Driving around the adriatic sea

This years summer holiday we spent in Korfu, Greece. At first we talked about Croatia, when somebody came up with the idea to go farther south to Greece.
Lets begin with the important facts. This time not as accurate as for the trip to Norway, since I deactivated app access a while ago, which allowed to automatically collect all the data in the past.
Duration: 13 days
Distance covered: 4’100 km
Electricity charged: 850 kWh
Waiting time for charges: 3 hours
Cost for charges: EUR 34 + tips
Our route on a map
All hotels except the holiday house on Corfu booked with CheapAir and paid with Bitcoin
Like the last few years, a key criteria was that we didn’t want to spew big amounts of CO2 and accompanying toxic gasses into the atmosphere. Thus we went again with our electric car. On the way to Corfu I drove the Balcan route. To make the trip home shorter, we took a fairy to Italy. Not only are the roads better in Italy, but also the charging infrastructure is more developed.
It was going to be the first time for us leaving the comfort of the Superchargers. There are some stations planned for the lower Balcan, but no dates are provided yet.
As you can see when comparing the above numbers to the trip to Norway, this time we had some waiting times for charging the car. It had a couple of reasons as you will see when reading through. In general, when I write about a short stop at a Supercharger, that is for coffee or ice cream and toilet. A longer stop at a Supercharger usually means lunch or dinner. These types of breaks don’t count towards the “waiting time for charges” as there is no waiting involved. With waiting times I mean times that were not necessary if it was not for charging. Not all of the waiting was strictly necessary to reach the next destination. But in countries without established charging infrastructure, I always wanted to have some reserve in the battery. You never know if the next planned charge really works out. This is in stark contrast to the normal use of Superchargers, which always work reliably in my experience. With everything else, there is always some risk involved. Thus on our trip I always had a plan B and a plan C.
I love electric road trips, but unfortunately not everybody in the family does. The compromise was to spend a full week stationary in a holiday house on Corfu island. The road trip through the Balcan was a mere means to get there. My wive wanted to have all the hotels on the way booked in advance. The one time we had difficulty finding accommodation in Norway was too stressful for her.

day 1: Driving to Croatia

We started very early in the morning, hoping to reach our destination in the early afternoon. We made it around Milano before the morning rush hour, and our first stop was at the Supercharger in Brescia. We were so early, the shopping mall next to it was still closed. Thus our plan of having breakfast there didn’t play out. So we had some breakfast from our food reserves in the Tesla lounge. We made a short (coffee and toilet) stop at the Supercharger next to Venice. The next stop was already at the Supercharger in Slowenia. Again, our plan of having lunch there didn’t play out, because there was no restaurant nearby, only a gas station shop. So, we drove to a restaurant with a destination charger that was close to our route. It turned out to be a very nice restaurant. The food was delicious, and the view over the sea marvelous. Now the battery had more than enough energy to reach the Plitvice Holiday Resort. We didn’t know that for the tiny strip of highway in Slowenia we were supposed to buy a vignette. And promptly two policemen imposed a EUR 150 fine on us. Yes, the Swiss police also hands out fines to tourists who drive on the highway without a vignette, but the signs are hard to miss upon entering Switzerland. While we didn’t see anything when entering Slowenia. Avoiding the highway would probably not even have been a time penalty, if I knew about this. On the way to Grabovac, the navigation system took us through single lane back country roads. Once even on a dirt road which turned out to be an error. I booked a tree house for the night, and it was the absolute highlight for our boys. The resort has a pictogram for E.V. charging on the website, and when I asked, they told me that I don’t have to reserve a charging spot, and that it will be all fine. When we arrived, I realized that there was no special infrastructure for charging cars, instead I could connect to one of the power outlets, that are all over the camp ground. Because the fuse constantly blew, I had to dial down all the way to 7Amp (1.6kW).

