Travel day 4 from Portugal to home – France 

Blog entry 28.3.2020

This morning the police showed up at our lonely parking lot and greeted us friendly.

Wilfried let it be known that we are standing here on our way to France and that we will continue today. 

We still took the liberty of taking a walk together along the shore of the lake and listening to the most different bird sounds. Not a person in sight. 

This journey is obviously under the motto: Lakes.

At the end of the 4th day of our journey we found again a place near a lake to spend the night. We had already noticed the place in the forest positively exactly one year ago. But at that time we didn’t find the lake during a walk, because we marched in the wrong direction. Today we came here on another way and passed the lake shore. So the walk for tomorrow is already fixed. 

After the frosty night and our morning walk around the Spanish reservoir Embalse de Ullibarri in bright sunshine, the drive here was so much more pleasant than we had experienced the last two times. One year ago on our return trip and also in autumn when we entered Spain we had only experienced the area in rain, a lot of traffic and stress. Now, without traffic and in sunshine it was even bearable. 

In Spain we still got a gas bottle. At the border to France the policemen waved us through friendly. 

Tomorrow we want to enjoy the sunny day here and only on Monday we want to move on towards home. 

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Spain reached

Blog entry 17.10.2019

The past days of the trip were quite intense, at least as far as driving was concerned

Therefore chronologically – as far as afterwards comprehensible – our stations:

10.10.2019: via the N88, which is a toll-free motorway, to Villefrange. Washing laundry went super at Netto, where after 1.5 hours everything was ready to go again. After a long search we found a place that is NOT in the Park4night App. It was the parking lot of the football stadium in Maleville. That’s why we stayed there alone and spent a quiet night. The waist containers at the other end of the field were visited until late into the night and early in the morning lively by the villagers. 

Was that a flimsy excuse to see Big Fredi? We don’t know. 

11.10.2019

Our Navigation aunt has found again super side roads and has sent us for 150 km a whole day in the area around. We came to Tournon d’Aganais, where we found a parking place at the foot of the village. And it was really the foot. At least 200 m we booted up the steps into a sleepy medieval town. Hardly a human soul, no bakery or any speciality struck us. Nevertheless, the view from above into the vastness of the landscape was very beautiful.

Saturday, 12.10.2019:

Through the nature reserve Cascogne over roads, which are only thin lines on the map, we stalked ourselves to the Atlantic coast. Florian, whom we had met in Portugal in the spring, said that he didn’t have time for us on the weekend, because he must have cleared his place at the campsite by Sunday 17 o’clock at the latest. We stayed in Vieux-Boucau in the forest after we had convinced ourselves of the place and didn’t like it there at all. A tourist place in winter mode. The weather became unbearably humid and we stayed a 2nd night in the forest. 

Sunday, 12.10.2019

was even extremely hot with over 30 degrees. I couldn’t get through to a walk until the evening. This led me at least to the sea, where some surfers were still cavorting. Since it was already dawning, I took no more time to go to the water and to test the temperature. We decided to leave France. Nobody had approached us about our project in the last weeks and no place seemed suitable to us to advertise Face Europe. 

Monday, 14.10.2019 early we left with the dull feeling in our stomach that we had to drive through this terrible area from Biaritz to the Spanish border. We knew the area from our last trip home in spring. Wilfried fought his way bravely over the highways, 1000 roundabouts and masses of cars and trucks.  

Somewhere south of Orio we discovered a supposedly beautiful parking lot on the banks of the river Urola in the Park4night App. Neither the praised peace nor the free water well were available. It was a parking lot in the city. While driving on I discovered a mobile home company, which had open. I courageously walked in, inquired whether there was a water point nearby and got free water from the workshop. Zarautz was recommended to us to spend the night there. Again it was Wilfried too loud, too dirty and too unsafe. He found a place in 7 km distance, which turned out to be a serpentine road of 15 km and a small bulge on the way. We took this place into our own hands and did not obstruct the traffic in the meadow. It rained and was dark. Down in the valley the town of Getaria lay by the sea, brightly lit and beautiful. 

Tuesday, 15.10.2019

The next morning everything in the sunshine didn’t look so scary for me anymore and we drove the last serpentines to the coastal road.

Construction sites on the narrow road led again and again to alternating traffic stops and traffic lights on the route.

When the developed coastal road changed into a thin curvy “Scenic Road”, I asked to drive inland and we rushed Big Fredi through the mountains. He puffed with up to 15% gradient and many curves. On the Urkiola Pass there was a fantastic resting place with many picnic tables and benches, each with its own barbecue area. The toilet is barrier-free and there is even running spring water. A sign that the harmlessness of the spring in terms of hygiene could not be guaranteed kept us from replenishing our drinking water reserves. 

But I was able to walk a nice round through the forest. It had rained, but was again sunny and wonderful to move around. 

