Our New Home!

January 7 – Arrive Dulmen, Germany
I can’t say we have gone from the fat to the fire as we we never really in the fat, BUT I could say yesterday, we felt like we were in a pressure cooker. Take a small dose of jet lag and a big dose of merging international time zones, little sleep as worked out over the hours our journey took. A dark morning, and a day filled with fog, light rain and wet roads banked with dirty engine soiled snow. Then add a freeway where no body seems sure what the speed limit is and no one seems to care. More than once we were overtaken by a speeding vehicle going at least 30 km faster than us. For further spice add getting accustomed to driving on the wrong side of the road, total unfamiliarity with were we are going to need to go, and a lot of trucks. I mean a lot, a real lot!

It’s fair to say we had a stressful time getting here and one or two tempers were momentarily frayed. It was great to arrive and deliver ourselves into the waiting arms of Michael and his team at Dumo. The destination we had selected to purchase our CAMPERVAN. That decision, quite a crucial one really, was made almost blindly on gut instinct. Of all the places in all of Europe that I emailed in the early days of planning Jorn (Michaels son) was the only consistent and helpful correspondence we received. It only took about 5 emails from him to confirm in our minds that flying into Frankfurt, hiring a car and driving two and half hours north into Germany, was where we had to start our trip. I felt convinced, sight unseen, they would have the range to choose from and the assistance needed to purchase, register and insure the vehicle in our name. Something not easy to do in Europe as non EU citizens.

We were not disappointed. Their range of new or used camper vans is massive. The first person we met was the owner, Michael. His wonderful staff member, Till, tirelessly showed us the options until we made our selection and ordered our addons ie bicycle rack and awning. They held our hands and took us about the necessary administrative details. We began with a visit to the town hall to register as citizens of the Dulmen area. We could then be taken to the bank to open a local bank account for the registration and insurance to be paid from. This was all in the first afternoon.

The next morning we had a trip to the registration office to finalize details and select our plates, what ever number plate we wanted based on availability. They arrived on a desk 10 minutes later!

Arriving back at Dumo, there was our van, additions complete with all that was needed was a two hour orientation time with Till who explained the necessary features of operating heaters, boilers and fridges, as well of course, gear sticks, blinkers and window wipers. We had arrived around noon the day before, and were now driving on our way to Italy around 4 pm the following day. We are very grateful to Michael, Jorn and Til and cannot recommend them highly enough. They will even buy her back at the end of the trip if we dont choose to sell her privately.

So we now have our new home. A brand new Camper, Fiat Ducato, fit out by Possl. She is silver, 5.9 x 2 meters in size, and is exactly what we wanted. The interior is a liveable dark grey and blue with light coloured timber lining. We looked at about 10 different layouts, and as Till so wisely said, “there is no light without shade”. Each advantage also bought a disadvantage, either in height or length or lack of flexibility, some trade off. So after weighing all options, we have this one.

Tony is rapt to learn she wont need a service for TWO years ! And we have the most amazing sitting up high panoramic windscreen, like watching Europe go by at an IMAX cinema.

We will need to name her but I think that is something that will need to evolve. We thought of Possum (Aussie and after Possl) or FiFi after Fiat. Both to soft and fluffy for our girl. In honor of our horses, Silver (as in her colour and Hi Ho Silver, Away) was on and struck off our list. Our van is more like a sophisticated mothership. She’s strong, classy and smart (can even tell us when she expects ice on the road). She is also comfortable and reliable. If any one has any suggestions, we would love to hear them.

Dulmen seems to be a lovely village, district really, and we look forward to coming back, hopefully in better weather. Vast flat expanses of crisp white snow suggest a summer view of lush green fields. There are lots of horses here! Big homes with equally big, solid stables. I’d love to see inside. I imagine a life within them so contrasting to starkness of the snowy surrounds. Full of earthy colours and smells. The hot steaming breaths of the animals. Perhaps our new friend CAMPERVAN Michael knows someone in the area we could visit.

If we were not in such a hurry that is: we are at the business end of the trip. We need to get to Venice so Antonio can lodge the paperwork for his citizenship and we need to visit the relatives. We then go skiing and if paperwork is all resolved by the end of this – we begin the lolling along end of the trip.

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