Europe in a Motor Home Bring it On!

by : Graham Baylis

Recently retired, Jim and Barbara are looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime. Ever since they were first engaged to be married, years ago, they've longed to 'do' Europe ' to experience at first hand the sights and cultures of places they've only ever heard of and have yearned to see. But their young dream never came to fruition; as the years went on there were other considerations ' children, commitments at work ' and the opportunity never seemed to present itself.

Now, though, their time is their own, to spend exactly as they want to. All those years ago, had they fulfilled their aim, they'd have been hitch-hiking, back-packing, camping around the continent. Nowadays, however, hale and hearty as they both are, such options don't seem quite so attractive. Whilst neither of them lacks moral fibre, these activities that would once have seemed exciting would take them well out of their comfort zone. They need familiar things around them, all the modern conveniences they've become so used to and dependent upon ' and, if possible, a roof to keep the rain from them at night.

It's taken Jim and Barbara hardly any time at all to recognise that a self-contained motor home (or recreational vehicle) is exactly the way to realise their ambition and will give them the freedom and opportunity to explore virtually any location they wish, whilst providing the luxury of more facilities than many people enjoy at home! Jim and Barbara are delighted with their RV; it's smart, comfortable and practical. There's a fully equipped functional kitchen complete with oven, stove, microwave and fridge, a well-appointed lounge and dining area, and a remarkably spacious bedroom. Preparation for the trip is incredibly straightforward. There's very little packing to be done, and they don't need to take many provisions; they'll shop for everything they need along the way, fresh from the countryside. That's the beauty of a house on wheels ' no need to search for a place to eat, to relax, to sleep, to change your clothes... it's all laid on for you. And most campsites offer a full hook-up, meaning that you can connect your motor home to fresh water, gas, electricity, sewer, cable TV and all other amenities that you need.

As the excited couple set off on their trip of a lifetime, any reservations Jim may have had about being at the helm of a very large vehicle with automatic transmission are dissipated, as he finds it almost as effortless to drive the 27 foot long RV as a van or a car. And contrary to the popular misconception that these are sluggish vehicles, the powerful engine renders the RV surprisingly agile. He just has to watch his left foot. If he should forget about the absence of a clutch, he could end up performing an unexpected and very unwelcome emergency stop!

Another big plus of an RV is that you are at liberty to create your own itinerary, or even to change it daily to suit your mood, whilst enjoying the comfort and convenience that a motor home affords. Each day is an adventure, and there truly is no better way to experience the wild and natural beauty of the countryside.

As they progress on their journey, Jim and Barbara see countless amazing sights. On the border between France and Italy, they stop to marvel at Mont Blanc, the highest peak of the Alps, and at its foot, the breathtaking scenery of Chamonix, a popular haunt for expert skiers. In Switzerland, the overwhelmingly clean air, panoramic views and beautiful architecture are an absolute delight, with cows ambling gently along the road with their cowbells, just as in a fairytale. Off the south coast of France, they admire, with just a touch of envy, the millionaire yachts and the sheer decadence of the area. The very vibrant and cosmopolitan Holland with its quaint windmills and tulips and leafy country lanes is a joy to behold. They enjoy a sumptuous lunch at a villa on Lake Como and each day of their journey, they are able to stock up on the freshest, most delicious produce they have ever tasted, all savoured in the comfort of their RV.

It's difficult to cite a highlight of this unbelievable journey, but if pushed, Jim and Barbara would probably say that it would have to be Austria's wonderful Salzburg, the setting of 'The Sound of Music'; the very first film they went to see together more than forty years ago. The scenery is even more spectacular than portrayed in the film, and it conjures up a host of very special memories for the pair.

As they head back for home, Jim and Barbara agree that this has been a very special trip, and it's something they will definitely do again in the not-too-distant future ' in an RV, of course.

And Jim's happy that his left foot behaved itself the whole time ' not an emergency stop in sight... a piece of cake (or gateau), really.