Now to the girl who has no name… We are slowly confirming the name of the van (similar to Lina- took two weeks!) We have had lots of input from friends on Facebook (has been very entertaining – thank you people) but nothing has as yet stuck. Except for Danke van (our friend Leonie’s favourite and potentially her idea? My idea? Please confirm Leonie and Guy!) – which means ‘thank you’ in German and in a way intimates our gratitude for this big trip, for this precious, wild adventure. And let’s be honest, it just sounds peculiar and slightly ridiculous which we like.
One suggested name for the van was ‘Lucky’ given that we escaped disaster on Guy’s first parking of the car. He forgot to pull up the hand brake and we rolled and stopped about 5 cm before colliding with a little red car. Our luck ran out however on our first night in Holland when, after driving far too long in one day and crossing borders, Guy reversed into a street sign. It was so very sad. A definite low on the big trip. But big picture – it’s fine, more than fine. Things could always be worse. And for the most part things are just rather marvellous.
So let’s take a little tour of Danke Van.
Being German, she is rather well organised and everything has its place. There is ample cupboard space, even a little closet to hang clothes and every window has a shade and flyscreen that are connected so when one goes up the other goes down automatically. No flies on me. Danke also has a flyscreen door that my dad would just delight in and a huge skylight also with fly screen.
The bed situation is as follows: a huge queen bed at the top over the driver seats, a smaller and shorter double bed can be assembled where the table and is, and then just opposite the table (even when still set up) is a long, narrow, bench like single bed. After trying out a few sleeping scenarios we have concluded that our best option is to have the kids sleep head to toe up on the top bed near the wall and either Guy or I sleeps with them and the other one sleeps on the long narrow bed. This way the kids are kept warm and cosy up the top, one of us gets a good night sleep alone and we don’t have to put the table away every night which encourages a romantic dinner or dessert when the kids are asleep and a rainy night option for sitting inside. The kids are sleeping longer than they ever have (and going to sleep later too!) and one of us is always with them which is nice too. We bought sheets, blankets and kids pillows in Hamburg and all has worked out well. There has been a bit of head banging up in the top bed but nothing too grim.
The kitchen is compact and very user friendly. As already mentioned we have the table and two two-seaters all set up permanently so meals can be eaten there or outside when the weather is good. The kids can also do craft, draw and puzzles at the table. We have a fridge and freezer big enough to store a few days worth of food and cupboards for pantry and dishes. I have been looking forward to living a more minimalist lifestyle and my one frying pan, two pots and small serving bowl are certainly campaigners for this lifestyle change. We have four plates, four bowls, four small plates, four spoons, four knives … I think you get the gist. And a bottle opener, of course, that has been used frequently for bottles of red. More wine than I have drunk in years.
The bathroom is super clever. Our toilet is a chemical toilet that needs emptying about every two days. Guy and I are taking turns for this fun task and we are trying to use the campground toilets and friends’ toilets as much as possible J. The shower is tiny (says Noa) but we can still use it comfortably and there are three hooks for towels and two small compartments for toiletries plus a mirror. There is also a skylight which helps with ventilation.
The driver and passenger seats are very comfortable and half the time I sit in the back with the kids and pretend I am Elsa and do a puppet show. We brought our Tom Tom and we have an app that shows all the ACSI listed campsites in Europe. Noa has made some decorations for Danke and the more we are living in Danke the more she is becoming our home.
That’s about it for the tour. I feel like we are living in campervan luxury. Yes it is small, and yes we are still navigating the space and it’s early days but I reckon we will be sad to farewell Danke Van in three months.
So last night after writing this post we had our most difficult camper van night. It had been a hot day in Zwolle, Holland and the van was – HOT. It took a very long time to get the girls to sleep and our sleeping arrangements changed to us using all three beds. Lina slept downstairs on the double, Guy on the long single and Noa and I up the top. Suffice to say, I’m gad we had these options. Luxury is a state of mind.