We bought a real big bus :-)

Hi together.

I’ll not talk about the ‘not time’ bla bla today. :)

There are news :-) Last time I wrote about the new plans. That we moved back to Germany and that we want to convert a bus into our flat on wheels.

Our first choice was a Polish Autosan bus. Because they are still working on the roads and slowly they get replaced. Therefore they are cheap in buying and there are still tons of cheap spare parts. But on the other hand we have to bring first the bus to Germany. Then I spoke with a man from the DEKRA (one of the German MOT companies). He said that he can’t say anything without seeing the bus. But we didn’t had any particular bus yet. So, we didn’t got any clear information. Only that it would be smarter to first convert the bus and then to come to make the full big check up and registration in Germany. … Just what if he will then find out that here is something and this has to be done and here we need a special check up … which will cost all in all 3…, 4…, 5… thousand Euro. A full check up for a bus can cost between 500 and 5000 Euro (I just guess now… maybe even more). And this after its converted and our money is in it already. Quite a huge risk.Since we got the idea with the bus conversion I am registered in a ‘RV Bus’ Forum. In this forum are people which are same crazy as we are (some less, some more). :-) So I can get some good tips and can ask some stupid questions. Also there is a category in this forum where the member post links to advertisings, which they found in the internet, when someone is selling a (RV) bus. So always when someone is selling his bus in eBay or anywhere, they post a link to it. Even from the neighbour countries. And I am quite curious and check this advertisings as well sometimes. To see what it possible, to get ideas and to see what is on the market.

man535_3One day someone found a RV bus. A MAN 535. I liked it straight away. From the first moment it was special. Unfortunately its straight visible that it is an RV and not a bus any more. Some windows are closed and partly with bull eyes now. So from outside you can straight see that it is not original any more. But it has personality… it’s 45 years old and the charm of the 70s.
And also inside it’s quite unique. I love how it is inside. The converter made it as open as possible. Not like in a normal camper… everything full of furnitures and you get claustrophobic. Here is a lot of ‘air’ to breath. And still everything in we need. Couch, table with 4 ‘chairs’ (original seats), kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Wooden floor. And my view went also straight to the wooden stove… how awesome is that? Imagine to stay in the winter in the snow and in the evening you sit on the warm stove and through the huge bus windows you watch the snowy landscape and the frozen lake in front of you. In my imagination is this awesome!

I think you have a guess already… this bus was to awesome to just let it go. Especially because it have the ‘H’ numberplate (antique car status)… which means 190 Euro tax per year, instead of 1000 Euro. Plus also a cheaper insurance. Then the bus is registered in Germany already and have new TÜV (MOT)… also here no stress anymore. Many advantages… ‘too’ many advantages… THIS is the bus.
And then everything happened in no time at all. I wrote the seller and asked him some first questions. He wrote fast back and said that there is no rust on the main parts. The wooden stove is legal. … I called him. We were talking for an hour. I was still excited… even more now.
We spoke also about a viewing appointment. He said that he have time in 3 weeks. Before he is busy, he said. Also I had plans on the next weekends already. So we decided to meet in the weekend in 3 weeks. (That was on Wednesday.)

Another problem was that this bus was way more expensive then the Polish bus. That went far beyond our savings. We wasn’t that far yet with saving money. But it is THE bus. And the bus is ready converted. The would save us (beside the H numberplate) some money and time.
I asked my house bank … more just for fun… and of course they have no option to help me. A four-figure loan to buy a car / living plave… no, forget about it. Without job… big laughing. Even I am 15 years a loyal customer there. Never had problems with the bank. Also explaining the situation… the I just came back from Cyprus and about the bus, etc… like talking with a wall.
Luckily I still have friends. And sometimes even someone who can help in such situation. (Thanks mate!!!)
So, the financial situation was saved… yeah! :)

man535_1All good now… isn’t it? Yeah, yeah… or?
I informed the people in the forum that I want the bus and that they shall not go after it. Of course they asked if I saw the bus already and if I made a deposit already… just to make it sure. And I had to answer that I spoke with the seller and that we made an appointment in 3 weeks… big laughing in the forum.
They said that I shall hurry up. The first one who will put the money on the table will get the bus. (I mean the people in the forum wouldn’t take it, but the advertising is public in the internet… everybody can see it.) And they were right… panic came up. (That was friday)
Then a new member joined this forum and straight in its first post it was asking if this bus (MY bus) is good and that they talked with the owner already the bus is sooo cool… my nerves were raw. (Saturday…)
I couldn’t reach the seller. … I got panic that again someone else could be just a bit faster then we are (like the 2 times when we wanted to buy a mobile home… they bought it just minutes before us… and we talked with the seller before already… same situations). Sunday evening I reached finally the seller. The baby was still available. I explained him the situation and luckily he was off on Monday. So now we made an appointment straight away for Monday.

So next morning I sat in the car and drove 500km through the republic to see a bus, which I maybe also buy the same day. That feels a bit strange. I mean how often do you buy a bus?

man535_2I arrived and … there it was, the MAN 535. Almost like on the pictures. Not soo beautiful. It became rusty spots everywhere (seems like the pictures were a bit older). Looked a bit worse for wear.
But inside… the charm… awesome. Like on the pictures and better. Dirk – the seller – was showing me the bus. We also checked the ‘basement’ (the storage rooms underneath) and of course we also checked the engine (not that I have any idea about it). What can I say? The bus is rusty here and there (and more). But its 45 years old. In my humble opinion nothing really bad. (I hope I am right.)
We also took a small test drive. Dirk drove, because I don’t have license yet. Also here I can also say my inexperienced, humble opinion. But it ‘sounded’ ok for me. The engine was running smooth and there were no strange noises in the bus. Also the shock absorber were smooth.

So after 3 hours of showing and talking I decided to risk it and to say yes. I bought a bus. Unbelievable but true. :-D Stupid. Or? No… not at all. Because it is not a bus like people imagine it when I tell them ‘I bought a bus’. Then the people imagine how they sit in a normal public transportation bus. … Ok, the bus did the same years ago… but now its something else. Now it is a flat on wheels. Outside private transportation vehicle, inside full living flat, with all you need to feel home.

I hope that the bus will come next week to us. I can not drive it myself yet. So I asked Dirk and he is so kind to bring the bus all the way here. I need to make first a truck driving license, before I can drive it myself. And yes, I need only a truck driving license, because the bus is not registered as bus anymore, it is registered as RV / Camper. And because its over 3,5 tons (actually over 7,5t), I need a truck driving license. I will start that next month. And when our new baby is here on the courtyard, then we need to work, to make money, to adjust it to our wished and needs. Even its basically ready to go, it is not like we want and need it. There are still a lot of things to do. We want to make the bed to swing-up, that we can access comfortable and use the full (new) storage underneath. Therefore 2 wardrobes can and will be removed. With this new space we enlarge the bathroom. A composting toilet will find its place in the bigger bathroom and the shower is moving into its own cubicle. A L-couch needs to be build. Also with storage underneath and big enough to function as guest bed. Solar on the roof. Electric needs to be renovated. A generator needs to be included in the system. LED lights needs to be installed.

But first of all we need to take everything out, to make a renovation on the bus itself. The rust needs to be removed and the metal prevented from new rust.Yes, sometime things happen so quick. Nothing is as stable as the change… someone said once. :)

But at least this case is closed now and isn’t bothering anymore (our mind and nerves). We have a bus and home now. I just hope that the rust is not much more as it was visible… then we will be happy with our home on 4 wheels. :-)Stay tuned… it will become really fascinating here now. (If you like, get my newsletter (on the right side or here) to be always informed when I publish a new article.)

Best wishes
Gordon

Good Bye Cyprus – Hello new plan.

Hello together.

Sunset in Cyprus

Sonnenuntergang im Nikosia-Tal

After 2403 days I left my adopted home again. 6 1/2 years in a different country (and then on an island in the Mediterranean) is what other people just dream about :-) But I had several reasons to leave the island again. The main reasons are that new plans arrived, that Cyprus is a small island(!) and live there is also not always sunshine. Plus I was almost the last one from our friend circle core. All others left earlier already.
And some more reasons.

