.....from Germany into circles
Sunday, April 26, 2009
So this morning it was on to the Alps we had been admiring from the distance, up the Bremner pass and then for some reason the GPS turned us off the pass at the top we started going on some secondary roads which was very good because it took us through all of the Alpine villages that we guess owed their existence to the incredible ski season that there was in the area we are passing through. In all we passed through 21 towns and villages that fell into this category.
It's interesting when you using computer mapping, to take the map of 2007 when we last passed through this area and lay over top today's route and observe the thinking of two different GPS's, over the same up to San Lorenzo di Sebato went today's GPS took us on the left-hand side of a mountain instead of the right as we did in 07.
About 125 km out of Venice we had decided we had enough driving for the day so it started heading towards a campground when we came across a large parking area for trucks and being a Sunday night we figured it could be quiet.
Most of the roads today were very pleasant to drive with moderate to little traffic, and we could just cruise along and own speed pulling over every so often to let those behind us past.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The parking area for cars and motorhomes was still there are still charging €10 a night in spite of the rain we decided to try one night here and see what the weather brings. A week ago we were told it was raining in Venice and we had hoped it would be cleared by the time we arrived.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
While we raised the levelling jacks, start of the motor, and slowly in low gear drove to the driveway that led out of our newly created Lake, with no problems, and as we drove out of the parking area we observed that indeed there must have been plenty of rain because there was a lot of surface water lying everywhere.
Back on the Road, in the rain, again heading towards Hungary, choosing the secondary roads again, stopped at the supermarket to replenish our supplies, and then started winding our way through the small villages until at one village, the passengers side rear view mirror hit a fence or something similar, and smashed both of the mirrors, on that side, in such a way that I think we will need a totally new housing and works. We picked up the pieces and I tried to fit them at a service station, but no amount of duct tape would get them working.
So we carried on to Slovenia and before I knew what we were doing I had carried on straight instead of turning left and eventually we found an area that we could turn around in, so we pulled into that, decided we had had enough of the rain for the day so we parked in the large parking area, and I I unpacked the spare backing camera I had bought, fitted that where the rearview mirrors had been situated on the passenger side so probably I will have a temporary fix until we get back to Munich in September.
All this wet weather is not good on my osteoarthritis, I am getting pains in my hip, hope it is not the warning or something more serious, the purpose of coming to Europe for the New Zealand winter is to avoid the rain so I will have to plan a little bit more carefully next year.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
So we quickly got off the motorway and travelled secondary roads until we got near the Hungarian border, but we turned right instead of left and found ourselves at the border crossing for Croatia, and the Croatian official did not like the look of Luda's passport without a Croatian visa so we turned round and went back in headed for our proper destination of Hungary. It really brings it home to you in Europe with these small countries turn right and you can be in a different country, the GPS ignores countries and works out the shortest way to a destination and it doesn't worry what countries it takes you through.
The other problem of course is that countries like Hungary the GPS has reasonable coverage of the roads in larger size town's, but often between the towns has nothing so we found ourselves on the motorway that did not exist, going the wrong way so it does add to the interest of travel.
Eventually by taking the secondary roads that were going on the correct direction we found ourselves at the campsite where we were offered the option of three different size camping spots, we chose the smallest which of course made interesting getting the motorhome on to such a small space. At least by the time we got to the camp ground the sky had turned a little bit blue and the rain had stopped so Hungary is looking a little bit more welcoming than Slovenia.
The idea of the backing camera and place of the passenger side rear vision mirror does work so I must have known something deciding to carry a spare.
The campground seems to be full of Austrians, and does have a thermal pool attached which a lot of the Austrians seem to be patronising, I sent Luda out to have a look, her comment was that most of them can hardly walk to the pool, so I will possibly be in good company, if I can make at the 300 m.
I decided to stay at this camp ground for three or four days to see what progress my hip makes and then will be either carrying on with the tour or heading home.
So I made the decision to head back to Holland and get on the next plane back to New Zealand so Friday morning we set off and drove on a direct route towards Holland taking us through Austria on a toll road.
When one thinks of Austria one thinks of mountains, of course if you draw a straight line across Austria the line will run through many mountains, consequently this tollroad possibly has more than 20 tunnels some of them up to 8 km in length.
Somewhere around the city of Pettenbach we got off the motorway and after a lot of searching found an empty lot of land that looked like it was getting set up either a car park or a building so we can therefore the night and will welcomed to that part of the world by a violent electrical storm in a heavy fall of hail.
