This post is part of the A to Z Challenge.
One of the best camping experiences I've ever had was back in 2008. Every year since 1995 my partner and I would have two weeks holiday at Lake Garda in Italy, always staying in the same hotel in the same small town on the north east side of the lake. Several times over the years we had hired a couple of scooters and ridden right round the lake - providing we didn't stop too many times we could do it in a day and it was great fun. Then prior to our holiday in 2008 we decided we would do something a bit different and cycle all the way round the lake. Now Lake Garda is a big lake, being 34 miles long, 18 miles across at its widest point and 98 miles all the way round by road, so there was no way we could cycle round in one day - and so our cycle-camping trip was planned.
Cutting down on our normal luggage we took a small 2-person tent, a couple of self-inflating mattresses, two lightweight sleeping bags and four sets of cycle lights, two for each bike; we wouldn't need cooking stuff as there would be no shortage of places to eat. After five days at our hotel we took an 8 mile bus ride to a good cycle hire shop where we collected two brand new road bikes then cycled back to the hotel - we counted this as Day 1 of our trip, only another 90 miles to go! The rest of the day was spent fixing the lights to the bikes and strapping everything we would need onto the rear carriers, then after breakfast the following morning we set off on Day 2.
Going in a clockwise direction so we we cycled next to the lake we covered 37 miles that day, stopping several times for photographs and refreshments. Wearing nothing but cycling shorts and tops over swimwear, when we got too hot we just parked the bikes on a lakeside beach and went for a swim to cool off; a quick towel down afterwards and the sun dried us out in no time. As early evening approached we found a camp site next to the lake; although there were no tent pitches available we were able to pitch in the motorhome area which had a gravel surface but was fine for just one night, and we were able to use all the site facilities including a lovely pool and good showers.
Day 3 saw us breakfasting at a little cafe-bar a short distance from the camp site before embarking on the next leg of our trip. Another 42 miles covered that day, with lots more swimming and the consumption of copious amounts of Coke, and a few hairy moments riding through some long, dark and very busy tunnels - which is why we needed the lights - then as evening approached we found a lovely camp site on the north west part of the lake. Our pitch was just ten yards from the water and the view across the lake was fabulous; we dined on the terrace built out over the lake and went to sleep to the sound of gentle waves lapping the beach near our pitch.
Day 4 saw us breakfasting on the terrace then taking the lights off the bikes. We completed the final 11 miles of our trip with another lake swim about halfway along, and ended our marathon journey back at the cycle hire shop where we unstrapped our stuff and returned the bikes. A bus ride back to the hotel and our cycle-camping trip was over. We'd had a brilliant time and experienced something a bit different to our normal summer holidays; straight away we said we would repeat the trip the following year, but by then we had gone our separate ways so it wasn't meant to be. I've never forgotten that time though, and hope to do it all again on my own in the not-too-distant future.
I've tried to keep this post reasonably short for the purposes of the Challenge but there was far more to the experience than I've written. I can remember everything about it as if it was yesterday so maybe during the coming winter when I'm not camping and I have more time I'll write about it all in much more detail.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it