6 1/2 years are quite a long time. I’ve learned, saw and experienced a lot in that time there. So much that I can’t put everything in one article. All this experiences and memories would fill up a whole book (or several). (Even I would love to write down this book, to stop the forgetting.)
I had wonderful times and really bad times. As live is. Nothing is only good or only bad. And I don’t regret that I moved on the island that time. I’ve learned so many valuable things which raised my horizon.

I was living in a country where they don’t speak my mother language (and I survived :) ). I speak, understand and write now (more or less) fluent english (not perfect, but ok). Greek… well, lets not talk about that :-/ But I speak a few more words Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish and French now.

I found new friends from many countries. Friends from Poland, Ukraine, UK, Germany, Latvia, France, Hungary, USA, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Sweden, Spain and other countries. Good friends. And I am glad to met each of them.
It was quite interesting to find out the differences between the nations. Also to learn the one or other word in the other language (even I am not a language genius). I think the most known words bei foreigners in German are:

  1. Scheiße! (almost everbody knows it)
  2. Ja / Nein
  3. Guten Tag.
  4. Hände hoch. Nicht schießen.
  5. Ein Bier bitte.
  6. Wie geht es Dir?

I can look back on awesome memories. For example our camping trips (especially to Karpaz in the north).
I started diving in Cyprus and one of the most awesome dive was in the sunken church in the Kouris dam. But also the wreck of the Zenobia and all the other approx 100 dives (till now).
All the photographing trips with other friends which are into photographing. We found beautiful places and made also beautiful pictures. :-) And actually I started proper photographing in Cyprus as well.
In the last months Ewelina “convinced” me to go climbing with her. Also this I started then in Cyprus.
And all the great meetings with my friends are great memories for me. Doesn’t matter if swimming/diving on the beach or BBQ evening at home. Every meeting was great.

2400 days are a loooong time. I would love to write about everything here… about love and hate, friendship and disappointment, from good and bad times… but I have neither the time nor the memory for it right now. And on the other hand they are my experiences and memories… for you it would be probably boring.
I am very glad that I made this experiences… even I would love, from my perspective now, to make some things different. Unfortunately its never going back, only forward.

And that is another main reason why I left Cyprus. I have a new plan now. Actually I decided 3 years ago already to leave Cyprus. But I couldn’t find a place where I wanted to live. Back to Germany was not an option. But I also didn’t had any other place on this earth in mind where I would like to live for a while. And like this the time was passing and nothing happened.

Gordon in AndorraIn the summer 2013 I went with a young lady for a road trip through west Europe. We drove in 9 weeks over 9000km through (almost) all countries in west Europe. And this gave me a lot of good and positive energy. But it should took another few month until I realized that this is what I want, what I need to be happy. Traveling… constantly… a lot. I think I am not made to be somewhere longer on one place. I love to see new things, new places and to explore the world.

And this is now the plan. To build a flat on 4 (or more) wheels and then to be home wherever we just are. Just like the motto “Home is where the heart is.” … or something like this :-)

The opinion of the people which we told the plan already are spread far. People which travel by them self or which have a ‘different point of view’ understand us and would do it them self, if they could. Many other people don’t understand it, think we are irrational … till that it is insanity :-)

In general we get to hear that we should think about it again. Unfortunately also from people which are important, like family (slowly they should know me :-) ).
But the plan is made and we will do it… at least we will try.

And we are not fully naive. I mean we don’t want to drive around a beg or something like this. We will have a working live as well. Just that we will live in a flat on wheels. And our desk will be as well in this flat. Our electricity will come from batteries, which will be charged by the sun (or – if the sun is not shining for a while – from a generator). The internet we will get from a satellite or mobile networks.
In our flat will be a proper bed, a proper bathroom (yes, with shower, toilet and sink), a proper kitchen and a proper living room. Just a bit smaller then a normal flat.
Our flat will have a 3way heating system (warm water through a diesel heating and a stove) and an electric floor heating as backup. It will have a air condition for the hot summer days. We will have running water (ok, maximum 1000 liter, then we need to refill). Drinkable water will come from bottles, as in most of the other flats as well, I suppose. We will even have electricity and internet.

I was thinking a long time how to do it. First it should be a camper. A bit adjusted and converted.
But then I was ‘suddenly’ not alone anymore. Ewelina was suddenly with me… well, not so suddenly :-) And with her 2 cats… and it become more complicated. But she was fine with this plan and even liked it as well. So the question was not ‘Yes or No’. The question was ‘How’. And we were both thinking forth and back how to do it. We even started to run around to check camper. It was small… but must work out somehow, we thought.

Until… yes until one day a crazy idea crossed our way. We found (I think it was accidentally… or not…) a converted bus. I mean a proper bus. And in a proper bus is a lot of space. Nothing with 1m² bathroom any more and 5m² for the rest of the flat. No no, here is a lot of space. Approx 20m². And it can be quite cosy.
So we were asking Google what is possible and what other people did already. And we found out, it was not an individual case. There are more crazy people which converted a bus to a mobile home. From very simple to absolute luxury. Most of them did it by them self, but some hired a company. Especially in America it seems to be a trend. But also in Germany is a community already for it.

Autosan H9-20 der Polnischen Marine Quelle: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autosan_H9

Autosan H9-20 der Polnischen Marine
Quelle: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autosan_H9

And then the questions came… Which bus shall it be? MAN, Mercedes Benz, SCANIA, Margirus Deutz, etc. The list is long. Quickly we realized that we need a bigger wallet. Ours is to small.
But also therefore is a solution. A risky one, but it is a solution. And the solution is to buy an “old” polish Autosan bus. This ones are just sorted out everywhere in Poland. It means they drove until now on the street. They are very cheap in buying and there are tons of spare parts. Also the maker is still producing spare parts.
Problem on this story is that this bus was never registered in Germany. Not a single registration here. This can be a problem with the registration here. Also with the MOT. Spare parts only in Poland. If something breaks down… I will not think on it right now.
But… its a better price range. So, lets cross all our fingers and hope the best. :-)

Also regarding the converting are we not so naive. We know it will be expensive. Thats why, getting the bus, getting hopefully quick the German papers for it and then converting… piece by piece. Earning money and continuing working on the bus. Until our camper is ready or we run out of nerves :-)

It will be a huge project, yes, that is clear. We know that. But what would be the live without challenges? Would be boring, isn’t it? And as I said, slowly the people should know me. :-D
I love this idea. If we manage it until the end or not. Ich can only learn. I need to take care of the bus and learn how it works (mechanic). I need to make a truck driving license, which is also learning. I need to find out how heating systems are working and need to build one. I need to learn about electric stuff and need to arrange all the electric stuff in the bus (with solar, generator and all this systems). I need to build the water system. Also gas… or I leave this part to a professional guy… better maybe :) And more, much more. I will need to learn so many things with this bus project… things I will need also later in my life.And for sure it will be not a second boring next year! :-D For now I need to go to the nice guy from the DEKRA (like MOT) and to talk to him. What I need to think about and what they need. Like I said, this bus was never registered in Germany. Everything new for them. Who knows what differences they have between the systems, which nobody knows yet.
And when this is clear and nothing big can happen there, then I pick up Ewelina in 2-3 weeks in Poland and we will check straight some buses. And hopefully the right one will be between them already. So we can buy one straight away. :-)

That is the plan for now. I hope I can give more often an update now. Just smaller :-)

Until then
Gordon

What am I doing with Arduino and Raspberry Pi?

Hello.