We pulled in and started registration to spend a couple of days here, but found we could not connect to the WiFi, and if by some chance we were able to it was going it cost €8 an hour which was barely acceptable and as we could not get a connection we decided to move on, and we found a campground just over the border in the Czech Republic near a village called Rejstejn that had a free WiFi service, which appealed to my Scottish nature a lot more.
So we headed off there, driving along what at one point was a one-way Road and made me think of the new GPS system advertised in England suitable for motorhomes and caravans where you keyed in your motorhome length, height and weight and the GPS made sure you were only given roads suitable for your vehicle. However in this case we made it to the motor camp successfully, found it was being run by a Dutchman who had owned at the last two years, so we have no problems with the language as most Dutch are fluent in English.
We tried one part of the campground and found it was just a fraction too far away from the WiFi signal so we shifted closer and have had perfect Internet connection.
This is not the first time I have had had a problem with my spine in this way, suffering from osteoarthritis most of my spine is worn in from time to time I get a nerve pinched.
In the past I have gone to physiotherapist and I they have massaged and manipulated my back, (it was always interesting, I seemed to leave them with almost the same level of pain, but I guessed they must have done SOME good, or I hoped, over a two to three week period, and eventually the pain goes away. However at times I have been suspicious of this treatment and one of the other physios I went to after examining the x-ray and working on me for two different days gave the verdict that he really couldn't help me any more, and I found after 14 days I was back to normal.
One often read and that most problems with your body are cured by your body within 14 days so after my doctor's diagnosis after looking at my symptoms, I cancelled my flight back to New Zealand and decided I would stay in the one spot here for the next week and see what progress I make.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Saturday, May 09, 2009
He went on to say that electricity and the Czech Republic as more expensive than in Holland and they were paid considerably more in Holland so it was super expensive. He said most of the locals burnt wood for heating, and this was rather obvious as we wandered our way in through the countryside with the extremely large piles of wood outside every house.
We followed the GPS as it took us through 150 km of Czech countryside, through the old villages and passed one or two Soviet style victory memorials. Lots of churches and many small Catholics type shrines in the middle of nowhere. The route we drove took us through mainly old-ish houses we did go through one village which must be new because almost all of the houses had been built with in the last five years.
We did stop to fill up with LPG and managed to pay for it in Euros and as we paid the reasonably priced campground there we say that the six days also in Euros we did not need any Czech money for our stay. Luda did notice in the country area that the campground was an and the areas that we were going through Czech was the only language most people could speak, young or old neither the Russian or English made any sense to them.
We crossed over and Austria and noticed almost immediately that this country had not been on a GO SLOW for progress for the last 70 years and so are the next large town we stopped and replenished our supplies and one of the many large supermarkets in the small town.
On the edge of town called Schwarzenau, we found a parking place which we have settled in to for the night.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
We carried on passing through the small villages and their May pole trees, until we came to the main motorway, and after a few kilometres we noticed a large castle off to the left, and after trying every Road, (or that is what seemed like) we eventually end up in the car park of the Leobendorf Castle, and with my hip and leg is still sensitive, I left to Luda to walk up the hill to inspect the first Castle, close up, for this year. There was back on the motorway that ran through Vienna after manoeuvring our way round the massive roadworks we found ourselves at the border where we changed some money from Euros to a Hungarian Florins and purchased a permit for driving on a Hungarian motorways, and a cost of €7 for four days.
We have parked for the night in a car park of what appears to be a factory or warehouse near a small village called Jánossomorja, with the closest large town of Hédervár.
Monday, May 11, 2009
We were on the Road by 6 a.m. stopping about 30 minutes later and the motorway parking area for breakfast and carried on across Hungary getting to the border about 3 p.m.. The Hungary side of the border was basically non-existent and were stopped at the Romanian side where our passports were inspected with great thoroughness, first asking me where my Schengen Visa was, he probably never had a New Zealand passport in his hands before, then made a great inspection of Luda's passport making sure she was a resident of New Zealand and not somebody that had come to settle and Romania, then decided to get the vehicle documents and they retired to the log cabin (my words) for 30 minutes.
During this time we sat peacefully in the motorhome and eventually the officer came, gave me all of the documents back and were on our way after stopping to purchase a Romanian vignette to permit travelling on their motorways, stopped and changed some euros into Romanian lii and then ventured into the country with the knowledge that from here on we're on our own with no GPS and just the good old-fashioned roadmaps so Luda had changed occupation from photographer to navigator.
