My coverage of our adventures with vanlife in Europe has been spotty to say the least. We’ve been through Germany, Austria and Northern Italy and experienced an overwhelming amount of beauty. With all the exploring and our work commitments, it’s been difficult finding time to capture it all in words. But, here’s a little story from Lago Carezza in The Dolomites, which I hastily scribbled down in my notebook the very day it happened.

I hope it inspires you to realise the little gifts the universe brings.

“The rain poured all day yesterday. From the moment we woke up, to the short drive into The Dolomites and throughout a long, slow afternoon.

The rain kind of makes us crazy.

If it lasts longer than 12 hours we start to get itchy, worried and we want to plan our escape. No matter how beautiful the location, we ache for sunnier places that we presume exist beyond our current boundaries.

We did our best to work but kept periodically gazing out of the dripping window at the mist and gloom.

I checked my phone around 4pm and saw an unexpected window of clear sky on the weather app. It seemed our thoughts of moving on were far too hasty!

And how right we were to stay.

The minute we parked up, put our layers on and got Jimi on the lead, the mountains appeared from the thick mist.

Light snow clung delicately to the vertical peaks and the tops of the highest fir trees just below. The mist that had engulfed us all day sat at the edges of our vision, threatening, but the cerulean blue sky sat proudly right above us. It made the rocky ridge look taller, more imposing somehow and the sun reflected the golden ochre of the Dolomite rock.

We walked around Lago Carezza, not once but twice, and Jimi ran and jumped and sniffed until he was exhausted. Winter had frozen over that famous mirror image of the mountains, but the real thing stood solidly above defying all weather.

On our way back to the ‘van the mist descended again. Our pocket of sun – our gift from the universe – was over.

Later, as I tidied up our kitchen and got ready for dinner, I glanced through the back window and saw a sky alight in tones of fuchsia and orange.

Once again, we grabbed our layers and Jimi and ran outside just in time to see the peaks tinged with that same sunset pink.

Two small gifts from the universe, when we were ready to simply run away from a short patch of bad weather. A gift and a lesson, I think – a small lesson in patience…

The next morning we woke to a fresh blanket of snow when, just days before, we were sure Spring had finally arrived.

For the final time, we layered up, put Jimi on his lead and ran down to the lake path.

We wandered below the trees. They were heavy with snow and dripping softly through a haze of morning sunshine.”

That was all we experienced of Lago Carezza but it would be the start of an incredible journey through one of the most beautiful regions of Europe. I promise to share more stories and gifts from the universe soon!

Vanlife Details – Camping in The Dolomites

We were incredibly lucky to travel by campervan in The Dolomites in April and May, which is off-season for the area. Between the busy ski season and popular summer holidays, the towns and mountains in The Dolomites are empty. Hotels, restaurants and even the trails are shut or closed off. For us, in the camper, it made finding places to stay for free really easy.

Parking at Lago Carezza with a motorhome in April was especially so. The parking across the road from the lake is open and the ticket machines are turned off. We only stayed one night so as not to take advantage but probably could have stayed longer. There was no one else there overnight and only a handful of cars turned up in the day – a far cry from the summer, I am sure.

We were even able to make use of the cafe in the carpark – which is open at this time – and worked for a few hours before we left! They have the key to the bathroom so it is worth grabbing a coffee and using the facilities if you do stay.

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