My Facebook disciple know more already then my beloved blog reader. A few days ago I posted the following pictures in Facebook:

The description was:

Da bomb is in da house… and working quite fine :)
What is that, beside of a beautiful piece of art of colored wires and electric stuff.
Of course it is not exploding :) It is a small stand-alone measuring station. It contains:
1x Arduino Pro Mini -> The micro controller which is processing all the data
1x Power supply -> No cool e-stuff without a bit electricity
2x Photo resistor -> to measure the amount of light around (of course, both give different values… ^^)
1x DHT11 -> Measures temperature and humidity
1x DHT22 -> Measures temperature and humidity as well… the newer model of the DHT11
1x LM35 -> Measures temperature… I fucked it when I mistaken plus and minus :( It is still sending values… but useless ones.
1x MQ-2 -> Measures the amount of smoke/lpg/co gas in the air.
1x 1.8” TFT with SD card -> To display the values and it is also writing all data in a log file on a sd card for later processing.
So far… will be continued…  :)

So… why do I play around with it?

An Arduino is a micro controller. Actually a micro controller on a board with some more stuff, to make it easier to work with it for the people. It got invented from Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles (and named after a pub… yeah yeah :) ). David Mellis developed the programming language for it. The whole system is open source. That means everybody can see the sources, how it works. That’s why there are also copies of the original Arduino available and even you could solder your own one. It’s a quite easy way to get in touch with the micro controller stuff.
But lets have a look to another kind. As I mentioned in the headline already, there is also a ‘Raspberry Pi’.

The Raspberry Pi is similar to Arduino, but also different. The Raspberry Pi is more a micro computer then a controller. He consist a 700MHz ARM processor (the same CPU architecture as in mobile phones), 512MB RAM, etc. As operating system is usually Linux installed. Here is one big difference, the Raspberry Pi have a operating system, the Arduino doesn’t.

So, what does it mean now?

Both boards have GPIO pins. That are connectors on which we can connect sensors and such sttuff. One sensor is for example the DHT22… a sensor which is measuring the temperature and humidity. I can connect this sensor now to the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. A small program written and it will show me the values of the sensor.

So, one board is enough!?

In general yes. But it is always a question of what we want to do.
With the Raspberry Pi the possibilities are much bigger, because we can make a lot more with the board as just reading sensor values. We have much more storage available. We can install software and have even a GUI (graphic user interface). We can write emails, texts, we can program and much more. Its a full computer, just a bit limited in its resources. But therefore it consumes more electricity.

I mean ‘consuming more electricity’ is relative here. 3.5 Watt is usually not worth a word! But if you want to create (for example) a stand alone weather which have a battery as power supply, then is 3.5 watt a very bad consumption and the weather station will not even run 1 day. Here is a solution needed which is running with as less power as possible. And here comes the Arduino in the game. That is his strength. Doing a job (like reading sensor values) and consume almost no electricity.

Why do I get in touch with this strange stuff?

Don’t worry, I didn’t went to become a bomb builder;) (Hello NSA… and again a match with a keyword… congratulation! ;) )
Well, some know that I have a new project in my head. I want to travel around with a camper. To do so, I need to take my work with me. That means internet and electricity in the camper. But power will be very limited and my current computer have a consumption of approx 200 watt. So, this one is out of the game. I need a more battery-saving alternative is needed. Then I ‘met’ the Raspberry Pi. It was clear that this small computer can not replace a working station, but it can be used to do at least some of the job. 3.5 watt is a good number for a 24h server. Even 3.5 * 24 is also 84 watt per day – in the theory – but I hope in praxis it will be a bit less, as the RPi is slowing down in times of not usage. I just testing it with a 10.400 mAh battery.

ArduinoBut I guess the RPi will be quite busy with all the task I have in mind for it :) As following:

  • NAS with external SSD
  • Local web server for development
  • Automatic connection control system for internet sources (Sat-DSL, WLAN, GPRS, etc.)
  • Desktop for internet, watching movies, programming, etc.
  • Central data processing unit for decentralized Arduinos with their sensors (weather sation (somewhere outside), camera modul in the front of the camper, motor sensor, gas sensro, etc.)

The are the rough tasks which the poor little guy needs to do.

I also need to note that I am testing the little PRi already and I need to mention that I am absolutely positive surprised. The little guy is not that weak as I thought. (Always with the consumption of 3.5 watt in mind… CPU without cooling!). The GUI is running properly. Also movies running with VLC. Icedove (the Linux version of Mozilla Thunderbird) needs a few more seconds, until its loading my several thousand emails. But then its ready for use. LibreOffice (like MS Office) the same. There are even games for the Raspberry Pi. I tried Mindcraft for a while and it is running smoothly.
As I said, with the hardware in mind, is this little computer a technical marvel.

And the Arduino joint my ‘tool box’ when my play instinct got activated. :) This stuff is so awesome for me now, that I can’t stop playing with it :) Real addiction factor! When you made your first circuit, the first script is written and transferred to the Arduino and the LED really starts to blink… then you feel a bit like god… ‘This LED is blinking now because I wanted it!’ :D
And then further… measuring temperatures, lighting up LEDs, reading light intensity (is it night, how strong is the sun shining, etc.), reading GPS coordinates and showing on a map, flame sensor (is it burning?), noise sensor, displays to show information, … and much more. The possibilities are almost endless. With a bit of creativitiy is it possible to make some really cool projects.

And in MY endless creativity (*cough*) I have the following projects in mind (in the camper).

      • Weather station with sensor for temperatur, humidity, air pressure, light intensitiy, Geiger-Müller tube, GPS, etc.
      • Camera module in front of the camper, which is making a picture every hour and is uploading it when internet connection is online)
      • Gas sensor at the gas bottles, in the kitchen and at the heating. Also gas sensor for the gas which the thieves like to use.
      • Connction to the engine electronic. For example to read the error buffer of the engine computer. Its not with every car possible… will see.

I think to remove the doorhandles and use instead a key card / fingerprint reader to open the doors. Instead of a key. The would confuse some thieves. ;)

 

Of all this data I want to make my own little black-box. But primarily I want to store this data in a database and put it online that everybody (who is interested) can see the data. (GPS data for security reasons with a time delay, of course ;) ) But that is all still up in the air. At the moment I still play around with both boards and try to build some stable systems. To test and get experience with it.

So, if you want to have a look at the micro controller world, then check out Arduino and / or the Raspberry Pi. I can highly recommend both systems. Is fun like hell and not hard to learn at all.

Best wishes
Gordon

To sleep in a real castle (Buffavento). Adventure pure.

Hi,

sometimes I get some really crazy ideas. And the craziest ideas are mostly the best :-) But unfortunately are this ideas too rare. :(

However. I was thinking a while ago about this and that… and somehow I got the idea to sleep in the castle Buffavento. The castle is located in the Kyrenia mountain range, in north Cyprus. Here in the south are no castles at all. :(In the Kyrenia mountain range are 3 castles. St. Hilarion, Buffavento and Kantara. But the other both are controlled and you need to pay entrance. So it is not that easy to get in. Buffavento is abandoned. Nobody wants entrance and the castle ruinous slowly (it is the one in the worst condition). But it could be also because the way to the castle is the hardest. Approx. 30 minutes (more or less) climbing up the hill. The street and Buffavento on the mountain.

Therefore is the castle on the second highest mountain in the range and the view is just awesome. When there is a clear view then you can see the whole valley between the both mountain ranges. Inclusive Nicosia and even Famagusta in the distance. On the other side of the mountains you can overlook half of the north of Cyprus (with Girne ‘in front of the door’).

I was visiting the castle already in 2011 during my ‘I AM’ tour in north Cyprus and could remember the great view.

So, I had this idea. And I’ve known it will be amazing… Even I wasn’t sure if I can just sleep there (with tent). But hey… nobody is controlling it… so let’s try.

So, I went last weekend. Quickly picked up Bengi, a friend from the north. As pair makes life more fun ;) And we went to the castle. Somehow was the way longer than I thought. The street to there is also an experience to make. The street as wide as approx. 1 1/2 cars (small cars!)… on the right side rocks and left the abyss. But a great view on the side of the abyss… and I pray every time that no car is coming! …

But we arrived soon on the parking below the castle. We was just eating quickly a sandwich to get some power and then we got our backpacks done.
Of course I packed proper… all I need to remember. Tent, several torches, batteries (incl. my solar tank), warm clothes (for the night), sleeping back, a mat (because of all the small spiky stones… not good for the airbed), airbed, another thin blanket, 3 bottles of water, sandwiches, cookies, beer, first aid kit, tablet pc (for music), several cable… and so on. So, all we needed. And it was heavy. I would guess that my backpack was around 15 kg.

