Arrived at home

Blog entry April 5, 2020

After eleven days of travelling we arrived home yesterday at about 3 pm in Nußdorf

Was that a nice surprise at the door, attached by our neighbor Rosi:

„Welcome home“. 

In the kitchen we found a second and bigger surprise: a delicious Sachertorte and a bouquet of sky keys. How I would have loved to pick a few on our trip, but a full vase in the wobbly Big Fredi just doesn’t suit travelling. Now I am all the more pleased that I can enjoy the celestial keys in the vase. 

And the cake was simply heavenly. Thanks Michaela, thanks also for emptying the mailbox and taking care of our house. Also the grape tree was already cut and can now go full in juice. 

I hope Michaela can also enjoy the fresh grapes later in the year when we are gone again!

It was pleasantly warm in the afternoon and that as long as the sun was shining. The house had been ventilated by Michaela for days and filled with warm spring air. 

But without heating it would be too uncomfortable in the house and in the studio and so we voluntarily extended our travel feeling in Big Fredi.  

Now we have to live in quarantine for two weeks due to the corona virus. 

But our todo list goes far beyond two weeks. 

Yesterday, we already worked out a strategic plan for the implementation. 

The sunny and ever warmer weather will support us well and the many offers of help from our friends are a loving cushion. 

Thank you for having accompanied us so patiently on our journey so far. We are now taking a blog break during our work phase and will get back to you as soon as we have new plans for our trip and would be happy if you would follow us again!

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Austria, we are here again

Blog entry April 3, 2020

In the morning at the departure from Waldkirch we were amazed at the hustle and bustle on the streets and sidewalks.

Many companies seem to work normally or with little restrictions, car repair shops are open. What would the German do without his car! Even construction work seems to go on without restrictions. We have not seen this anywhere else during the Corona crisis.

In Freiburg, a very beautiful city, things were also very lively. Many cyclists and pedestrians were on the streets and sidewalks.

Soon we climbed up serpentines through the Black Forest, where we also refuelled. The saleswoman told us anecdotes from her everyday life with 3 children who are now engaged in e-learning at home and let go of her frustration about how the teachers are wiping themselves off against the parents. 

Up on the mountain there was still snow in places.

Past the Titisee we went through beautiful landscape, some of which was still hibernating. 

There, where the Danube has its source and the first kilometers it flows along, the world is still in order.

When we looked for a place for the late lunch after a few hours of driving, we found that it was actually enough of travelling and decided to stand right there for the night. It was in Ehingen at the Danube, the first time on our journey our sleeping place was not at a lake. 

That should have given us something to think about. It was pretty bad. Until 1am private cars came and drove at short intervals to the parking lot, which is actually used by mobile homes for sleeping, and made a kravall there: loud music from the radios, running engines, long and loud conversations of people who apparently met there and were doing business of some kind. This place is certainly no longer visited by us. 

Accordingly, we were tired in the morning and came late to the street. 

It was a long day with many kilometers on country roads. Via Ulm, Ingolstadt, Landshut we went for lunch to our place in Neuburg an der Donau. There we already stood in autumn 2018 when we returned from Great Britain, when a great art festival took place. 

Today it was empty except for a few pedestrians and cyclists. It also served only for lunch. The buttered potatoes are a quick but warm lunch, they are not heavy in the stomach and we both enjoy them. 

Full of impatience we approached the Austrian border and again we were rather disappointed by the reality. We were already warned by our friends and family members about the border crossing: it is getting worse and worse! 

But it became a short friendly stay at the border. We showed our passports and the very young official asked us if we were coming back from holiday and if we knew that he had to send us to quarantine now, noted our address on his list, filled in a form, had it signed and we drove a few kilometres further to Andorf. Hopefully it will be a quiet night here before our last part home. 

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Germany reached

Blog entry April 1, 2020

Today we were up already early and ready to continue travelling. 

The journey under blue sky and on little frequented roads went smoothly. 

An American school bus, apparently to be converted into a restaurant, aroused our curiosity. The work is currently – as all activities in tourism enterprises – stopped. However, photography is not prohibited and so we stopped Big Fredi to get a picture of the big road cruiser. Looks really fascinating, such a bus.

