German soil reached

Blog entry 04/06/2019

And it was a quiet night in Fromental.

In the morning I was signing the guest book as we were the first Austrian guests of this parking space and I gave the nice lady from the Universal Business 2 Face Europe cards. One for her personally and one for the guest book for gluing it in. 

We had a good trip passing Gueret, Montlucon, Moulins, got lost after Moulins and explored the countryside inadvertently off the highway. 

We reached Autun, a parking space on a lake, which was slightly uneven and did not appear perfect. We were just about to leave the car and explore the area by foot when we discovered three men pushing a car uphill in the parking lot. Wilfried immediately ran back and helped with the other men with an extra manpower strength to get the car started.  The lady should follow the instructions of the men. When this attempt failed and the other helpers were traveling only by bicycle, it was evident that Wilfried offered Big Fredi’s battery power to start the other car. Immediately the battery-week car started and the lady was thanking all the helpers. 

After this “good deed” we went on a walk around the lake. A cool breeze blew around our ears already. The nights are noticeably cool here. We walked around the lake and spotted a much better place, which was even and quiet next to the cemetery overlooking the lake. We changed our parking place

and slept quietly beside the corpses. 

This morning we walked around the cemetery, because behind there was an interesting old building with a beautifully decorated roof and right next to it you could see an ultra-modern glass roof. We wanted to see these buildings closer. Unfortunately, they are part of the ensemble of the military base and are thus excluded for us as visitors. 

Instead, we were allowed to look at the Roman Amphitheater for free. 

After that we went back on the road. 

Today is Saturday and it strikes us that there is no heavy traffic. 

We are making good progress, there is no truck traffic. Sometimes it seems as if we are alone on the street. 

We pass Dijon (does the mustard come from there?). 

Being afraid to starve over the weekend – it is Saturday and you never know if the shops will be open on Sunday we stop at Lidl in Gray. There we eat the snack I bought and then go on using pretty good and fast highways or expressways passing Vesoul, Lure and Belfort. 

In Belfort, our navigation system gets completely lost. A construction site and new highways confuse Tomtom . We drive in circles. After the third attempt we give up and enter into Navi “avoid highways”. Thus, highways are deleted. So we „slender“ on village roads in the tiniest villages between Froidelfontane, Dannemarie, Aspach le Bas, but had a great view of the still snow-capped peaks. 

Our parking lot, which I had picked out yesterday evening, we reached despite going on state roads even before it got dark. This place is already in Germany, in Müllheim. The first German words as we cross the border. It is always fascinating to see how everything changes when you enter another country.

Now there are only about 820 km left to drive home. In three days we will be home, if all goes well. 

Today’s pitch is the private parking lot of the Markgräfler herb farm, a huge business for goods with herbs of all kinds. Unfortunately, today it is already closed and so it will be tomorrow. Therefore no possibility to buy souvenirs. 

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April weather

Blog entry 04/04/2019

Outside pouring rain made us slept excellent.

The first hour of our trip was alternating between rain and sunshine. When the sun peeked out between the clouds confidently Wilfried made it to assemble the new tire. We were driving the last 300 km with the spare tire. The dimension of the spare tire is a bit bigger than the tire on the truck, even though the same size is indicated on the tire itself. 

Whatever, Big Fredi is purring again with a new tire and it also sounds much better. Big Fredi also needs less diesel – at least it feels that way. We had a full tank in Spain and 550 km to go in France. So the next 150 km we should be able to do with this filling. 

The French roads have been quite well so far. Highways without toll we deal by leaving the highway before the toll booth and then go on after the toll booth again. Our Navi asks us to, and we do what it tells us. Finally, we have entered “avoid tolls”. 

A beautiful rainbow and a thoroughly colored landscape show us that it’s raining again. But this is only for a short time and often the sun appears behind the cloudy sky. 

Every few kilometers there are so called “Aires”. These are service areas, which are also specially built for RV parking spaces with utility offers. Well signposted on the motorways in many cities as well as in small villages. 

Just like now in Fromental, a tiny place that spreads around the church and the castle. 

Our navigation system took us on back roads through single-lane roads, past secluded farms quasi from behind the village. 

We thought we were to be the only car parking there but when we arrived, there were already five cars there. For 4 cars there is a plug to fill up with electricity. 

The library, a small village store, the post office – are all operated by one very friendly lady right next door. 

For the use of the wireless network I had to make a signature and show my driver’s license.

It will be a quiet night. 

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Fredi has a flat tire again

Blog entry 2. 4. 2019

Today we made it out of bed one hour earlier.

It was 8:00 when we started to have breakfast in the sunshine. 

Since last night I had spotted a gas station near by, which offered diesel for 1,164 € per liter, we started out with the filling of Big Fredi‘s tank. 

Also, the oil got checked and refilled. Such an old guy needs a little bit of grease now and again. 

Wilfried also wanted to check the tires, it turned out that the compressor was only giving 4 bars, but Big Fredi needs 4.5 Bars and so we rather lost air instead. 

At the next gas station we hoped to solve this problem. However, the tire was broken. Significant hiss showed us that there was nothing to do but to mount the spare tire. The old one was gone for good. 

Luckily we found two nice Romanian truck drivers with good muscle strength, good will and a strong iron bar to lengthen the lever arm to unscrew the screws. 

The changing of the tire took nearly an hour and it cost us (Miranda) 92 € for a new tire in the next town. 

Tomorrow Wilfried wants to mount the new tire, because this tire company had refused to mount it like they did in England last year. 

We are in Vitoria Gasteiz in a public parking without RV colleagues. I looked into  Leroy Merlin, whether they had an iron bar that could help us during the tire change, but there was nothing useful. 

Later it began to rain a little and it also cooled down quite a bit. 

Actually, we have crossed  a weather division this afternoon and are located in the more mountainous northern Spain. There are even snow covered peaks with an altitude of 1,300 meters. Fortunately we can use the Ruta de la Plata, translated as „Silver Route“, an old Roman trade route. Plata also sounds to me a little Bit like plates or flat. We do not have to deal with many slopes but meander through the wide valleys kilometer after kilometer on fairly good roads that are built as good motorways. Only to drive 2,000 kilometers more. When we started our journey home, there were a total of 3,000 kilometers. Our Big Fredi and Wilfried are the efficient „Kings of the Road“!

Thank you for our safe trip home!

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No kidding – we’re in Spain

Blog Entry 1 April 2019

Until Sunday lunchtime our resistance has lasted until we finally wished Philipp “Farewell”.

Everything got vibration-packed and we were heading out. Nevertheless, we arrived in Spain in the evening, more precisely in Badajoz. This is a small medieval town which I explored late in the evening by myself.  Since we now live two hours ahead after the time change to daylight saving time and the time switching to Central European Time, my body clock at 21:30 was still tuned to 19:30 and I was full of energy. Therefore, I made an excursion to the old town. From our parking lot it was only a short walk to the pedestrian bridge into the city of Badajoz. Brightly lit and populated by many walkers and local visitors, I went uphill and enjoyed the hustle and bustle. When I walked back downhill I took the wrong direction and ended up a good bit further away from the bridge than I had thought. It was already 23:30 when I arrived back at Big Fredi. My app showed me that I had taken a 6 km march. 

This morning we only woke up at 9 a.m., first had a relaxed breakfast and only at 12 pm ” we were „On the Road” again“!

Across Caceres, or rather past it it was a direct route to Salamanca. 

We arrived the city of Salamanca at approximately 16:30 in sunshine and still managed to get a good parking space next to the bridge in the old town. Uschi had praised the city and the parking place so much and she gave us the Geo data, so we are now in the middle of the town and want to actually not leave the car unattended. Again I walked alone and explored the surrounding area and even took a few supplies at Mercadonna for our trip home. 

With coffee ice cream and waffles, we still had from Valencia we boosted some calories. 

Tomorrow, the journey continues towards France. Whether we are entering French territory tomorrow or only on Wednesday, we will see. Anyway, there are 540 km to go. 

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Again and again, “Foz”

Blog entry 30/03/2019

It began at Foz do Lisandro and it ends at Foz do Lisandro. 

But first things first. 

On Wednesday, 03.27.2019 Mena was drawn. She is really an extraordinary person. Every stroke of fate she has coped brilliantly. Whether her husband’s death 6 years ago or the fire of her restaurants. She gets up and makes the most of it. Her time commitment applies to children with heart disease who live in Portuguese Guinea, where she helps to support their heart surgery in Portugal. This even went so far that she adopted one of these children 6 years ago. She has found a passion in her life, which she fills with all her heart. 

After drawing the Face Europe portrait we were invited to Marco and Anna for dinner. It was a delicious experience. 

On Thursday Philipp wanted to have a portrait painted of himself in order to give it to his father for his birthday. He decided finally to have it also filmed and since it was only one more step to be part of Face Europe he decided to be part of Face europe as well. 

Late in the evening we received another email from Anne, who wanted to be a model for Face Europe. By chance she lives across the street from Mica and also had some time the very next day to be portrayed. We already know the way to Mica’s place. Anne is a very lovely flight attendant, accountant, surfer and besides, she was the weekend before a neighbor on the beach of São Julião at a party right next to us. The world in Ericeira is small. Everyone knows everyone, surfers know each other and locals welcome “newcomers” like their friends. 

I had expressed a desire to eat fish at least once in Portugal. Neither Sonja not Rui, Marco and Anna, Mica and Melli had time to eat with us. Even Anne was already tied in a meeting. 

The only faithful Philip went with us and showed us the great restaurant in the old town of Ericeira. We were able to accompany him in his car and did not have to worry about parking in the narrow City. 

After the fish, ice-cream was a must have!

So our penultimate day was crowned with a delicious fish. 

Wilfried wanted to enjoy the Saturday for rest and on Sunday we definitely need to tear ourselves away. 

Unexpectedly, Pedro, the friend of Philip came to visit us on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, he had no time to have his portrait done. He is a filmmaker and – if we should come back to Portugal – he would be happy to be a part of Face Europe. 

We had planned to meet with Ricardo near Caldas da Rainha on Sunday but he had to cancel. 

Therefore, we will start our way home on Sunday, 31/03/2019 definitely and leave Obidos, Caldas da Rainha and Nazaré for our next visit to Portugal. 

We definitely want to get to know this country more closely and intensively.

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Mellow Move Surf Camp

Blog entry 27/03/2019

Uschi from Kiel was drawn in Big Fredi yesterday.

Her joy to be part of Face Europe was great, but the joy about her portrait was overwhelming. Gladly she would have bought it. Wilfried promised her that she can purchase it after the exhibition. 

After a short break and packing up we went straight off to Marco, who has his surf camp right near the beach of São Lourenço. 

The gentle movement is the meaning of the surf camp, which Marco operates together with his friend Gregor since 10 years. 

Since six years, Anna, is his partner. Her reputation as an excellent cook has already preceded her. Johannes has rated her extraordinary good and healthy food. She does it with love and enthusiasm and we will get to enjoy this today. After yesterday’s Portrait of Marco, which Wilfried had drawn in their beautiful house, we were invited for dinner tonight. 

This afternoon the 52nd person will be included into the face Europe family: Mena (short for Philomena), she has an interesting Portuguese personality. 

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Spring is in the air

Blog entry 26/03/2019

Everywhere flowers and greens here.

The figs shoot out their leaves. Fruits I have not seen yet, but they will show up soom. The hills are full of a variety of wild flowers and the gardens and front gardens flourish in the most exuberant colors. Nasturtium proliferates flourishes on the hills along the way and all kinds of yellow daisies and yellow and pink shrubs line the rocks and paths. It is a variety of colors, which accompanies us here in late March. But even for the Portuguese everything is much too early and they are concerned about the lack of rain. For us it means one sunny day after the other bringing us into pure holiday mood but it is a concern for the farmers. Hopefully it rains enough soon so that nature survives the summer. 

Last night we got a visit from our new neighbors: Andi and Konrad. Andi just wanted to borrow a corkscrew from us. He and his friend are on their holidays with a tent and a rented car. It was an exciting evening, Andi told us about his many travels and that he must now look for a job, but he would prefer to travel. He has traveled to many countries and completed his community service in Central America in a school as a teacher. It’s so nice when young people are   expanding their horizons in this way and they can always rely on so much life experience at a young age. No one can ever take that away from them.  Andi’s friend, Konrad is Californian and just finished his master’s degree in Hamburg. 

This morning we packed our things again and moved on northwards. 

Currently, we are waiting for news from Marco, in order to plan our next days. 

When we had just found a place for the night on the beach of São Lourenço, a nice German couple joined us, which gladly accepted our invitation to a coffee and cake. Eckhart (Ecki) and Uschi loved Face Europe and Uschi has decided spontaneously to be  portrayed tomorrow. If she stays here, her portrait is the 50th. 

A third car joined us later, a blue Iveco, in size as our Willi was. A young family, she is Portuguese, he Frenchman and their about 2 years old daughter is both. Tomorrow they want to visit us in Big Fredi. 

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(Deutsch) Mica Surfboards – ein Profi aus Leidenschaft

Blog entry 24/03/2019

In Mica we met a strong personality.

A professional surfer who has stopped to participate in surf competitions at the age of 27 has founded his own brand with the support of his friends and met a new life goal. Besides surfing for fun, he runs his own label and shapes surfboards on demand. All handmade and in countless hours of work. He has remained modest and his boards stand out clearly from factory boards. Each of his boards is unique and with a lot of experience and intuition it will grant the board a long shelf life. 

Wilfried had actually already finished the portrait within half an hour, but it was so exciting to listen to Mica that he was still working out details and we listened to Mica. His English is excellent, as if it were his mother tongue. 

His girl friend and collaborator – Melanie, or also called Melli – assisted by taking pictures and movies of the scene.