And then we started the walk, up to the castle. Unfortunately I had the way much shorter and easier in my memory. Bengi was gasping for air after half of the way and I took her bag as well, so she had just the backpack. But short after that also my legs started to hurt and felt like pudding. It doesn’t look that bad from down. But the way up ascends steeply and was wriggling through the mountain, which made the way even longer.

But then we reached… some when… the target. We stepped into the castle Buffavento. A 1000 years old building in which nobody was living for a long time (that is at least what I told myself) :)
And we would sleep here tonight. But first of all we had to climb 140 more steps, to the upper castle. Up here, in the highest building, we wanted to stay. From here we had the best view. :)

Girne in der NachtIt is hard to put it in words what we experienced up there. Starting with a stunning sunset (and I mean stunning), direct behind the mountains. It’s a feeling as you’re direct inside. The sky becomes Orange and everything around (and there is a lot around) is sinking first into the sunset then then slowly into the night.
The view up there is just amazing. You’re there direct on the mountain crest. Left is the valley between the Troodos- and the Kyrenia mountain range. In the middle Nicosia. And on the right side the north side of Cyprus with Girne and all the villages around. We had a clear view this night and could see until Famagusta.
And when it became dark, the world around us started to shine like fairy lights on a Christmas tree. Nikosia is a really big city (for Cyprus circumstances) and it seems like it is filling up in the night the whole valley. In the north is Girne spreading his lights. And from the sky the stars (it was almost new moon). That is a dreamlike atmosphere. And while watching it drinking a beer and talking about god and the world…. unforgettable moments.
Especially when you get always remembered that you are in a real castle, where earlier people was living. Now is it quite there, very quite. The only sound up there are the bells of goats and every some hours the Mosque.

Zelten in der BurgIt was a great idea to do that. Really, that are moments which are hard to explain to someone who have never been there.

The night became windy. Buffavento is named by the Italian Words buffa di vento… which means: “Defier of the Winds”. And it can be really windy up there… from all directions. But we had luck and the wind wasn’t that strong this night. And it came from the north, so we was protected by a thick wall.

We missed the sunset. :) But at 8 was the sun up and was shining on our tent and transformed it into an oven. After a few minutes we couldn’t stand it anymore and got up. In the right moment, because the first tourists came approx. half past 9 to see the castle. So, we got up in the right moment. :)

And because it was so great, I went this weekend straight again. This time with Hugo, which I forgot last weekend. And this time I was pant even more then last week. I always thought it will be easier each time… I think I was wrong. :o But it was the last time for now that I went up to Buffavento. Now is it time to get new ideas. Any suggestions? :)

And below a few picture of the adventure :)

Best wishes
Gordon

And a small video of a bit poor quality:

The West Europe Road Trip Movie is ready.

Hey together.

Finally, after 2 months, it is done. The movie to our Road Trip is ready. Ok, there are still some mistakes, but honestly… I am done with it. It takes me always 24 hours just to render and upload the movie… not to talk about the editing.
So… be quite and watch ;)

It became 43 minutes long. Probably also a bit boring, for someone who wasn’t there. But to put 9 weeks in a 5 minutes movie is just impossible.
I also recognized that we recorded to much of driving and to less from our adventures. Shit happens.

I hope you’ll like the movie anyway. :)

Solar energy – My experience with my first (portable) solar system

Hi togehter,

today it’s about the subject solar energy for outdoor, backpacking, camping and even at home.
I was thinking a long time already to get a small solar system. I think it is a big advantage if you are not reliable all the time on a socket. Especially when you are camping or backpacking and you are not even close to a socket for days. How to charge your mobile, camera, laptop, torch, etc.?
The only possibility, mobile electricity.

The wish came even more on my trip in north Cyprus, 2 years ago. When I was camping in the middle of nowhere (nature protection area). There I had the situation that I didn’t had socket anywhere. Soon my mobile, my camera and all other electrical stuff was running out of battery. Luckily I found a possibility to charge my devices from a socket. But if I wouldn’t … I would sat in the dark, without emergency call possibility and without camera.

Anyway, I was thinking now a long time already what would be the best solution. Nowadays there are many seller on the market. And even more products.  Which one is good? Which one fits for my needs? … I am not an expert, help!

So I started to have a closer look onto this systems and technique (even I have no idea about this solar stuff). There were just a few market leader around, when I had the first time a look around (2 years ago). Now is it, as I said, different. Now there are many products. And even before they was advertising the products already with the promise that they can charge mobiles, iPads and even Laptops/Netbooks.

After a bit reading in the internet I became suspicious. How can a 10Wp solar cell charge a Laptop? Is it even enough to charge a mobile=
I was reading in several forums and websites and they said always that the current solar systems are not strong enough. At least not for Laptop or Netbook. In the best case a tablet. Mobile or batteries wouldn’t be a problem with most of the solar systems.
So my confusing was even bigger.

Now we went to the big Road Trip and I’ve known that Julia, my travel buddy, had already experience with the solar company ‘Sistech Switzerland’. And we wanted to visit Switzerland anyway. So we planned a stop at Sistech. It was almost anyway on the route.

Solar cell on the carI need to say that Julia was buying before our trip already there. Our car, the Kangaroo, got the biggest solar cell of the company. The ‘Solarlite “Dieci”‘ is the biggest solar cell in the product range, with 18V and 126W. The cell on the roof is connected with a charger controller with a second battery in the car and is supposed to supply to cooling box and to charge several devices. And like that it happen.
We didn’t had the time to connect the second battery to any other supplier source (as we wanted to do it). It got charged only by the solar cell.
And I can say it in advance, the battery was never empty, but also just 2 times full.

So, we visited on our trip the company Sistech in Bubikon-Zurich.
Julia was with the stuff familiar already. She know them better than I thought already. :) She bought earlier, for her Asian trip, solar panels there already.

The people from the company were really nice. The manager – by the way also a Hugo ;) – spend a lot of time with us that day. I wanted to know it now really clear. Is there a system which fits my needs. It has to charge all my batteries (cameras, normal batteries for flashes and torches, mobiles and of course also my netbook). Plus the system should consist also a buffer memory (a big battery), if there is no sun or it is just night. And this buffer has to be big enough to charge the netbook at least one time completely fully and to get charged from the solar cell very quick (as less hours as possible).
Hard needs to a solar system.

Sistech product lineAs I said was Hugo very friendly and took a lot of time for me to answer all my amateur questions as best as possible. It was logical for me that it is not possible to say “This solar cell is charging this buffer in 2 hours full”. Solar energy relays on the sun and it’s power. Are there clouds in front of the sun, then is the gain much less and the buffer is charging slower or not at all. Also the angle to the sun is very important for the gain. The best angle is cell to sun = 90°.
But first of all he was showing me the buffer batteries. The company have a big range of this buffer batteries. From 4400mAh/16,3Wh till 24000mAh/88,8Wh. The biggest was finally my choice. It was big enough to charge my netbook and there would be even power left to charge a few other devices.
Now I’d need to find the right solar cell, to charge the buffer in a proper time.

The range of solar cells is even more big and varied. There are small, big, foldable, stiff, light and heavier solar cells. And every type has different features. Small and light means also less energy. Big, stiff and heavy means of course also more power. (It is always like that in the life.)
So I was choosing the best compromise product. The solar cell ‘Solarfold “Volta”‘ with 17V and 46W (max). There would have been a lighter alternative, the “Chepre”. But this would have had, at approx. the same size, just 18V / 18W. But therefore it would have been a lot lighter and better to carry on a backpack (530g VS 1,6kg).
But for me was the most power important. If I really want to go trekking one day, then I still can buy something lighter.