Wednesday, 16.10.2019

Well recovered from the fresh forest air we continued our journey on the soon appearing Autovía. This is a free highway, which led us in this case to Burgos. A small place off the highway served us as a sleeping place. The area next to the motorway looks so terribly barren that we decided to explore the “outback” again from now on. 

Thursday, 17.10.2019

We didn’t get far, because after about 15 km the road ended, as already announced before and only a gravel or mud road would have led us out of the mess. So we had to turn back and take a parallel route. Too bad, we would have liked the new, unfinished road with the fine black asphalt. But it wasn’t finished yet or we were just too early. So everything back. Fortunately we are not in a hurry. 

Today we got the tip from Paul to have a look at “Picos de Europa”, the first Spanish national park. We decided to go there and have a look at the “summits of Europe”. We were warned that it could get wet. We already noticed that yesterday. Not for nothing it is still very nice green here. 

The weather forecast claims the next 9 days would be rainy throughout. From past reports we know that it is usually much nicer than predicted. So we are also prepared for bad weather and so we let everything come to us. Currently we are in Herrera. Over a tiny dilapidated Roman bridge we have “crept up” from the outback. Big Fredi could just squeeze through. 

An acceptable parking place with disposal possibility lies at the edge of the small town. We even found a supermarket and were able to replenish our supplies. 

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Big Fredi may ride again on a breakdown vehicle or what 750ml make up

blog entry 9.10.2019

The trip was quite varied

It went through forests, pastures, fields and smaller or larger villages. The architecture of the houses has changed a lot. Instead of half-timbered houses with shutters, there are now only old stone houses that remind us of days gone by. In between we also see modern buildings with tidy front gardens and lush vegetable gardens. We drive along the Loire for a long time. The touristic Loire Castle Road starts only north of our route. There is always a place to sleep directly at the canal or the Loire. 

Yesterday we slept long although the sky outside was blue – so actually it was emperor’s weather. In Le Puy I wanted to visit the restaurant recommended by Pascal. Unfortunately Tuesday is a rest day and we had breakfast so late anyway. So hunger did not arise at all. 

But we would have had to feed at least Big Fredi well to avoid the later mess. 

Our „Nacigation Aunt“ led us once again into the one-shift, through narrow gorges and mountain paths, serpentines over serpentines. No gas station the next 30 km. Since Wilfried wants to fill the expensive French diesel as seldom as necessary, he lets the fuel gauge fall quite into the minimum.

we didn’t get that far

And so it happened: when driving uphill one last breath, and off. 

Nothing works anymore. So reserve canister out. Put the fuel in. Vent the pipe. Nothing moves. 

After long attempts the only possibility left is to call the ÖAMTC and ask for help. The breakdown driver, a young mechanic, comes right away with the right tow truck, stands in front of us and tries to get Big Fredi back on his feet. He doesn’t succeed either. It’s a hot day. Actually I wanted to do a little hike. Now I’m standing in the glistening sun, it’s certainly 25 degrees and waiting to continue.

Big Fredi is taken piggyback with us for the 2nd time in his life and goes with us to Langogne. The workshop that the breakdown driver chose does not take us. So we drive 100 meters back to his own workshop. There Big Fredi is unloaded, we are eating – it is in the meantime 5 pm and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast – when the driver’s door is opened. The driver is back and opened the hood from the driver’s side. Thank God! With the help of a second mechanic he gets Big Fredi to purr again. The second man was quite scolded. Probably the problem would have been easy to solve on the mountain. Anyway, we are quite relieved. We leave the industrial area to find a place to sleep a few hundred meters away. Again we stand at the river. It was a quiet and hot night after a really hot day. Rain has driven away the sun. Dense clouds are again in the sky and it seems to remain cloudy for today. We will plan our journey better in the future regarding fuel reserve and not go out to the last drop. 

Wilfried said that only 750 ml would have been missing to the next gas station. But they weren’t in the tank. His gut feeling told him to refill the reserve canister 3 km before we broke down, but he didn’t listen to his gut feeling. Afterwards you are smarter. Again something learned. 

THAT won’t happen to us again !

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Great esteem in Saint-Louis

Blog entry 6.10.2019

The second week in front of the town hall was just as exciting as the first

The article by Jean-Christoph in L’Alsace still had a great impact. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there were still 2 people each Fax to be portrayed in Big Fredi. From October 1st the autumn was suddenly here and it was no longer comfortable to sit outside. On Friday it was only cloudy, rainy and unfriendly. We were not surprised that hardly anyone was on the street. 

Stéphane, head of the cultural department of Saint Louis hands over the city book to us

So we said goodbye to the team of the culture department, Sophie, Hans-Jörg (the Swiss journalist who kindly translated the article for us) and let us spoil ourselves with pizza on the last evening before our departure by Pascal. The stimulating conversation with him, who was drawn on Monday afternoon, lasted until almost 2 o’clock in the morning.