She is a designer and “got stuck” at Mica‘s shop since her batchelor work last year. She enjoys it so much to live and work here, that she has decided to emigrate from Germany to Portugal. 

Melli was also portrayed the next day. She is a charming and interesting young lady. 

The two advised us to spend the night on the beach which turned out to be wonderfully quiet. And this was even on a weekend. 

We will spend the third night in a row here tonight. Then we will go on to Marco Mellow King, an Austrian surf school owner. The school is located in São Lourenço, about 10 km north of us. 

This morning we enjoyed a nice walk along the cliffs as far as the south bank of the Rio Lisandro. On its northern shore we stood before as already described. 

Our path led past a group of people with their offroad model cars which drove over the cliffs. For the owners an exciting race because the cars all had to take the same route. 

Now we enjoy to stay inside the car which is still cool. We had a bowl of soup and now we can chill a bit. 

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Rio Lisandro becomes a lake

Blog entry 22/03/2019

The tranquility of the river delta of the Rio Lisandro is unique. 

The river changes its appearance with the tide and yesterday it had no more connection to the sea. It rose to a lake and the water rose. But before it came up to us there was  again a connection to the sea. 

The road from the place where we can be reached at, is a dead end road. Therefore, there is no through traffic. Also from the inhabitants of the houses there is hardly any sign of life. 

Jochen, our Belgian neighbor comes and goes without contacting us again. 

On Wednesday, we invited Sonja to dinner. She brought her son Tiago with her, an amiable and open-minded 13-year-old enthusiastic surfer. We made Topfenpalatschinken which the two liked very much. Sonja is a fine conversationalist and it was a shame that they had to leave soon. Tiago must be rested for school the next day. Sónia needed 45 minutes for her return trip. Perhaps we see them again before we leave Portugal. It feels so good  to get to know such people, and start friendships with them. 

Those Portuguese whom we have got to know so far, were all self-employed or about to start their own business and were very accurate with meeting deadlines. 

The prejudice of tardiness or unreliability we’ve just not experienced in Portugal. Uncharacteristically for the southern countries. 

People in Portugal also appeared to us very diligent. Good workers, ambitious and environmentally conscious. The ordinary workers on the beach who free the sand from flotsam greet or thank friendly with a smile, the answer often comes right in English. 

Yesterday we had to wash our clothes again and combined it with shopping as well as disposing and filling up fresh water. After that we moved on to Mica’s workshop, where we spent a quiet night. 

In the morning we got to know Mica. In the afternoon he will be here at the appointed time at 2 p.m.

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Big little Europe

Blog entry 19/03/2019

Yesterday’s day began unspectucular and ended spectacular. 

Wilfried had just taken a shower and I wanted to go to the bathroom when Sónia told us that her morning appointment was postponed to the afternoon and that she could come at half past eleven a.m. instead of  2 p.m. We spontaneously changed our schedule and were ready at half past eleven. Due to the strong sunlight and the constant wind, it is currently only possible to draw inside the car. 

Sónia is a very warm and confident woman. She is currently unemployed, but this does not mean that she does not work. She lives with her 13 year old son as a single mother in a phase of reorientation. She has got several „irons in the fire“, but only decides if she knows exactly what she really wants. 

The interview with her was very exciting and we learned a lot from her straight life. 

In the morning Wilfried watched how a motorhome driver tried to pull his car out of the sand. He refused help from us at first, because a friend wanted to come up with an SUV and pull it out. 

After our Face Europe meeting the SUV was then gone, but the motorhome still stuck in the sand. So Wilfried went out with a shovel, rubber mats and our chain to help Juãn Miguel – the hairdresser from the neighboring village – out of his trouble. 

Finally, we woke up Jochen (Belgian) and together with Ludolf (who had helped us two days before) finally we got the vehicle uphill out of the sand. I would like to mention that my rubber transfer was a good resource. Whenever the tire had run over the rubber mat and threatened to spin, I put the mat again in front of the tire. It got grip and so the recovery finally succeeded with united European forces. Juan Miguel danced with joy and shouted, “so it should always be it, that’s Little Europe: Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Austria! Together we are strong. He thanked profusely and promised to come back in the evening with 2 new rubber mats because our two mats got broken. 

It was already dark when Juãn Miguel came not only with two great new rubber mats but also with luscious barbecued chicken, baguettes, chips and beer and invited all helpers to eat together. Ludolf had already eaten, and wanted to got his ratio wrapped up and given to for the next day. Jochen missed the evening with us, because he had shortly gone away with his car. 

So we ate and drank together until midnight. 

Again and again Juãn Miguel stressed out, how important our help was for him. For us, such a help is self-evident. Here you can see how hospitable and accommodating the Portuguese are. We are thrilled and we like it better and better. So far we have only learned to know lovable Portuguese. 

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