This vacation was a learning adventure. Now let me tell you about the other side of the vacation – living in a caravan for a week.
We deliberately chose different levels of parking lots and campsites in order to get the full experience. At the low end was Eisenach, where we stayed in a lonely, bare bones row of parking spaces with coin-operated electricity hookups. The next level up was in Coburg, where we stayed in a parking lot as well, with coin operated electrical hookups, as well as waste water receptacles. The parking lot was off a busy street but the high fencing offered some privacy. Going up one level, we stayed at an RV campsite in Saalburg. It catered to mass tourism. There were whole lot of parking spaces on an open field. During high season one would have to wait for a shower. The site offered potable water to fill up your tank, as well as a waste water receptacle. At the high end was Erfurt. The campsite was beautifully landscaped, and offered comfortable showers, each with a private sink, 4 community cooking areas, laundry facilities, and a small shoppette in the reception building.
Some of the sites, like in Eisenach, were so unimpressive that I didn’t even think of taking a picture of them. You will just have to take my word for it, they were boring.
We cooked in the van only one night, and that was enough. Kitchens in an RV are small, so one won’t be preparing an extravagant meal, rather basic recipes on the two-burner, propane powered stove. Then there’s the issue of cleaning up with a limited water supply. The full campsites we stayed in had a sink to wash dishes, but none of the parking lots did. Still, it was something we didn’t want to do if we could avoid it.
One thing we quickly learned, and the night of cooking made especially evident, was the cramped quarters. When Kathrin was cooking, moving around her was very tight, so I was basically confined to the front of the van. In general, passing by each other, for whatever reason, required us to move sideways and squeeze by each other. Looking at the picture to the right, Kathrin is standing in the hallway, to her back is the door to the bathroom. The bed is behind the stove – to Kathrin’s right. I’m standing in the dining/living space.
The crampiness was also evident in the bathroom. Brushing our teeth in a tiny closet-sized room was not the easiest thing to do.
We always had breakfast in the caravan. Kathrin prepared coffee and tea, meaning she boiled the water on the stove, and poured it through a coffee filter, and saved the rest for her tea. She would then prepare two bowls of muesli with some fruit. So breakfasts are easily done in the van, just pull the ingredients from the refrigerator.
Kathrin always goes to bed before me. At home, that means she goes up to the bedroom while I stay in the living room a little longer. Here in the caravan, that means she gets up from the dining room/living room, takes two steps and climbs into the bed. I remain at the table and deepen my relationship with my phone–quietly and in the dark. At around 10:30, when I usually go to bed, I take the two steps to the “bedroom”, climb over Kathrin, and snuggle under my blanket.
So what did we learn from this adventure? First and foremost, we learned that RVs are not our preferred method for city trips. We enjoy the roominess, showers, isolated bathrooms/toilets, and all the other advantages of a hotel. We also enjoy the convenience of having breakfast provided. On the other hand, we enjoyed the freedom of communing with nature in an RV. It provides freedom to explore the tranquility of the outdoors without being dependent on civilization. That being said, we are not the types to go out and commune with nature all that often. We are more the city adventurers. The bottom line is that a caravan purchase is not in our future. If ever we get the urge to go out and explore nature in all its grandeur, we will rent an RV again.