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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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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Over the mountains

27. November 2018

Well, we got out well from the mountains. In the morning we had frost on the wind shield (inside we had it nice and warm). Later we had a more and more beautiful ride between the mountains until we in got into a national park and at Saint Julien du Verdon we made some good pictures of a reservoir. 

We travelled over more mountain passes, then the Navi led us on a beautiful plateau of the Provence and to another national park of Verdon. Lavender fields on each side of the road, olive groves and almond orchards as far as you can see. The nice saleswoman in the lavender shop would have been almost ready to be painted. Well, soon we will have the first faces in Spain and Portugal. 

The next town we entered into the Navi system is Arles. There at our last year’s trip to Spain we had a special experience: we tried to find the parking space displayed in the “park4night” app and accidentally arrived on an uninhabited and rather dilapidated farmhouse right by the river. A thunderstorm with violent wind arose and the trees were bent and creaked dangerously. The craziest sounds could be heard from all sides and I was afraid to remove myself from the motor home to empty my bladder. What a blessing that we now have a toilet and a shower in Big Fredi!

We decided to stay in Sénas today after we successfully filled our water tank with 100 liters of water.

At the water pump chips were needed to fill the machine. These, of course, we did not have. When I asked in a building next to the parking lot where you can get these chips, I learned that one must buy them in the tobacco shop. Then a young man opened the box with the tokens, handed one of them to Wilfried and disappeared. We were able to get free 100 liters of water. A short walk into town did not inspire us particularly, but it was enough to purchase delicious baguette and a few small items. In the afternoon a storm already began. As we are moving closer it seems that for us Arles is connected to the storm. 

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We are by the sea

25 November 2018

Again, we stand in the rain, but this time much further south: in Finale Ligure. In North-West Italy at the Ligurian coast, on one side you can see the sea, behind it there are steep mountains and the road cuts through the rocks, so you have to be careful with Big Fredi that he does not hit the overhanging cliff. 

The trip here was anything but a pleasure. I never complain about bad roads in Austria after this dilemma. Absolutely Emmentaler streets. You can not always avoid it rumbles incessantly into the holes. What do the Italians do with the money that should be used for roads? The streets have not only this year broken. 

Well, yesterday we finished the journey at relatively fine, at least rainless weather in Lodi and could park Big Fredi in a public car park for campers. The “small” walk into town turned once again into what we call a “death march”, we enjoyed the atmosphere of this city at beginning dusk. Lodi was involved in a legal dispute with Milan about 500 years ago and finally these two cities have formed a partnership that both led them to a fruitful trade. There you go, they at that time already knew: together we are stronger. Many boutiques and beautiful tasty (and expensive) shops invited us to “look” at them. To buy stuff for our small budget is not possible. Never mind, we have no place in the Big Fredi anyway. 

This morning – after a nice breakfast – we went on at 10am and arrived at the already described place at the sea. For Wilfried it was extremely tiring to avoid all the many frost holes. The potholes are hopefully over now, the last kilometers of roads in Liguria have already been much better. 

We are looking forward to the onward journey!

Stay tuned! We will soon report our next adventures!

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Go on

23. November 2018

After a few weeks at home, which were meant for adaptations and improvements at the car – such as for example a solar system – it’s now back on the road: Portugal and Spain are on face-Europe program this winter.

On Tuesday, 20 November, at 12:30 we finally hit the road. In snowfall and misty weather we left Nussdorf and moved south. 

In other words, just behind St. Poelten we bought 2 gas cylinders for the trip to Portugal and the returning from Spain to have enough gas on board. In Spain and Portugal it is – due to the different ports – necessary to purchase country-specific loaning gas bottles and hope that the adapters fit this time. At the end of the journey we must bring the loaners in the respective countries. 

Anyway, it was quite warm in Big Fredi and it was quite comfortable even in freezing temperatures outside.

We got more and more into the sunshine, the more we  drove uphill and downhill through the beautiful Lower Austrian and Styrian landscape. Even Big Fredi liked the roller coaster ride. This time it was not hot – just like in our last tour to Carinthia in midsummer. Now we know what the built in switch in the car is for: it is the additional cooling to face slopes. 

