Adria partnership with BeachRex started early in 2018 which means they have spent a big part of the year on their mission to visit Europe's top 1000 beaches and discover how many meet the needs of those travelling with a recreational vehicle. All of you have been following us social media know that it has been an exciting year, a fruitful endeavour.
Before they go out again, again with a new Adria motorhome, it’s time to get to know Gregor Balažic better. He is the man behind the idea, the projects and the infinite beach photos, videos and 360°s. what is his take on the project, the adventure and Adria motorhomes?
Greg, in 5 words, describe the adventure in the past year.
What surprised you the most?
After more than 3500 beaches you kind of get used to surprises, but what is funny about my work is the fact that every new beach is a challenge, a new surprise. This year I was the most surprised by the beauty of the Portugal beaches.
What made you smile the most?
This year I was travelling with my family, wife Lara and son Gaber, who is 2,5 years old. After a long day, having visited 10 or more beaches, travelled more than 100 km on a moped, sometimes on dangerous roads, overcoming so many challenges, I was the happiest when I saw them healthy and smiling awaiting me on our meeting point. When your child comes running towards you after a working day, you instantly begin to shine with the biggest smile.
What was the biggest challenge?
Some things you can have under control, some not, and It’s always a challenge to prepare yourself or react. For example, when my moped stopped in the middle of the road, 10 km away from any civilization, or when my camera failed when I needed it the most, or when I ran out of battery power on all devices and so on. But I am already used to deal with such situations. This year by far the biggest challenge was to manage or to find the right balance between the beach stuff and my family.
Don’t you get tired of beaches?
It would be unrealistic to say I don’t. The biggest reason I don’t get too tired is the fact, that I receive a lot of positive feedback from all over the world about my work and what the project BeachRex is really about. You really get a feeling that people like to use BeachRex, and as long as I have the feeling I’m doing something good for the world, there will always be enough energy to overcome the tiredness.
Which was your favorite country and why?
Every country is special. What is common with most of the countries is the fact, that all of them have some coastline which in normal, sometimes boring, and then they have a part of the coastline which is super beautiful and exciting. In Italy the most exciting part is certainly the Island Sardinia, in Spain it is Costa Brava in Portugal it is Algarve in France Cote d’Azur in Croatia it is Dalmatia and so on.
But if I had to choose I would choose Portugal. There are a few reasons. The coastline is really unique, very beautiful and pictures. Most of the beaches are still wild and with little tourist infrastructure. You find always enough places to park your motorhome, most of the time for free.
Which was your favorite beach and why?
For me the best beach was the Praia da Samoqueira in Portugal. It had everything I need to make me happy. It was very picturesque, very unique, very wild, with a minimum of tourist infrastructure, a parking lot for motorhome and also suitable for small children.
Were Adria vehicles what you expected?
Yes, I was, or we were really satisfied with the motorhomes. It’s almost like having an apartment on 4 wheels with you. Because of the nature of my job, we needed a lot of gadgets to support us, and Adria motorhomes did a big part in making this story a true success. The more time you spend inside, the more you see how the engineers have really done their job in making your stay in the motorhome as pleasant as possible.
This was your first trip with a motorhome, how difficult did you find it to be?
Before Adria partnership I was using a van for my journeys, which was almost like a small motorhome, except for the missing gadgets Adria motorhomes offer. The only challenge with a motorhome are its dimensions, which take a while to get used to it. Everything else is much easier to get used to it, especially when I compare it to my van, because it is simple to adjust to more comfort, more luxury, more logic and more symphony.
Your little son was with you – how did he like his time in motorhome?
He was having a great time and he got used to it really fast. At first, we were skeptical, because you don’t know, how a child will react to all the travelling and constant moving, but only after a few days he already caught the right vibe to smile most of the time. I believe he explored the motorhomes the most, so he really knows what Adria has to offer. Every day he had so much to explore, not only within the motorhome but also outside. And because of that we really saw an almost daily progress in his development.
Is motorhome life a good lifestyle for a young family?
Yes, most of the time it is. But your children have to be at least 2,5 years old. For a young family, the most focus is on the children. They need to be in a specific development phase to understand the whole process. At this age they also need to play a lot. As long as you have a lot of small children and playgrounds (artificial and in nature) around your motorhome, you are good to go.
So far, you’ve used a Coral XL, A sonic and a Matrix – which was your best motorhome experience and why?
For us, the perfect one would be the mix between the Coral XL, the Sonic and a little bit of the Matrix. We really liked the Coral XL. That extra, immediately to be used bed, above your head, comes really handy when travelling with a family. When you have a child, you can put many things on that bed, like a little playground or similar. On the other hand, the Sonic has some nice features, like the extra space in the ground, the extra space for shoes, a larger fridge and of course that luxury touch. It also has an attractive design. With the Matrix we were really surprised with the consumption of the vehicle. During our 8500 km long journey, our average consumption was 9,7 l diesel for 100 km, with a motor of 160 HP, that’s really amazing.