Just in time for rush hour we finally reached the German border. 

The last kilometer went at walking pace. The policeman checked our passports and wanted to know the destination of our journey. That was it and we were already done with the control. 

Since we are now quite legally on the road with our registered 5 tonner, we now allow ourselves to drive on the motorway. There is incomparably more going on on Germany’s roads than in any other country we have driven through so far. You don’t really notice much difference to normal traffic.

Also on the sidewalks, on footpaths and in the parks people walk in packs and you are surprised about the many extended families. 

Good that we can safely hide in Big Fredi. During a short walk around the small Stadtrainsee in Waldkirch I pulled my scarf over my mouth and nose. All the people we met were without mouthguards.

A water turtle was bathing motionlessly in the wonderful sunrays. 

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The 7th day of our journey home

Blog entry 31.3.2020

We actually landed at the same place in Autun where we stood almost exactly one year ago. 

Today we saw the sun all day again, but an icy cold wind shook Big Fredi the whole way.

To avoid any possibility of an empty tank we sponsored a small and expensive gas station. 1.44 € for one liter of diesel, at the next gas station it would have cost only 1.33 €. Still a lot more expensive than at present in Austria. 

I paid in full outfit: my scarf, which was folded several times, served as a mouthguard and we always have a pair of disposable gloves for filling up. 

Somehow a strange feeling, but we will have to get used to it. 

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Back on the road Day 6 of our trip 

Blog entry 30.3.2020

After a day of rest in the forest we are now a little closer to home.

Actually it was planned to take a nice walk around the lake but the weather was not at all inviting: rainy and cloudy. How beautiful the lake presented itself when we drove along the shore the evening before. The next day everything was different. So we stayed lazy in the car, busy with things that we had to do anyway.

But today we had to move on. 380 km to the next small lake. In rain or sleet the drive was pretty boring. The beginning of spring was not accompanied by the sun. Good that there is no snow on the road. Our tires would not be suitable for that. 

On the overhead signs of the motorways you can read hints about the coronavirus Covid 19 again and again. 

Now we have found a place with a view of the lake Étang de Gouillet near Saint-Sylvestre in an icy cold wind and we only look at the lake from the inside.

in the morning the sun was shining again
the nice, quiet place for the night

Only about 20 km away from the small village Fromental, where we stayed last year. Our daily stages are quite similar to those of last year and even with a few days difference we are back on the same route. 

In Autun there is again a lake for a parking place for tomorrow. Let’s see if we can reach it again. 

In five days of travel we have already covered 1,650 km. 1.400 km are still ahead of us. 

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From west to south

Blog entry 25.11.2019

We particularly enjoyed Odeceixe

We stayed there from 19. to 24.11.2019 and experienced all kinds of weather caprioles: heat, rain, storm and also very relaxed fair weather. Once in the middle of the night the gusty wind shook so much at Big Fredi’s side that Wilfried turned him 90 degrees and shifted the attack surface to the back. If we hadn’t been so wide awake, we would have slept well for the rest of the night. Instead, we waited for sleep until morning, but it didn’t want to adjust properly any more. Otherwise the place on the bank of the river Seixe is chosen as my favourite place. Equipped with water and food one can stand it here for a while. 

We spent a lot of time with Luise and Jonas. They travelled on after a few days and maybe want to meet us somewhere again.

jonas und louise in odeceixe

A nice walk on the cliff took place the day before yesterday in – almost – clear weather. First it had been too hot for us, then too rainy and only on the last day we set off. Only once we visited the shelter of a few trees from a few raindrops. This path is the coastal hiking trail, which must be beautiful but exhausting. One goes very much on sand and it goes uphill and downhill.

Yesterday (24.11., thus one month before Christmas) we left our parking place and set over a Lidl intermediate stop in Vila do Bispo and Intermarche intermediate stop in Sagres from the west to the south coast of Portugal. Sagres was for Wilfried immediately an abomination with its touristic flair. We did not go to the center of the city but turned in direction west to the coast to the last “corner” of Portugal. An old fort respectively a remnant of it offered us protection for the night.

altes Fort in Sagres

The lights of Sagres on one side and the lighthouse on the other side were the only light sources. Otherwise it was pitch dark when a camper van arrived later. The sea is much less stormy here and the waves are not high at all. Maybe a coincidence or rather the compass direction, if the westerly wind does not hit?

