Updating RayQuaza

My motorhome, named RayQuaza, will be 12 years old next year. For most motorhomes, that is not too old but for one in which you live full-time, it’s perhaps time to be replaced. It’s still a great motorhome for occasional use and I hope to find a good buyer for her! (and if you know of anyone, let me know…)

So the big question of course was, which motorhome to get? I have a specific list of “must-haves” and then some optional nice-to-haves, and then of course there was the budget. The latter quickly went out the window (!) but I’ll make it work, somehow. I have saved a tremendous amount of money the last 2-3 years living full-time in a motorhome and I have worked out I can part-finance a new one and have it all paid off relatively soon, whilst still saving plenty of money. Ideally my new one will last me at least 10 years, so as an “investment” it’s actually pretty good.

Initially I had my heart set on a Hymer – lovely German motorhomes, but terribly expensive. Then at the campsite I’m now I got some really good advice from a fellow (German) nomad, Ulli, who told me to approach German dealers wanting to get right of demo and rental stock in the September / October period. He was right – there were loads of stock that was relatively new with low mileage, discounted by about 25% off the retail price, and packaged with extras like awning, sattelite TV etc.

And so I saw and fell in love with a Bürstner model “Ixeo”, initially a smaller one (same size as current motorhome) but then I saw the (even more expensive….bye bye budget) longer version at 7.49m which gave me a type of “en-suite” bathroom at the back with a seperate shower. I really like this as it gives you more privacy, it’s safer if parked at night not in a campsite, as you have an extra door between you and the outside and so on.

This is the view from the bed at the back with the toilet door closing off the passage.

I also really like the fact there is a seperate shower with air vent and hanging rail – perfect for wet clothes, towels etc and not in the way of the toilet.

Overall what attrached me most to this motorhome (Ixeo I 728 G) was the light colour scheme, and the fact the body has no wood in it (so a lower risk from damp) and the XPS frame which improves it’s resistance to hail damage. She also has a double floor (great for insulation) and the water tanks are in there as well, meaning they are well protected from the cold. The split beds at the back can be made into a huge queen bed, and there is a big drop-down bed in the front. So if you wanted to visit …. now there’s space!

Overall, she’s just super beautiful and quite perfect! I have a lot to do before I can get her (late October) from the dealer in Germany, including upgrading my driving license which I will do in the UK in September, as this motorhome has a max permissible weight of 3 850kg, whilst a “normal” license allows you to drive a vehicle to 3 500kg. But it does mean she can take about 650kg in extra weight, which could mean I don’t have to use a trailer.

I am also keeping a close eye on the outcome of Brexit, especially in a no-deal scenario, as if that happens I will consider registering this motorhome in an EU country in order to avoid disruption at borders or limitations on my allowable stay. Bulgaria is the likely option since I already have residency there.

So I’m very excited at the prospect of getting RayQuaza II – it’s more than a dream come true, and a long long way from my first fold-open small trailer tent I started with!

Summer at Lake Balaton (again!)

I’ve been back at my usual camping spot in the South of Lake Balaton, but the first few weeks were still a continuation of the rain I experienced in Budapest. Then, around early June, summer arrived properly, and I saw days of continued sunshine (upper 30’s) and fantastic evenings (early 20’s) – just right.

It reminded me this is really why I love being here – a fantastic setup right next to the lake with my office all set up and allowing for a great working environment whilst breaks during and at the end of the day can be enjoyed swimming, cycling, running or even just taking Olli for a long walk.

This year I got a raised “deck” in the form of pallets with chipboard over it to form the base of the side tent – this keeps it nice and dry (and the ground sheet clean) when heavy rains come, and as it turns out, provides for a great spot for our neighbourhood hedgehog to roam around under after he’s finished picking through Olli’s food bowl.

Here’s the setup with the tent – similar to last year.

The side tent uses air instead of metal poles
I get a spacious interior and with the mosquito nets it’s great for use at night

Whilst it’s been great to be back I have to admit I should move around a bit more in the summer months – I keep chatting to other campers who tell wonderful tales of the Croation coast, or places they’ve discovered in Romania, Poland or Greece and I’m jealous! So I think next year I’ll make it more of a touring trip and come back here for a few weeks only.

It’s cold and wet in Buda and Pest

I’ve managed to get to Budapest where I have about ten days to sort out a few things including a series of follow up visits to a (brilliant) dentist I visited last year. Since her practise is on the Buda side, I decided to try a different than my usual campsite and stayed at “Niche Camping“, which was only about 5 km from the dentist, making for a much easier bike ride there. (Great little campsite btw, even throwing in a breakfast which was unexpected.)

How different the Buda side is from how I generally know Budapest is! Much greener, more spacious and in the area of the campsite, very big houses and lush properties!

Just next to the campsite is a chairlift that takes you up to a scenic lookout, but Ollli and I took to the steps below it for our daily walk. It was a great walk offering some super scenery.

