Maria Garde, Charles Marlow’s Mallorca West Coast Sales Manager sings the praises of Rita, her vintage VW camper van. And she loves her weekend van life in Mallorca.
Exploring the island or camping in the cooler months, my partner Vicente and I always invite Rita along. Rita is our 1986 Brazilian T2 VW camper van, originally an 8-seater bus.
Vicente loves buying and restoring classic cars, including a Mustang and Porsche Carrera. After he finished his last project, I could see he was itching to find the next one. I lightly hinted that he might like to try a VW camper that we could go travelling in.
I’d always thought van life was romantic and dreamed of having a VW camper. I almost bought one when I was at university. Luckily, I realised before it was too late that this was a silly idea as I know next to nothing about fixing up cars and engines.
One day we were walking down the street near where we live and I pointed at a lovely camper parked up. ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘look!’
I was peering through the window when Vicente said, ‘Open it’.
It was only when Vicente opened that VW that I realised it was ours. I cried.
A couple of weeks before, Vicente had secretly flown to Valencia to see Rita, paid a deposit and flown back to Mallorca that same evening. He’d told me he had to go to a dinner for his work. I was none the wiser.
In the beginning, the best thing about Rita was that she started. We had to completely overhaul the engine and the interior.
We restored the engine and gearbox and replaced and soundproofed the interior. To create space for a kitchen unit and storage that Vicente’s uncle kindly made for us, we took out a row of seats. The others we reupholstered. We also had to do some work on rust.
But 12 months later Rita was ready.
Exploring Mallorca in Rita is a delight. We’ve fallen in love with van life and go picnicking and wild camping in her whenever we can.
Being in a van is a great way to camp as it means we’re not limited to the few official camping spots on the island. We’re able to camp in a van or bus on the island as long as we don’t set up a camp outside the van.
We found a beautiful spot in Es Mal Pas, not far from Alcudia, which overlooks the sea and is very private. This is where we got engaged last month.
As soon as the weather cools down and the mosquitoes are quieter at night, we’ll go camping more often. The winters are generally so mild in Mallorca that it’s possible to camp in Rita pretty much all year round.
So far, we’ve only taken Rita off the island once. Our very first trip in her was a long weekend driving through the Pyrenees over New Year. This was a truly magical – and absolutely freezing – few days.
When the weather cools down, we plan on a trip to Ibiza and Formentera. We also want to take an autumn gastronomical trip through Galicia and Asturias on the mainland and Porto in Portugal as well as exploring the south of France.
My dream is to take a month off and explore Europe in Rita.
If you’re thinking about restoring a classic VW camper and living the van life, you need to be patient and expect the worst. They’re old and work in a completely different way to modern vehicles. You’ll need to be prepared to fix something at any time.
But you can always hire a VW camper van from Damalu Campervans on the island.
Restoring Rita was a challenge but it was so worth it when we finally got on the road with an open mind and open heart, ready to go wherever we wanted.