day 2: Plitvice lakes

We spent all morning in the tree house and the resort. It was a dream come true for the boys. At the bottom of the tree house there was a trampoline atop of a small artificial river. The river ended in a small artificial lake that was surrounded by nice bungalows. In the afternoon, we visited the Plitvice Lakes. It is one of UNESCOs oldest national parks. The 16 lakes and numerous waterfalls are a must see! In the evening we drove to Zadar. I didn’t care to book an accommodation with charging, because the next Supercharger is so close. We visited the old town where the car charged on a free station while we had dinner.

day 3: Dubrovnik and driving to Montenegro

We made short stops at all the Superchargers we crossed: Zadar, Split and Gravorac. Then we topped up the Battery in the parking, while visiting the old town of Dubrovnik. We knew it must look cool, if they filmed part of “Game of Thrones” there. But it was almost like Venice, just without canals. After leaving Croatia, we drove through most of Montenegro while it was already dark. But at least we got to see some of its beauty in daylight and during dawn. Next time, I would plan more time for Montenegro. I didn’t know the country, and my wive was worried about the cleanliness, so I booked a better hotel than we would usually choose. The prices are generally cheaper in Montenegro, thus we got a gigantic suite with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a big kitchen/living room in a spa hotel for the same price as we got a simple room or apartment in other places. After the last Supercharger was in Croatia, it was important that we can charge the car full over the night. Thus I booked only after making sure to get three phase power. The owner was very well prepared and helpful. I am also thankful to Benedikt who sent me an old Yugoslavian plug which is still common in Montenegro.

day 4: Driving through Albania

Before leaving Ulcinj, the boys took a swim in the hotel pool. Albania was the country where part of our family didn’t look forward to. It is really different to the other countries we visited. It has nice places, but you also see a lot of dirt and garbage lying around everywhere. Especially the suburbs of Tirana looked grim. This was close to the industrial area where we visited the Volkswagen importer which has a CCS charging station. My car got the CCS retrofit only weeks before our trip. CCS is normally used for high power fast charging of up to 150kW and potentially more in the future. So I was a little bit disappointed when I found out that this CCS station only delivers 22kW. At least the employees were very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately there was no good restaurant nearby, so we had our lunch again from our food reserves. Albania has highways that are free to use. But they are different from what we are used to. Every ten minutes or so, there is a crossing where it narrows to one lane and the speed is limited to 40km/h. And every time you slow down in concert with 10 other cars, there is one asshole who crosses all the double markings on the road and passes everyone else with 150km/h, risking fatalities if another car crossed the road. This sort of extreme reckless driving was present everywhere in Albania. I had to brake very hard multiple times to prevent frontal crashes on curvy roads where some idiot drove on the wrong lane in front of a curve with zero visibility. This really tainted my image of Albanians even though the people I had direct contact with, were really nice and friendly.
When I missed a fork, because the road looked like a dirt road and I thought there must be a better road ahead, we came to a nice beach and took a short break. After that, the navigation system told me to continue along the dirt road to the other end of the beach. To my astonishment, the road leading up to the main road was not paved, and in a very bad condition. I put the air suspension to “very high”, but still had to be very careful not to scratch the bottom of the car at the rocks. This was really at the border of what I want to put my car through. But after you drove a bad road for a while and think that it has to improve any moment, it is hard to turn around and go back.
We arrived at the Palazzine Hotel in Vlore in the late afternoon. Vlore is by far the nicest place in Albania that we saw. It has a long beach full of hotels and restaurants. It is relatively clean, not as clean as in western Europe, but cleaner than the rest of the country. For about the same price we got a nice suite again. Despite the reassurances when booking and a week before the trip, the receptionist didn’t know anything about car charging. But she called a house keeper and a cook. They were extremely helpful, and didn’t stop searching until they found a suitable three phase plug in the upper kitchen. With my 10 meter extension cord it was just enough to reach the charging port of the car. The hotel has a beautiful terrace about 20 meters above the sea. From there we witnessed a scenic sunset while having a delicious and surprisingly cheap dinner.