And the system works like that. I put the solar cell in the sun and connect it with the buffer battery. This will be charged by the solar cell and I can connect the devices to the buffer and it will charge it. The buffer battery model have 2 USB outputs (5V with 1A and 2,5A) and a high power output (9V, 12V, 16V, 19V and 20V, selectable). Optional you can connect it with a car socket, for car charger. Thanks to the USB and included adapters is it easy to connect most of the devices to the buffer battery.

We was also straight looking if all of my devices can be connected to the battery and if I have all adapter. Except of my new pocket camera I had everything and was now ready to charge my netbook, the DSLR camera, batteries and everything else with the solar system. Great! :)

The field test

Now I went with my new solar system on the road trip, through whole west Europe. The first time I used it in north Italy. I was hanging out the solar cell in the morning and connected the buffer battery. The sun was strong that day. It needed good 5 hours to charge the buffer full.
Of course it was first of all totally genius to see how the sun makes electricity. How it works… magic. :) That’s why this day didn’t count… it was emotional. :)

My solar cell in the sunQuickly I realized that on a road trip are not many possibilities to use a solar system. We wasn’t standing often hours around, that I could put the solar cell somewhere and watch it all the time. We was driving a lot and walking around. Also during the driving I couldn’t use the cell, because in the car is mostly no sun. Just Julia was putting her small cell in the front window and was charging with it her small buffer battery. My big one was most of the time stowed away.
However, from time to time I could use it. For example when we parked somewhere longer or we had a lazy day. Mostly I was putting the cell on the roof of the car or on the engine cover and charging the buffer battery like that. But very seldom we had the time to charge it completely. So I had to stop from time to time at Mc Donalds to charge my netbook from the socket. But for my mobile was almost always solar energy available to charge it.

And now the surprise. Back at home in Cyprus I’ve tried the system proper again. The buffer battery was at 0% charge. I was putting the cell in the morning in the sun and was waiting till the battery was full charged.
And now the time: I started it at 10am and full was the battery at 1:15pm. So the solar cell was charging the 88,8 Wh buffer battery one time completely full in 3:15 hours. That is not bad!
But I need to say fairly that it is now summer in Cyprus and the sun here is really powerful. On the other hand I wasn’t careful about the angle to the sun. I guess if I would put the cell in an ideal angel to the sun, then the cell could charge the battery in 2 hours.

I am loading now also at home my small devices (e.g. mobile, tablet pc, batteries, etc.) only with solar energy.

The conclusion

As conclusion I have to say that the solar technique is impressing me a lot – it’s magic. But you really have to check what you want to do with the solar system and what you buy. What do you need? What will you do with the system? What will you charge with the system?
And then is the best to go to an specialist dealer (like Sistech) and get a proper advise.

The market is big and it is good to have a VERY close look on what you buy. Very often are the big advertised offers just junk. I know now that it was a good decision not to buy one of these ‘supermarket mega special offer’. Quality has its price and especially here is quality important (except you have 5 days time to charge your netbook). But therefore you can get nowadays good products already.

I am still surprised how good it works and how we could charge our electrical devices, far from every socket. Just with solar energy.
I think I will also buy the lighter cell, because I don’t want to have 1,6kg hanging on my backpack, if I want to make one day a backpacking tour.

I hope I could help you a bit more and if you have questions, then just write me a comment (I read and answer all! :) ). And have also a look to Sistech and check out the products. And if you have questions, then just contact them. They are really nice! ;)

Along these lines I also would like to thank Hugo and his ladies for the lovely and great advices (and the coffee). Thank you :)

Best wishes
Gordon

Who the hell is Hugo?

Hugo… who the hell is Hugo?

Maybe you was wondering about the name ‘Hugo’, while you was reading my travel reports, already… and you asked yourself… “Hmm? What? I thought they are travelling as a pair only!? Who is now this Hugo? And how they manage to sleep in this small caravan?”. Here the enlightenment. ;)

Hugo is of course no human, he is a donkey. A cuddle donkey, to be exactly. 21 cm tall und 222 gram in weight. But Hugo was not just our mascot or something like this. He was a full crew member. :) He went (almost) everywhere with us and was posing for the pictures.

2 thinks inspired me to Hugo. One thing are the cuddle toy travels, which some special agencies offer. You can send your cuddle toy to this people and they are travelling around with it and show them the world. They take pictures of your cuddle toy in front of sights and write sometimes even small travel reports about it.
And the other source of my inspiration is called Amelie. The movie ‘Amelie’, in which the main actress is sending the garden gnome of her father around the world. A friend of her, a stewardess, takes the gnome with her on the trips and makes ‘holiday pictures’ of the gnome in front of sights all around the world. The sense behind it is that Amelie wants that her father starts travelling, to get rid of his daily life and to see the world.

So I decided to take a cuddle toy with me on the trip and to make pictures of it in front of sights. But I was searching for a special passenger. At Amazon I found it finally… the cool donkey with the sunglasses and the Hawaiian shirt.
That is the right one. We could need such a cool guy in our team. :D

And like that it happen then. The cool donkey came with us on the road trip. :)
But better we let pictures speak now (my Facebook junkies probably know most of the pictures already… it is just easier to publish them on Facebook… but here now all)… have fun.

PS: In fact that I was photographing Hugo with 3 different cameras, the pictures are not sorted well. It starts 3 times from the beginning. Please don’t get confused.

Luxemburg, Belgium, Netherlands… End.

23.07.2013

This morning we slept really long. We got out of the best just around 11. And before we got on the street it was already 12. Luxemburg was on our list today. Exploring a whole country… well, at least the capitol… and it was already 12. Great.

LuxemburgApproximately 100 km and 2 hours later we reached finally the capitol of Luxemburg, Luxemburg. :)
We found very quickly a parking place. The ticked machine said that we have to pay 2 Euro per hour. But just till 6pm. We inserted 6 Euro and could have stayed there until next morning 8 am. But for us was it enough to stay until the evening.

We started to walk into the city center, to the next tourist information. Inge told us the way… was trying at least. But she failed and we couldn’t really find the tourist information and ended up in a shopping information. It’s almost the same, but only for shops. If the tourist wants to leave his money in Luxemburg and don’t know exactly in which stores he can spend it, they will help him. (No joke.) But they could tell us as well where we can find the real tourist information. :) It was just around the corner.

So we went in and asked for the information which we needed… what we can and need to see in the city. There are some things you need to see. On top of the list was the casemate, the plaice and the boulevard.
It was a hot day for Europe and we went first of all into the next ice cream cafe and ordered an ice cream. That was a great idea. We felt straight better. :) Especially because in the other countries, which we visited, where no proper ice cream shops.

Casemate in LuxemburgAfter that refreshment we went to the casemate. But they was closing at 5pm already and it was already half past 4. Luckily is Luxemburg not that big and we reached the casemate already after 10 minutes walking. Buying postcards and passing the plaice already included. :)
The lady at the ticket shop told us that they have open until 5:30pm. Like that we had still 45 minutes to see it. What a luck. The entrance fee was 3 Euro. The prices here are already ok again in Luxemburg.

And we went down in the aisles of the casemate. Basically the same like the Siege tunnels in Gibraltar. A bit different, of course and the canons are a bit smaller. :)
All the time was a young lady close to us. Obviously also a tourist. She had a look here and made a picture there. And doesn’t matter where we was, she was also there. (I am sure not in purpose.) Finally I asked her if she would like to have a picture with her also on it. I know that problem as photographer, that you’re never on the picture. :) Of course she wanted it. I made a picture of her in the casemate and we got into a conversation.
Her name was Amelia and she was from Washington DC (USA). She was traveling already since 13 month, in Europe and Asia. It was the second last day of her trip.
We explored the rest of the casemate together and continued our chat. Where we all come from and what we do and such things.

