Here I am about 2 months later keeping things consistant by saying I am going to post more often, and then not doing that. But hey, I am reliably unreliable and have at this point accepted that to some degree.
Currently Calina and I are in Macedonia in a beautiful little place called Lake Ohrid. How we ended up here has been somewhat unexpected and really a result of just going with it. “It” being things and stuff that happen when you live this kind of lifestyle. Stuff happens and you roll with it.
When last we spoke I was in Iceland with Calina, and although it is undoubtedly a beautiful country, I was getting super bored, I spoke about Calina and the relationship we were/are developing and mentioned some of the adventures I had been having since my last post, but where we were in Iceland was very isolated, and without transport and Calina working all day, my feet itched like crazy and I was ready for another adventure. Fortunately for me when you are open to adventure and change and when your life has no requirement for turning left or right, adventures are always a decision away.
Iceland Sunrises are spectacular
As were the Northern Lights
We jumped back and forwards between what our next step after Iceland would be (Calina also has itchy feet and likes to jump around, and is in a crazy turn of events just as likely as myself to make a last second change). We were supposed to go to Kiev to see Bastille in concert, Calina bought us the tickets as a Christmas present. Then I bought tickets to Italy from Kiev as a surprise for her, then we never went. It’s kind of a thing with us… Pre-meditated anything doesn’t often come to fruition.
So we jumped, from going to South America and buying a campervan, to going to Australia and buying a campervan, to going to India and buying a Tuk Tuk, to going to Africa in a campervan. You see a theme developing here. I am proud to say that we at least stuck to one part of the plan, the campervan. Except we are building it and driving around Europe to paraglide through the summer!
Even that plan came with variations though. From Iceland we flew to the UK to stay with my mum, with the plan being to buy a ready made campervan there. Except no matter how many insurers I called, not one would let Calina drive the van, and having recently got her license she is super keen to drive. So instead we left London and flew to Ploiesti in Romania, Calina’s home town.
A few days in London
Taking a break from van stuff to sort of fly in Ploiesti
Going for a Hike in Romania, another break required!
In Romania they insure the car, and so there we could get insurance much cheaper for both of us. Unfortunately Campervans are rare there, and so we decided initially to buy a van, and then get a caravan company to build it for us. Then we thought fuck it, lets do it ourselves, how hard could it be? Should take a couple weeks right?
No, more like a couple months, and there is a lot of work which goes into it, but dude is it an awesome challenge to face. Something new we have never done, which to my mind is the best part of being alive. New stuff.
We faced some less fun challenges, like buying a slightly dodgy car from a very dodgy dude. But the car was exactly what we wanted and we even paid an independent mechanic to look over it first. He found one problem, a week later over a thousand euro of problems showed up… But the car itself, when in working order (still needs some work but we can’t find a good mechanic), is awesome. Which is why we decided to name her Lemonade.
I pointed out to Calina one day while driving that although I loved our future home, we had bought a bit of a lemon, Calina pointed out that we could make Lemonade, one of the many reasons I love her (Calina not Lemonade, I have a love hate relationship with Lemonade at the moment…)
Lemonade in all her glory.
The mechanics who seemed to break more than they fixed.
Doing some work on the structure in Ploiesti.
Early stages doing the insulation.
So there we were in the delightful industrial city of Ploiesti, with Lemonade and several big hardware stores, and hundreds of DIY Campervan build Youtube videos, and a completely unrealistic time frame on how long it would take to get the van done.
To keep things brief, we thought weeks to get it done, it is going to be months by the time she is livable. Hopefully coming to a conclusion in the next week once the bed is done and we have to move out of our apartment in Macedonia.
One reason it is taking so long is because we have no way to use power tools, no workshop, and are limited to what supplies we can get. For example plywood was almost impossible to find in Ploiesti, and here in Macedonia even more so. So we have built Lemonade with a hand powered hacksaw, one battery drill, and a hammer. Her innards are made from the wood we could find and flooring panels, and lots of angle and sealer to hide her weird curves. Oh and glue, lots of glue…
I am quite proud of this, even if it means she has some dodgy looking corners and joins. Kinda feels like how Jesus would have done it…
Eventually we had to leave Ploiesti and start moving, the itch to move was just too overpowering and so we packed our shit, wood and all, in the back of Lemonade and hit the road, as we were getting ready to pull out her gear bushing thing broke and she wouldn’t go into gear. I pushed it back in with my thumb and we then drove across 2 countries (From Romania, through Bulgaria doing a midnight Ferry crossing when we went to the wrong border, and into Macedonia) to land in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia.
The broken Bushing thingy pre finger poke.
Midnight ferry border crossing from Romania into Bulgaria
View from our wierd hotel in Bulgaria which we arrived at at 2 in the morning.
On the road to Bulgaria, Lemonades first big trip with us.
The next morning at our destination the bushing was done and she wouldn’t go into gear again until the mechanic did a cable tie hack on her. Incredible timing and proof that Lemonade has our best interests at heart.
And so here we are in Lake Ohrid, at least for 4 more days. We have been here almost a month and although we have gone out exploring a few times, we have mostly just worked on Lemonade, with even fewer tools and supplies than in Romania it hasn’t always been easy, but in the last few days she is starting to look like a home. Much like our travel plans, the design and build process has been exceptionally fluid, and the plans we drew up initially have kinda just fallen by the wayside, but it is working, and she should be simple, but beautiful.
One of our new work areas in Macedonia.
She said pose…
Wandering around Lake Ohrid.
Day off while Lemonade was at the mechanic, so a quick hike behind Lake Ohrid.
Tape and glue, lots of tape and glue…
Dreaming of flying once Lemonade is ready.
End of a hard days work.
Lunch with a view before working.
Finally more structural stuff, and more glue!
An actual wall!!
We have turned down flying opportunities, lunch invites and many beautiful explorations to finish off the campervan. And we are months and monies overdue on having her done. But hopefully once we start moving we can catch up on all the things, people and places that have fallen by the wayside.
It has been months since either of us have flown, and it is borderline painful how much we miss it, but in a truly uncharacteristic turn of events, we keep working on lemonade, it is paying off, and it really has been and is an awesome, fun, tricky challenge that has brought all kinds of new flavors to this life, and will continue to do so in the future.
Lemonade is an ex-ambulance from Hungary, she has had a high roof added so we can both stand up inside without stooping (Calina more so than I), and she is 4 wheel drive so we can drive her onto beaches and up to dodgy paragliding launch spots. And in the future who knows, but I have had a really strong calling to head back to Africa, and an even stronger calling not to spend another winter in Europe.
So as long as Lemonade keeps ticking along and our dodgy but loving workmanship holds up, she will very likely take us a long long way. We have video documented the whole build process and once we have time I will put something up on Youtube, but there is a lot to do before then, I have only been able to find the time to write this post because my hand is hurting from all the sawing and drilling and needs a day off.
But we are close, I don’t know if Lemonade is going to fall apart when we hit the road, inside or out, but I have faith we have done a good job, and regardless of what happens, the process has been an awesome new challenge, and I have no doubt many adventures are waiting for us on the open road.