After our last adventure in the camping van, Svenja and I were eager to get out on the road again. Fast-forward to last week when the fates came together in our favour, as Svenja had vacation time and we were able to borrow the van again. While we originally wanted to drive to Sweden, time and budget constraints made us reconsider, and we settled on a doable alternative: Normandy. It was a perfect destination for the two of us as confirmed history nerds, but the landscape had something to offer as well.
Over the next week or so I’ll be transcribing my journal from our trip into blog posts, and posting them here – of course with photos!
First, a note to how we got around: Paul, the humble 20+ year old converted Ford Transit, was a loyal comrade for the trip. Diesel-fired with an unadvisable top speed of 120 km/h, he provided a cheap and convenient mode of transport as well as accommodation for our bumbling around the Norman countryside – at a relaxed average speed of 70km/h. Camping sites are pretty common in the region, so we never had an issue of finding anywhere to stay. Indeed, we liked our one campsite right on Juno Beach so much that we stayed three days there – but more on that at a later date. Some people seem to camp for days or even weeks straight at these places, which were pretty cramped by Canadian standards, but privacy hedges, electricity, and “Sanitaire Blocs” made them worth our while.
On the first day we departed Trier a little later than I had anticipated, which shouldn’t have been a problem: I had booked a camping site near Honfleur, and according to Google Maps, the drive would only take 5.5 hours, 6 tops.
Well, in a normal car, capable of braving the French highway’s 130km/h speed limit. It goes without saying, this was a bit outside of Paul’s operating capacity. After a few stressful hours of rushing Svenja persuaded me to just call the guy at the campsite – it now being half past 9 at night:
“Bonjour! Parlez-vous anglais?”
“Yes, a little bit.”
“We have a reservation. We’re late.”
“Yes. I see.”
“We might arrive at midnight?”
“No. Too late.”
“Stay on our parking.”
“Parking? -Oh, your parking lot?!”
So, having sorted that out, we continued along the comfortable country roads – having long since abandoned the highway, with its unrealistic speed limit and heavy tolls – more on that later as well.
At 1 a.m. we finally arrived, weary but happy. We set up camp for the night, and turned in.
Coming up next: breakfast on the beach, and our arrival in Courseulles-sur-Mer – better known to Canadians as Juno Beach.