One of the first advertising billboards we saw was for a GPS, so this means they can sell GPS in Romania they obviously have maps, where as the two GPS as we had with us stopped the Hungarian border. A couple of kilometres down the road we came across a large super shopping centre, so I limped to into that, found they had a Vortex GPS, found the price was about €150, and rationalised my thinking that if I employed a guide to guide us around the country that would be a drop in the bucket.
So I tried to pay for that with VISA but in Romania the visa cards need to have a pin number to work, so was down to the old cash machine to use my National Bank Cash Card only to find I had forgotten my pin number so I went to my backup and drew some money out of my new Euro travel card, goodness knows what will happen with the conversion from Euros to Romanian Lei. But that is not something I was prepared to worry about.
With the purchase done in and the knowledge that the instruction manual was on the CD in English my newly appointed navigator was quite happy to resign that position and take up her old one as “photographer”.
Our first effort at programming the GPS was a disaster as instead of taking us to the close by town took us round and on towards the next city. We decided to proceed with this and after about 30 km asked the GPS to find a campground and found 16 km away at Mihai Bravu so we headed towards that only to find on our arrival at a campground was from Communist times and now was in private hands so was not available for camping.
When we explained we only wanted somewhere to park the vehicle and got we parked in front as we had everything inside the van we needed they said all please come and and opened the gate.
We were having problems with the generator in the Carthago Chic T47, apparently switching off after the motor heated up and stopped running the refrigerator and charging the batteries. We plugged into our hosts electricity and ran the fridge overnight and topped up batteries.
We are fortunate that there was a young Romanian Lady visiting the people at the camp ground who was getting her diploma in tourism and she could speak English so she had the job for the rest of the evening of translating for the six or more people that had congregated around the camp ground and the small shop that was attached to it and we spent the rest of the evening finding out a little bit about life in the old days and how to day nobody really knows what the future is going to be or we're or if they will ever find work.
If given the opportunity everybody we were talking to were have gone back in an instant to the old days, as appears that corruption has taken over everywhere and the politicians are only interested in themselves.
Was a delightful evening and one of those evenings that makes foreign travel worthwhile.
I did have an opportunity before going to bed of reading the English instructions for the Vortex GPS and I must say that I'm most impressed with its functions that are built in and it looks like we have maps for Bulgaria and Turkey but time alone will tell us just how good this investment was.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We are highway N. 19 which is very bad in places which is not surprising with the very large number of heavy trucks using this Road. It is taking us through interesting little villages where life is moving at a very slow pace, horse and cart transport is relatively common along with the occasional upmarket German cars.
The houses are all clean and tidy, mostly 50 to 60 square metres in size, there was no water hydrants or wells on the side of the road so they must have had running water inside, and in several villages we saw gas pipes in the Soviet style of outside the houses running down the length of the block with the pipe painted yellow.
Sure enough the half-hour stop was sufficient to get the generator working again and it carried on working for the next half-hour so when we arrived in Satu Mare we started looking for preferably a Fiat agency or failing that a semi-modern workshop, we set parameter is into the GPS and it came up with an option which when we visited found no one could speak English or Russian and then realised this was going to be situation no matter what we found so we had two options, one, carry on and hope it didn't get worse, and it was sufficient charge in the batteries to enable us to live somewhat like we normally do, or two, head back the 1018 km to Munich and have the Carthago Chic T47 fixed along with the three or four other items.
On reflection choice two whilst perhaps being the most difficult was probably the most efficient so we headed back out of Romania, back through the immigration into Hungary, however as they let us through the immigration and we had to drive through the two closely spaced booths that were designed for a car to pass through and the side mirrors proved to be a little bit too much, and before I could say or think otherwise, the customs officer pushed the passenger-side mirror (a that we broke and replaced with a camera) towards the car and in doing so stretched the wire so much that one of the internal fine wires broke and so we are again without a mirror on the passenger-side, (of course I should have allowed a little bit of slack wire and now I know that, and so do you) and tonight we are camped on the side of the motorway in a parking area about 100 km outside Budapest and hopefully we will go through that city early tomorrow morning.
I got my soldering iron out, cut the wire on the broken wire on the camera, and whilst I will never get a job in Electronics repair shop I got the camera working. So we are now legal on the passenger-side rear vision mirror (camera).
We're on the Road by 6 a.m. heading towards what we thought would be the centre of Budapest and there becomes a time when you have to forget about the GPS, the Tom Tom had no maps of Hungary, the new Panasonic has maps and took us through the centre of Budapest, the new Vortex GPS the we bought and Romania wanted to take us through the centre of Budapest, and we realised there must be another Road with all of the trucks on the main highway.