We will be able to follow that from now on. 

Meanwhile we are invited on Wednesday (the day after tomorrow) for lunch by Nikolas, to whom Wilfried repaired the table in Poland a few months ago. He is an Englishman with a Polish father and a passionate bridge player. He knows the area well and can certainly give us some hints. Not that we will discover the bridge game for us now, but he will have one or the other interesting hint, because he has been spending the winters here for years. 

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Atlantic in winter

Blog entry 20.11.2019

Until yesterday we stood on the beach of Porto Covo, both Luise and Jonas from Germany were portrayed

Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 20 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 60 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 100 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 15 min
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 120 min – finished

The weather was much better than predicted, so there is always room for positive surprises. The rain rages in the night and the days are sun-flooded with more or less wind. 

Yesterday we cleared our place for other travellers and traveled to the lonely beach of Odeceixe (unpronounceable name, wonderful surroundings). 65 km, a short stop for supply and disposal in Odemira. Now in winter it is indescribably beautiful and quiet here.

jonas and louise in odeceixe

We don’t want to have so much imagination and imagine the beaches in summer. It must be terrible. Now, at this time, we have never been chased away by the police. During the high season in July and August one could not travel so relaxed. 

Just now I asked Wilfried if he is curious about where we will spend the winter and if we will stay at the same place for 2 months as last year in Valencia. For a while we will stay in Portugal. It is a safe and beautiful country. 

Pedro and Isa have meanwhile arrived in Lagos. This is only 40 km away and is already on the south coast, but still on the Atlantic. Only in Algeciras the Atlantic passes in the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Until then it is still a long way and many bays want to be explored. 

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Face Europe family continues to grow

blog entry 14.11.2019

Yesterday morning

we got to know the Portuguese family with Pedro, Isa and their two daughters Luz and Luma (10 and 6 years old), when we stood at Intermarche and thought about our further way. They strongly recommended us to visit the coast at the lagoon Praia de Santo André, where they had just stood for 2 days. In addition, we exchanged telephone numbers in order to inform each other of our location. Pedro wanted to be portrayed gladly. So we drove to the beach of Santo André while Pedro’s family drove ahead of us to the south, where we wanted to meet again. 

The beach of Santo André was really beautiful and the lagoon and the sea invited us to take a walk. A stiff breeze, as always on the Atlantic Ocean, blew around our ears. Rather alternative campers stood there and one caught Wilfried’s eye right away: An 4-wheeler with two likeable Germans.

They invited us to their table, I packed my fruit salad with bowls and spoons and we dined together. Jonas and Luise are both veterinarians who want to travel to Africa and are now gaining experience for living together in a very small space. We agreed to meet again, because they also want to participate in Face Europe. 

Pedro gave us his location and we moved on to his place. It was a wonderful ride in the setting sun, which provided a great light to look at the nature and to take pictures, but it was very dazzling while driving. We bravely took a route through Santiago do Cacém following the navigation instead of driving on the motorway. Through cork oak and pine forests we went forever winding until we saw the sea again in Porto Covo. But the sun had already set and we just waved a hello to Pedro and Isa and filled our empty bellies. 

Today Pedro Guru (Guru is his nickname) was then in the afternoon with us and it developed a very authentic portrait with fantastic experiences from his life in the Caribbean and in Portugal.

Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 50 min
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 90 min
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 120-min-finished
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 120-min-finished

Tomorrow Isa has signed up for a portrait. Luz, her 10 year old daughter is an exceptional talent in drawing. We were allowed to have a look at her works and were extremely impressed. 

In the evening Jonas and Luise announced themselves as our new neighbours, whom we can introduce to Pedro and Isa tomorrow. 

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Falkenberg with big surprises

Blog post September 2 2019

We left the herring farm on Thursday morning to move on towards Germany

On Friday, 30 August, evening we arrived at our friends in Falkenberg. Anna had been assured the parking lot across the street from her house from her neighbors for Big Fredi. 

