Meeting some Germans

December 15, 2017

Moving into a van was just a random thought last winter. I had no idea if it would be feasible to work from a van across Europe. I ended up on Tanja’s blog when I was researching mobile internet solutions. Tanja had already lived and worked in a van for more than a year. After exchanging some mails with her, I felt quite positive and bought my van.

Meeting Tanja and Andre

Since I’ve been on the road, Tanja and I haven’t exchanged any further mails. I remembered that Tanja usually spends the winter in Portugal, so I sent her another mail last week. Apparently she and her boyfriend Andre were close to me. A few days later, I met them in a parking lot on a little hill with a nice view on Santiago do Cacém .

View from the parking lot on Santiago do Cacém

Tanja and Andre met while they were both traveling. When they became a couple she “moved” into his “apartment”: a big camper van based on a Mercedes-Benz Vario. Together with two dogs they live in Andre’s Vario and use Tanja’s smaller van for day trips into cities and so on.

Andre is probably well-known in the German van scene. He runs a blog that offers a lot of useful information about solar systems for camper vans. His website was very helpful for me when I picked the components for my solar system. He has been living in camper vans for about six years and turned his experiences into a business. On his online shop, he sells everything you need to operate your van with solar power.

We spent three relaxed days together with our vans parked next to each other.

Andre's and my van parked next to each other

We were all working on our own projects. During our breaks, we sat together, talked and enjoyed the sun. German camper vans would show up once in awhile. I’ve never seen as many Germans in Portugal as I did in this parking lot. Most of them were customers of Andre and drove by to get their solar system installed, repaired or extended.

Meeting Ingrid and Olaf

Andre and Tanja are well connected and some of their visitors were friends who just came by to say hello. :wave: Like Ingrid and Olaf, a retired couple who sold their house five years ago to enjoy their life. Their vehicle was way more fancy than my old clunker. As mentioned in a previous post, I usually prefer the simple vans with “character”. But when I got to know Ingrid and Olaf, I learnt that prejudices might not always be true. Not everyone who owns a fancy RV is boring and watches TV all day long (although a lot of them do! :satisfied:).

They are double my age and enjoy a little more comfort now. However, they used to travel with different vehicles like this beautiful Bulli:

Ingrid and Olaf's Bulli

When they told me their stories, I was impressed. They drove all the way down to Syria 25 years ago. There was no 3G, Google Maps and suchlike back then. They had to collect local coins and look for public phones to stay in touch with their friends and families. They didn’t work in a mobile office and had video calls with their co-workers every week. They went on a real adventure.

Places that Ingrid and Olaf visited

How did I dare think they were boring people? Compared to what they’ve already done, I’m the boring person! :wink:

I really enjoyed the time with Tanja, Andre, Ingrid and Olaf. However, the parking lot wasn’t really exciting any more when the weather turned bad.

Cloudy parking lot

My goal when leaving Madrid, was getting to the ocean, and I was so close. It was about time to reach it! :minibus: :wave: