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NORMANDY, France | short Defender road trip on the way to Brittany

Katja DEFENDER TRIPS, FRANCE, WITH KIDS Leave a Comment

We chose France for our first real family road trip with Mila, who was 3 months old at the time. Afterall she is half French and it seemed like a good idea. Our final goal was to reach Ile de Re island, where we ended up staying a month while visiting Charlie´s family and friends, but instead of just rushing on highways we decided to take it slow this time. So we took our time while driving along the northern coastline of the country exploring places I´ve never been to before. The route led us from northern Germany through the Netherlands and Belgium to the French coast, where we spent the first night near the city of Calais, before continuing westward in the following days. We actually focused more on Brittany, wehere we also spent more time, but Normandy pleasantly surprised us with its dramatic cliffs and sandy bays, charming villages, picturesque fishing towns, rich agricultural estates, historically important places, interesting culinary delicacies and much more. To save some time we had to leave out some of the attractions I marked on the map while planning this trip, especially those located further inland, but I will shortly mention those in this post as well, for everyone with a bit more time heading this way.

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ALBANIA | wild camping road trip with a LR Defender camper and a baby

Katja ALBANIA, DEFENDER TRIPS, WITH KIDS Leave a Comment

Often after returning home from trips, people ask which place we liked the most. And usually I never don’t have the answer to that question. But this time it´s different, because this time we can both give a clear answer, Albania. There were many moments when we felt like at home. Also, I have been wanting to go to Albania for such a long time now, but there was always something that we couldn´t go. Therefore it was even sweeter now, when we finally took the time to do a 3-week long road trip through the Balkan countries out of which we spent the longest in Albania. We could have easily stayed longer and not get bored too and we have many reasons to go back some day. It was another great destination for our LR Defender camper, especially since wild camping is allowed and there are many possibilities for off the beaten track explorations. From the hills to the sea, sleepy villages and modern cities, great roads and super off road options, mountain passes with dizzying views, mysterious bunkers, beaches with a Caribbean touch, turquoise rivers and lakes, friendly locals, animals and more and more. There is a little bit of everything in Albania. In this post, I write about our journey, from north to south and back to the north, including lots of photos for those who either don´t have the time to read or prefer the visual posts. Here we go!

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BALKAN ROAD TRIP | from Slovenia to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, N. Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina with our LR Defender camper

Katja ALBANIA, BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA, CAMPING, CROATIA, DEFENDER TRIPS, MONTENEGRO, N. MACEDONIA Leave a Comment

We finally made it! After cancelling it back in 2019 due to health issues, postponing it in 2020 due to the pandemics and postponing it again due to pregnancy and baby in 2021, we finally did it in 2022. An epic Balkan road trip with our Defender that is. It was well deserved I believe, and we really had a wonderful time. Although a little bit different than originally planned, since we had Mila on board, but travelling around these countries with an 11 month old baby turned out to be a great idea actually. I´ve lived in Slovenia for the first 27 years of my life so it might sounds strange, but I have never ever been to most of the countries we visited this time, even though they are really close to my home country, geographically speaking. But isn´t it often like this that we are mostly attracted to faraway places and not the ones closer to home? Anyhow, the time was just right now and we´ve enjoyed driving through so many different landscapes, were swimming in the Mediterranean sea, walked on snow in the mountains, sweated a little bit during a couple of easy hikes, ate a whole lot of amazing local food, met some of the friendliest people and so much more. And yes, we were also a little bit appalled about the amount of trash in some places, but we were prepared for it and it wasn´t a big shock for us. The possibilities for a road trip route in the Balkans are of course endless, in this post I am presenting you how we did it. I think it turned out just awesome and we would actually do it again the same way. At the end of this post I also added logistical advice and some statistics regarding prices, mileage, accommodation and more. More posts about what to see and do in individual countries are coming up later on the blog.

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VAL THORENS, France | skiing winter holidays in the French Alps

Katja FAMILY HOLIDAYS, FRANCE, WINTER SPORTS Leave a Comment

The best ski place in Europe? For me, definitely in France. Surely there are many other awesome spots in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and elsewhere, but the French Val Thorens and Tignes are right at the top of my list. I have visited both French Alp resorts several times and I can say that I know them quite well. However, with each visit I still discover something new as it keeps developing and expanding. After about a decade (due to living in Germany, the pandemics and my second pregnancy), I finally got the chance to return to Europe´s highest ski resort in March 2022. Val Thorens lies on 2300m above sea level and it was absolutely amazing to wake up surrounded by all those mighty mountain peaks covered in snow once again. Even though Mila was only 9 months old at the time and I obviously couldn´t ski as much as in pre-baby times, I made the best out of this week and had 5 wonderful half-day ski days. The content of this post is based on this year´s and all of my previous visits to Val Thorens, read it to find out more about the village itself, accommodation possibilities, ski slopes in the largest ski system in the world, 3 Vallees, which also includes Meribel, Courchevel and other areas.

