Switzerland – Solar energy, Zurich, Chur

28. Mai 2013

We are on the way… yeah! :)

We stayed at Julias friend till monday. He had to work on monday again, and we left with him in the morning at 9. The first point of interest was the next Media Markt. We got told that the prices in Switzerland are good for electronic stuff. Well…

We decided to buy some external memory and Julia needed a new camera. At least we wanted to check what they have.
First of all we had to wait half an hour, because they open first at 10 am.

And then we checked out the external hard disks. They had a lot… hard to decide which one to buy… but finally we found both each an 1TB hard disk. We need to store our pictures, videos and other stuff on it.
The same with cameras. Julia asked the stuff for their advice… checked this one and this one. In the mean time I got the idea to buy a cheap camera as pocket camera. For the pictures between, when I don’t want to take out the big DSLR.

After one hour we left the Media Markt… and a lot of money left us. :( After that expensive stop we was driving further to Bubikon. There is the company Sistech. The company is specialist for solar panels. Especially for people like us… traveler. So, not the big ones on the roof, the smaller ones for backpacker and outdoor friends.
Julia had earlier already contact to the company. It’s a small but very nice company. Familiar somehow.

I was thinking already a long time about buying such a solar system. When I go to the next camping trip somewhere in the middle of nowhere, then I can charge my camera and netbook and all other batteries just with solar energy.

We asked the poor manager thousands of questions, the get information about the products and which would be the best for me. Also Julia didn’t know most of the products, because they changed a lot after her last sale.

SisTechThere are a lot of provider for solar systems, with a lot of offers. But this supplier was always my favorite one. They have the most powerful panels and the best batteries to cache the electricity. I checked a lot of other companies. But when you check clother… the exact information about the panels/cells and batteries, then is quick clear that they are maybe powerful enough to charge a mobile.. but that’s it. Not even close to what they promise.

I’ve bought finally a foldable solar panel with 46 Watt (max. power) and a power tank with 88.000 Wh. With this combination I can charge all my batteries… netbook, cameras, mobile, rechargeable batteries, etc. I will try it on our journey and later under the sun of Cyprus :)We had later a long chat with Hugo (the manager). And suddenly it was 6pm. already. Actually we wanted to visit Zurich on this day as well. We could forget about it. … So we changed our plans and decided to visit Zurich on Tuesday.After we said Good Bye to Hugo and the other people, we went to watch out for a nice place to sleep. We’ve got the tip that a Hotel, which is close, isn’t open yet, and we could maybe sleep there on the parking place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe arrived, thanks to our navigation system, before the darkness. The hotel was closed, but the restaurant was open already. Shit :( So, we left the place and went to the city, to find maybe another place. There is a public beach area. And such places have mostly a parking place as well. But a big sign welcomed us ‘Camping not allowed’ :( Great.But the place was absolutely beautiful. We decided to eat at least dinner here. And we did it. We was sitting on a bench, direct on the Zurich lake, behind the alps – with snow on the hills – and was eating our dinner :) Just beautiful! Really!Generally is Switzerland a very beautiful country. So green and colorful. And the landscape and the hills… a dream. Also the people are very friendly.

After the dinner we went back to that hotel. It was late and dark already. We went to the restaurant and took a sit on the terrace. Nobody else was there, just inside was some people still sitting. We had a great view from there on the lake and the city.
Then the waiter came and asked us if we would like to drink something. We didn’t… but we asked him if we can stay over night on the parking and had a little chat with him about the journey. A few minutes later he came back to us and said that he spoke with the manager, if we can sleep there and the manager said yes and even said that we can take a shower in a room, which is not booked at the moment. Cool! :)

We had the plan now to went the next day to Zurich and then we wanted to come back, to spent one more night on that parking place. So we decided to take the shower next day. Who knows when we have next time the opportunity for a shower.
So, we said ‘Thank you’ and made the car ready for the night. The first night in the car.
Wasn’t so great then I thought. First I was freezing and in the morning I was sweating like hell. But else it was good. I think I need to get used to it.

