We rolled off the ferry into an instantaneous rage at the cattle grid roads that are our UK motorway network! Also, having not once pulled onto the wrong side of the road in Europe we now found ourselves continuously shouting LEFT LEFT LEFT - just in case.
It feels like an age already. Our last ski day was in fact some time ago - the snow was getting slushy; our legs were feeling the burn of 4 months on the slopes and we were feeling like a change of scene was due. Waving goodbye to the mountains was very odd. I mean, really odd. Little did we know how much impact the whole thing had had on our bodies - we wouldn't find that out until we were in Amsterdam.
So, wrapping up the mountain part of the Winterized Motorhome Ski Adventure was relatively uneventful. We had somewhere to be which made for a far easier transition than we'd imagined - we were on our way to Fontainebleau - a climbing mecca and stunning royal town an hour south of Paris. First surprise - how blumming far it was!
We said before but everywhere in the Alps is barely a hop away - mountain to mountain we rarely travelled more than a couple of hours and never any mileage really as the switchback roads are what take all the time in any journey. However, on the journey from the Northern Haute-Savoie to the lowlands of central France we rolled on more tarmac in 10 hours than we had in the previous month!
We had a surprise - our experience in the Motorhome, where we went, and what we did changed overnight. 1800m up to 600m - 20 degrees difference in temperature and we were totally unprepared! From inappropriate clothing to dust covering everything, we looked like total tramps!
We took a week to wander in the forests around Fontainebleau - highly recommended - vast areas of gorgeous forests, boulders (if you like climbing), places to ride bikes and walk dogs ... it's enormous! The town itself is stunning - historic, manicured, cosmopolitan. A real gem. We stayed on a fab campsite which any of you who have followed our journey will know, is not our normal choice (preferring aires) but with such a vast amount of valuable kit on board, we opted for the more secure option.
Sore from using muscles we hadn't used for a while, we then headed north via Luxembourg and Belgium to the Netherlands. Neither James or I had been to Amsterdam for a few years and we had an epic list of things to do, the highlight of which was King's Day - a Dutch national holiday. We walked 50 miles in the week we were in Amsterdam - staying 15 minutes from the centre on the metro line.
We'd imagined that city breaks weren't going to be easy in a Motorhome and that we'd have to stay miles away and miss out on all the hubbub. We couldn't have been more wrong. We stayed on an enormous and well-equipped site, grabbed ourselves a travel pass and roamed the city at will without any trouble at all - in fact, we decided it was far preferable to staying in the centre after all.
We jumped on the ferry from the Hook of Holland - a 7 hour crossing and travelled back almost in silence as it dawned us we really were going home.
Mountain life and how it affected us.
We're certainly fitter! And fatter. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. We're now thinking hard about shifting that... after we've indulged in a few of our favour restaurants!
We're also melting in this heat - you adjust very quickly to the cold if you're exposed as we were, and this weather has been torture!
And perhaps most obvious now is the volume of everything. I have bat ears as it is, and I feel bombarded by sound in an exhausting way. The traffic, the birds (!), the vacuum cleaner - it's all deafening!
Long term travel
As with the Grey Gappers, we opted to travel in our Elddis for what many would consider a long time! But here's the thing. When we got home, nothing had changed. It made us think hard about 'living life to the full' and all that cliched chat that happens when people return from an adventure - one thing's for sure, we won't be letting 4 months pass at home where 'nothing much happens' because nobody's got time for that!