 

We also made a few new friends on the walk!

Over the weekend I moved to my “usual” campsite in Budapest, Haller Camping since it’s fantastically located providing for easy access to the heart of the Pest side. But we’ve had 3 days of non-stop rain meaning quite a bit of Netflix, reading and the occasional walk, as Olli is a very fair weather dog.

When he can hear the rain on the roof….

The forecast is looking up though and we should get sunnier weather as of tomorrow. I certainly hope so as I’m quite sure I won’t be able to drive out of the mudpit we are currently in…

I’ve also been experimenting more with quite an alternative diet recently – more vegetarian / Indian / natural and I’ll write a post about this soon, it’s been quite an interesting experience for me to discover new tastes and learn how to cook without meat being the primary element of the dish!

By the end of the week we should be heading to the south of Lake Balaton where as usual I’ll spend the summer months.


Heading to Italy

It’s good to be back on the road again, though I’ll miss the UK friends and company. I had to be UK based for a bit whilst doing work trips abroad and attending conferences and client meetings.

As per usual I’ll be spending the summer in Hungary, at Lake Balaton. I was going to make it a slow drive with plenty of exploring to get there, but as I’m now quite late… Best just to get there. I’ll make a stop in Pieve di Soligo, near Treviso in Italy where I’ll see my friend Andrea, have the motorhome serviced and stock up on some prosecco, obviously.

It’s been a good day to travel albeit hot! Olli and I stopped in Gouda in the Netherlands to explore, and wow! Fantastic place. There is a superb motorhome parking dead centre of town with water and electricity, called Klein Amerika parking. Deffo worth a stop (can even overnight) and explore this super town.

Ciao!

A super week in Santa Susanna

With a view like this, and really good weather considering the time of year, I had a really good stay in Santa Susanna. The McArdles also visited and the boys loved it.

Now I’m heading in the wrong direction – North! I will have Rayquaza and Olli UK based whilst I do a work trip to Africa later in January, and hence I’m heading to the UK. As Britanny Ferries calmly quoted me a price similar to what a weekend on the Death Star might cost, I decided to drive up to Calais and take the train across. Not the most pleasant of drives but it is nice to be back in the road again.

Olli and I wish you a happy New Year!

I have with me all I own

The storage space has been cleared! This is a huge step, trust me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a storage place, but it is way easier to just keep it, and pay the monthly fee, than to try and clear it. (Must be a good business to be in!)

But now my storage place is empty and I could give notice, and I’m taking a few extra items I just could not throw away, to England. So we’re looking a bit like a proper “trek”, but so be it. I had to get a roofbox for the trailer to hold some of the extra items. It’s quite an innovative version as it’s soft, with a collapsible metal frame inside, and therefore should pack away nicely.

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I’ve come to spend Christmas and New Year at one my favourite (out of season) spots, Bon Repos camping in Santa Susanna, about an hour north of Barcelona. One can get a spot on the beach, and whilst it’s cold at night, we’re experiencing brilliantly sunny, mild winter days which are super. There’s also plenty of good running track here, and all in, it’s a great spot.

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As you can see, my view is straight onto the ocean.

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Even better, the McArdles will join me from Friday, are staying at the apartments of the campsite, and we’ll see the New Year in from here.

A bit of a strange feeling, to think that, bar a few bags in the loft of friends in England, what I have on me now is all I own. It’s liberating, for sure, and scary at the same time. But there you go. Live of a Nomad!

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Olli is already dreaming of all the places we’ll be seeing next year 🙂

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a super 2019.

Istanbul to Barcelona

I’ve been back in Barcelona now for a few days after a surprisingly easy journey from Istanbul. I suppose since I stopped in Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary (a week) and Italy (4 or so days) it is easier than one might imagine. Still, it’s a massive journey of 3 000 km and I’m impressed with my motorhome’s reliability and comfort she provided for the journey.

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Here in Barcelona I have one task, to sort out my storage. When I left here two years ago and packed “everything” in the motorhome, I kept “a few things” in a storage container near Barcelona airport. It’s been two years and despite giving MANY things away to friends, I was a bit shocked when I opened it earlier this week and had a look. I wildly underestimated the effort. I’ve been at it now for 4 solid days and there’s still a day’s work left there.

Wow, one can gather rubbish, or what?! Things I would never use (and clearly did not need as I’ve not touched it now for two years.)

Whilst being in the area it’s been nice to get back to my old stomping ground of Castelldefels. I’m a bit more cautious with the motorhome here now since the incident, and staying either in campsites or in Barcelona itself at the very secure CityStop. Being able to get back onto our old running track along the beach here is a treat for both me and Olli, especially with this (perfect) winter weather, it’s just right.

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So, one more day of clearing out my storage space and then we will probably head to the super campsite at Santa Susanna to prepare for the arrivals of the McArdles after Christmas.