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WILDKOGEL ARENA, Austria | 1 week skiing holidays in one of the best Austrian family ski resorts

Katja AUSTRIA, FAMILY HOLIDAYS, FAMILY TRAVELS, WINTER SPORTS Leave a Comment

At the end of January this year the stars finally coincided and we were able to enjoy a proper week long ski holiday after a two years long break due to the pandemic and later on pregnancy. Going away for skiing was something I used to do every season since I can remember but after I moved to Germany in 2010 this became logistically difficult so I only had a couple of ski days here and there in the last decade. Therefore this getaway to Austrian Wildkogel ski are felt even better. Unfortunately Lu could not join us, as German schools are too strict for days off outside of official holidays and the state he lives in actually doesn´t even have winter holidays except the holiday days around Christmas. So it was Charlie, me and Mila then. And our friends from abroad. Two more families, so there were a total of six of us adults and five children, ages 8 months to 8 years. While staying in a beautiful chalet we had a little bit of everything regarding weather conditions – from wonderful sunny days to a real snow storm. Read more about our chalet and the excellent family ski resort in the Austrian Wildkogel Arena in the continuation of this article.

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SOUTHERN SWEDEN | autumn wild camping trip with a LR Defender camper

Katja DEFENDER TRIPS, OVERLAND, OVERLANDING, SWEDEN, WITH KIDS Leave a Comment

This year´s October trip took us to the south of Sweden. Why did we chose to go there in October? Because Lu has two weeks of autumn vacation at his German school at the time. And why Sweden? Because we found a cheap ferry ticket from Rostock, Germany, and because wild camping is allowed there. Just right for our Defender, which we converted into a camper alittle over two years ago. We didn’t have an exact itinerary, but in the end I think we managed to experience the best of the southern part of the country, camp at a couple of really great spots, admire countless lakes, red wooden houses hidden among fragrant pine forests, chill at beautiful archipelagos and check out a few modern cities. All this and more completely without tourists, we were alone almost everywhere. Sure, it was a bit colder and windier, but we enjoyed the beautiful nature in complete peace and quiet. Spontaneously, we chose to drive up the west coast from Trelleborg, to the last major town before the Norwegian border, crossed via Jönkoping to the east coast, to Kalmar, and slowly descended back to Trelleborg. A great circle route with something for everyone´s taste. Read more about what you can see and experience in this part of Sweden, and a little more about our wild camping in this new blog post. With extra lots of photos for those who lack time to read it all.

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Up and down around Europe and what is new since June

Katja Uncategorized Leave a Comment

It’s not true, but it is. I took a look at the blog today and found that it’s been almost three months since the last post. Oops. Despite this, you all did a great job at clicking and reading the posts over here – the stats tell me there have been more views than ever before, so thank you for this! But I guess now it´s really about time to post something and let you know what´s been going on the last months, especially since not everybody is following the stories and posts on our social media.

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Welcome, Mila

Katja ADVICE & TIPS Leave a Comment

She is finally here, our little Mila! Soon, we´ll blow the first candle on the mini cake. Celebrating monthly baby anniversaries might have seemed slightly ridiculous to me before, but right now I think it´s just fantastic. What I find less fantastic though, is the fact that it´s already 4 weeks since we drove to the hospital. It´s about time I write something about the past month.

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EAST FRISIAN ISLANDS, Germany | Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog, Wangerooge

Katja GERMANY Leave a Comment

The German East Frisian Islands consist of seven inhabited and five uninhabited islands and stretch in the North Sea all the way from the border with the Netherlands towards the east, in the German province of Ostrfriesland, in the federal state of Lower Saxony. The islands lie in the UNESCO-protected Wadden Sea National Park, which stretches between the mainland of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and the Frisian islands of the three countries. In this post, I focus only on the German islands of Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge, most of which I have had the honor of visiting in the last 10 years of my life in Germany. They are really something special, some more developed and populated, others more wild and peaceful. Most are car free zones, so they are ideal for anyone who loves cycling and walking. Leave your vehicles in ports on the mainland, where larger parking areas and camper stops are arranged everywhere. Because the islands are all relatively small, we can also visit them during a day trip, otherwise it is usually really wonderfully quiet and peaceful in the evenings when all the day guests leave. The northern shores of the islands are marked by long white sandy beaches, while the brownish Wadden Sea dominates the southern shores. Here we can do different organized mudflat hikes, which is definitely the most unique thing to do in the area. In Germany, such hikes are called Wattwanderung, you can read more about it in this post too. Besides the beaches, which are dotted with typical Strandkorb beach baskets which protect us from the wind, you will find areas of hilly sand dunes overgrown with fluffy grass and lots of great spots for water sports like kitesurfig and windsurfing. Are you interested in what the mentioned islands look like? Read more below.

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10 TIPS FOR VANLIFE COUPLES | vanlife & relationships

Katja CAMPING, TIPS, VANLIFE Leave a Comment

The already popular vanlife lifestyle has literatelly exploded recently. Not surprisingly though, due to the situation we are in since the global pandemic started in spring 2020. DIY projects of converting vans and cars into camper vehicles, purchases of larger vans and motorhomes, as well as caravans, off-road and overland vehicles are on the rise while many of us believe this is the best way to travel considering the current overses travel restrictions. Spontaneously, independently and as free as it gets, travelling with vans of all sorts can also be significantly cheaper than plane travel. Since many of you are facing this new way of travel for the very first time this summer I think it´s a great time for sharing my thoughts on this topic. Is it all really as romantic as everyone says? Do all those Youtube couples and families really have such a great time spending weeks and months together in those tiny spaces of 5+ square meters? Are you sure that you and your partner will spend this kind of vacation without ending up fighting every day? Well, it’s really not that dramatic, but as usual – not every thing is for everyone. So, here are my 10 basic tips on how to survive vanlife as a couple. Of course, based on our own experience of our previous trips and excursions with LR Defender, which in 2019 we converted into a camper vehicle and used as our home on wheels for quite a few trips so far.

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