December 5, 2019

Portugal – Heaven on Earth

I ever since wanted to go to Portugal. I got inspired by stories of others (not that social media shit, told ones) or photo series which where shot in the Algarve or elsewhere. Much different and compaired to the beginning of my trip I in Portugal met a lot of people. But also friends came around to live with me in my van for some days. I spent a crazy week with Becks and got to know Eliot from the UK. Later on David visited me in Lisbon. But I also met people on the roads, like Karla. Karla’s T3 later had a one week break down and I offered her and Bob Marley (her dog) to live in my car for the meantime. I mean instead of taking a hotel. No matter who spent time with me in Portugal, it was awesome. Porto and Lisbon are extremely beautiful and for some reason there is this constant spirit in the air. I know every European country has its specialties, but I don’t care. Portugal is the best country in the EU. It’s insane beautiful, prices are cheap, people are nice, their language sounds cool, it’s warm all year long and you can surf – Every fucking day. Where else do you get this in Europe, hug? I left home in April. Knowing already, that I had to go back to Germany in July to start a 12.000 km road trip across Europe. I’m self-employed; actually double. All year long I work as a photographer but in the European summer months, I’m sailing. The reason is that I with 20 years decided to become a skipper. With 21 I started organizing sailing trips beside my regular job. First no one really believed in it and I was close to give up with this. But then, after a bunch of years this company finally started to run. Meanwhile we have grown to a team of 5 people. Everyone in this team has a second or main job beside the sailing trips and puts energy in this startup in his/her free time. For sure this causes a huge amount of love with the trips, because you only rarely spent your free time on things you wouldn’t like, right? My summer 2019 was one of the craziest summers of all time. One reason was the sailing trips and the here with coming road trip to the destination countries. Basically Germany > Portugal > Greece > Germany. But in order to get back to Germany I had to find a proper parking spot for my van. I mean one where the van will be safe for at least 3 months. I was driving crazy in Faro because I just couldn’t find a bloody parking spot matching my budget. I was almost about to just put it at the side of the road. Luckily I didn’t do so. I parked at the beach to get a clear mind and figured out that I only have 2 more days to find that spot. You have to know that I booked the flight already. Airport parking was 5 bugs per day which was definitely not in my budget (come on 500€+ for parking?!).

When you travel, you sometimes have this luck which feels just like destiny. So at the beach I found this T3 with license plate from Bielefeld, Germany (30 minutes from my hometown). I said: “What are you guys doing here?”, and there were like: “Living, hug!”. Oktavia, Kevin and me started a chat. The both are living in their T3 called Zophie all year long. It’s the high roof version and it even has a build in fireplace (self made) to heat up their van in the cold winter season. Oktavia sells artworks on the street and Kevin works as a tattoo artist. I guess Kevin is from Bielefeld, or at least works there from time to time, still. Funnily he knows some people I know. Anyway. After I told them that I have struggles to find a parking and my flight would be in 2 days already days bla bla bla he replied: “We know this place, called Tico Camp. We park there always when we have to go back to Germany. They charge you 1 € per day”. Omg! I couldn’t believe my luck. He gave me the owners number and I drove there straight. In order to find the camp you need that treasure map kind description from Thilo (owner) as Google Maps is totally unable guide you there. It’s super hidden in the pine woods. You drive a dust road for like 15 minutes through a natural reserve until you reach Tico Camp. Before you get there you think about turning around 6 times because you must be one the wrong road. This can’t be the way. I remember that I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the camp for the first time. It is Heaven on Earth! Textile tipis for guest, super funny and easy people on old sofas and in chill out areas. Some of them residents and some just temporarily there. A proper kitchen, fridges, showers, toilettes, guitars, a chess field, a golf set, table tennis, etc. It looked like a scene out of these movies where the world collapsed and this is how the cool tribes live from now on. Tico is one of the places where you feel home in like a second – straight. I thing the main characters in that camp are Thilo, Axel, Daniel and Paul + Esra who is my personal hero. German, German, German and Dutch + Turkman (Turkish & German). The two days I stay there felt like one week as I experience so much. Within the sailing season I even came back to Camp Tico by car. I missed it. Me and my friend Max had a week off. Him from studying and me from sailing. So we decided to drive from Barcelona to Faro with my other car (Golf 1 Convertible). It was parked there after the Mallorca Trip. It’s my first own car and I use it to get from sailing trip to sailing trip. 100km before Faro my Golf’s transmission broke. We were able to drive further with like 20 km/h to Tico Camp and later on Axel helped me to fix that car. Just in the sand, haha. So insane. In the Camp I met Jasmin and Bella. Two guests who wanted to make a pilgrimage from Faro to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Max flue back from Faro after some days and I had to get back the sailing trips. Next sailing trip would be in Croatia (4.500km away from Faro). Jasmin and Bella super spontaneously decided to join me on that road trip. This time became the best in my life. I’m so thankful for it and without Tico I would have never experienced it. In general the Tico people helped a lot, either with saving money, fixing cars or with motivation and life lessons. We had the best discussions in the world, from late night talk, to camp fire chilling. In October, where I visited Camp Tico for the last time (for sure for now). I stayed for more than 3 weeks to finish all the remaining Africa paperwork. I basically visited Tico three times this year. In July, in August and when I wanted to get off for my Africa journey, in October. Close before I wanted to leave Daniel and Axel helped me with my T3. I thought it would be a wise decision to put on some bigger off-road tires and give my van a body lift of 6 cm. At that point I didn’t know shit about Africa, but I guessed streets are not that nice. So I ordered parts. Axel helped me with the technical site and Daniel with tires and paint works (he’s a former paint worker). I found cheep 16-inch Mercedes steel rims which somehow match on my T3 axels, in Lisbon. My van was not insured so I got a rental car and picked them up. Afterwards, I can say that this tire thing was such a good decision. Without this adjustment Africa would have just been impossible. The 3rd of November I left Camp Tico. It was really hard to say goodbye after having all these beautiful people around me in the summer time. Even if I came to Tico in July and left it in November it felt like one long summer as it was never really cold wherever I was. Tico feels so like home, that you just don’t want to leave. My Tico people did such a cute farewell for me with waving and safe travels wishes. I think I never got any bye bye like that in my life. I lost some tears when I replied with my bye bye. It’s very special to feel and know that you found a family at the former end of the world. Tico’s motto is: “Hard to find and hard to leave”, and it’s really true.

To safe some money I drove from Portugal to the Spanish port without any car insurance. I know, not nice but what ever. Nothing happened. Finally off to Africa, after I have started to talking about it in July 18. I remember myself sitting so happily behind the steering wheel on my way to the ferry port of Algeciras, Spain.

These lines were decided to my Tico family: Jasmin, Esra, Bella, Axel, Daniel, Thilo, Paul, Janett, Mark, Renata, Ingo, Bonga, Elias, Caroline, Hen, The Nurias, Leo, Nuno, Elai and the dogs Suricata, Sol and Santa. Luv you guys. Thanks for making my 2019 so special.