Since May 2021, we have been living on 4 square meters, without a refrigerator, and showering outdoors – a lifestyle that some consider a dream come true, while others shake their heads in disbelief. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay! After all, we don’t understand everything others do either.
We always divide our ongoing journey and especially the routes we have taken into sections – it just happened that way. Here, we want to tell you how it all began and which countries we visited first.
This heading describes exactly what we probably did too intensively in the first few months. The feeling of being on vacation overcame us at first, and we had the urge to see as much as possible. We didn’t make major modifications to our van for this trip because we thought, “Either we have time and money to renovate or to travel.” So we started our 7-month sabbatical and already saw quite some things:
Sweden turned out to be the perfect introduction to “van life.” The country is vast, has impressive nature (especially in the north), and allows for “free camping.” Here are a few things you should know about Sweden:
- Gas cylinders: If you’re traveling with a large gas cylinder, remember that you can’t refill it in Sweden. Sweden has its own system for large gas cylinders. If our gray 5.6 kg gas cylinder had been empty, we would have had to continue carrying it with us and also take a new filled large gas cylinder.
- Laundromats: There are very few laundromats in Sweden, which is unusual since most people have their own washing machines. The only option for us was a campsite. We went to one twice – the first one was great, the second one didn’t match our preferences.
f you’re traveling to Sweden, feel free to check out our post about sweden . Here are some of our highlights from Sweden:
Here, we experienced the true Swedish feeling when we arrived at this lake. Google led us completely astray, but luckily, we had another navigation app. There are some great places around the lake marked as parking areas. Toilets and fireplaces are available, and you’re allowed to stay there for up to 72 hours. We enjoyed this time very relaxed.
Sarek National Park
This national park is located far in the north and should not be missed when visiting Sweden. The famous long-distance trail Kungsleden passes through here. One thing we didn’t have but would recommend to any adventurous soul to bring is YOUR OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT! Only then can you truly explore Sarek National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it with us and still regret it to this day.
Muddus National Park
If you prefer day trips, skip Sarek National Park and visit Muddus National Park instead. Day hikes are well possible here, and you can hike comfortably.
Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)
Don’t forget to try these delicious pastries with cardamom and cinnamon. You’ll regret it if you don’t eat them there!
Vildmarksvägen (Wilderness Road)
The most breathtaking part of our journey was the road trip along the Wilderness Road. The 500 km route is also the highest paved road in Sweden, offering a unique sight! The road runs from Vilhelmina to the west, along the Norwegian border, and then turns east towards Strömsund. There are lakes and waterfalls to admire everywhere.
Old Tijkko and Fulufjället
Most people know Fulufjället because of the beautiful waterfall. BUT! Here stands the OLDEST TREE IN THE WORLD. It’s nearly 10,000 years old, and no, it doesn’t stand upright like a sequoia. On the contrary, it appears bent and has been struck by lightning due to its position. No, it’s not easy for it. But that’s exactly why we should take it as an example and never give up, even when lightning strikes!
Sweden has many beautiful waterfalls, but this one is a must-visit. It’s Sweden’s largest waterfall (not the highest). Unfortunately, you have to pay for parking, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking backdrop.
Unfortunately, we had a bit of bad luck after Sweden! We drove to the Netherlands and didn’t really get along there. This was definitely not due to the Netherlands themselves, but rather various circumstances. Nevertheless, we don’t want to withhold the few tips we have from you.
Wait a minute?! That’s not in the Netherlands! You’re absolutely right. It’s still in Germany. On the way there, however, we tried the super delicious fries at the “Imbiss beim Holländer,” which was definitely a highlight for us.
Nationalpark de Maasduinen
A visit to the national park is a must. It’s really beautiful but can get crowded. The Dutch love it and come early to take walks or go cycling there. On nice days, it can get quite crowded.
In Austria, we mainly used motorhome parking spaces, of which there are several. Otherwise, it can be a bit difficult to find free spots, and be cautious about free camping, as it can get expensive! We used Austria to visit the three most famous cities. If you’re traveling with a dog, remember to bring a muzzle! We actually needed it.
A stroll through the city is a must. Those familiar with classical music know that Mozart was born here. The city center is very charming but also crowded. We enjoyed Mozartkugel ice cream here.
Thanks to a friend who hosted us, Vienna was an easy destination for us. A visit to Café Sacher was definitely on our list. Afterwards, we explored Vienna’s historic center, the Vienna State Opera, the Hofburg, the Karlskirche, and the Naschmarkt. In the evenings, locals like to sit by the Danube or the canal after dinner. We enjoyed the day there with a view of Hundertwasser House.
This city is often overlooked, but it really impressed us. We took a city walk, visited the clock tower, and the new art museum, which stands out from the cityscape. Graz is definitely worth a visit!
Slovenia had been considered a “hidden gem” of Europe for 6 years. However, when we arrived during the peak season, we must say: It’s not so secret anymore! Avoid holiday times because we didn’t really have fun amidst the crowds.
Lake Bled is beautiful, and the water has an incredibly intense color. However, we didn’t stay long there due to the crowds. We found a parking spot, jumped in the water, and continued on. So don’t expect to be alone there.
In eastern Slovenia lies the town/village of Jeruzalem, which serves as the main hub for the Slovenian wine region. We spent three days here and found it wonderful. One or two good wines are definitely a must here, and the view of the vineyards is particularly impressive at sunset.
Logar Valley (Logarska-Tal)
Slovenia has more to offer than just Triglav. If it’s too crowded there, try this Alpine glacial valley. There’s a great hike to Slap Orglice, which we did. The mountains are impressive, and the water is just as clear and blue as in Triglav!
The Slovenian capital is a must, and you can take your time. Just let yourself wander through the streets and enjoy this beautiful city. However, one thing we definitely can’t recommend here: Don’t buy ice cream. It’s incredibly expensive!