We are on the road again!

It feels so good to write this! And it gets even better: I am sipping my Georgian wine (which we just got as a gift from some locals) on my camping chair in the sun, wearing a tank top and shorts and with the sound of a wild river floating by. This is what we love about travelling! We are located on the edge of the Lagodekhi National Park, in the Caucasus region. We parked our van next to a ranger station, on a big open field in the middle of nowhere. It’s just us and Polly, Brian and their dog Busso here. It almost feels like there is no Corona!

But… let’s start from the beginning. Yesterday, we finally left Tbilisi. Wow, it felt like we were ‘moving house’ again! It took us a few hours to pack up all our stuff, but then we were ready to leave. As you probably know, we have spent the last 5 weeks with Polly and Brian, a Dutch couple. Together with them, we left Tbilisi, heading towards the South East of Georgia. Close to the border of Azerbaijan are some monasteries that we wanted to visit. These David Gareja monasteries are located in a beautiful landscape. Polly calls it ‘bacon hills’, we will try to add some pictures so you can decide for yourself. Unfortunately, the last 30 km to the monasteries was all off-road. On one big bump, we even hurt Tiny again. We now have a loose (and low hanging) wastewater tank, which makes it difficult to drive off-road again. When we go back to the city, we will do another garage retreat.

However, when we got there, it was worth the drive. The surroundings were stunning and the one monastery we could visit was quite picturesque too. The bigger one that we didn’t get to visit, was too close to the border of Azerbeidszjan and the border patrol wouldn’t let us through. We guess this is because of Corona.

After visiting the monastery, we started looking for a place to camp. We were not allowed to sleep in the ‘border zone’, so we had to drive all the way back to the nearest village. Because it was getting late, we decided to ask some locals where we could sleep. Soon, a nice guy let us use his closed campsite for the night, for free!

The night was pretty bad: the wind was so strong, that it felt like we were sleeping on a boat on a wild sea! We decided to leave early the next morning (today), and the main goal was finding a nice wildcamping spot. That really turned out not to be easy! We will spare you all the details, but on our third try we finally found a spot! Without the help of the apps, but with the help of some very friendly locals who even gave us a bottle of chacha and 2 liters of homemade wine. We will probably hang out here for a while!

The spot is beautiful, and we are located 20 meters from the entrance of the National Park. One of these days, we are planning to hike up to a 40m high waterfall. We will enjoy the sunshine and all the things this place has to offer. This afternoon, Nienke already took a dip in the wild, but o so clear river! Right now, she is prepping a fire for our dinner. Wow, it feels amazing to be camping and just to be back in nature again! We are going to love it here!

 

Time to say goodbye

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”

© Winnie the Pooh

 

The last few weeks were quite hard.

First, we had to finish all our school stuff, which was quite a bit of work, especially for Tamara. Besides, finishing the year with the students is mostly fun, but also kind of hectic. At the end of the week we both had our goodbye parties at work. That truly was the weirdest day of happiness and sadness all at once!

The next week was full of goodbyes. We had both scheduled many coffee-breaks, lunches and diners with friends and family, to spend one last moment with them. At least, for the time being… Meanwhile, there were many things that had to be arranged, like insurance, our postal address and some shopping. All in all, we rarely had one moment to rest or to talk to each other properly.

We spent our last weekend in The Netherlands with our (grand)parents. Those days were calm and full of food and hugs. Oh, by the way, there was some shopping too, since finding some essential things had proven to be hard.

On Monday morning we had only one person left to say goodbye to: Tamara’s sister Sharon. We had breakfast together, but we soon had to go to run some last errands. Sharon walked with us to the van, made some nice photos and waved us goodbye.

Although saying goodbye had been really hard, we were also happy that we could finally drive off. Like Winnie says, we are lucky to know all these amazing and loving people that we had to say goodbye to. It’s not a goodbye to last forever; we are convinced that it’s only a goodbye until we meet again.

Thanks to everyone who has been a great friend, either very close or further away. We will miss you.

Until we meet again.

Counting down the days

In less than a month we will have left the Netherlands.

We have been asked a thousand times if we’re getting nervous for our trip and yes, we are. The date of departure is getting really close now, so we’re literally counting down the days. There even have been moments in which we already had to say goodbye to people. That’s quite scary, to be honest.

Since we’ve still got so many things to do before we leave, there’s a lot on our schedule. We’re getting a bit tired of all the preparations, which means we’ll probably be relieved when we actually drive off. The last weeks we’ve been working on Tiny: he got his check-ups, new back tires, a 12 to 240 Volt inverter and some spare parts to bring with us. Last week we gave Tiny a bath and yesterday we sold his sunscreen. The next thing on the list is to add a roof rack for more storage options and to add our logo and website on the outside of the van.

