My growing love for camping
I have a confession to make: I love camping. Not the hyped up glamping, which I believe people could better do in their own backyards as it involves much stuff to take with you and it involves a lot of sitting in/around your tent. No I mean the kind of camping which allows you to move away from the horde of people. The kind of camping that makes you feel free and brings you closer to nature.
My first memory of camping goes back to the time that I lived in Macedonia (or former Yugoslavia). My mother was divorced at that time and together with her nieces and nephews and their families we went for a summer holiday in Greece. I think I was six or seven at that time. My mother and I shared a tent and in my memory all our tents were only two meter away from the sea and were placed on the beach itself. I have good memories of that holiday. My mother on the other hand recently mentioned to me that she didn’t close an eye during the nights as the tent was very basic (and partly torn) and all kinds of animals were crawling in. I only remember rolling out of the tent and jumping into the water and looking at interesting water creatures like sea stars and sea urchins.
From my time living in Macedonia that is basically the only memory I have of camping. Not a lot of people used to camp at that time in our surroundings and we only saw foreign tourists that used to do that. We spend most of our holidays in hotels or little village houses. After we moved to the Netherlands, we encountered many more camping people. My then stepfathers family were avid campers and every time after they came back from their adventuristic holiday somewhere in cold Norway, they would show us pictures and stuff.
We still didn’t go camping, as we now spend all our summers in Macedonia with my grandparents that obviously weren’t campers. Now that I think of it, I think it was mostly my grandmother that wouldn’t have enjoyed it. My grandfather might have loved it. As long as he would have his bed for a mid-afternoon nap and a working radio so that he could follow the world news, he maybe would have been fine with it. Look how chilled out he looks on a camping bed on one of our afternoons at lake Ohrid, more specifically at Sveti Naum.
But anyway, we didn’t go camping. The next time that I went camping, was probably in my first year of high school. By then I was thirteen and those high school camping experiences definitely ruined the whole camping excitement for me. I do smile on the picture below, but it can only be a fake smile. “Look at me! I’m touching a tent”- kind of laugh. Sure it was fun at some times, but it was mostly a hassle to cook your own food on equipment I had never used etc. We HAD to do all kind of ‘fun’ things, which I didn’t enjoy I think. This kept me away from non-school camping for the next decade or so. Until I met Eduard.
When I met Eduard I was 22, and a few years after we first started dating we decided to go camping in one of the summer holidays. Eduard was a more experienced camper. His parents went camping with them more often than mine did. Now try imagining camping with five children. The only word that comes into my mind is: chaos! But if they could do it and enjoy it, certainly I could learn to enjoy camping.
We bought the cheapest red tent in the universe and got a lot of other equipment from Eduards mother. Combined with a car that was given to me by my mother, we went our way. I believe we went away for six weeks the first time. We traveled around Italy, Greece & former-YU. We didn’t camp all the time, but quite a lot of times. Sometimes we would sleep in houses or on the deck of the ferry. Ahh, those times. During those holidays I really learned to love camping, as it felt really liberating. In combination with a car we could literally end up everywhere at the end of the day. Often we would end up at a beautiful spot.
It’s actually like sleeping on the outdoor deck of a ferry in warm summers. It’s so much better than sleeping in a cabin. You can enjoy the full potential of sunsets (and fresh air) and are not limited by the cabin window. Added bonus: it’s almost for free as well. The summers that followed we went camping every other year I think. Some years we would go to other continents for example, where it was virtually impossible to take all the camping gear with us. Sometimes we would even say to each other that a trip would have been even better if we would have been camping. Like the time that we went cycling in Scotland. At that time I found going on a holiday with a bike exciting – and tiring – enough, so we left all the camping equipment home. But we promised each other that the next time we would cycle and camp.
The last two years we have picked up camping again virtuously. And although at the beginning I had to get into a comfort zone again, I now can’t wait to start the camping season again. It’s such a strange feeling. Every time I see a tent setup at one of the local shops, my heart starts beating a happy beat.
I found out that you can make it more comfortable for yourself, than we did at the beginning. So besides the great equipment we got from Eduards mother – and still use, as you can see below – we bought ourselves a few new things over the years.
We bought a new tent last year. You can see it on the picture above (the yellow Punto now is also exchanged for a grey Peugeot). It’s a tent that could shelter us comfortably in case of rain as it has a big front porch. It’s also – more – waterproof and it’s tall enough that we can stand in it. Besides that it’s a tent that you throw in the air and it’s all set up for use. Well sort of. To accompany this kind of comfort we also bought new – self inflating – mattresses and new – cocoon like – sleeping bags. We both don’t like the setting up part of a tent and with these things we are all set in less than five minutes.
Today I also bought myself an amazing Kelly Kettle. I wanted one for a long time and today I could put my hands on a trekker sized one, with a cosmetic defect. Who cares about cosmetic defects right? Haha. I have developed a thing for camping gadgets actually. Next to the Kelly Kettle that soon will be mine, the highlights of this collection are a toast maker that I bought in the US and maybe the telephone battery charger that works on sunlight. I might do a camping gadgets post soon.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t go camping to sit in the tent comfortably for the whole day and make conversation with our neighbours. No, we basically go camping as I said to have these kind of views and to be able to drive up to a place like this and decide to stop, set up tent and walk around. It’s much more difficult to do this when you want to stay in a hotel or B&B we noticed through the years.
Really. If you aren’t convinced, and still think that camping is an awful thing from your past and other peoples present, you should try it once (again). Drive up to somewhere special, set up camp & walk around. You will see that at the end of the day even the most basic thing you have cooked up on your Kelly Stove will taste divine. The nights will be quiet, dark and hopefully warm. The mornings will feel like fresh new beginnings when you open your tent door. I know it’s cliche, but it’s only cliche because it’s true!