day 5: Reaching Corfu

Shortly after leaving Vlore, we drove up a mountain pass road. On the way up, the forest looked almost like home to us. But the way down on the other side had totally different vegetation. It was a lot drier and steeper, going straight to the sea. There was a paragliding spot, but we didn’t have time. From there we could already see Corfu in the distance. Even if the straight line distance was not a lot, driving the curvy roads along the coast all the way to Igoumenitsa took a long time. Because we didn’t wand to wait an hour for the fairy which goes to the south of Corfu, we took the one to the north which left earlier. Only on the boat we realized how much longer this detour would take. Nonetheless we arrived at our holiday house shortly before dawn.

A week in Corfu

We spent a week in Corfu, visiting different beaches, the highest mountain, a castle built for Sissi and the main city. I couldn’t fly my paragllider, because I drove to the wrong town which sounded so similar. But I took some basic lessons for kite surfing. The feel for the wing I gained from paragliding helped a lot. But standing up on the board was not so easy for me. At the premise we had access to a regular household plug for charging the car. Since our trips on the island were usually not that long, the slow charging speed was enough.

Fairy to Brindisi

For the trip back home we took a fairy to Italy. This reduced our travel time considerably. I was told to be one hour before departure at the port, where I would get the real ticket in exchange for the voucher. At the entrance of the harbor, we asked where we would get that ticket, and they sent us back into the city. After some more misinformation, we barely made it onto the ship in time. I took the shortest fairy route because I wanted to produce the least amount of CO2. But we were still disgusted to see the dirty air exiting the exhaust of the fairy boat. My wive didn’t want to sleep on the boat, so we spent an extended afternoon looking at the calm sea, and trying to find food on a boat with only closed restaurants. Arriving in Brindisi, we drove until our hotel near Pescara with a dinner stop at the Cerignola Supercharger.

Back home

Like the first day, the last one of our holiday was a very long one with a lot of driving and traffic jams. We charged at the following Superchargers: Pescara, Fano, Modena, Melide. This time eating while charging worked out again as it usually does. When we approached Altdorf in the middle of the night, we discovered that the Axenstrasse is closed, and we thus had to drive all around lake Lucerne, adding yet another hour.

Navigation

I was curious about where the car would have internet connectivity, and how far the offline maps of the navigation system would reach. My guess was that connectivity would only be available in countries where Tesla has Superchargers, namely only as far as Croatia. I was almost correct. Luckily for us the car had connectivity also in Greece. In Montenegro and Albania the car had no Internet, leaving us with only the offline maps and without traffic information nor music streaming. No big deal, really. If it were not for a little problem we discovered when driving through Montenegro in the dark. As soon as the screen switched to night mode after the sun went down, the offline maps didn’t display any information other than the current route. At least it correctly recalculated the route when I missed a fork. A bit more context would be helpful, though.

Charging at a strangers house

We spent the last week in an alpine Chalet and had to leave the car in a public parking halfway down the mountain. Upon arrival, the battery was down to 20% SOC. I read that leaving it below 20% or above 80% for extended periods of time was not too healthy. So I asked at a house next to the parking, if I could plug in the car for a while. They seemed friendly and agreed immediately. I told the man that I would need about 40kWh, and asked how much the electricity costs. He said he had no clue and I would have to know.
When I came to pick up the car, I gave him about twice as much as the electricity would cost at the most expensive rate known to me, and about three times as much as I pay at home. That was when he started complaining. He said when he goes to the gas pump with his ICE car, he wouldn’t get a lot of gas for this price. And if he knew that I was going to pay so little, he wouldn’t let me charge. Same for me, if I knew he would be discontent, I would rather drive 20 minutes to the next Supercharger, get free electricity, and still be welcome.
I never paid so much for a charge as I gave him. Usually if the electricity is too expensive at a public charging station, I just drive on to find something reasonable. But I paid him more than I usually would, because I wanted it to be a good experience for him.
I read about mostly good experiences when asking strangers for a plug. But after this incident, I will think twice next time.
What were your experiences with charging at a stranger’s house?

