Road For Greta

Ana and Marco
Traveling with Greta since 2009
“We roll along at 90-100km/h, so everything goes by very slowly. We get used to it and simply enjoy it because it gets transmitted to everything we do during the trip.”

We are Ana and Marco, a Spanish couple who lives in Madrid. We met eight years ago, and we’ve been traveling with Greta since then. Greta is our van, a VW Multivan 1.6TD from 1987, with pop-up roof. It came from Stuttgart, Germany, but these last two years she has been traveling with us. We’ve equipped her with a fridge and a heater, but not much more besides those two things.

We love how it is, and we want to keep her as close to the original as possible, for as long as we can. Besides being a couple, we are also coworkers; we started our audiovisual production company together with some friends. Ana is specialized in video editing, and I’m specialized in production and realization. For us “Road for Greta” is a place to generate memories, but is also a project to practice and improve our humble photographic faculties. This lifestyle has created a way of life that influences our work.

How much time do you spend on the road?

We are part time vanlifers. Most of the year we work from home, but with internet access and a computer a lot of time we can lengthen our vacations. We get away a lot of weekends and we take a long trip during the summer for about a month and a half.

How many countries have you visited so far?

For now, we have covered a good part of Europe; Norway, Sweden, Denmark, a little bit of Germany and Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, North of Italy, part of France and Portugal!
How many vans have you had and what are their stories?

My love for cars comes from my dad; together we have a total of 5 Volkswagens at home, two beetles, two golfs and Greta. He was the one who got me my first van eight years ago, another Volkswagen T3 Multivan 1.6TD from 1989. We got it in 2009, and she stayed with us for five years  She was the one that introduced us to the camper world, even though we had our baptism getting an inflatable mattress and a little kitchen inside a Ford Focus. She was a special edition called “Magnum” that came with some extras from that time that nowadays could appear somehow comical, such as digital clock, rear windshield wiper, or a rev counter. Although undoubtedly we will greatly miss the power steering.

For us she was perfect, but during a road trip to Rome, Italy, it was stolen. We never saw her again.

We were left out without all of the material things we had brought for our vacation and also without our van. It was a wretched sensation to think that we had lost something that we had invested so mucho in, mostly fondness, but we weren’t  aware of this until a few days later.

But then, Greta showed up!

Another T3 from Stuttgart that was waiting for us in Valencia, suffering from the heat, as we could tell by the worn paint due to the effect of the sun. But very well preserved, thanks to the former owner’s effort to keep it in its original state for close to 16 years. Thanks Carlos!

She is an updated versión of our old van, but with few improvements that we missed, such as the upper bed or the piece of furniture in the back. Besides that, the rest is the same, even the color! (our favorite).

We make little improvements making sure the car’s original spirit remained unaltered. We gave her back her round headlights and original hubcaps, a total polished, upholstery cleaning, new rugs and restoration of some of the moldings and plastics. We changed the fridge for a more powerful one, and we added heating. From there on, little things, mostly maintenance.

Which are the three must-have items in your van?

There are few essentials for the van that we all know, but for us the most special are:

1 Napsack It is the ultimate invention for the winter or the summer nights in the van. It is a sleeping bag with a hoodie and holes for the arms and legs. It’s very warm, comfortable and funny.

2 Computer support. We are big fans of tv shows, and we are proud of creating a simple mounting for the computer with bike hooks that allow us to hold the computer close to the ceiling so we can watch anything while laying in bed.

3 Noodles. We are not so proud of this last one, but we have to confess that it’s our top choice when it comes to making something quick to eat. We always carry a few.

How do you plan your routes and travels?
We are very impulsive in that aspect; typically we don’t know ahead of time when we’re going to have some free days, so we always have our next destination in mind. We start reading chronicles in forums about the trip, but most times we just hit the road and organize it on the fly. We like to improvise.
What’s the pace of your travel? What’s a typical day like for you?
Greta imposes on us her rhythm while traveling. We try not to do more than 300km a day, so we don’t get saturated in long trips. We roll along at 90-100km/h, so everything goes by very slowly. We get used to it and simply enjoy it because it gets transmitted to everything we do during the trip. We have to be organized, but without the stress, we adapt to the daylight hours and, for sure, forget about the rush and the crazy city rhythm.
Which are the three most scenic routes you have seen?

Atlantic Road in Norway,

Furka Pass in Switzerland,

Gardena Pass in the Italian Alps.

What do you listen when traveling?
We usually create a playlist for each trip. During the year we make lists for each season, and then we make a selection. We listen to different kinds of music: a lot of rock, folk, r&b and hip hop.
What are your hobbies on the road?
When we started traveling with our van our trips were based on looking for surfing spots; we barely did any tourism. But during the last few years, we have switched the beach for the mountain. We hardly look for hotels or apartments anymore when we go skiing since we rather take the van. Our bicycles are another of the essentials in our trips.
Where have you found the three best places to practice your hobbies?

Rallarvegen is a famous bike route that you can enjoy while in Finse, Norway, it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s one of our favorite memories from this trip. A train takes you to the top of the mountain, and from there to the bottom you have 60km downhill through some very spectacular landscapes.

Peniche in Portugal is another great place for surfing. It has different beaches with various orientations that allow the right conditions to surf during any time of the year.

Cortina de Ampezzo in Italy has some of the best trekking routes that we have seen.

What do you think about photography and videography on the road?

Everybody knows that one of the best ways to remember a trip is through photographies, but not many people do it through videos. A lot of times we storage little clips in our phones that, by just connecting them and adding a special song, we can turn into a more vivid memory. What we like to do every time we have the opportunity is to help and encourage our friends to edit everything they’ve recorded, because normally the result can be more personal and satisfying tan what you get from a picture. Most of our pictures have been taking with an iPhone, probably our favorite accessory because you always have it with you.

How is your relationship going when traveling?
Spending a lot of time together has never been an issue for us. We live and work together, so we are used to each other’s company. When we travel in the van is one of the only times that we can really disconnect from work.
Where do you camp usually? Which are your favorite wild camping spots?
Our main place to visit is Asturias and the south coast of France. But one of our favorite places is Playa de Tagle in Cantabria (Spain)

Where do you shower?
We regularly carry a portable shower and a Little changing station. It is quite amusing because a lot of times we have to heat up the wáter with the camping gas and the shower turns into an hour and a half adventure. Even so, we try to stop at a camping facility every three days to stock up all the supplies we might need.
How do you access the internet in foreign countries?
We typically buy a sim card from the country we are visiting. Nowadays is the best and most economical option for us. Due to our job and needs, we usually can not travel without internet access.
What is the most challenging part of traveling by van?
Traveling with a 30-years-old vehicle is not always easy. The breakdowns are part of our road trip, and we have to be aware of it. It will take time and money. Our fondness for classic cars has made it possible for us to tolerate it and carry it with some humor. We can always look at it as an investment in a mechanical course. Every trip we learn a new lesson.
The most rewarding?
We learn to travel in a different way, adapting to rhythms that differ from our regular every day. This slow pace allows us to enjoy the little things such as cooking or the place where we stop to camp. The journey becomes more important than the destination.
Would you recommend to a friend to travel by van?
For sure. The same way someone did it to us, we have also influenced many friends. Traveling by van is very contagious.
What are your next projects?
We are thinking about touring Morocco this year, and the next year we will like to travel across most of the USA. We are so excited about it that we have already started to plan it!

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