With Pascal we had a lively exchange of ideas until the morning hours.

We were able to sleep late and didn’t leave until noon. Along the Swiss border we first went west and then south until we found a quiet place in Froidefontaine at the canal.

The cooking was already done with quite hungry stomachs and turned out so lavish that it was enough for 3 days. Also good, vegetables and rice always fit and you can still spice it up. 

Today’s trip was not so much off the beaten track through the smallest villages and we went much faster. Volesvres is the name of the place where we landed now.

Today we had most of the time rain or dense clouds. Hopefully tomorrow the sun will shine again, so that our batteries get new juice again.

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A warm and cordial welcome in Saint-Louis

Blog entry 2.10.2019

Jean-Christoph has written a fantastic article about us, which was published the very next day in L’Alsace.

during the portrayal Jean-Christophe wrote the article – Photo: Ville de Saint-Louis – Jean-Marie Juraver

Face Europe no. 84 Jean-Christophe – Photo: Ville de Saint-Louis – Jean-Marie Juraver

A whole page on the culture supplement with a very good photo. Hans-Jörg Renk from the Swiss newspaper also sent us the German translation of it, and we were delighted with the article. Some people found the courage to be portrayed through the article, others just dropped in out of curiosity, but couldn’t speak enough German or English to take part. If someone does not speak German or English, we always motivate the interested parties to bring along an “interpreter”. This is also possible. Here in the border triangle many people can speak several languages, although it was forbidden to speak German after the 2nd World War. Many people who were portrayed here can still remember this time well. Nevertheless, the Alsatian language and culture is kept very high here, rediscovered and promoted. It is part of the identity of this region. It is nice for us to experience the energy of the Alsatians so close up. We are allowed to experience many details, some of which the locals do not know. That makes us proud and happy to be so well received here and to learn so many details. For example, Pascal, who is the landscape architect of the Rathausplatz, contacted us by e-mail and had his portrait painted.

Face Europe no. 91 Pascal

Today the deputy mayor Jocelin was with us and we are happy to be so close to the events of this interesting city.

We heard and saw so much in one and a half weeks, although we only stayed on the town hall square and slept the nights on the parking lot of the casino. 

On the weekend we were invited to Vieux-Ferrette by Sophie, who made it possible for us to stand with Face Europe in Saint-Louis.

Face Europe nr. 88 – Sophie

On Saturday Sophie had herself drawn and on Sunday we were allowed to take part with the family in a hiking day that took us to areas that were unknown even to Sophie’s family. Wine and food were served, on an 8 km walk there were 6 refreshment stations and each time a wine tasting. For 32€ we were there. We were allowed to take the wine glasses with us. A gigantic expenditure was operated with the individual stations. Beautiful decorations and safe dispensing for every weather were required. Fortunately we had no rain or storm, it was even warm like in summer. We looked for the shade at the individual stations and in the evening we had eaten so much that we could no longer imagine ever being able to eat anything again. 

Strangely enough, the next morning we had breakfast again. 

Both weeks here in Saint-Louis are very successful for Face Europe. We didn’t expect so many “faces” and contacts. 

The visit to André on Monday, whom I had met during my walk, was very stimulating.

Gas-powered forklift trucks must not be operated with diesel or petrol.

He is an innovative and hard-working farmer, planting potatoes, onions, soya, wheat and corn, who was a carpenter in his first profession. He has developed from a part-time farmer to a full-time farmer and still loves to learn.

Face Europe no. 89 – André
Face Europe no. 89 – André

We were invited to dinner in the family, which made us especially happy. It is always very special for us to be so close to the people. What could be nicer than eating together? That connects! Thank you for the beautiful evening and the fruitful encounters. 

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Alsace we are coming!

Blog entry 24/09/2019

After 2 more days through the hilly wine country west of the Black Forest, we have now arrived Saint Louis

Sophie, who invited us to Alsace a few weeks ago, has agreed with the Cultural Department that we can stand in front of the town hall with Face Europe. 

This works pur very straightforward. 

erste Übernachtung von FACE EUROPE in Frankreich – Am Rhein in Saint Louis

Last night we shared the parking lot at the Rhine in Village-Neuf with a few Romas. But they were peaceful. Without musical accompanying. 

Grilled alone, leaving their garbage collected. 

Early the next morning in front of the town hall we made the acquaintance with the Swiss editor of Alsace-Gazette.

Face Europe in front of the City Hall from Saint Louis

He promised to inform his colleague from France, who is the editor of the newspaper „L’Alsace“. An hour later, both came back together and Jean-Christophe made a date for Thursday for a face Europe session. He will interview us and write the story for his newspaper into his Computer during the session while he is being portrayed . Nothing could be better  than that!

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