Just inside the city limits we saw a road sign with a city's name and A after it, which meant Austria, so in for a penny in for a pound, we went on this new motorway which circled the city and was easy driving, but possibly took the same length of time as driving through the city, but without the stress.
Getting near the spot where we should have taken the circuit around the city instead of going through, Luda looked out the back window to see what signs we missed and they were signs which indicated the Road lead towards the Ukraine, and another indicated transit, so we'll know better on our return.
We made good time with our motorway driving and about 400 km from our destination we pulled into a parking area and I had a snooze for about 90 minutes and then we're on our way again reaching our destination by 7 p.m.. I was quite relieved the driving was finished, and Luda was relieved she could stop driving from the passenger seat.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
So they rang around the Fiat dealers until they found one that would look us on Monday morning and that would be their responsibility to work out exactly what the problem is and what needs to be replaced.
Come three o'clock, everything except the generator was fixed, and as there is a weighing station some 10 km away we decided to go there and check on the weight of the motorhome to see whether we made the correct decision on dumping the scooter.
The result from the weighing station was with a full tank of water we had a 70 kg of spare weight and as the scooter waited 90 kg and the fancy rack 35 kg we were in actual fact overweight carrying the scooter. Another solution would have been to travel with the fresh water tanks half empty that would have given us enough spare weight to carry the scooter.
Of course the other thing that influenced the weight of the vehicle was the levelling jacks, four hydraulic jacks mounted at each corner of the motorhome and they must have substantially reduced my carrying capacity.
Whilst we are waiting in this car park of Hofstetter's we looked at some of the other one's parked with a scooter try on the back carrying a scooter and I guess most of them, if placed on us a weighing platform would have been overweight and so obviously it does not worry some people.
We have Friday Saturday and Sunday free so we'll just relax here and on Sunday afternoon travel into Munich and parked near the Fiat dealer ready for an eight o'clock started on Monday morning on the Carthago Chic 47.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Not so much merit however for Fiat, they inspected the generator and said that there was no problems with that and that it preformed within specifications.
They said if there was any problem at all it was with the Carthago Chic T47 portion of the vehicle.
As always very easy and a problem when one buys a motorhome on a Fiat chassis, you the customer like the jam in the sandwich, which of course is all sticky! So back we went to Hofstetter and the service manager spoke to Fiat, Carthago, the local garage and goodness knows who else. The net result was that they would order a new generator and replace my generator and I had to wait for two or three days.
My next stop was the salesman and I told him I was not terribly impressed with his product and that I had a good mind to take my old motorhome back because at least it worked. His offer of appeasement was that if the generator did not arrive he would rob an existing vehicle of a generator to replace mine. I said fine let us see at four o'clock today what is happening.
At four o'clock the new generator was not going to be arriving for a least 24 hours so went back to the salesman and accepted his offer.
The arrangement then became at nine o'clock he would send the donor vehicle to the garage and they would remove the generator and I would go for hours later to have the generator fitted to my machine. I said fine, but before the motorhome goes I want to see the voltage at the generator produces.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
They were ready for my vehicle at 1 p.m. so I was there and about 12:0 p.m., and at 1.01 p.m. the serviceman walked over, and drove the Carthago Chic T47 into the garage. We sat down to wait for about two or three hours which we had been told at the Fiat garage it took to replace a generator.
I do not know why I bothered, particularly when I started the motorhome and the voltage reading was 13.2 volts exactly the same as was before he started, and this is with a generator that produced 14 V this morning.
Well obviously I was at the end of the Road, and I was not going to get anywhere on this issue so it was a matter of keeping one's fingers crossed, driving towards the heat and dealing with the consequences once one sees what happens.
So was back on the road with the Carthago Chic 47, south, back to the spot we left in Romania, but slightly more leisurely in getting their than our drive to Munich.
It was interesting to pass a BMW factory, must have been one of many as it was not massive taking up acres and acres but was the first one we had seen an hour driving around the BMW state.
We drove on down into Austria and found a parking spot in a supermarket car park at Marchtrenk the hopefully will have an interrupted nights sleep.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
However after that we did sleep a little bit and were on our way South reasonably early with everything working fine. We stopped at Alland to replenish our larder in a normal supermarket as last night's one only handled bare commodities.
