We nearly always plan our summer vacation as a car-vacation - and we usually go to the south of Europe - primarily the south of France.
It's a long drive. A really long one. But we try to make the trip part of the vacation - try to make it a tradition, a cozy one, with the charm of repetition and recognizability.
Our alarm clock always go off at 3 in the morning. That is when we get up, brush our teeth, maybe we take a quick shower, and then we leave. We can do that - because everything is allready packed in the car, and the things we want inside the cabin is ready to grab. The kids bring their pillows and duvets in the car, so they can sleep on for a while.
This year Bruno and I had chosen to pack our duvet, so we slept with our sleeping bags in our bed. Everything went smooth, and at 3.29 the Opel rolled out of our driveway, followed by our tentwagon (also know as "Pletten" - meaning "Spot" in danish, but really just being short for "Campletten" - Camplet being the brand of our tentwagon).
The reason for this early departure is easily told. Actually, it is best illustrated by this picture, that shows how the north german freeway looks a bit before 5 in the morning:
Our normal setup is making it south of Hannover before we make our breakfast stop. We usually drive off the freeway, find a baker, and preferably a cozy and idyllic place to relax and enjoy our food and our break before we roll on.
This year we drove into a small german village, found a baker, and right next to the baker, a small river, where we could get comfy on a bench and chat with the ducks, while we ate.
Another great thing there was a public washroom - so we could all pee, before we went on.
On the road the kids are usually a pattern example of good spirits, patience and sibling-love. No nagging or pouting is seen, and they make up crazy things and fun games, that make time go a little easier on the freeway. Here Kristian found a creative way to set the sun screen, so it ALWAYS shelters for the sun...
For some reason Bodil had brought electricians tape in red and blue - don't ask why!
It came to good use, though, as Bodil and Kristian invented these li'l critters by name of Pip-hans and Gøj....
Time passed, like it usually does. We got a spot of lunch on the way, and late in the afternoon we arrived at a campingsite by the French town Dôle. We just had pletten up, when it started to rain! A really good feature, the tent being hollow - we were comfortable and dry inside and ate dinner with candles - nice spaghetti bolognaise!
The next morning the sun was shining - it was lovely, even if pletten didn't have time to dry entirely, before we packed it up. And it was a nice thought to start on, that we had gone far enough south, that we only had 500 km to drive on day 2. So we were actually in Cevennes by 4 in the afternoon - and the camping site was just as nice as it appeared to be on the internet.
Our trip south was done - and yet again it had gone without major obstacles like traffic jams, marital crisis or mechanical problems.