So we cruised up to Mooslandl in Styria, slept at the parking lot of the beautiful summer bath and inspected the next morning the terrain. A cool camping area, a great natural state pool that invites in winter for walking. 

Next day we went comfortably to St. Veit to visit Wilfried’s brothers. 

It was a fine evening, unfortunately we did not meet Gitti, the sister from Australia because she went too soon back in her Australian homeland. Health problems forced her to turn back sooner than she intended. I very much hope that we meet her in person next year and in the meantime we can only Skype. 

Our journey on Thursday was not very long because in Untergreuth was our next stop. Thomas and Marion, our dear friends, got their borrowed video camera back and we enjoyed the visit of the wonderful house very much. The trout we had for supper and breakfast would earn easily 5 royal stars! We slept in Big Fredi and at 10 o’clock we went on towards Italy. Sun and clouds alternated until finally the clouds prevailed shortly after Venice and now we are in our cosy car in Campagna Lupia, away from the main route, on a small community owned parking lot and the rain splashes on the roof.

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Stopover

Since 22 October, we are back home. 

The trip through France (where Pompes funebres is not a bad word), Germany and Austria was a slow one for our Big Fredi. 

No more than 80 km/h. Immediately after the ferry at Dunkirk there was a pitch that only had to serve to sleep. And Lisbeth could do so. Quiet, no music and only Wilfried heard the noise of the cars. Lisbeth is blessed either by filtering the noise or by being deaf. Like a sleeping doll that once it is laid down, her eyes close and she immediately falls asleep. 

The next morning a call at ÖAMTC helped us to find the nearest Iveco service station. We found it 15 km away and close to Calais. The noise which was heard by Wilfried so clearly could not be heared by the slightly older car mechanic. He probably was also blessed with weak hearing. But at least it was determined that the bearing on the right front wheel was in order. We should just not drive too fast, and when the wheel is hot, respond immediately. Since we are not French speaking people, and the French people could not speak English or German, a piece of paper and pencil helped to illustrate that there are  yet 1.500 km to go home to Austria. A French shrug, which means as much as: nothing will happen, just drive slowly and then  exactly at 12:00 the workshop scroll bar for lunch was lowered and we were on our way home. 

The French national roads led us partly through rural areas between „extinct villages“ and small towns who reminded us much of English architecture. The brick houses in beige or red were here and there interrupted by half-timbered houses. No such uniform style as in UK. 

At a parking lot, which we had all to ourselves there was a beautiful sunset. The sunrise next morning was behind a dense forest. Otherwise we felt at once so free and unrestricted in our view. Finally NO HEDGES any more. One can see the landscape everywhere. It’s a wonder the English are so friendly and gracious, boxed in as they are. And it is amazing that they love their country like that. They cannot see their country from the road! Everything is always hidden behind a hedge. Entrances into the fields (behind the hedges) always give brief glimpse into the landscape. 

In Germany Diesel is much cheaper than in France. Therefore we tried to get into Germany as fast as possible. In Saarbruecken we met heavy traffic and construction sites, which demanded a lot of concentration. We had already poured 30-liters of Diesel from our spare tank into thirsty Big Fredi but the price of diesel near the French border also was not cheap. 

Slowly we moved on through Germany, always on the main roads avoiding any Autobahn, but they were at least in good condition and were often interrupted by expressways. In Maulbronn our app found a „free of cost parking space“. The next morning the monastery Maulbronn attracted us magically. We just had to take a guided tour. Armed with one audio guide each, we explored the old walls. There we would like to be with Face Europe in the courtyard. There is plenty of room and even the „fat“ Fredi would have enough space. When we go back to Germany, we will contact the management and ask for a space there. 

At noon we moved on again. Our next camp was then in Neuburg an der Donau when we learned through our adorable neighbours that the whole evening and half the night a street party is announced: “30 years of our German Danube”. It was a mild evening and extremely busy. Theatre, stilt walkers, canoe propelled handball players who paddled very skillfully while playing ball. The castle was freely accessible and there were everywhere actions of artists at a high level. To have two cultural highlights a day was very exciting. It was just a pity that the theatre and music groups were set up far away from the castle and had very few visitors. 

