The end of an era
Without any fanfare, she drove away from the house. The sky was grey and sleet was falling at an acute angle, spurred on by an intensely cold wind. I watched from the warmth of our conservatory as she rounded the corner and disappeared from view, Arūnas smiling and waving from the wheel. That’s it – she’s gone.
Our adventure had begun with her, way back in early 2013. My company was offering voluntary redundancies and we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do something new and exciting. We love to travel and decided that a tour of Europe discovering the wonderful food products on offer across the different countries would be the perfect way to begin our new life.
It took us a while to find her, but when we did we knew immediately that she was perfect. She had everything we needed all nicely compacted into an easily transportable space. Her green colour was subtle and would enable us to park inconspicuously where other camper vans might not be welcome.
She served us very well for three months as we travelled through Wales, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Poland before arriving at our final destination here in Lithuania. Apart from a lack of air conditioning (only a problem in southern Spain in July!), she never gave us an ounce of trouble. She was spacious enough for two people to live comfortably without feeling cramped. When we parked her beside Arūnas’s family home we left most of our stuff inside, vowing that we would hit the road again soon.
Way leads on to way, as they say, and we never got to travel in her again. Very soon after we arrived in Lithuania we bought a house. We wanted to renovate the house as quickly as possible so that we could move in and so taking a long vacation wasn’t really an option. We moved into the house in August and considered a short trip then, but we were right in the middle of harvesting our vegetables and we still had lots of finishing to do on the house, so we decided to postpone until Spring.
Spring arrived early in Lithuania this year, the snow melting fully in late February. At the first sign of blue skies my mind turn to the van and where she might take us this year. Our van was registered in Ireland and the tax, road safety test and insurance had all now expired. We investigated registering it here in Lithuania but discovered that we would have to change it from right-hand-drive to left-hand-drive before they would allow registration. This would have to be done by a Mercedes garage in order to be certified as safe. Since this would probably cost more than the van was worth, the painful decision was made to drive her back to Ireland and sell her.
As I write she’s probably somewhere in Germany (where I presume she originated), on her final road trip chez Vladička. Soon she’ll be back where we started our trip in May 2013 – on the tarmac outside by father’s house. Where she’ll go from there we cannot say, but we thank her for her loyal service and will remember her fondly for many years to come.