Starting vanlife


aidas | July 23, 2023

Packing is a horrible thing. I guess one’s not aware of the amount of things he has until he’s got to pack them all.

Luna packing

Thank god it’s done. Now only 1.5m x 3m x 1.35m box (yes, height also counts) and only essentials. To all the commercials of things - bla!

First stop: Lednicko-valtický areál

Lednice park
Lednice lion
Lednice castle

First evening was an excellent proof that sometimes you can find parking without maps and apps. After visiting Lednice, we saw a nice parking spot near the Mlýnský rybník.

In case anybody's wondering - no, no mosquitos were annoying us!

Mosquito nets 1

On day 2: Neusiedler See with its beautiful national park. At the lake’s north-east coast were lots of cars, vans, motorcycles, campervans, caravans and whatnot. I guess the strong winds that day were perfect for water sport enthusiasts. As we approached the lake, we saw kitesurfers packed like on black friday.

Neusiedler’s national park itself, however, didn’t impress me much. I’ve seen such landscapes all my life as I’m from Lithuania - the land of flats, whose highest point is…

...the drums...

293 meters!

Oh wait, I think a few years ago they found another spot, which is one meter higher?..

Anyway, following last night’s parking success we found another spot on the side of the road with only a single car parked.


Looks like it’s our lucky evening.

And an interesting morning. Since 5am or so, cars were constantly coming to that place and going. Some were left parked. I felt like I was in the Lidl parking lot.

One time I raised my head and was observing a guy. He came with a car alone, stopped, turned off the engine and was waiting. In some 10min another car came, he got in and went away in the new car leaving his one in the parking lot. And like that all morning. From 2 cars in the evening (one of which was ours) now it was somewhere between 10 and 20.

I guess they’re right when they say that places might look completely different throughout the day. Later we encountered more examples of these changes. We’re trying to be more careful now.

We decided to go. After visiting Esterházy-kastély we were heading somewhere east from Győr to my first via ferrata on Hungarian roads.

Oh those Hungarian roads… I felt like I’m gonna break my van, things were all over the place and the signaling bus driver behind me was ready to ride over me.

Not that all roads in Hungary are challenging, later we came to much better ones (and it looks like they have a big bicycle road infrastructure too!) But I definitely got my shot of adrenaline way before via ferrata.

First via ferrata

The main point of the day was Balaton. We parked in a free parking lot near Tihany and headed to the crystal clear water coast. I’m still surprised how shallow the lake is. You can go long way into the lake while still reaching the bottom. According to wikipedia, max. depth is ~12 meters.

On our way back to the car we're discussing what we’d like to do in the evening: maybe watch a movie? Maybe read a book? As we're approaching the car, one tire seemed flattish to me. So I go behind the corner of my van, glance down and there I see a completely flat R16 devilishly staring at me and asking with innocent voice "You made some plans?"

Flat tire

Normally: 15 min to change a tire.
Van: unscrew the spare tire from under the car, squeeze it onto the axis (scissor jack was maxed out, I had to be really persuasive), screw the screwed tire back under the car and don't forget to enjoy it at least hour an a half. #welcometovanlife

During the night it was raining hard. As you have guessed, rain makes some difference.

First of all, it’s noise. Water drops falling on the metal roof creates too much sound for me to be able to sleep. So ear plugs are very helpful to have. Also, they serve very well when sleeping near a road or people who’re unable to speak silently (was that You the other night, huh??)

Another consequence is that mosquito nets which we attach from outside, got completely wet. I guess a better solution might be to have them from inside, but we went the easiest way, of course.

Third consequence is that you can’t leave windows cracked for air circulation when it’s raining. Unless you want a juicy waterbed. What saved us here were rain guards we had (highly recommend!) We still couldn’t leave windows open as much, but there was some air coming.

In the wet, clumsy hungarian morning just before heading to Slovenia, we aimed to get the tire fixed.

At the first auto service, the guy shaked his head and pointed his finger somewhere on the map (aka VW autoservice).

At VW auto service I was directed to tire-specialized auto service.

They said tomorrow.
I said today.
They wished me luck.

The fourth one turned out to repair trucks only. However, a guy working there after hearing my story, said he’ll lead me to

another guy, who finally fixed my car. I guess if I’d come to the 5th guy, he’d probably refuse. But thankfully the 4th guy told the 5th guy something about the guy like me, that brought my R16 to life.

5000 HUF.
No HUFs in my wallet.

Pro tip: have cash. You never know when a tire blows up in a foreign country, you'll get rejected by 4 auto services and the only guy who fixes your tire takes only cash.

“Maybe it’s also worth having a compressor and a tire repair kit,” I thought, heading towards Slovenia.


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