Sometimes I dream of the freedom I could have if I owned a camper van. I dream I could just hit the gas and go, having only the most meaningful things with me, drive towards the sunset and spend the night where I feel the happiest. And then repeat it the next day.
For me, luxury means something else than five-star hotels and first-class travel experiences. I’m sure a mobile home worth hundreds of thousands would be a great travel companion, but to be honest, I would be happy with a practical sized van that I could drive with even along narrow sandy roads.
Once I would find a breathtaking place, I would park my van and sit on the beach next to a campfire, admiring a colourful sunset. Because for me luxury means this:
Unfortunately I don’t have a camper van, not even a small van. Maybe one day I will get one, who knows. Until then my only car is the blue Ford Focus, the model of 2005. It’s alright.
Why am I telling you about my car?
Funny that you asked. Do you remember when I told you about our recent trip to Hämeenlinna, a beautiful inland town in Finland? Well, we left the planning quite late, as we always do. Only very rarely we find out all the hotels being fully booked, but this time we did. In case we were able to find an available room, the price was reaching the stars. Too much for us to pay for a one-night stay.
We started to run out of options. We were already thinking about cancelling the whole trip. But that wasn’t an option for us. A short trip like that can not be called off due to lack of accommodation. Not in Finland. Not in summertime.
So we hit the road. With our Ford Focus. Besides ourselves we filled the car with towels, swimsuits, some clean clothes and drinking water. In addition we packed our tent, sleeping bags, pillows and a wide mattress from our spare bed. We attached our bikes to the back of the car and left.
I had heard a great camping tip for Hämeenlinna a few days earlier, so based on that tip we headed directly to the Aulanko lake which is located within 5 kilometers from the town centre. As soon as we arrived to the lake I immediately remembered why I love Finland so much. We have such beautiful nature around us, we have freedome to roam and camp nearly anywhere we want, and we have great places for camping with special facilities. Like the one by Aulanko lake in Hämeenlinna. The spot had everything we needed. And more.
A covered place for a campfire, with seats and everything. Wood for the campfire. Toilet. Hiking routes. Sightseeing. Piece and quiet. And the most importantly, a lake with a sunset.
For a little while we wandered around the area deciding where to build our tent. Suddenly it came to us. We had the freedom of the camper van right next to us. How come I have never even thought of this before?
We had had a camper van all this time. A camper van called Ford Focus. We put the back seats down, spread the mattress and voilà! It wasn’t as fancy as a mobile home worth hundreds of thousands, or couldn’t compete with a five-star hotel room. But the luxury I appreciate lied somewhere else. In the sparkling Aulanko lake.
You might wonder why we chose to sleep in our car even if we love camping and had the tent with us. Well, first of all, we were extremely curious to know how it would work out. If we can sleep in our car fairly comfortably once, we can do it whenever we want. This bed would go with us pretty much anywhere and whenever we want, and it would keep us dry even if it rained. On the other hand we liked the idea of easy packing the next morning. By sleeping in the car leaving would be faster and we would have more time to see and experience the nearby wonders before going back home.
Plus that if we hadn’t slept in our car, we probably would have never realized we had a USB connection on the back of the car. Even though we couldn’t use the charger in front due to a broken fuse, we got to charge our phones in our little ‘camper van’ after all.
I wake up in the morning for the gentle rays of sunshine and singing birds. I open the back door of my camper van and notice that many early swimmers have already arrived to Aulanko lake. What a relief we didn’t build our tent right at the beach as we were planning to. I don’t know who would have been more shocked in the morning, Daniel and I in our little tent or the local elderly who are used to have their regular morning swim in privacy.
I love camping at summertime. Who needs a shower when you can start your day with a refreshing swim in a lake.
What a funny coincidence after all. The fully booked hotels in Hämeenlinna did us an awesome favour. We got to enjoy all the best qualities our beautiful country has to offer. Maybe next weekend I will start my little camper van and head for the nearest beach I have never visited before. Maybe I will attach my kayak on the roof of my camper van and admire the sunshine from the seaside.
Summer isn’t over yet, is it?