Right on the banks of the Danube on a huge official parking space for campers we spent another quiet night. The next night should already be in Austria with our friends. Wilfried kept Lisbeth from announcing our arrival at our friends too early in Innerschwand am Mondsee. He was not sure when we could be there. And that was fine like that. The federal highway 20 had been diverted towards the Austrian border and was a complete disaster area. There were 50 km poorly signposted diversions, our stubborn Navi which wanted to bring us back again and again to the 20 highway. The road map could not be consulted, the scale showed only the larger towns. And we circled. When hunger and desperation were large enough, we decided to cook and eat. When we had parked the car we asked a local if we were still on the right path he redirected us back 20 km. But when we were about to take off and follow his directions, the man came back and told us he was wrong and he had to come back to tell us the proper way. That was very kind of him. In order to escape Germany we had to use the Autobahn, which we wanted to avoid, but we took the risk and continued without further incident. David was very surprised about our imminent turning up, next time he would like to know sooner that we come. He learned only after our arrival about our awful diversion experience. You just never know big Fredi’s mood and which incidents can occur before you really reach a goal. 

This night was the first frosty night, and just then we ran out of   gas for the heating in the morning at 4:00 am. Wilfried would have had to hook a new gas bottle, if we wanted to continue to heat. Somehow we survived without heating and the sun and the hospitality of Sonja and David quickly warmed us. 

Packed with gifts from Sonja (freshly baked delicious bread, jams and compotes) we took the last part of our journey and at 4:00 pm we reached home. 

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Last day on the mainland

Thursday, 7/12/2018
Company Berger has some parts we buy and repair in the parking lot outside the store. After the installation of the gas bottle and some other stuff it’s almost noon. Until lunch we drive through barren landscape, the Croatian innkeeper brightens our mood with cevapcici and chicken nuggets a little. Wilfried takes out the ladder to repair the rear view camera.
While Lisbeth sleeps in the “living room” of “Big Fredi”, suddenly the landscape changes just before Kaiserslautern to a beautiful forest area with lakes.
Landstuhl lets us first enjoy the free flow of the electricity and relax extensively. The toilet waste disposal and water refill are free as well.
Wilfried makes templates for further Fredi labels.
Call from Lisbeth’s sister and mother.

Friday, July 13, 2018
No true lucky day. An hour before the end of the operating system uploads the Internet connection breaks down and gon MacBook nothing works any more. So next aim is repair in the next town for the next day.
Continue to Sankt Ingbert to go to Apple store the next day in Saarbruecken.

Saturday, July 14, 2018
A lucky day. A few meters away from the store we manage to get a parking space. Market directly invites for shopping.
From noon, the journey continues through France and Belgium. On a calm river we park for night, only disturbing an angler at fishing.

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The journey starts

Sunday, July 8, 2018
The journey begins on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:32 at km 235,635 on Fredi’s tachograph. A short break at Paul and Christl in Amstetten, where Frank, we know and appreciate from our visit in Spain is for company. The two men planning a motorcycle trip together.

Freshly refueled we continue to Innerschwand am Mondsee. Doris, Eva and Hermann are the last guests of the summer party. It’s very relaxed and comfortable. Big Fredi is admired by all. We are allowed to stay until Tuesday morning. With many edible gifts from Sonja finally we are entering right into the real adventure.
Still in Austria, we buy a camera according to Wilfried’s wishes and a mobile router.
On Tuesday we come to Neustadt an der Donau. Overnight parking at a football stadium parking lot. Wilfried suffers from the volume of rowdy teenagers.
The SIM card with data volume for 1 week for 10 € turns out to be a “mispurchase” and the wrong simcard must be fished out with two sewing needles and a lot of skills from the router slot. So we must continue to work with our phone volume or WLAN until the problem is solved.
Wednesday morning in Stuttgart Waiblingen our plan to buy a photovoltaic system for Fredi is destroyed because there are not any solar systems on stock.

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