Ideal motorhome for you would …?
Have a huge trunk, a 500 l water and waste tank. A 50 l toilet reservoir. An easy to fill LPG or CNG EU standardized 100 l gas reservoir. A huge battery to power all my devices, a self-stabilizing system when camping on an uneven terrain and low fuel consumption.
The one that really comes close to this ideal of us is the Coral XL Supreme. I think it is ideal for a young family, who has all kind of stuff with them, and will be on trip for a longer period.
Can you sort from most important to less important the parts of motorhome?
Uff, this is a difficult one! Everything is important, to give you a comfortable feeling. The most important value of a motorhome is the functionality. Sure, some parts can be more or less luxuriously designed, but in the end the most important fact is that they make your live easier.
Maybe during the summer time, when you are travelling alongside the coast, the shower and the toilet are less important but in the same time you need the air condition which is not so important in other parts of the year. Although we were travelling in 3 different seasons, I think we were using almost all parts of the motorhome with the same intensity.
Do you have any free time or is it just work work work?
When I am on the road, collecting beach material, there is very little free time. In a normal day I was working at least 14 hours. If I would be alone I would certainly work even more, but when travelling with your family you need to adjust also to their needs. Usually we were having one day off in a week, so no beaches. Normally, we would have visited a town, a few sightseeing’s, a ZOO or something similar, which doesn’t mean, that the camera stayed in the motorhome.
Do you have any interesting local stories?
Yes, of course. There are plenty. When you have a 2,5-year-old son with you, you can be sure, that you will meet lots of interesting people, especially when the owners of a neighboring motorhome have a dog. Our son loves animals, all of them. One day we were camping outside the Italian town Civitavecchia, waiting for our ferry to the island Sardinia. Normally our son makes the first contact with the neighbors, most of the time because of the dog, they have with them. Maybe you say a few words, have a small chat, while the child plays with the dog, and you go back to your motorhome.
But this time it was different. The Italians were so kind, actually they were with 2 motorhomes, so two families, and no one could speak English, only Italian. We on the other hand could not speak Italian. No matter the language barrier, in a matter of 20 minutes after the first contact, we were already having lunch at their place, enjoying beer and ice cream. We were laughing all the time, speaking with body language and having a good time. Our son had such a great time, that he wanted to sleep at their old motorhome. Luckily, they run out of ice-cream before evening, and we had some more in our fridge, which made the transfer to our motorhome much easier for him.
When using the Matrix with KTM Dakar logos, what was the strangest thing that you experienced?
In some countries they love the KTM motorcycles and in some not so much … So here and there you receive either a thumbs up or the middle finger. The strangest thing was, when I was loading or unloading my Slovene TOMOS moped into a KTM motorhome. Here and there some people came to me to ask what this KTM Tomos thing is all about, and why my moped is 30 years old.
Although I have to admit, that this Tomos old-timer was a really good ice breaker.
Any advice you can give to people embarking on a touring holiday, based on your experience?
Prepare yourself the best way possible for your trip. While at home, take your time and go through different scenarios. Every county is different, with its own system and regulations. Try to take as much as possible with you, because when something happens it’s much easier when you have the tool or the solution for your problem within your motorhome. There are five major issues you need to be prepared for. One is the gas regulator and gas bottles, the second is the internet, the third is the safety in the country (when possible install some extra external locks), buy some good leveling blocks and as last install an RV park4night app on your smartphone, which will tell you where to park, where to sleep and where to make your RV service (tank fresh water, waste & black water disposal, charge battery, …)
When travelling through different EU countries for a longer period, have in mind the different gas regulator standards. There is plenty information online about the gas issue for each country. If possible purchase the EU regulators at home, if not, know where to find the first RV shop when entering a new country. Know also which regulator fits which gas bottle, and which gas bottle has the best coverage in the market.
You visit beaches essentially for your business so what do you do for relaxation?
I do a lot of sports. I really like to ski, play tennis, badminton, going to the gym, to hike in the mountains, to ride my mountain bike. A big hobby of mine is also the swimming and the apnea diving. Although I was so close to the water for the whole trip, during our 5 months on the beaches, I only went into the water to take a short swim maybe only 8 times.
I also like to read and I'm always on the search for some nice music, plus when I am at home, and we have a clear sky, I also go out and watch the stellar objects trough my 20 cm diameter telescope.
Beachrex’s hunt for the best European beaches continues in spring, stay tuned!