Spending Bitcoin while charging the car

When I go some place new, I always check out what Bitcoin accepting venues there are. I usually try to prioritize shops that accept crypto currency.
When I drive some place far away, I have to charge the car on the way. No big deal, usually I can eat, drink or go to the toilet. All those activities, I prefer not to perform in the car while driving anyway. When I’m done, the battery is charged enough to continue the journey.
But how cool would it be to combine the two. If there was a restaurant that accepts BTC next to a supercharger, I would eat there for sure. Unfortunately finding this information manually is a hassle. That is how the idea was born to write a simple script to correlate charging stations and Bitcoin shops. I did it only quick and dirty. It could be improved a lot, but I’m not sure that is necessary.
You can visit a map with the correlated locations on ZeroNet: Bitcoin shops at car charging stations
If you want to have a look at the script that compiles the list or improve it, you can do so at: bitcoin_supercharger.py

Road trip to Norway with the Tesla

Our last road trip was a while back. After we returned from South America, we planned that our next big trip with the Büssli would be to Scandinavia. But we figured that family holidays with small kids are better stationary at one camp ground. Now that the kids are old enough, we didn’t trust the Büssli enough for such a big trip. Reliability of the vehicle becomes more important the more people are traveling. Since we have now a very new (for our terms) vehicle, we figured it was time for our next road trip. Let’s drive to Norway with the Tesla!
Many people still think electric cars are not suited for long trips. That might be true for some, but a Tesla is up to everything.
First the important facts:
Duration: 15 days
Distance covered: 5’000 km
Electricity charged: 1’088 kWh
Waiting time for charges: ZERO
Cost for charges: approx CHF 40
Our route on a map

Transit

We knew that it would be a long trip from Switzerland to Norway and back. The kids need to be able to run around every day. So driving it in one go was out of the question. Also my wive is not comfortable enough to drive the new car in a foreign country yet, hence I had to drive it all by myself. She also didn’t want to drive during the night. So we had to expect some traffic jams, and split the distance roughly in half. Both ways we slept in the Hanover area. We chose not do drive all the way around trough Sweden, but take the fairy from Denmark to Norway. To make the route in Norway more like a one way, we took the fairy back from Bergen to Denmark. Spending the night on the boat, we were ready to drive trough Denmark in the early morning.

Charging

While on the road, we mostly charged at the Tesla Superchargers. The navigation system does a great job, planning the required charges. The Superchargers once again proved to be just great. If possible we also charged over the night. But we didn’t stay in the fancy hotels, that have destination chargers. Instead all we got on the camp grounds were Schuko outlets. Not only is the charging slow, but often the charge stopped in the middle of the night because a fuse blew. Iit was always enough to reach the next Supercharger. In Bergen the main parking provided 54 free type2 chargers with 30A one phase. The only two other charges were in the Stavanger area. We stayed at the Lysse Fjord for a few days, and the next supercharger would have been more than half an hour away. Stavanger is Norway’s offshore oil industry center. So it is not such a big surprise that there were less EV’s in that area. I ordered a free RFID tag from Fortum before the trip. They have a decent charging network in Norway. So I charged twice with Chademo.
We tried to charge while having our meals, when shopping, and when somebody needed to go to the toilet. When we came back, the car had always enough energy to continue the trip. We NEVER had to wait for it to charge. I think this is a big takeaway from our trip.

