was much younger. It’s so much eas­ier tak­ing a home on wheels than stuff­ing ev­ery­thing into a suit­case. With no re­turn ticket or time sched­ule we could go wher­ever we wanted, when­ever we wanted – and it felt so good.

Our ad­ven­ture took us along the coast­lines of France, Spain and Por­tu­gal, in­clud­ing Brit­tany, Hossegor, Biar­ritz and The Pyre­nees; Za­rautz, the Wave­g­ar­den Cove and Barcelona; then Peniche, Eri­ceira, Figueira da Foz and Lis­bon.

Highs

One of the highs was hang­ing out in Hossegor. It will al­ways be a spe­cial place for me, as it’s where Harry and I first met. The waves are also re­ally fun – from per­fect bar­rels to left and right walls. When the sun was shin­ing and the surf was up we’d spend all day on the beach, but even on flat days there are things to do, from wan­der­ing around the cool town to find­ing skate parks in­doors or eat­ing moules frites at our favourite restau­rant.

An­other high was a spon­ta­neous daytrip to Barcelona. We spent all day wan­der­ing through the palm-lit­tered city, quirky lit­tle back streets and the beach, eye­ing up the in­cred­i­ble Gaudi build­ings and en­joy­ing the foodie scene. We were also lucky enough to be in­vited to the Wave­g­ar­den Cove in Basque coun­try. I caught 50 waves, which were all per­fect right-han­ders; it blew my mind. “On the road in a van you’ s so many amaz­ing sights, camp in in­cred­i­ble spots by the beach, ex­pe­ri­ence sun­sets that wi blow your mind and m t c l peo­ple along the way.”

Lows

On ev­ery van trip there will be lows: con­sec­u­tive days of rain, rub­bish waves, feel­ing home­sick, want­ing to rip Harry’s head off and no WiFi. But th­ese mo­ments only make the highs even sweeter. One of our lows was hav­ing our video cam­era stolen with all of our surf clips on it. So al­ways make sure you keep your eye on your be­long­ings at the beach.

Our big­gest low was break­ing down in the mid­dle of the Pyre­nees, when we de­cided to take the no-toll route back from Barcelona to Hossegor. It was the al­ter­na­tor that went, which is quite easy to fix, but un­for­tu­nately we broke down on a pub­lic hol­i­day, up a moun­tain and two hours drive from any garage (which ap­par­ently meant we weren’t cov­ered on our in­surance – so make sure you al­ways read the small print be­fore go­ing on a trip). We were stuck up that moun­tain for two days, freez­ing cold with very lit­tle food or wa­ter; it was a night­mare. €600 and three days later we were back on the road.

Prac­ti­cal tips

Be­fore we left home we stocked up on condiments, pasta, sauces, tins of food, hot choco­late, tea bags, soups and all of the es­sen­tials needed to start your meals. All around Europe you’ll find Lidl su­per­mar­kets – the per­fect pit stop to stock up and fill up from the epic bak­ery. Al­ways carry your own bags with you, as they seem to love hand­ing out a load of un­nec­es­sary plas­tic bags.

We also made sure that we checked into a camp­site once a week to give the van a nice cleanout, have show­ers, get our laun­dry done and give our dishes a proper clean. Al­ways carry some­thing to make a wash­ing line from, as there is noth­ing worse than hav­ing stinky wet wet­suits and tow­els hang­ing around in the van.

My big­gest tip is don’t leave any valu­ables on dis­play. Also try and pick up rub­bish off the beach wher­ever you go; it will make you feel good and def­i­nitely make a dif­fer­ence. Fi­nally, bring a pack of cards – they will def­i­nitely be needed.

Fol­low Melodie In­sta­gram

@melodie.shake­spear

With no re­turn ticket or time sched­ule we could go wher­ever we wanted, when­ever we wanted – and it felt so g d.

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