Photos: Mike Hedge

08/07/15

Captn_Julz

Julien has been traveling/living in camper vans about 3 years now, from Montreal to Florida and from New York to Mexico!

Mike and Sophie just came back from 7 months traveling and living almost full time out of their small campervan! Visiting mostly Europe, they've been in a few countries that you never really heard of, like Svalbard for example. When they emailed me to share their story, I felt they had found balance by eating healthy and living at a relaxed pace to enjoy the greater things in life. Their recipes on their site are original yet simple, so I've asked them to share some on-the-road cooking tips and some of their favorite places they visited.


Mike and Sophie in Morocco

Which vehicle are you driving ? Does it have a van name ?

 

For the past seven months we have been driving and living out of our self-converted, blue Hyundai H200 campervan. The van came into our lives as a rusty old window-washing van that we had excitedly imported into the UK from the Netherlands. We had undertaken the difficult process of importing the van into the UK so that we would be able to drive a left hand drive automatic vehicle in Europe. Once the van lovingly known to us as Autumn, it was time to begin the long process of completely stripping out the interior, insulating, carpeting, building custom furniture, and decorating. It took us several months, but we successfully crafted a cosy home for the both of us, complete with everything anyone might need for a life on the road.




What was your itinerary? Did you also fly on occasion or did you only take ferries?

We flew Norwegian Air to Olso, and from Oslo we decided to spend a few days in Svalbard. The Norwegian flights were of an incredibly good value, and we recommend taking some time to go visit Svalbard. We wrote a 5 part blog series about our time in this country. After that, we flew to the UK, and started our van conversion process. In September, we took a short break from converting our van and flew to Iceland, where we rented a 4x4 and drove the entire ring road. After a couple of test trips with the van in Wales and Scotland, we decided to hit the road. we caught a ferry to Dieppe, France, and then drove through all the way across down to Portugal, and Spain. From Spain we took a ferry to Morocco. After spending winter down in the desert, we made our way to through southern Europe all the way down to Italy, and took an overnight ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece. After exploring all the beauty it had to offer, we headed north  through Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Germany. We then took another ferry from Poland to Sweden and began our trip up to Norway, where we found the secret rope swing and the famous Atlantic Road. During our time there, we probably took 10-15 ferries to travel to the fjords. We then traveled back down to Netherlands and took a ferry back to the UK.

You can see a map of our route here!

You seem to have many simple and healthy recipes for living life on the road, can you share some with us?

Eating healthy whole foods whilst on the road was a high priority for the both of us. We found ourselves trading roasted pumpkins, banana-oat muffins, and home baked spelt bread (plant-based eating a passion of Sophie's), for foreign ingredients on a daily basis. The prospect of unusual new tastes and adventurous eating was alluring, and as we travelled through different countries, we enjoyed an abundance of local, seasonal products in Morocco like sticky almond pastries, dates, figs, avocados. In Italy, chickpea pancakes known as 'Faranata. Those were definitely a hit that everyone must try.

Breakfast: 

We often begin a new day with oatmeal, which have quite often been soaked overnight. We add unsweetened almond milk or any other kind of non-dairy milk, depending on what is available. You can go wild with what comes next; we'd usually add a large spoonful (or two) of nut butter, cashew or peanut, and some fresh berries, grapes, or apple slices.
 

Lunch: 

Salads are a lunch staple for us. We'll add an avocado to a handful of cherry tomatoes, a head of lettuce, half a sliced cucumber, some grated carrot or thinly sliced red cabbage. All dark green leaves such as baby spinach are a favourite of ours. We'll then sprinkle over some pumpkin, poppy, and sesame seeds, boosting our healthy fat intake. Thanks to a particularly thoughtful christmas gift, we'll make a delicious dressing, using our low-wattage blender. Sometimes we'd conjure up a cashew caeser dressing, and more often than not, we'd make a simple houmous.

 



Dinner: 

 What better to keep warm than a homemade stew! We found ourselves camped out in sleepy mountain villages, with the thermometer reaching 20 fahrenheit , waiting for snow-ploughs to clear the road ahead of us a few times. During these occasions, we'd make a super simple turmeric and sweet potato stove top stew. All you to put this together is some organic vegetable stock with sweet potatoes, chestnut mushrooms, pearl barley, onions and a good quantity of garlic. In a large pot, add in whichever herbs your heart desires with a good teaspoon of turmeric, and let it cook for approximately half an hour. The result is a thick, flavourful, warming dish you're guaranteed to love. We'd sometimes accompany this with a homemade dark chocolate avocado mousse made in our blender!





After traveling 7 months in Europe, can you select 5 must-see places to stop?
 


Longyearbyen, Svalbard. 



Svalbard is a place where in the summer the midnight sun does not set. The landscape is rugged and raw, and as fragile as it is untameable. When the scenery is bathed in the golden light of the sunset, it brings life to countless fields of tiny wild flowers, cloudberries, and carpets of cottongrass.The pastel colours pierce the arctic tundra’s earthy hues of browns, greys, deep coal blacks.The views are simply breathtaking! Svalbard was our first destination in Europe before we converted our campervan. We were there for less than a week, in July. Highly recommend it!

Sand Dunes, Merzouga, Morocco



We were lucky to visit the largest sand dunes of 
Merzouga, in Morocco. It's in fact a series of mountainous waves of golden sand, turning saffron in the sunset, each tumbling over one and other. The country has a lot to offer, from beaches, to mountains, waterfalls, and countless colourful villages.

The Secret Rope Swing, Norway



Norway is comprised of snow-capped mountains cutting into the sky at magnificent angles, setting a glow in the gaps between rushing cloud. The mossy evergreen forests shatter fragments of deepest hues of emerald green. We passed countless waterfalls exploring Norway of all sorts. Some were gently and misty, and some came down ruthlessly due to the winter’s snow melt. In order to find the secret rope swing, you must head to the small town of Trandal via ferry, and find Christian Gaard which is a restaurant offering priceless views.

The Greek Islands

The Greek island’s are made up of pallets of blues and greens, with tiny stone houses shaded by overgrown wisteria trellises. As we followed the coast further down, dozens of crumbling ruins sat on nearly every corner. Be sure to check out the northwest, and northeast around the Sithonia Peninsula.

Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Scotland was the first place we visited in our campervan. It was spectacular and beautiful. Check out the Quiraing area on the north tip of the Island of Skye. 

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