An eventful first motorhoming trip

08 June 2021Shirley

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Étretat and Bruges

If you’re working for the largest motorhoming club in Europe, you really must have been on a motorhoming adventure yourself at least once (but preferably even multiple times). With a packed motorhome, our city bikes in the garage and a good dose of enthusiasm, my boyfriend and I started our first motorhoming adventure six months after the start of my employment at Campercontact.

Our adventure started at the end of the working day, on a Wednesday afternoon. This was the moment I first sat in the driver's seat of a 6.5 meter long vehicle and drove home by myself. I was, although I don't like to admit it, quite nervous about it. It soon turned out that this fear was somewhat premature. Sure, a motorhome like this one is a lot bigger and heavier than a passenger car and you have to take that into account. But hey, a motorhome’s accelerator, clutch, brake and shift lever work the same as in a regular car.

The boss of the NKC

Despite my pleasant driving experience the day before, my partner was the first one to take the wheel on Thursday morning. After all, I also wanted him to feel like the "King of the road", just like I had the day before. Six and a half hours, a rest and a lot of beautiful scenery later, we arrived at our destination: Camping Abijune near the French coastal town of Étretat.

Our arrival in the striking NKC Promo-motorhome did not go unnoticed, because almost immediately we were asked by two Dutch children whether we were the bosses and in charge of the NKC (Parent company of Campercontact). After a short and modest conversation, in which I explained that I was "just an employee", we left for the city in the motorhome. It turned out that the campsite’s front desk was closed for another hour.

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Étretat and Bruges
Chalk cliffs - Étretat

Impressively beautiful chalk cliffs

The motorhome had barely even been parked before another motorhome already drove into one of our mirrors. We had not yet had time to retract it. Fortunately, it turned out that these mirrors could take a beating and it was only folded over, but the fear that something could easily break was imminent.

We quickly put that thought aside, had a bite to eat in town and chased the hordes of other tourists up the stairs. Although we came here especially to see them, once upstairs we were surprised by the size and beauty of the chalk cliffs in the area. What a beautiful view! turned out that the campsite’s front desk was closed for another hour

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Étretat and Bruges
Cycling through the bush

Taking our city bikes through the bush

Friday morning we awoke to the heat of the sun burning on the roof of the motorhome. We had a great night's sleep and had a lovely breakfast, what else would we expect with baguettes and croissants. This promised to be a beautiful day, during which we would explore the area by bike.

Google Maps navigated us onto a small path between the French farmlands that descended more and more steeply and became more and more overgrown with ferns, blackberries and nettles. Some scratches on the legs and some itchy bumps later we came across the Operation Biting memorial in Bruneval where British soldiers tried to steal German radars for investigation in February 1942.

A welcome refreshing dip in the sea

After a short history lesson, we took a narrow staircase down that led us to a quiet beach. Here we enjoyed taking in some vitamin D and once again we admired the enormous chalk cliffs. Back at the bikes it turned out that my city bike could not withstand the bumpy French country roads full of cobbles: my tyre was flat! And the bicycle pump we brought with us was not going to help us with this. As a result, I walked back to the campsite for an hour in 35 degrees and with a bicycle in hand on roads that were not very suitable for this (read: no sidewalk, many bends and fast-moving traffic). My partner cycled ahead to meet me driving the motorhome. With the vehicle, a bicycle with a flat tyre and two overheated heads, we then drove to a beach further down where we treated ourselves to an ice cream cup and took a refreshing dip in the sea.

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Étretat and Bruges - Campercontact

An angelic employee

That evening we enjoyed a barbecued meal for the second night in a row, after which we freshened up and started the walk to the city centre. It soon turned out that the route to the city was not very suitable for pedestrians. We therefore decided to arrange a taxi for the dark trip back. A few glasses of wine later it turned out that there weren’t any available; not at that hour (it was now just after midnight) and not without a reservation. Fortunately the owner’s sister lovingly offered to drive us back to the campsite. We felt like we were a burden, but we also knew how tough the road was and did not like the idea of walking through this rainy night. So, we accepted this angel’s offer to drive us back.

Rock bottom of the motorhoming trip 

If you think we’d been through enough in these few days, you're wrong. Because we are not there yet. Saturday, on the way from Le Tilleul (a small village near Étretat) to Bruges, I fuelled Diesel. But into the water tank! Now you might wonder: how? In the hustle and bustle of a busy gas station in an foreign country and as an inexperienced motorhome owner you do crazy things. 

The man in front of us at the gas station also seemed to have some 'fuelling problems' which prevented him from fuelling right away, and, to be fair, the water tank cap really looks like a blue fuel cap and I didn't see an alternative place that looked like a valve or hole where the nozzle should go. "Well, then in the water tank!" I’m sure my actions will be talked about for a long time. 

Now, I sound a bit jolly and laconic, but I was anything but when I found out what I had done. And I am still disappointed that this has happened to me. But then I think for a moment about a good friend of mine (sorry Dad! 😉) who once fuelled petrol into a diesel car: it can always be worse! Well, I know one thing for sure: that this will not happen to me again. 

Wondering how you can solve this? In this video from our parent company it is explained step by step (only available in Dutch)

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Campercontact
One of the many beautiful views from the tour boat in Bruges
An eventful first motorhoming trip - Campercontact
On the left brewery De Halve Maan

A visit to the beer brewery and wine bar

It took a while for my mood to brighten a bit, but beautiful Bruges was able to do so. The two of us set out on the one bicycle we had left on Saturday afternoon to the boarding point of a tour boat. After the tour we walked through the city and to have a bite to eat and drink at the Halve Maan beer brewery. They also provide guided tours, but that tour was already known to my other half, so we ignored it this time. From the brewery, we walked to the Grote Markt and sat down for a drink and on the actual way back to the bicycle, we came across an attractive wine bar. Here we enjoyed some more wines before we returned to our temporary house on wheels.

Home sweet home

Sunday, the fourth and last day of our camper adventure, we drove back to Utrecht via Terneuzen. Once at home, while unpacking the motorhome and once again lighting the barbecue, we looked back on our eventful first camper trip together and came to the conclusion that we’ve seen many beautiful things, had a good time and enjoyed all the French and Bruges delicacies. But we’re not sure yet whether we really have caught that “motorhoming virus”.

So we only have one task: next year we’ll go on a motorhoming trip again!

With a new enthusiasm and a whole lot more knowledge.

An eventful first motorhoming trip - Campercontact
Home sweet home

The four educational moments from our first motorhoming trip:

  1. Fuel the right fuel into the right tank (not the water tank!)
  2. Try to retract your side mirrors as soon as you have parked.
  3. If you’re planning on cycling; bring a bike repair kit or a spare tyre.
  4. Make sure to plan your route to (and back from) any unknown city or town and take at least a flashlight with you.
An eventful first motorhoming trip - Campercontact
Found the right opening!

Alarming Mobil Eye

Are you renting or borrowing a motorhome and do you have a device like this (left in the image) on the dashboard of the motorhome? Then I would like to explain how it works. Because, despite the fact that this "Mobil-Eye" is correctly installed to promote a safe driving style and prevent accidents, the alarm that the device produces when a car overtakes you and brakes too close in front of you can be shocking.

It took me a while to realize that "the sound" was for my benefit me and was not caused by impending doom in the form of lit dashboard lights.