Tuesday morning we got up around 10 and then straight to the next ferry dock. We wanted to drive with the boat to Zurich. First of all less stress then with the car and it’s something special. :) We drove from Zollikon. The ships are here like usual buses. They have a schedule and stations. You even have to buy a ticket :) And that doesn’t cost less… around 28 CHF for a ticket for one day. But therefore we went on the seaway to Zurich.

ZurichWe walked absolutely unorganized thought the city. We had no idea where is was. So, we just followed our nose. In the water church and next to it into another church (I forgot the name). Here I went even up on the tower (for 4 CHF). Julia wasn’t in mood for it and was waiting in the church. The view from the tower was great. An overview over whole Zurich. Of course I made a lot of pictures! ;) Then back down and further in the city. We found even the townhall and the main train station. And then we had to go back to the ‘bus’ already.
The time was running like hell. :( One blink and the time is over.

In between we had a stop at Starbucks. I needed a coffee and we got the opportunity to get normal internet.
A friend wrote me, why I didn’t wrote her that I come to Switzerland. I check where she is living and saw that she is living in Chur… close Lichtenstein, which we wanted to visit the next day anyway.
So I offered her that we could come spontaneously to Chur, on the same evening. Then we could meet and for us it would have been also good to be closer to Lichtenstein already. She said that she has late shift that day and first around 11pm off. And next day morning shift. So, it was not clear if we could meet or not.

On the way back to the car we was thinking what to do now… and decided that we just drive there and then we will see what will happen. If the meeting would happen, would be nice (at least for me) and if not, then we would have been at least already closer to the next target. We miss our shower… but on Wednesday evening we planed anyway to visit a friend from Julia, where we could take also a shower.
And we did is like that. Back to the car (it started raining already on the way) and straight on the street in direction to Chur.
It was more then I thought. 120km… more then one hour to go. And again beautiful landscape… and this time lots of tunnel.

ChurWe arrived at Chur around 8. My friend didn’t wrote back anymore. We decided then to watch out for a nice place to sleep. I thought it would be good to check on the outskirts for a parking place for the night.
But all parking places we found had a sign ‘No camping!’… damn. :( Something which I really don’t like
We followed the street more and more outside of the city… until we went up and up the hill… and finally we saw a parking bay. Enough space for 2 cars… and a great view over the valley with the city below us and behind a big mountain with snow on the top again. Really a high class place! And the best… no sign ‘No parking’. :D

And here we are now. I will turn around in a minute and watch this great view for a while… before I will fall asleep…. until I will wake up in the morning again… with this great view again. :)

Cu soon and best regards from Chur in Switzerland

Lets get started…

Hi together,

I didn’t had so much time to write in the last days, as I promised. Now I have just a few minutes time to write some lines about the first/last days :) It was stress, it was hard, it was worse and absolutely not as I expected or planed it.

But one by one. As I wrote last time already, I found someone with whom I was planing a road trip through west Europe. (Our home will be the whole time – more or less – the car)
The start date was planed on the Friday, 24th of May 2013… Julia (my travel buddy) had an appointment on Friday in Switzerland already. So, we had to arrive in Switzerland on Friday.

The best fly would have been on Thursday with Condor. I’ve checked the flights before already – when I remember correct – was the price that time around 150 Euro. Not optimal, but could be worse. Like that I could work at home till the last moment, to earn a few more euros.
Unfortunately I was waiting to long and the price went up to 230 Euro. Which was not acceptable anymore for me. I had to switch to the Monday flight. Now I had to leave earlier and could work less. But Julia said it is no problem, I could work there. … Well, my netbook was anyway with me, that I could store my pictures on the way and to blog a bit and so on. Now I had a new plan. Another advantage of this plan was that I could visit, on Tuesday, a customer in Germany as well. Then Wednesday and Thursday working and Friday packing the car and go! Good plan!

Chester drove me to the airport and I was on the way. I arrived around 11 pm. in Germany and Oliver drove me to the same Hotel like always when I am there. Tuesday then a training and a bit other work at the customer. And he took me after the work also to Aachen, to Julia. Very nice… no stress for me.Julia itself wasn’t there that time. Luckily her boyfriend was. So I didn’t had to wait in the rain. She came a few minutes later.

We was talking a few minutes and went to bed soon.

