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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Departure

When?

Now it’s fixed. On Saturday, 7. 7. 2018 we launch into the unknown. Big Fredi is ready (almost). It looks stunning. If you did not know that the guy is almost 20 years old, you might feel it is new. It looks so great that Wilfried and Lisbeth are both completely in love with him.

Look at him. Is not he a beauty?

The laptop was purchased through “Willhaben”, the camera is purchased on the go, as well as the photovoltaic system.

Little Fredi is already very nervous. He can not wait until he finally starts the journey.

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So still much to do

When can we get started?

There are still so many things to be done. But also many project have been achieved: Big Fredi got white color on the inside walls and ceiling, a closet was devided into two to make it more practical, new faucets, both big fat batteries renewed after we almost burnt big Fredi with a defected battery. A new cupboard with mirror front was built into the bathroom, new practical cupboards and little handy things here and there.
Outside color has been sprayed in a bright yellow, the rest with blue will follow.

Marketing material will arrive on Monday. T-shirts with the logo are ordered from our nice neighbour Roswitha.

What else is missing?

The insolation on the backside of our studio has to be done. The vegetable garden has to be harvested. Also the water barrel and some pallets have to be brought home from there.For this Martin has offered us his help with his tractor.

Tomorrow our friends will arrive from Carinthia. They will live in our house for the next 2 months. Thomas, who is also an artist has an exhibition in the abbey Dürnstein:

https://www.girbl.com/ausstellungen/stift-dürnstein/

This exhibitin is a must for you if you want to see something very special.

What we still need: 

A foto camera, an laptop, a fotovoltaic panel on the roof of big Fredi, wow!

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