10 Days Trying To Escape Thunder In Europe

If you ever wondered where my love of travelling comes from you need to look no further than my mother. After spending 3 months travelling through New Zealand at the beginning of the year, she -along with my stepdad- returned for 2 weeks and decided to head out to Europe in their motorhome for another 3 months.

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore

Having only seen them for about 3 weeks since New Year’s Eve I decided it was time to go and see them, as they have plenty of room for me in the motorhome! When I had a couple of weeks off from university (finally) I booked a flight and headed out to Italy to meet up with them. However after leaving a heatwave back in the UK, Italy gave me one day of sun before providing a very impressive looking thunderstorm. Little did I know this would last most of my holiday!

Reunion with my Mum

Reunion with my Mum

We spent 3 days in Lake Como Italy, where I met my parents in their motorhome. Our pitch on the campsite was nicely situated by the lake, which gave us a lovely view and somewhere to cool down on the warm sunny day, and a dramatic view once the thunderstorm came in. I was actually standing at the end of the wooden jetty, which went about 10 meters into the lake watching the storm get closer until the last minute when I had to run for shelter from the very strong storm. After a few days at Lake Como we decided to travel to somewhere new, after consulting a number of different weather forecast websites, we thought moving on towards France would be the right decision; so we headed for Lake Maggiore.

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy- Lake Como is the largest- but is the longest lake, we found a small campsite on the edge of the lake. Our campsite was located on a small section of the lake which lead into a river, giving the lake a much smaller feel that it actually is. We arrived, to glorious sunshine quickly unpacked our chairs and sat outside. The second day at Maggiore was actually the nicest day of our trip; my mother pulled a hammock out of the ‘garage’ of the motorhome and I spent the day working my way through a 1970’s autobiography. Around midday, as they heat starting to get a little too stifling I managed to convince my mum and step-dad that a dip in the lake was needed. Surprisingly the water was actually rather warm once we got in and the undulating Lakeline meant that you could still stand up in sections that were far out from the coast.

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The evening of our swim brought with it another thunderstorm- however, this time, the electrical storm a few miles away from our pitch on the water’s edge seemed to light up the entire sky. I sat out on the ground -everything had been packed away ready for the storm- and watched as the sky seemed to be filled with light from every angle. It felt like a natural laser show as the lightning shone through the sections of the sky where there weren’t any clouds. That night proved that thunderstorms can look magical, and don’t only happen when it’s raining!

However by the next day, the thunderstorms had caught up with us, and it was time to move onto another campsite- this whole holiday felt like it was a constant fight with the weather! We set off for a day of driving that seemed plighted by torrential rain and crossed over the border into France, as the rain continued to drive down and bounce off the road we decided to keep driving to Aix-on-Provence, where we would stop at a Night Halt or NH if you’re in the know of motorhome circles (I am not!) This was my first stop at the Night Halt, well, to be honest, this was my first experience of a trip to Europe in a Motorhome, although members of my family have done it numerous times before. The campsite was situated on rather a large hill, which meant that during the night I woke up a number of times to find myself crumpled into a ball at the base of my bed, so I had to scurry my way back to the top where during my sleep I would once again slide down.

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My views on the Night Halt are very mixed, as a place to stop for one night- their purpose really- they are great. Just off the motorway the sites have basic amenities with showers and toilet blocks. In fact, the one we stayed at even had a small bar/restaurant where we decided to eat as we still hadn’t found a supermarket that we thought we could park in. I think my view of the site was slightly damped when, while I was showering to remove the grime of a day spent travelling, I could hear or worse smell the man in the toilet stall next to me straining away while having a poo! It’s hard to feel like your getting clean when that is going on next to you. However overall my first stay in an NH (I’m almost in the know!) was a success and the next day we were able to get back on the road and continue our journey to Argeles-Sur-Mer (Near Perpignan)

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Our campsite at Argeles-Sur-Mer seemed to be surrounded by the sea- ok maybe not completely surrounded- and had hidden little coves to explore. Behind the campsite going up the mountains sat little vineyards, it seemed like a quintasetual Italy site. The tiered pitching meant that everyone had a view out to see and no one had to stare at the back at another motorhome or tent. We finally had some lovely weather again and spent the morning exploring

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Where we stayed:

Lake Como

Lake Maggiore

Aix-on-Provence

Argeles-sur-Mer (Near Perpignan)

Sitges (near Barcelona)

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