Hugo in a canonBut we didn’t finished our chat, after we was done with the casemate. We understood really good with Amelia and wanted to spend some more time with her. So we went in the next best cafe and were drinking together. I think we sat there until 7pm, till Amelia had to leave. She had to call urgently with her family.
We spend a bit more time in the cafe, to write our postcards. Actually was Paris the big target and I can’t see postcards anymore. But the circumstances that we travel through more countries brings us to the point that we need to write more postcards. At least for 2 special receiver. One is little Lotta, which got from everywhere a postcard :) and the other is Anna… who got from almost everywhere a postcard :)

As this was also gone, we went back to the car. Again through the city center.
Here, on a place in the middle of the city, we got our 3rd live concert. An orchestra was playing cover songs of famous songs. We was listening to 2-3 of them and moved on. It become dark slowly and we had to get out of the city.
The kangaroo was still standing safely there. Like always. The good kangaroo. :)
The target of the day tomorrow was Liege in Belgium. I wanted to go Brussels, but that was too far away from the route. So, Liege.
I told Inge where to lead us and she was showing us the way out of Luxemburg. And then we had to find a place to sleep again. But before we found a petrol station in Luxemburg. The petrol here was really cheap. 1,38 Euro per liter is rarely cheap on our journey. We had no other choice then to fill up the kangaroo. :)
And then we had do find a place for the night. But it wasn’t that easy today. We was in Belgium already when we finally turned into a forest path and parked there. Even wild animal was observing us, as I could see on its shining eyes in the glow of my torch. :)

24.07.2013

The night ended suddenly at 6am. A thunderstorm was approaching and erupted above our kangaroo. The rain was falling loudly on the roof. We couldn’t see the lightning’s through the non-transparent windows, but the thunder did his job well. It sounded like it was partly direct above us. But a small thunderstorm couldn’t shock us after the night in Andorra. Our only worry was that the forest path will become soft and we will stuck in the morning. Well, we would find it out in the morning… and continued sleeping.

I woke up a bit after again, because I was freezing. Wou… we are back in middle Europe. I tuck myself up and felt asleep again.
At 10am was my alarm clock ringing. We was both not in mood to get up. I switched off the alarm clock and we slept on.
Till I woke up finally half past 12. I still didn’t felt well rested, then we will not see Liege anymore and would just pass Belgium.
But before we finally really started was it 1 already again.

It was still 150km till Liege, a bigger city in Belgium. On the way we stopped … of course… at Mc Donalds and Carefour. But we minimized our internet consumption and was eating quick 2 cheeseburger and used the toilet. At 4pm we was finally in Liege.
The city welcomed us with its industrial side. From there we got strait in the large construction site of the city, which also prevent that we got to our parking place. We had to follow the roadwork’s and went then in direction to the city center and took the next free parking. Into the city center wasn’t it luckily so far anymore.

We went to the first best church, to see at least something of the city. The cathedral was not bad. But we are now a bit spoiled of all the great churches and cathedrals which we saw already before. So, this holly temple couldn’t impress is so much anymore. :)
After the culture trip we went to the shopping street of the city. A normal shopping street with shops and cafes. But somehow the whole city couldn’t impress me. Somehow it appeared grey and depressing. Probably it was also because of the weather. But also the buildings are pale. Souvenir shops are also rare. In a paper shop we could find at least some postcards, which we wrote in the next best cafe and left them in the next postbox. That was Liege. Back to the car and quick leaving here… before we get depressed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo our next target, Maastricht in Netherlands, was it just 40km. So we watched out for a nice parking for the night in a forest. It was just 10 km from Liege.
When we arrived we realized that it is a kind of natural preserve. With a pond full of ducks and geese, a cafe and a big parking. A great place for the night.
It was still very early and we had a look around. We still had a lot of old bread, with which we made the day of the geese and ducks. The cafe didn’t had internet. :( So we decided to park at the end of the parking and to convert our babe.
I could write a bit and to maybe finish an article again. I haven’t published anything since days. And tomorrow we will visit The Netherlands and then is our trip over already.

24.07.2013

A last time but one we was rebuilding the Kangaroo this morning and the get ready for the day. Maastricht was the target of the day. A city in the south of The Netherlands. It was not very far anymore from our sleeping place. Just around 40km. Not even half an hour later we was in Maastricht. Just the oriantation wasn’t that easy… we was circling 2 times (even with Inge) before we found finally the way to the car park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2,30 Euro per hour was worth for me today to pay, before we have also stress with finding a parking.
Direct in front of the church we found the first church. The cloister was interesting and the treasury we didn’t visit (also because of the entrance fee).

After this piece of culture we went to the city center… to the next tourist information. We got a city map and went off. The map was not very useful and we was following, like mostly, just our nose. The city center of Maastricht is really beautiful. Small, friendly buildings and a lot of shops and people.
We found after a few minutes the town hall square with more shops.  A souvenir shop was also there. It was the first shop we visited. To get some nice souvenirs from Holland… I remembered in the last days a few more people to which I would like to bring a souvenir. But our space is unfortunately very rare. Also I need to bring it all to Cyprus. So, the shopping ended a bit miserable. But the shop was cool. A real general store :)

3D painting in MaastrichtAfter we went further through the city and the shops. I could really get a buying frenzy, if I would have the money and the space. :) We saw some shops which had really interesting and innovative things. I can’t remember single things, but it was all very handy things.
After a few hundred meter we got again to a place, at one end with 2 churches. The St.-Johannes-Church and the St.-Servatius-Basilica. The Johannes church looks a bit strange, because it have a red tower.
2 artists painted a 3D painting on the floor of the place in front of the churches. This kind of painting you need to see from a special angular, for sure from a higher point. This time from the tower of the Johannes church.

So we went to visit this chapel as well and to crawl up the tower. The church itself was empty. With the expectation of a few chairs, a speakers desk and an information desk, on which 2 old woman were sitting. They were also selling tickets for the tower. 2,50 euro per person. Well, therefore it is a nice view. :)
The ascent to the top of the tower was through a very narrow staircase. With oncoming traffic a very tight case. On the half way up was an exhibition of an artist about Rembrandt. And from the top we really had a great view over Maastricht and the surrounding. And of course we could see from up here the 3D painting on the place.

After this culture excursion we went back into the city. We still had to write the postcards, which we bought in the souvenir shop. I limited it this time to 4 cards. Did I mentioned already that I can’t see postcards anymore? :)
No, it is not that bad. But not too much in one time anymore. But they have really beautiful postcards in the Netherlands. So Lotta and Anna got a postcard. :)

On the way back we stopped again at the tourist information and I bought a very special souvenir (which has nothing to do with Maastricht, but it is a cool one :) ). I hope it will survive the way back to Cyprus. Back at the car park we paid our ticked and went then, over this bridge again, to the next postbox. Inge said that there is also a Mc Donalds around the corner. That fits well. :)
When we arrived, we mentioned that it was just a small street, where it was hard to find a parking. And the Mc Donalds didn’t had an own parking. So we stopped for a moment and I just posted the postcards. We didn’t wanted another parking ticket, to stay longer.

The Kangaroo in the forestWe skipped Mc Donalds and thought about a place to stay for this night. It would be the last night. Tomorrow we would be back in Germany.
Inge was showing us a few side streets in a forest area, close to the German border. That looked good on the map. So we went there… and could read on every single street “Just for forest vehicles.”. Well, our Kangaroo wasn’t looking like a forest vehicle.
But then I saw a spot on the map which looked like a parking, in the same forest. We drove to the other side of the forest and really it was a bigger parking, direct at the forest. A great place for a last night into the wild. :)

We parked between some trees and converted the Kangaroo.

25.07.2013

And how much this place was suitable. The trees, under which we was standing, was spending shadow in the morning. Even in the late morning it was nice cool in the Kangaroo.
Of course we was also late on this morning. Why to make a difference on the last day? But it didn’t matter today. From here we just was going back to Germany and then would be everything over.
We was wasting time. I made a movie from our little Kangaroo… and slowly we packed our stuff together and left the parking place.

It was just 8 km from there to Julias home. Not even 15 minutes later I parked the Kangaroo a last time and switched off the engine.