Environment

Obviously an E.V. has no emissions. But this is only fully true, if the electricity doesn’t come from a coal plant. We have a reasonably clean electricity mix in Switzerland. Mostly hydro power, some nuclear and a tiny rest. Tesla promised that on the Swiss Superchargers, they only use energy from renewable sources. I recently confirmed that the electricity we use and charge at home comes exclusively from hydro, mostly local.
Norway has a massive amount of hydro power plants, and considerable wind power. I would be surprised if they had any electricity at all from non renewable sources.
But Germany has a dirty energy mix in general. They burn lots of coal. In the past decades they made huge progress in efficiency and reducing pollution. But that can’t do away the CO2. I read an article from 2015 that Tesla Germany was in the process of migrating all the sources of the electricity for their Superchargers to renewable. So I assume that they should be complete by now. In fact I saw massive solar arrays adjacent to many Superchargers and wondered if they were related. I assume the same holds true for Denmark.
That leaves me with the 10kWh that I charged over night from a regular German power outlet, which probably contained some coal energy. This equates to 1% of the electricity of the entire holiday trip. Plus the fairy boats burned some form of oil. Their use per passenger is difficult for me to quantify.

climate neutral

A few days later by coincidence I found MyClimate where you can compensate the CO2 pollution of a variety of activities. That brought me to the idea, that I could make our holiday climate neutral. They have calculators for different types of emissions. Although not exactly the ones I was looking for. For the fairies I used the cruise ship calculator, and for the brown electricity the house heating calculator, that allowed me to specify German electricity and how much. The calculated sum was 0.966 metric tons of CO2. To compensate, I donated CHF 27 for climate protection projects. What really surprised me was how much pollution a cruise ship emits, even compared to a gasoline car.

Kragero

The first destination in Norway was Kragero. It has some nice islands in front that are part of a nature protection area. The flat that we booked over AirBnb had a nice view over the sea. We visited a small island that was connected with a bridge and hosted the remains of an old fortress.

Dalen

There is not a lot of Bitcoin activity in Norway. But on coinmap.org I found a camp ground. It is run by Dutch people. My wive was pleased by the clean toilets. As chance would have it, Dalen also has the most beautiful hotel in Norway. We didn’t stay there, but we had a drink in comfortable leather seats while listening to the piano in the big hall.

Farsund

After the shower facility of the cabin we booked didn’t meet my wives expectations, we drove on to Kristiansand. All the way we tried to find a place to spend the night. In the rural areas there were many signs for cabins. But we saw none of them when we got closer to the sea. We ended up in a camp site with a beautiful beach. The sanitary installations were far worse than what we dissed before. But it was too late to search something else. When we arrived a 9pm, I set up our tent. The night was too cold for my wife even though she was the only one with a sleeping bag for sub zero temperatures. So this was to be our only night in the tent. The next morning we went to the beach, but the sea was just too cold for us to swim.

LandaLand

The famous Lyssefjord is a very touristic area. Thousands of people walk up to the Preikestolen every day. We had a small room at the LandaLand for three nights. The first day we drove around the fjord trough the mountains and down the 27 steep curves. From there we took the fairy trough the fjord.
On the second day we hiked to the Preikestolen. We started early through the well prepared trail in light rain. There were lots of people, but not nearly as much as in the stories of other people.
The third day there was a nice event in LandaLand. The kids could shoot with bow and arrow, and cast some tin. Later we drove to Stavanger and visited the oil museum. It was very interesting. They seemed to be open to all the questions about the environment. But of course their angle is slightly different than ours, driving an E.V. I was mainly interested in the technical aspects of the drilling platforms and submarines and stuff. These parts were very informative. Finally we had a delicious dinner at the food festival.

Voss

Norwegians love outdoor sports, and Voss is most known for it. On the way there we saw some more beautiful fjords and waterfalls. Every camp ground and every hotel and every holiday flat in the vicinity of Voss seemed to be fully booked. After a long search, we found a family room in the youth hostel. I could finally make the first flight with my paraglider in Norway. Since all the cable cars were closed, I had to walk up. This marked the 20th country for me to paraglide. Numer 19 was Korea in 2009. Initially we planned to stay some days in Voss, but the weather was getting worse and the city center was not that great. Since we saw lots of fjords already we thought the Sognefjord couldn’t be that much different. So we decided to spend the last few days in Bergen.

