Travel Journal


(Sunday 11 October 2015) by Mariken
No matter how much we would want to, we cannot influence everything that happens in our lives. What we can keep a hold on, though, is the way we deal with things. After two months of being 'stuck' in a dependant position, I was on the brink of a depression. Maybe not medically speaking, but I was absolutely, totally not happy. It may sound spoiled, as obviously we live something of a 'dream life': no jobs, no stress, total freedom to do what you want every day. And I would be the last one to say that this is the wrong assumption. We do live a dream life and we would never have chosen otherwise.

However, some requirements do need to be met, in order for us to be able to live this kind of life. Our car is our main means of transportation, so when it breaks down (although that has never happened yet; a Niva is always broken, but never breaks down!), we're stuck quite literally. Of course we could use public transport, but there is no way we can carry everything that is inside the car with us. Our tent is our home, we do not have another house. Without a tent we either have to spent a lot of money or we have to rely on the hospitality of others. We don't have a lot of money, because, hey! No jobs! And although we are grateful for the very generous hospitality people sometimes show us (a friend lets us crash at her place every time we are in Maastricht, for which she deserves the maximum amount of kuddos available!), we do not want to misuse it. And sometimes you just want to have your own space. The past two months therefore, have been very hard for us, as we were without a car for more than half a month and without a tent for more than a month. The car is slowly dying, but still drives and the issue with the tent is still not solved.

However, these things happen. You can't prevent your car from braking down, and when the weather is bad, even the fabric of a Hilleberg black label tent apparently rips to shreds. The only way to prevent this, is locking yourselves indoors and not going anywhere, which obviously is not an option, at least not for us. What we can influence is our way of dealing with setbacks like these. I have been everywhere: I was angry, I yelled, I whined, I complained, I even cried, I despaired and then I was angry again. And after two months we decided it was enough. You're only as dependant on others as you make yourself. So, on 1 October, we repacked the car, we grabbed our old tent, checked the amount of duct tape available and set off to France again. If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

Just making that decision, taking control of our own life again, felt tremendously good. And being in France feels good as well. Our first destination was Guédelon, which we had visited two years ago already. Now that the summer crowds had gone, we could enjoy the castle and the workplace even more. We spent an entire day there, strolling around through the forest and the medieval village, talking to volunteers, listening to explanations and generally having a very good day. We drank choco-coffee, not lemonade, but you get the point.

The essentials of life...
The essentials of life...
After Guédelon we headed southwards, in the direction of Orpierre. Jacco had a tough day behind the wheel though, so we decided to stop early, find a campsite and relax a bit. This brought us to Tain l'Hermitage, which houses the Valrhona chocolate factory. Our English friends had bought us some really yummie chocolate from Valrhona, so we knew where we were heading as soon as the tent was pitched: the Valrhona shop! In addition I visited the chocolate museum, or whatever it is called. It is a tremendous exhibition that explains everything about chocolate and on top of that, it is very interactive, as in: many delicious tasting opportunities. Definitely a lot better than lemonade!

Unfortunately, we experienced another setback in Orpierre. After a very nice day of climbing (sun, gorgeous autumn colours in the forest, beautiful rocks, good routes), we found our car broken into. As by some miracle, nothing was stolen, only the lock in one of the doors is broken. We reported the break-in to the gendarmerie, who regarded the matter seriously. They even took pictures of the broken lock and wrote a full report. I still have to figure out whether we can claim damages from one of our (many) insurances, but in the end, who cares? The car still drives, we can lock the door from the inside and nothing was stolen. When I reported this to the campsite, I was informed that on that same parking at least two rental cars were broken into as well and things were stolen out of these cars, so we made a narrow escape. The lemonade that evening was made out of grapes and hop respectively and tasted a bit sour, but it went well with the pizzas.

After this, we no longer wanted to stay in Orpierre, so we packed everything and drove to one of the most beautiful areas in France, especially in autumn: Les Dentelles de Montmirail. The area is covered in vineyards in all colours imaginable, green, red, yellow, golden brown, and it has some really beautiful crags. Beaumes de Venise has a brilliant campsite, cheap and with all facilities we want, most importantly a hot shower! We had our second good day of climbing today, sunny and warm on good rocks. Unfortunately, the parkings near the crags are nowadays off limits apparently, so we have to walk up from the foot of the hill with all our gear, but at least that will allow us to become very fit again. Sweet tea tonight to accompany our pasta, with some nice Valrhona chocolate for desert.

  • Autumn colors, nice weather for climbing and chocolate! by Marije
  • Weet je nog?! by Marike
    • Jazeker!! by Mariken

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