Were barely and to Hungary, having paid for the motorway vignette for two days at what was by memory a more expensive rate the last time and we were several miles outside the city of Gyor when we discovered the generator in the Carthago Chic 47 was not working again so we pulled into a layby, rang Hofstetter in Munich, and they came back and told us to contact the Fiat emergency help and as we were in an area that had no signal and can only receive text messages we decided to drive on to the other side of Budapest stopping in one of the good stopping spots possibly for the night.
We arrived there about 5 p.m. and tested the voltage with the voltmeter at the generator output and were received a reading of 10.62 V. An hour later the generator was still was not working we had 10.84 volts. An hour later still the generator are still was not working and we had a 10.68 volts. At this point I was beginning to suspect the voltmeter was faulty so did not mention the voltages to the Fiat hotline when I first spoke to them and after a lot of discussion they sent me a text saying that they considered that the fault was the responsibility of the bodybuilder and that I should contact them.
It was becoming quite noisy on this parking spot so we decided to get off the motorway and seeing a signpost to a town called Ludas we decided that that would be a good direction to head and just off the motorway we found an ideal spot on an old Road and settled in their for the night.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
You are inclined to think that a man speaking and automotive hotline may know little bit about cars! Well this Scotsman did not even know he had a generator in his car, all more important still what the generator did, so he could not quite understand what my problem was until I explained to him that if the power company switched off his electricity, his lights in his refrigerator would not work! I think I got a glimmer of light at that point.
He came back with a service station that I should go to and this was the address
You imagine my relief when after feeding these two impossible names into my GPS being told I was 18 km away from that destination.
So we set off arriving there at 8 a.m., luck was again was on my side finding somebody could speak English, however the generator on the Carthago Chic T47 was working, and was producing 13.51 V, which was of course within Fiat tolerance, but they were sympathetic, but once they found out the weight of the motorhome told me they could not handle it as suggested I drive the 76 km to the Fiat agent in Budapest.
We left with the generator working, and after about 20 km pulled into a layby, switched the motor off and on again and found the generator was not working. This we liked as we were arriving at Budapest to be able to show them our problems.
In due course we arrived at Fiat Budapest parked in front of one of their workshop bays and went in, and in luck again as the service manager could speak English and we went straight out to the Carthago Chic T47 that was still running, and not charging, so producing a volt meter proceeded to show the voltage and to my shock it was 13.31 V which of course was within their tolerance and when I started showing him at the panel where it was not charging and the refrigerator that was not working I realised that again I was the meat in the sandwich and the only solution was to drive the 800 km back to Hofstetter and let them again work on the problem.
We arrived at 8 p.m. after driving through a lightning storm, a rainstorm and what appeared to be a mini hurricane, but at least the car got a little bit washed.
Friday, May 22, 2009
They bought the donor vehicle over and we measure the voltage at was 14.36 volts which was certainly better than what we had been getting.
So we drove about 8 km to a small village with the very small garage in the mechanic who had never replaced the generator on a Fiat before made short work of swapping the generators over. When it was finished the mechanic asked me to measure the voltage which was still in the 13.6 volt range made the reassuring noises that when the battery was fully charged get the correct reading! I'm not quite sure on his reasoning as the point we were measuring the voltage from was a direct line from the generator, but I accepted his comments and went back to Hofstetter's service department, and they, like I, were not happy with the result particularly when by starting the car with the air-conditioner working I could not get the generator charging.
So again they worked on the vehicle disconnecting the Carthago Chic T47 portion and they did manage to get 14 volts with nothing else running, no lights, no air-conditioner, so they were at their wits end and could not think of what else to do.
I thought it was time for the Sales Department to be brought back into the picture and perhaps this problem to be laid at Carthago doorstep and at this point he agreed, and as Thursday was a public holiday in Germany and Carthago was closed on the Friday the next step was to arrange for me to drive the 183 km to the factory.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
We have three leisure batteries to supply the power for the living quarters evidently is wired in such a way that only one of these is working. There also is a cutout switch at the drivers seat which is wired with too light a wiring and they asked me who did this? And to the best of my knowledge I told them it was Carthago they basically said No Way, so it looks like this is a problem that was caused by Hofstetter in setting up the Carthago Chic T47 for delivery to my specifications and is just as well we didn't decide to go on the trip to China this year.
Tomorrow at 7 a.m. they start work rewiring the vehicle and hopefully at that point the problems with been having will disappear. Tomorrow we will go into Ravensburg while the work on the Carthago Chic 47 and hopefully we will find a internet café for the first itme since leaving the Czech Republic.
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