Best wishes
Gordon


Größere Kartenansicht

Paris

20.07.2013

The night was calm and nobody disturbed us. We got up very relaxed in the morning.
Well, me first. I was out of cigarettes and couldn’t get some in the evening. The cigarette shop at the railway station, just around the corner, was also closed already. Luckily it was open in the morning already. So I went there first of all and bought my drugs. Back to the car it take a while till we could start finally.

The flat of Julias friend in Paris was just 23km away. On the way we stopped at a small Lidl. But we couldn’t get what we wanted, but a post office was around the corner. We still had postcards to send. But Julia had to write hers first of all. So we parked for an hour on the parking… without paying the ticket. :o Then we went to Paris.

The stress on the streets was luckily not so hard. I expected it much more badly. But maybe Inge was leading us good… apart from the main stream. Except of a small stop and go on the highway was there no trouble. And this in the middle of Paris. We found the house of the friend very easy (thanks to Inge) and even got a parking almost direct in front of it. Just she wasn’t at home yet. She would arrive first in the evening. So, our plan for the day was the Eifel tower.

Subway in ParisAfter a small shopping in a small supermarket around the next corner, we went to the next subway station. The nice lady at the ticket center explained us where to go and we went in the underground of Paris. Interesting subway here. Or maybe it just seems ‘different’ to me. We had to go with the line 13 to the next station and then changing to the number 6 till the station at the Eifel Tower. In the subway 6 was suddenly a young guy starting to play and instrument. In the subway and loud. But he was not bad. Of course I had to take out my GoPro and had to make a movie of it. Just before the Eifel Tower station he went around with a cup… why that was so clear that this will happen. But he was good and I gave him some coins.

When we arrived at our station I realized that the subway became an overhead railway. The Eifel Tower was just 500 meter in front of us. On the way to it I realized a lot of black people, which tried to sell toy Eifel Tower to the tourists. Of course were there a lot of souvenir shops on the way. We had here and there a look, but we wanted to see first of all THE landmark of Paris. And we arrived there a few minutes later. In the middle of the city is this metal monster standing. At the beginning of a big park.

Hugo and the Eifel TowerIt is stunning and amazing to see the famous Eifel Tower in real. To see it with my own eyes. It looks smaller in real, then it’s famous status lets expecting it. But anyway great. We sat down on the meadow and tried to realize that we are here.
After a few minutes we went further and had a look around. There are also toilets… totally crowded of course… for woman. The men toilet wasn’t that full.

Then we passed the ticket shops. Up or not up, that was the question. It was around 3pm already. I wanted to go up, I am here now already. Julia was not so interested in it. So we decided that Julia will wait down and I will go alone up on the tower.
The tower has several ticket shops and entries. At one was a very long line, at another one was it long. And then I saw one ticket shop where no line was. I was asking myself why. But then I saw that someone went there and got a ticket. Then was it empty again. Maybe it is a special ticket shop or maybe the people like to go to the crowded shops.
So I went there and asked if I can buy a ticket here … and got it. Through a side entry, which was only for people with a ticket, I could get into the staircase of the tower… took me 3 minutes to get in the tower. At the other shops I would had to wait for at least 30 minutes.

I bought a normal ticket for the stairs, not going up with the elevator, up to the second floor. I was not sure if I want to get up to the top, when I arrive at the second floor. So I went first of all to the first platform. From here I had a good view over Paris already. I went one round around the tower and made pictures. :) Then continuing to the second platform. From here was the view more better. Again I made pictures and movies. Up here are even souvenir shops. I bought a postcard for Anna, but nothing else. It was even more expensive up here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then I saw the line to the first platform and rethought my plans to go up to the top. Luckily I couldn’t even find an open ticket shop up here.
I went slowly down again. The trip in the tower took me around one hour. Not really much. So I had a look first to the meeting point with Julia. She was lying in the grass there and was calculating our expenses.
I was lying down as well in the grass and took a rest from my exhausting tour. :)

After half an hour we got up and started to walk around, to have a look in the park. I wanted to go a bit further, to make pictures with the Eifel Tower in the landscape. During our tour we saw the finish of a bicycle race (Tour de London to Paris). Tomorrow is here even the finish of the Tour de France.
We made some pictures of it, bought some more souvenirs and went slowly back to the subway station. It was already half past 5 and around 6-7pm we had the date with Anais.

On the way back we passed also some thimble rigger. Julia stopped to watch them. I stopped as well and watched it as well. Looked simple. Someone always turned around the wrong one and another one turned around the right one then. It was always clear where the ball is. The point came where I couldn’t anymore… it is clear what’s next. I was 150% sure where the ball is… but it wasn’t there. Julia told me that I shouldn’t do that…
My stupidity got punished very painful. Especially because we are traveling with a low budget… it would have been a petrol filling for the Kangaroo.
I think I’ve learned something from it and will make a big circle in future around this cheater. I was really angry, mostly about myself. The nice money, what I could have made with it this evening… well, it was gone.

We arrived back at the railway station where we started from. A few meters further were the café where we wanted to meet with Anais. The café had charm. The street was very ‘French’. Like Paris is in my head. A small street with walkways on which the cafés put their chairs. And here are the people sitting and drink their coffee or whatever. The people which walk on the pavement doesn’t bother at all that they have to share the pavement with the café customers.

We went to the café, in which we wanted to meet, and was waiting on Anais. She came soon and we sat together an started to chat. :) The girls about their time in Asia, about our trip and a bit bla bla. Things people talk about.
We became hungry and relocated in a restaurant. The ladies ordered the fish menu of the day and I had a steak. And one is sure, Paris is not a cheap city. A dish cost generally 16 euro (and I wasn’t full after), dessert 8 euro generally, beer 4 euro, a scoop of ice cream 2,50 – 4,50.

Around 12 we were back at Anais home. Finally we could take a shower, surfing in the internet and more talking. We could also sleep in her small flat. And the first time since 8 weeks we didn’t slept in the Kangaroo. The girls were sharing the bed and I slept on one of our airbeds.

21.07.2013

We were alone when I woke up. Julia was already awake and Anais wasn’t there anymore. Julia was reading a note, which she left for us. That we shall send her a SMS when we are awake, so she will come back with breakfast. Totally sweet! :) She woke up earlier and didn’t wanted to disturb us sleeping and went to a café. That was very… yeah, sweet. :)

It was already half past 10am when we finally got out of the bed. It wasn’t so nice then in the Kangaroo but anyway great to sleep alone. Julia was sending a message to Anais, that we got up now and she was 5 minutes later back with a bag full of sweets from the bakery. Amazing :)
And I got even a coffee…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the breakfast we started our day trip. First of all was Notre Dame on the list. With the subway we went almost until the doors of the cathedral. The line on the entrance was huge again. But this time the people went true quickly. It looked like we have to wait at least for half an hour, but at the end it wasn’t even 5 minutes. Inside it was like… in a church. Like many others as well, but still different. The atmosphere was different here. I think it’s because of the design of the cathedral. I would say the atmosphere is mystical. It has also huge mosaic windows.
But there is not much to see. We went one time through and sat down after on a bench, before we left it again.

We went further by feet to the La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. Another church. But before we had another plan. We took pick nick stuff with us and wanted to make our pick nick here. The church is on a hill and we went it up a bit, to sit down on a meadow. Of course we weren’t alone there. The place was full with people. The dark colored people was also ‘at work’ already again and trying to take the tourists to the cleaner (partly almost brutally). And direct in front of us were Korean musicians busy to get ready for a concert there. They just made a sound check. It sounds very interesting. We hoped that they start the concert before we leave. But after one song they left into a tent and didn’t come back. Pity.
Anyway was it a nice pick nick. The place was already a bit higher on the hill and we could watch Paris from a bit higher position.