In the meantime, we got new passports, we got our vaccinations, we ordered business cards and we bought goodbye-presents. A big task that’s left is to get rid of the last things we don’t need anymore. A lot of stuff needs to be tossed away, but there’s also the car, a bicycle, a coffee machine and a table with two chairs. Hopefully someone will be happy to adopt them. In addition, because we have to leave the municipality we’re currently living in, we need to arrange an official post address to be able to receive mail from the authorities. Let’s hope they won’t make a fuss about it (last time they made it quite hard).

All in all, time is moving quickly and we’ve already completed a lot of the things on our list. However, the hardest part has yet to come. Saying goodbye to our friends and family will definitely bring up many tears.

Time to plan

Spring break has arrived, so we have been using these last two weeks to arrange a lot of things for our journey. From April 19th, we have been living in the (huge!) house of a friend and there’s plenty of room to organise all our paperwork. Let’s tell you about what we’ve done so far.

Beforehand, we had made a list of things that needed attention. We started with what we thought was the simplest task: buying new mountainbikes! We already knew which types we wanted, since we had been searching the internet for a while. Unfortunately, the gears of the bicycle that Tamara chose weren’t functioning correctly, so we had to wait two days before another bike came in. The day after, we made a test ride and so far the mountainbikes have proven to be great!

The next thing on the list was to visit the mechanic to make an appointment for next month. Tiny, our home, hasn’t moved for over 9 months now. Therefore he has to be checked thoroughly before he hits the road again. Besides, we want to make some adjustments to the van, like putting on a roof rack and getting him some new tires.

Next, we ordered a new mattress. The one we’ve been sleeping on is still the original from 2002; it’s old and it’s full of mould from last winter. Since the slatted bed base is of the same age and has also been affected by the mould, we’ve had to find a solution for that too. Because the size of the bed is unusual, we thought that would be quite a challenge. Fortunately, we were able to pick up a second hand bed base and cut the slats in the right size. And putting them in the frame is definitely not the hardest part!

During the days, we took care of some administrative things too. We’ve made copies of our most important documents, we’ve cancelled or adjusted insurances and memberships, we’ve found out about visa and border crossings and we’ve made an appointment with the doctor for our vaccines. But most importantly, we had to write our resignation letters! They had to be turned in before May 1, to be in time for our three months notice.

All in all, these weeks have been busy. We have also been sleeping a lot though, so getting back to work shouldn’t be that bad. Only nine more weeks to go!

The perks of camping life

We have been living our live at a campground for over 4 months now. And yes, to answer the big question; we still really enjoy it! Some people find it hard to believe, therefore I will elaborate on the perks of camping life.
Let’s start with housekeeping… If I’d spend 30 minutes cleaning Tiny, it would look brand new. When I feel like cleaning, it only takes 15 minutes and as soon as I’m getting into it, there is just no more house to clean.
Next, our finances. I won’t tell you a lot about our bills, but let’s just say it’s definitely an advantage to live on a campground. This has even been one of the reasons we moved Tiny to the campground in the first place, since it allows us to save more money for our trip.
Living at a campground truly gives us a holiday feeling. The campground we are currently situated at, has an outdoor pool which was still open in September. After a long day at work there was nothing more pleasant than to put on our bathing suit and dive in. The water was freezing, so we usually left the pool after a short swim, but it was nice and refreshing. When after our swim we laid out in the sun with a good book, we felt like it was still summer vacation!
When the days were too cold or we didn’t feel like swimming, we put up our hammock and enjoyed our good book there. At the moment it’s quite cold and often rainy, which makes us cuddle up under a blanket and just watch one of our favourite shows on Netflix. We pile all our pillows on the bed and turn it into a warm and comfortable couch. For Christmas we’ve even put up decorations and lights!
To upgrade our living space, we’ve attached a tent to Tiny. Although it’s a little too cold now, we’ve turned it into a nice living area. We’ve put in a little couch and sofa, a rug on the floor and some lighting. It really feels like a cosy little home.
‘Camping life’ , we are loving it!

Since it’s not only been sunshine and rainbows, I will end this blog with some less enjoyable aspects of living in Tiny. I’ve just finished doing our dishes. You would think doing dishes isn’t much of a hassle… and I even used to enjoy doing the dishes at a campground… but believe me… that’s over. The washing facility at the campground doesn’t have a warm water tap, so we can’t take our dishes to a decent sink. That means we are doing our dishes in Tiny, but the sink is about half the size of our plates. We have been doing the dishes in a bucket outside, but this means boiling water in our 1L water cooker (3 times before the bucket is full)… Finishing the dishes then leaves us with a soaked towel. This brings us to another disadvantage: things take forever to dry! In our tiny space, the air gets pretty humid and so does everything in it. Putting on a damp sweater in the morning isn’t the best way to start the day.
Last but not least: our ‘Porta Potti’. Tiny has got a portable toilet, but we haven’t been using it much. Mainly because emptying it all the time is not our favourite thing to do. So whenever we need to go to the toilet, we have a 100m walk. Fun in the sun, but not so much in the rain or when it’s cold.

To make a long story short, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. However, to make sure we can keep enjoying camping life, we kindly ask the winter to treat us gently.