It was packed hot at about 30 degrees and still increased until Sunday with 34 degrees. 

Anna, our friend suggested that we accompany her on Saturday with Face Europe advertising to her Antique Market. We found four persons whom Wilfried drew in 2 days. One man, Peter, who writes the carnival stories about Falkenberg and also moderates them. The other participants were women.

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At the antique market it was very busy but suddenly I spotted him: a sweet little Steiff teddy bear. At first I thought I would never be able to afford it but I agreed with the seller to € 2.50. Immediately the little fellow wandered into my possession. Then came the time to find out WHO had been waiting for the right family of bears for such a long time.

Burli der Neue

Immediately it turned out, “Burli” is the new member of the family of the bears gang. It did not take long Burli was fully integrated. He was teased by Gracia and gave her an equal hit. Mama Mali intervened and calmed the two new siblings. Now they already work together in common pranks and outdo Fredi at stupid speeches. Already in the morning they start to invent excuses why no one of them can fix the breakfast.

Die Bärenfamilie

But they are our sweet bears that already inhabit a separate box and every morning they move  to our bed and in the evening thy  get deeper one story lower in the Big Fredi. In the morning it looks ever so bad here, but they’re all very polite and peaceful in the box and wait for the rise in our bed.

Die Bärenfamilie in ihrer Schachtel
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Slupsk is a hit

Blog post August 16, 2019

A wonderful holiday week with our friends in Kaliningrad made for relaxation and fun.

The week flew by and when leaving we were 5.5 hours on the border with Poland. Call of duty. Felt like 100 times: Open all doors and hatches in our Big Fredi, astonishment or simply “straight faces” among officials whose wearing the oversized caps would already justify a special allowance in salary. 

Finally, after the last window to passport control it meant also driving through the x-Ray. I wanted to know what they were looking for and it was clarified, they searched for hidden animals and humans. What a shock: We have our bear family on board and certainly a few mosquitoes of Russian origin. Thank God they could hide well and we continued our journey until Frombork, in German „Frauenburg“. On a quiet street we stayed one night. In the morning we had breakfast with our English neighbor Nicholas. Wilfried helped him with his car repair. While I amused myself with a sweet little baby kitten, taming it with some milk, Wilfried worked in the car of Nicholas. In gratitude, he invited us to eat with him in Portugal. Yes, such is the community of the traveling people!

It would have been possible to arrive Smoldzino on the same day, but we preferred to stay one more night on a beautiful natural lake surrounded by a forest before we finally reached our friend Michael in Smoldzino July 26.

What a wonderful garden he invited us to! Another 2 weeks without a successful Face-Europe search.

Although Michael had already prepared the village, no one wanted to be portrayed. So we took advantage of the time with beach visits and a great trip with our folding paddling boat on the Łupawa river.

On Thursday, 8 August, everything changed. A trip to Słupsk ended in an invitation to stand in front of the town hall and to lead our project further to success. Even for the night Dariusz, cultural events manager, reserved a place in the cultural center for us. The Cultural Center is a video-controlled leisure area in a park within  the city center. Water and electricity as well as a toilet are on site. Dariusz knew immediately what is involved in our project and supports us greatly. The cafeteria and the toilet in the town hall are always accessible during the day for us.

This makes our life here immensely comfortable and we can turn to the essential things to us here: Face Europe got the 9th Polish face today. 8 of these have then been created in Slupsk.

click on the picture to get to the TV feature

Dariusz established contact to the local TV: since Wednesday we are represented with a comprehensive video there. Similarly, the City Journal and the local newspaper have mentioned us.

On Wednesday, I wanted to buy a piece of cloth. Michael had given us an ancient folding chair which I wanted to renew. Since I have my sewing machine on board, it is possible for me to sew larger projects. The saleswoman, Beata and her daughter Kalina are now also in the project. The piece of fabric for the chair I got on top of it as a gift. The chair is now freshly made with a fabric that will still be good in 100 years. It will always remind us of Slupsk. 

Between Monday and Friday 8 portraits have been created and inquiries are still continuing.

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