Well, what can I say, we just got back from an amazing trip. I had to write something about this to share so you too could consider it. If you are looking for an adventure, create your own version of this! You will not regret it…
Lake Lugano, Switzerland
Being a frequent traveller over the years I’ve flown to many destinations around the world. Due to the recent pandemic and that my partner and I now have a dog (see pics) we decided to ditch the chaotic, overcrowded, understaffed airports and hire a campervan from South West Camper Hire. SW Camper Hire came recommended by a good friend, he said “Julian is a great guy and helped us out from the start” - Oh my was he right. Julian is an absolute joy to work with. From the moment we discussed logistics on the phone, he had my partner and I (+ our dog) sorted.
The trip we had semi-planned was quite loose in terms of stopovers, but we had an end goal in sight, which was Lake Garda in Italy. This was going to be quite a drive and require travel through a few countries on route… and a different route on the way back!
Upon meeting Julian for the first time he inducted us around the campervan, letting us know the quirks to look out for, different power hook ups for different countries, how to set up the bed, the cooking and van facilities, provided enough gas to last us the trip, snow chains if needed (we didn’t need them) and how the van drives (automatic) and very detailed instructions on what levers do what, how to drive comfortably, fuel saving tips, fridge advice and general usage with guidance in case anything went wrong or if we were to breakdown (we didn’t). Julian is an absolute pro when it comes to campervanning, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is also an avid camper himself. The van was a dream to drive, and we had no problems whatsoever throughout the whole trip - and we drove a long way too!
Equipped with a few recommended apps including Campercontact (essential for finding campsites) and Maps.me (offline access to Europe’s maps), we were good to go and said our goodbyes to Julian.
We set off and caught the Dover ferry crossing to France, then travelled through the country stopping at various French Aires (free/cheap overnight stopovers) and camping sites at Reims, Nancy and via the spectacular Champagne region, through to Switzerland, stopping at Basel and one of the highlights of the trip - Lucerne.
Walking into town from the campsite @ Lucerne, Switzerland
We then stopped overnight and, in the morning, drove through the Gotthard Tunnel which is an astonishing 10 miles long - we literally drove through the alps and then down through the Swiss/Italian region to Lake Como for a few nights……. Needless to say, it was spectacular!
Lake Como, Italy
On we drove hoping to make our destination Lake Garda, in which the van being automatic was perfect to set the cruise control and take in the scenery en route. We spent 4 days at Lake Garda checking out various landmarks on the lake, the local cuisine, a day trip to Verona, the epic sinking castle in Sirmione.
We made it! Lake Garda, Italy
The view from van @ Lake Garda, Italy
We then headed back up to Lake Como for a few more days. The drive back to Lake Como is amazing, all the Italians drive up to Como from Milan on a Sunday. Think real life Super Mario Kart race (without the banana skins) with snow-capped mountains, beautiful sunshine and the colossal landscape reflecting from the lake. We chilled out in Como watching Juno our dog swim in the lake and going for lovely long walks, drinks, and dinner alongside the lake.
Juno the Dog @ Lake Como, Italy
We allocated 5 days to drive back at a nice pace, we drove back via Lake Lugano in Switzerland then a drive of a lifetime across the Swiss alps to Zurich, which apart from feeling like we were on a Top Gear film set, was as you would expect. Jaw dropping and something we will not forget for a long time.
Lake Lugano, Switzerland
We then stopped at Zurich, then back into France to Strasbourg then on to Germany with one night stopover in Luxembourg before heading back to get the ferry.
Each campsite we stayed in was as expected, well equipped and beautifully set, often next to the colossal landscape, Julian had given us a heads up on what to expect, and oh my! The Europeans have it sussed when it comes to camping, and the van Julian had recommended was perfect, no issues with hook ups and very comfortable for the 3 of us. Taking our dog was okay too, you just need an Animal Health Certificate, and you are good to go - you can get one of these from your local vet, or if you book in advance, there are companies by the ferry port.
We cannot wait for our next trip with South West Camper Hire… Greece!
Matt, Sarah & Juno