P1000954 (Kopie)After our pick nick we went up to the Sacre Coeur. A church which I wouldn’t recommend as interesting. Only the painting at the front is interesting. At the try to make a picture of it, a guy came and pointed me rude on the fact that making pictures is forbidden here. No I’ll go to hell… if I would be a member of this sect…
We went out there immediately and went further to the place of the artists, named Place du Tertre. It is a square place at which a few artists try to sell their paintings and even paint there in public on the street. Of course are there also some bars and souvenir shops.

From there we walked to my personal sightseeing highlight. The café Les 2 Moulins. The famous café from the movie ‘Amelie’. Anais was with us the whole time, of course. And she was leading us through this big city. :)
We were drinking a coffee there as well, of course. We was anyway really thirsty from all the walking.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe café is a bit different then in the movie. At least was it not that easy to realize that this is THE café. But with a closer look… the bar, the toilets, the door to the kitchen, the entrance door. But the chairs standing different, there are many mirrors which are not that visible in the movie. (I need to see the movie again to check this details. :) ) That we was in the correct café I could realize at the people.
Sometimes came people in, made a picture and left straight away again.
It was definitely cool to drink a coffee in THE café. :)

Moulin RougeA few pictures later (from inside and outside) we went further. Back to Anais home.
After another small walk through the city, where we passed as well the famous Moulin Rouge, we went back to the subway station and back home to Anais.
Our feet where tired and hurting already.
Back home I wrote a bit, Anais was cooking a great salad, which we eat as dinner. And we went early to bed, because she had to work tomorrow again.

22.07.2013

So we had to get up very early today. Anais had to leave at 8 to work. We could stay a bit longer in her flat, to take a shower and so. But at 9 we had to be gone from the parking, because it was free on the weekend, from Monday 9am it became a payable parking.
So, we said Good Bye to our friend, took a shower and then go. Back on the street in direction to Luxemburg. I imagined driving in Paris much more badly, but it was very calm (for such a huge city). The Kangaroo didn’t got even a scratch. Good!

After a quick stop a Lidl, to refill our provisions. The rest of the day we spent on the street, until Sedan. Here we went again to Mc Donalds. We still had to write postcards, which we had to send from France, as long as we are in the country. A bit internet is also always good. After we wrote our postcards and used the internet enough, we went in the shopping center opposite. Outside was a postbox, where we left our postcards and then we went shopping a bit.

And then back on the street a bit. We came till Belgium. Around 100km was still left to our next target in Belgium. But for now we found a lonely, but huge, parking in the forest. Like made for us. We converted the Kangaroo and went around midnight to sleep.

Best regards
Gordon


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Versailles

17.07.2013

The night was very calm. I was afraid that someone from the camping place will come to shoo us away. But nobody came. We got up very relaxed at 9:30. I drunk a coffee in the café and used the clean toilet of course.

After we packed everything together we went back on the street. First of all down to the sea again. It was just around the corner. To say Good Bye to the sea. From now on we would drive in the country side and wouldn’t see the sea again.
We sat down on the stones and was just looking on the sea for half an hour. While we were sitting there I found shells of oysters between the stones and collected some as souvenirs. :)

And then we went back on the street. On the country roads through France. The rest of the day we were just driving. With one stop at Carefour (supermarket).

Around 6pm we went again to our favorite restaurant. First of all we were eating something and I had to work urgently. We stayed here until they closed. My work took longer than expected.
Just before they closed I ordered another burger and a milk shake. That was the vengeance of Mc Donalds. One of both wasn’t good anymore… my stomach was against it. Just ‘pity’ that Mc Donalds just closed… I had a funny evening…

18.07.2013

My stomach was healing a bit over night… but not fully ok. I dared to get a coffee… no burgers or shakes anymore.
We went away there very quickly… before other bad things would happen.

Also today we were most of the time on the road. Target was a place just before Versailles. I found a lake on Inges maps and told her to lead us to this point. It was working fine, till the last turning. The field road was overgrown. No way to pass it. :( So, to the next lake. I wanted to sleep nice calm direct on a lake.

Also the next one we couldn’t reach. Here was a sign which told us that it is the end of the road and further is it a private road. Using prohibited. Later we realized that it was the lake of the golf course :D

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, we were moving on, until we found finally a nice place direct next to a field. It seemed to be a great alternative place and we parked here.

To mark the occasion we took a shower… this time our own. A shower out of the bottle. We had enough water with us. And we went fresh (thanks to the field shower) to bed. :)

19.07.2013

Our field place was a good idea. Nobody disturbed us in the night and the trees behind us were spending shadow the whole morning. Thanks to that we could sleep long this morning and the alarm clock was first at 10 am ringing. What a great morning. We enjoyed it extensive at the field and started first around noon.

Target today was Versailles. The city with the probably most known castle in Europe. The castle of Versailles, in which the treaty of Versailles was signed.
Versailles was just 10 km from our sleeping place away. But first of all we needed urgently petrol. So we went to the next cheap petrol station. Good that petrol stations from supermarkets are reliable. We went to the next Carefour petrol station and got the good 95er for 1,52 Euro per liter. Mostly you’ll find only 95er with E10. But Julia didn’t want this stuff for the Kangaroo.
Also in France is makes every petrol station its own prices. We recognized price differences of over 10 cent in a small radius.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen we went finally to Versailles. I was afraid that it will be busy on the street, but it was more or less relaxed. We didn’t drive much through the city. The castle is visible from far away already. But first of all we needed a parking place. Which we found very quickly. Not direct in front of the castle (even there were also parking places), but therefore one with a parking ticket until the next day. So we had also a place to sleep in the night. It’s not allowed to stay there with a camper, but we are not a camper ;)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was late already when we started to the castle finally. Around half past 3. The first point of interest was … Mc Donalds of course. Just quickly eating something and then straight further to the castle. Around 3 we were finally at the castle. And this is a castle! It’s huge. The courtyard is huge already. And it was full with people. Julia even realized in this crowd a line of waiting people, which I didn’t realized. And the line was huge as well. We went to the ticket office and the guy said that we will wait approx 30 minutes, to get into the castle. The alternative is the gardens. This would be free.
After a we were thinking a while about the opportunities we decided not to spend the 16 Euro for the castle and to visit the gardens first. We could come back tomorrow morning to see the castle itself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd so grabbed a free map and went to the gardens. Also here… impressive huge. I don’t even know if huge is the right word. Gardens, flowers, trees, lakes, fountain, statues… as far as you can see. The last lake is so huge that you can drive on it with a rowing boat. And of course a lot of people.
We had a look around on the right side first and decided that the bright side is not always the best choice. Sometimes is it better to walk on the shadow side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo we went at the next best chance to the left side of the way. It was by chance a fountain. We stopped here some minutes and relaxed a bit. Then we walked further to the big pond. Here was a meadow in front of it. Some people was lying on it and we did the same. We relaxed, watched other people and I made some pictures (of the garden!).

After that great break we continued our excursion through the park. It’s approx 3,5km long, according to the map. But we went through gardens back in direction to the castle. We reached it after approx one hour and sad down close to the ticket office on a bench. Here is supposed to be free wifi… but we couldn’t find it. Instead we made a break and had a chat with 3 girls from Germany, which just made a holiday week in France. After our break we went back to the car.
A small visit in the city center and we found a bakery for a Baguette and a small supermarket for some other shopping. It was already half past 8 and all other shops was closed already.

Back at the car we made a very yummy dinner with original French Baguette. Interesting and tasty.
And of course there can’t be a Mc Donalds visit be missing in the evening. We had one just around the corner. I wanted to make a research for the address of the café, from the movie Amelie, in Paris. I need to see it, when I am already there. And also I needed to check my emails.

Around half past 12 we converted finally the car and hopefully nobody will bother us in the night. In the evening was a breakdown car came on the parking and a guy was running around to inform everybody who was at his car this time that tomorrow all cars have to be gone. The Tour de France will pass by the day after tomorrow and the parking must be empty at this time. But we will be (unfortunately) not here anymore at this time. Tomorrow we will drive straight to Paris in the morning. I hope we will get out of the bed early this time.

Best wishes
Gordon


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