Bergen

We were very lucky with the accommodation that we found on AirBnb. We spent two nights in a nicely prepared basement apartment hosted by a lovely retired lady.  Also the city was nice. In Bergen we saw way more electric cars than in the regions visited so far.

Payments

One strange thing was that the restaurant where we had lunch in Bergen didn’t have a toilet. So we went the the shopping mall. But the toilet had a card reader attached. It wouldn’t work with a regular Maestro card. And I had to try multiple times to figure out how to open the door with my Xapo Visa debit card. Even the toy cars where the kids can ride in the shopping mall are card operated. In Norway almost everything is payed by card. Some might call it progress, to me this is completely derailed.

 

A holiday that didn't start so well

Büssli

Our camper van suffered three ripped cooling water hoses in the last two months. Together with my brother who is the engineer in charge of maintaining our vehicles, we looked for the source of the troubles. Although not entirely sure, after a test ride I was confident that we found and fixed it. We even exchanged some hoses that looked worn as a precautionary measure.
So my wive and myself stuffed everything for our holiday on the Italian island of Elba into the van. Rather than at 11pm as initially planned, we left already at 4pm. That should give us some comfortable reserve to reach the ferry the next morning. Unfortunately, the cooling water warning light forced me to drive to a service area after only 30km. It was a ripped cooling water hose again. The guy from the breakdown service replaced it and performed a series of tests to make sure the cooling system worked properly. He told us we could move on, but we didn’t trust our Hippie Bus enough to drive all the way, after what happened.

XJS

So we returned home in order to perform another episode of How much luggage fits into a vintage grand tourer. With the Jaguar I drove trough the night. I did a few stops for drinks and toilet. After one stop in the early morning, not too far away from the port, the engine wouldn’t start. Oh shit, I had this a few years ago, and remember just too well, that the highly compressed V12 engine wouldn’t start with an ordinary bridging cable. Back then, the TCS guy had a super thick cable and I don’t know how many batteries in the trunk in order to kick start my car. So this time as a first measure, I bought a 500 Amp bridging cable at the gas station. We tried it with a couple of other cars. But through the narrow contact area of the clamps, there would just not come enough power to start the engine. So I called the breakdown service again. He came with an ordinary booster pack, and wouldn’t believe that an engine could require more energy to start than his booster pack could provide. So he brought us to his plumber shop. I asked them to install a charged battery. But they insisted that the problem must be somewhere else. So he carried us 20km to the next Jaguar repair shop. After a while they fitted a new battery, and all was well again. We could continue our journey with a six hours delay. We missed the ferry we booked, but it was no problem to take another one.

Elba

The time on Elba was great and without trouble. Water and air temperatures were very nice. It was the first time at the sea for Noah. He insisted on bringing his best shirt: “Mom told me it is only for special occasion. I’m going to see the sea for the first time. That is very special to me”. With Levin we were at the Dune du Pyla when he was 19 months old. He only remembered what we told him, and the photos we showed him. The water was super clear and flat for the most part. Only the last two days we got some small waves. To see all the beaches and caves, we went on a full day boat tour all around the island. A couple of times the boat stopped, and we could go for a swim. Another day we visited the oldest city on the island that we still remembered from the last time 8 years ago. But for the most part, we enjoyed the beach. The guys that were next to us at the camp side told us that every time we were away, people would take pictures of our hippie bus tent. Also when I was driving the Jaguar around in Italy or parking it, I often heard remarks containing words such as “belleza”. Somebody liked it so much that he wanted a souvenir, and stole all four tire valve caps.

