Laying Your Weary Head

I'm a very strong proponent of NOT booking accommodation ahead of time because of all the commitments of getting to each place on a schedule.  I much prefer the flexibility of deciding our pace based on the weather, how we're feeling, and how cool (or boring) our current location is.  That involves finding accommodation "on the fly"... on a daily basis.

The easiest, and most affordable, way to find accommodation "on the fly" is to camp.  We also find it particularly enjoyable, but the weather isn't always perfect, and not everyone shares our preference in that regard.

I am NOT a fan of wild camping, for a couple of reasons:
1) I have a somewhat unreasonable terror of being confronted and sent packing;
2) I like the amenities involved with camping in a place that expects you... I like to have a picnic table, a flushing toilet, maybe a shower, and, if we're lucky, a washing machine.


Camping varies from country to country.

Camp Site at Le Bois Fleuri (Véloscénie Route)
In France, you can generally expect tenters to be assigned their own camping spot.  There are limited spots available, so it is best to try and arrive early.  One thing we've noticed about France campgrounds is that they don't provide toilet paper in their washrooms - be sure to bring your own!

Cozy Camping in Germany

In Germany and Austria, you can generally expect tenters to be tossed together into the Zelt (tent) area, which is one big open space and everyone plops down their tent wherever they can fit.  One thing that we find curious about this scheme is that, where in North America, we would space our tents out, and as more people joined, the spaces would get filled in here, and filled in there, until tents were (more or less) evenly-distributed across the field, in Germany and Austria, folks who join in will place their tent as close as possible to any other tents that are already there.  This often results in a little pile of tents at one end of a great big field.  Although this is amusing to me, it can be vexatious for Laura who is a very light sleeper (and not a fan of snoring).

In 2015, when Brent and I ventured further afield, we found camping to be less common in Hungary and Croatia.  Međimurje County in north central Croatia is beautiful... and contains zero campgrounds (that I'm aware of).  When we were in central Croatia in Karlovac, we discovered Campsite „Slapić“ beside the Mrežnica river.  We liked it so much we stayed several days.  When we were over on the Istria Peninsula, the camping cost as much (or more) as a fully-furnished apartment, so we often opted for the apartment.

Not Camping

Whenever we can, we camp, however, that's not always the preferred option.  We don't like camping in the rain, and sometimes camping simply isn't available.  Here's what we do in those situations.

If we had planned to camp, but that plan doesn't work out, we will breeze into a hotel that we randomly spot and ask about accommodation, or we will breeze into the town's Tourist Information Office and inquire about accommodation options.  In France, we found the Tourist Info folks to be particularly helpful, right down to actually making us a reservation on-the-spot!

If we're not planning to camp, we tend to use to make a reservation in the morning for staying that night.  Even booking in the morning for that night isn't ideal from my perspective because I'm committing myself to ride a specific number of kilometers that day, but it does seem to work the best when options for camping or finding a hotel on-the-fly are limited.  

Apartment in Zaprešić
In Croatia, we found wonderful fully-furnished apartments through that sometimes even included on-site laundry facilities.  These apartments were astonishingly affordable, usually beautiful, and almost certainly came with a free sample of the proprietor's own homemade Slivovitz

I am a huge fan of AirBnB, but I tend to avoid using it on a cycle tour because of the turn-around time on communication.   

There's Always the Swamp

I have an irrational terror of random camping.  I just don't like the thought of being confronted, likely in a foreign language, and rousted out of bed and forced to move on in the middle of the night.  

One time Brent and I random camped in a baseball field in Australia and I hardly slept all night worrying about being "caught" and forced out.  I know, I know... irrational.

In "Research and Research and Research Some More" I talk about the time when Brent and I were traveling up the Rhine without having all the information we needed.  On that same day in 2015, we found ourselves on the "wrong" (west) side of the Rhine, running out of daylight to find accommodation, and me suffering from another irrational terror... the terror of knocking on a random door and asking for a place to stay.  
My makeshift "hazmat" suit for leaving the tent

We started talking about random camping beside the raised canal trail, and eventually that started to sound like the best option to me.  Brent found a spot, down from the trail beside the trees that looked pretty good, and where we were unlikely to be spotted by someone who would roust us, in German, in the middle of the night. 

We set up camp there, and then realized that we were in some squishy, swampy ground, sharing our campsite with three trillion mosquitoes.  The next morning we got up and within our first couple of kilometers we discovered a campground.  Dang, I sure wish I'd had some info along!  

Read some more (possibly interesting and informative) whining about this day on DAMDetails.


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