The following letter is from some folks who purchased a motorhome in Europe and have been traveling there for several years. A few explanatory notes might help:
The camper was purchased from Braitman and Woudenberg in Amsterdam. They have a reputation as a fair and honest company, but the rigs they sell have seen a lot of miles and they're not in business to lose money. They're probably the largest operation in Europe when it comes to selling used rigs to North Americans.
You'll find a couple of reference to theft below. Thefts from vehicles are common in Europe, particularly those parked on the street or in freeway rest areas. It is important and not difficult to take measures against this. The problem is discussed in our book Traveler's Guide to European Camping..
Dear Mike and Terri,
We've met a number of times at Escapee events. I've been meaning to write to you for some time to share our experience with buying a camper in Amsterdam and with using your Europe book for the past 2 years.
After thinking about it and doing research for about 3 years, we bought a Rimor camper from Rene (at Braitman and Woudenberg) last year. This was after first buying one from Donna Turner, and then reneging when we found the mileage was quite a bit more than we were first quoted. We bought the 10-year old Rimor for 13,500 euros. After a 5-day trial run, Rene fixed practically everything we asked him to and then sent us on our way saying, 'Now it's your piece of xxxx!' Honestly, he did actual say those words. We were not offended. We like Rene and his straightforward way of dealing with things.
The Rimor has had its share of problems. After all, renters had been learning how to live and travel in the RV for 10 years and Rene and his able garage crew have ways of patching things together. He complained that obtaining factory replacement parts is a long and difficult process and many times, instead, the shop Rube Goldberg's fixes. The gray water drains into the tank slowly and backs up in the bathroom if we carry much down the road. This is no problem for us, as we drain the tank by the bucketfuls in the campground. The refrigerator seems to get less efficient each year. Although a shop in Belgium reported that the gas part of it worked fine, we have never gotten it to work. I plan to replace the refrigerator this year. Because the camper was a rental, it had many dings, patches and dints; we have added a few ourselves.
Last year we had to replace the water pump and this year we had to replace the gearbox. The former was an inexpensive proposition, but the gearbox cost us 3,500 euros. I think it would have been less expensive in countries other than Switzerland; one must pay for the superb quality and service that the Swiss provide. They even let us spend the night in the camper while it was in the shop. We also had to replace the pump on the power brakes, which cost about 300 euros.
Last year, when crossing the Loire on one of the 'erector set' type of bridges, our awning was unfortunately struck by one of the structural members which caused the case and hardware to explode all over the bridge. Luckily, no people or vehicles, other than our camper, were damaged. In lieu of replacing the awning, we simply inserted grommets in the corners of the undamaged awning fabric and use squeegee extension poles, rope and trees to support the awning.
At the end of our travels last year, we transferred management of the camper to Donna. Rene encouraged us to do whatever would save us the most money, and assured us that it would in no way change our relationship, including the occasional use of his garage and staff. Even with the prorated handling fee (as we did not buy it from her), the total cost for us was reduced to about 600 euros for 3 months this year. Her insurance costs were much lower than Rene's and storage is much cheaper in Utrecht. We pay 250 euros for 6 months. That's probably on par with storage in the US given the smaller size of the camper. We like having a camper in Europe and will continue using it until we run it into the ground, which is hopefully longer than 5 years.
Corrections to your 2004 edition of European Camping (which is falling apart, I might add):
Camping Fontemaggio in Assisi has beautiful new showers and toilets.
Camping Roma in Rome also must have improved their laundry, toilet and shower facilities since you last visited them. They seem to have affiliated with campgrounds in Venice and other places and have created quite the party atmosphere for young travelers in the bar, restaurant and pool.
Loire Valley Campground No. 3 Amboise, the GPS coordinate is E, not W.
Last year, Camping Rio Vena in Burgos was closed when we arrived in the summer. I got the impression that it was because the owner was ill. This may have been resolved by now. However, we found a very nice campground on the other side of the river, Camping Municipal Fuentes Blancos.
As you can see, your book is close to perfection. We have recommended it to many campers, especially the Dutch and the English.
We learned to really appreciate your book, when we traveled southern Italy this year. We purchased Guida Camper Aree di Sosta, which helped but we missed your careful eye in selecting the best campground for the area. A few times we were terribly disappointed, especially when 'Small Paradise' in Noto, Sicily turned out to be anything but. If you want me to tell you more about the good, bad, and ugly campgrounds we found along the way, just let me know. We spent about a month outside areas that you covered in Italy
Last year we only ran into one American-occupied camper. This year we ran into 2 and both of them had been robbed. (Editor's note, see my into above)
Incident 1 - While asleep, their wallets and, I believe, other things were stolen. They are persuaded that a small child entered through an open window to do the dirty work, as they did not detect any movement of the rig.
Incident 2 - Sometime after 2:30am, while parked on a residential street, someone slid open the passenger side window on their American class A, reached inside and took their laptop computer.
I hope this information is helpful. We thank you for your fine book and hope to see you at a rally some time soon.
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