Trip back home

The drive home was mostly smooth. Only once we had some worrying moments. That was when I climbed a small hill on the highway, and right in front of me there was a plastic gas canister on the road. It would have been too risky to perform an avoidance maneuver. So I centered on it, and hoped it would slip under the car. Instead we dragged it along. I was releaved that only one hundred meters ahead was an exit. By driving the right wheels on the sidewalk for a moment I could get rid of it.

How much luggage fits into a vintage grand tourer?

Our camper has an engine problem, so we had to look for alternatives for this years summer holiday. We looked at last minute offers, but bringing all our own food to Greece didn’t seem like such a good plan. The kids wanted to sleep in a tent anyway, so we went to Tenero in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. We were too hesitant to look for a camp in Italy after spending a night on a horribly disgusting camping in Porlezza a few years ago. With the camper, the space for luggage was never really a problem, but this time everything had to fit inside the Jag. I told my wive to pack only the most necessary things. Men and wimen have different standards as to what is important to bring on a holiday and so I ended up squeezing all this into the small car:

  • two adults and two children
  • a four person tent
  • a foldable camping table with seats
  • a foldable camping grill
  • sleeping bags and camping mattresses for all of us
  • a giant and a regular suitcase
  • four small backpacks and a regular sports bag
  • a small body surf board
  • a box with dishes and cutlery
  • ten liters of water and a bag with food

This was actually the first holiday in 13 years where I didn’t bring my paraglider. But  after the impressive list above, there was just no more room left in the car.

The camping in Tenero was great. It was clean by my wive’s standard which is quite an accomplishment. The camping has a sandy beach to the lake which was also clean and had perfect temperature.

Being so close to the famous hydroelectric dam where James Bond jumped from, we had to visit the Verzasca valley. The water and the stones were marvellous. But it was very hot for hiking.

missing or lost -> stolen

When we went to our ski holiday last week, we had a lot of luggage. So we had to hurry when leaving or switching the train. It always worked out well, even when we had to run, or walk a stairway twice. When we left the train on the way back in our home town, I grabbed the heavy stuff as usual, but somehow missed my messenger bag with the notebook. Just outside the train I realized that it was missing, and asked my wife if she had it. She usually checks the seats before leaving. But she didn’t have my bag. We assumed we just overlooked it on the seat. Immediately we called the train company, and had to pay CHF 50 for somebody in the train to go search my bag. Nothing was found, but they told me that sometimes lost items are brought to a train station the days after. I was full of hope to see my stuff again. A couple of days later, my optimism fades. Ever more so, after I read articles about how much stuff is stolen in Swiss trains. We both noticed two black guys walking suspiciously back and forth in the train. At first I couldn’t imagine that they could grab the bag without us realizing. But after reading those stories, and especially since we really habitually check the seats before we leave, I start to think they might have taken it.

It’s just material, but still the loss hurts. We like to believe that these things happen somewhere else, but not here. We like to tell the stories of our parents who didn’t lock the door, and left the keys in the car. That just makes it more bitter when reality hits us. There are a couple of things that are difficult or even impossible to replace. The bag itself was from the Paragliding World Cup in Korea. I worked hard in the competitions for almost five years to make it into the World Cup. And this bag was one of the souvenirs. The notebook was by far the best computer I ever had. It’s a Dell XPS13 developer edition with Ubuntu pre-loaded. I didn’t allow it to get a single scratch in the 15 months I had it. If I have to order a new one, given I manage to allocate the funds for such a great device, I have to wait at least a month for delivery. The Trezor was a “first edition” given out only to the backers of the crowd funding campaign. The Prada sunglasses were from the outlet store. Just to get there would cost more than I saved on the regular price.
So, If you see somebody by chance with a brand new looking Dell XPS13 ultrabook
that doesn’t seem to belong to him, or a FlyGin messenger bag that has a Paragliding World Cup print, or with a red-black Mammut GoreTex Paclite jacket, then please report.

