THERE WE ARE, with the #HowlinYoweller, feeling the superhuman-like gratitude we have for being able to live our Vanlife dreams, but living our dreams isn’t necessarily easy, it’s amazing, but easy very well may be the last thing it is. Everyday seems like we have some new mountain to climb before we can sit back and enjoy the view, sigh.
When I told Drew about the concept for this blog post he came up with 2 title ideas, 1. Our World Has Been ROCKED (by his hair?!):
And 2. Adventure is NOT at McDonalds:
I seriously considered the first one and quickly disregarded the second one as a “heat of the moment” type thing, because we are in fact, spending our first day in Croatia at a service plaza Mickey D’s trying desperately to catch up on wifi… It feels so wrong but with things like an unpaid Italian toll, a CA jury duty notice and an endless list of writing pieces to catch up on, we didn’t know where else to go without being surrounded by tourists, at a lack of parking spots, power plugs and the ability to justify ordering a coffee in exchange for 10 hours of workspace. CRAM SESH so we can escape the madness and get back to our fave places where the air is fresh, the stars are limitless and the dreams are big, LIKE THIS: (PS- We hope you like our new video intro! I cut all the shapes/letters out and Drew helped film using stop-motion animation.)
Given the fact that our wifi access will never be the same as long as we are living the #VanlifeEurope, we want you all to know that come November we have some BIG CHANGES in store! While we don’t want to reveal too much, what we can say is that we will finally have the time (and wifi) we need to share all the stories and upload all the videos that have been on our hearts (and to-do lists) all this time, so GET EXCITED!!
With all that put aside, let’s get to the good/even better stuff shall we! Like this, our first gelato of the trip, now that’s GOOD STUFF:
As of today, we have been traveling across Europe for exactly six months… WOAH. The last time we were able to write a post was (sadly) over a month ago, and since then we’ve spent a total of 37 days in France, 8 days in Italy and 4.5 days in Switzerland, making too many memories to count, ensuring the fact that our chance of having smile wrinkles when we’re old is HIGH – just how we like it.
So, in an attempt to fill you in, below are some of our favorite memories and places from the past few months! NOTE: Come November we will be working full-time to be able to turn each of the following adventures into full-fledged posts, with videos, how-to details and more! #adventureheroes:
1.First up we have Lake Annecy: We headed here without any prior research or knowledge on what to expect, just a strong recommendation from my grandpa, and from the moment we arrived we were like kids in a candy shop. We biked 40km around the entire lake from sun up until sundown:
Then we summited La Tournette, Annecy’s highest peak:
We went paragliding with Les Passagers du Vent, video below!:
And literally everyday we swam/bathed in the cleanest and (in our opinion) the most beautiful lake in Europe.
We then jutted over to Geneva for 2 rainy museum days and found ourselves missing the turquoise waters of Lake Annecy, so we decided to go back to celebrate Bastille Day! Here’s a video of the INCREDIBLE fireworks we saw in Paris on Bastille Day back in 2013. After re-watching our old footage we both agreed that we have NEVER been more blown away. #weloveyouParis:
2.Once we finally managed to peel ourselves away from Annecy’s sparkling shores, we headed straight for Chamonix, home of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, which also has the highest fatality rate of any mountain in Europe!:
Don’t worry, we didn’t attempt to summit that snowy giant (this time at least), but we did arrive to a 6-day block of PERFECT weather and decided we HAD TO do something EPIC with it.
Ever heard of the TMB? Otherwise known as the Tour du Mont Blanc? Well, it’s listed as one of the TOP 20 BEST HIKES IN THE WORLD by Nat Geo, and with time, weather and inspiration on our side, we headed to the nearest outdoor shop to enquire about making this “dream trail” our reality.
With hopes of embarking on our journey early the next morning, Mountain Access was able to confirm 5 nights of refuge stays in just 3 hours! We knew nothing about where we would be staying, just a vague idea of how to get there and the knowledge that they would be serving us dinner and breakfast each day. So, with maps, Kind bars from our US supply stash and some make shift packs, we were ready for one of the hardest, most rewarding, most unpredictable adventures of our lives.
6 days, 110 miles, 32,736 feet of ascent/descent, hiking through 3 countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) around the mighty massif of Mont Blanc… we saw sites some only dream of and felt pain we could only dream would end.
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend others to do it in such a limited amount of time, but we love the memories that we made and are excited to share what we learned to ensure that those who go after us have the most fulfilling/awakening/priceless experience possible. Full-post and documentary of our time on the TMB coming soon!
After 2 days of rest, we literally parked our van down by a peaceful little lake and DID NOT MOVE. We read, journaled, called our families, listened to the rain and rested. With our Schengen days numbered, the pressure was on to make the most of our time, so we decided to make some moves and head to the next country on our list…
3.ITALY! But not without a #vanlife mishap first… read more on that unexpected hiccup here. Once we were rockin’ and rollin’ again we continued on our way to Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy!
We enjoyed many nights pinned between our grill, camper and the calm, glistening waters, admiring the peaceful views and lack of (foreign) tourists:
Fun Fact: We noticed a ton of air mattresses on the beach which we soon learned (the HARD way) was because there is NO sand, only pebbles + rocks!
We were stunned by the beauty of Sirmione, went for a great run along the path in Malcesine and took the cable car up + hiked Monte Baldo:
We biked the epic Old Ponale Road:
And Drew finally satiated his hunger for wind in Campione. NOTE: The lake’s best kitesurfing + hammock lounging (in the Olive Trees!) is with Kite Campione (and Giorgio is The Man).
After a week we ended up falling in love with the place, but being that we were on our 89th Schengen day, we had to get out of dodge (but not without getting spiffied up a bit first) and onto Croatia we went:
Now that we’ve got you all caught up, the question that remains is “WHAT’S NEXT?!” Well, over the next 3 months, we will be attending the Defected Croatia music fest, co-leading the “Adriatic Adventure” trip with Carpe Mundo and living/loving all things Croatia!
Since we prefer not to spend the limited time we have in this beautiful country glued to our screens, to follow along with our adventures be sure to check out our “Where are we now?!” page + follow us on Instagram! Thanks to our Tep global wifi device we are able to easily and regularly update both of these via our phones:
Again, as Americans, we are allowed 90 days in the Schengen countries each 180 day period + we are limited to 90 days in Croatia (full post about our time in Croatia here). So, once our time is up here, we plan to make our way into Slovenia and maybe back into Italy to enjoy Venice in October (sans crowds) before making our mysteriously exciting “NEXT BIG MOVE” in November! More to come all-ways.