Chiemsee Holiday

Like for most people around here, summer holidays for us usually means going south. And that is what we usually did in the past. This year, we wanted something new. The countries north of Switzerland were unexplored territory for us in regards of holiday destinations. We had ideas to go to the netherlands, Belgium or the Provence. The Nordic countries, we wanted to save for later, for a bigger trip when the boys grow older. After some brainstorming and discussing, we settled on the north sea cost of Germany. It would be a long drive, but manageable wit the current age of our boys. Then we found out that Levin is still allergic to fish. So we figured, that going to the sea might be not such a great idea. At least a lake we needed so that we could do some kayaking. Thus, the next best thing was the Bavarian sea: the Chiemsee.
We both didn’t know the area. The closest I was before, was Berchtesgaden, where I was competing in the 2005 German paragliding championship. Lots of people told us that it is a very nice area. So we looked forward to it.
The day we drove there was full of postponings. We left only in the middle of the afternoon, and so we didn’t make it in time to check into the camping. Consequently, we had to sleep the first night parking in the driveway, with all the luggage still in the camper.

Our first canoe excursion was not so pleasant, as Noah didn’t sleep enough, and so he complained all the time. The area was nice indeed with lots of activities for the kids. Definitely the highlight was the fairy tale theme park in Ruhpolding. It is a paradise for kids, full of ingenious playgrounds and stuff to explore. Neither the flyer nor the homepage can describe how good it is. If you’re in the area with children, you have to go there!

The Chiemsee is on the flat land but very close to the mountains. As it’s on the flat, the underground is all mud. I had heard of two nearby flying sites before: Hochfelln and Hochries. One day we wanted to go to the Hochries, but the easterly wind was not suited for flying there, and the one person chairlift was a no-go for Mirella anyway. So we went to Kössen just after the Austrian border. I was very positively surprised of the flying area. It was well protected from the prevailing wind, and had enough room for many paragliders on takeoff and in the air. It reminded me a lot of Gstaad. After about an hour flying in the gentle thermals above takeoff, I decided it’s time to look after my family. Then I found out that landing next to the cablecar was the trickiest part of the flight. There were lots of small thermals close to the landing area.

One day we took the boat across the lake to have a ride with an old steam train. The boys were totally excited by the ancient technology. Next, we visited the castle on the main island. It was built for the fairy tail king Ludwig the second, who also built castle Neuschwanenstein. The castle on the Chiemsee island is a copy of the french Versailles palace, and although not finished, full of excessive splendour.

On the way home, we stopped in Munich to visit the BMW world with our two car fanatics. From every model sold in the BMW group, there was a piece in the exhibition. The kids could sit into all but the Rolls Royce. We had a hard time to get them out again.

Fun with the canoe

Mirella and me started a new hobby after we could borrow the kayaks from a friend in Peru. He even helped us buy cheap Peruvian kayaks that we brought home in our camper. These kayaks are sit on top‘s. The kind that they rent to tourists. They are easy to operate and easy to climb back on top after you fell into the water. You can even carry sleeping bags or a small child with it. With the children growing, we thought about buying a Canoe. In Switzerland that type of boat is actually called “Kanadier”, while Kanu is a different type. Last year we had a good opportunity to buy a used one on a camp side in Austria. I didn’t even know that there are so light ones in this size. It offers room for three people and a lot of baggage, and it’s easy to carry around alone as well at putting it on the roof of our camper which is at 2.75 meters. It’s a sandwich construction with PE in the middle and glass fibre on the hull. A short while ago I had some fun trying to get back in from the water. It’s not as easy as with the sit on top kayaks.

Visited countries

A long time ago, I found a web service to visualize a map with all the countries you have visited. Now I finally figured out how to get it displayed in wordpress using the code-embed plugin.
Well, since we got kids, travelling is in hibernation mode, but we already have plans on where to go when the boys grow older.

So, here are the countries I visited:
The countries where I flew paraglider are red, the ones I only visited are blue.
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