The next day she had to visit the garage with the car. I made some strange noises… and we didn’t wanted to drive 8000km with a car which makes strange noises. Then the surprise… the guys found more then expected. The brake cable, manifold and several other things needed to be replaced. A few hundred Euros left the travel wallet. :( I was working in the meantime at home.

P5240560 (Kopie)Then the next jar… the car wasn’t ready… and I was sure that we can’t finish it in the 1-2 days, plus I had planed both days full with my work. The solar panel had to be installed (as second electricity supply) – half of the car had to be taken apart, the reversing camera had to be installed, the ‘kitchen’ had to be rebuild, lamps had to be installed, moped holder had to be build, curtains had to be made, the water supply wasn’t installed yet and some other small stuff had to be done. Enough work for weeks.
And now we should finish it in 1-2 days… We was building the whole Thursday and Friday (incl. half nights) on it. Of course we didn’t finished it on Friday and rescheduled the start to Saturday. A few things was ready on Saturday morning 2 am. I should drive on Saturday, so I went to bed that time. Julia wasn’t sleeping the whole night. At 8 I wanted to get up again, to drink a coffee, taking a shower and packing the car with our stuff. I was up at 8, drank my coffee, took the shower and packed my stuff. I was – almost – ready in time.

But we managed to get on the street first 2pm. … then was finally everything in the car. In the meantime I was so angry the I liked to unpack everything again and would liked to fly back and cancel everything. That was not was I expected. Just stress … and the start was more and more delayed… that I didn’t believed at the end that we will ever start.But it happened. Saturday at 2pm we finally left her home. First for a quick stop in the city of Aachen and then finally on the highway in direction to Switzerland.

I was tired already again. Not enough (and good) sleep in the last nights. But it was ok. A few Red Bull and some small breaks and I managed it to drive whole way to Switzerland. We arrived there around 10pm.

The wanderlust also came back partly… even the whole things in the last days (with all the struggling) destroyed it a lot. But I hope it will be forgotten soon and I can enjoy the trip… and there will be no new struggles.

So, I will get soon now in my bed and hope I can sleep well and long the night. Will see how the day tomorrow will be. I hope good :)

Best regards from Switzerland.

PS: Julia is living here in the middle of Aachen. Behind the house is the parking space of the house. And behind it is the plot of the next house. They have a small garden in front and a little house. In the garden are 3-4 bigger trees and it seems like the owner like birds and animals in general. Everywhere in the garden are feeding places. Everywhere in the garden can you see different kinds of birds.. which fly around and talking … just wonderful. I was standing often there for some time and just watched the scene. One time even a squirrel came across. Brilliant! Of course I made pictures ;)

PSS: The writing take me hours. Really hours. I need to reduce the time consumption of it. So, I think I will write from now on just quick and dirty. And maybe I’ll find the time to write a proper article when I am back. Also with good pictures.
To edit pictures on the netbook takes hours. Not possible. :(

45 days on 2m² living space … in half Europe.

Hi together,

I came just back from my long Germany trip and don’t know at the moment what to do first. Editing pictures, writing the report, working, enjoying the sun, going for a dive. Terrible.
But it’s weekend, so I was editing the pictures at first now and uploaded them in my facebook account. Now I’ll write the 2 articles (that will take time ^^) and then working… accord. The rest has to wait, I think :(

But you don’t read this article to listen to that. I guess you are reading this article because of the headline. ;)
I wasn’t telling about this plan before, but I found a few month ago an ad in a globetrotter forum. A young lady was looking for someone who would like to travel with her in a micro camper for 6 weeks through Europe. A road-trip.

I was straight interested. Even I am not living in Germany anymore, and even on an island in the Mediterranean sea… which doesn’t mean that I see a lot. Nothing to be honest. The only flights I have is to Germany and back. But that wasn’t my plan. Actually I always wanted to travel more… but it never happened.

Fernwehtreffen in Weeze

Globetrotter meeting in Weeze

And when I was reading this ad, I got straight the thought “But now!”. She was describing her idea very detailed… what she want and what she imagine. She had a plan and I liked it. :) And Micro camper… well, I am anyway very minimalistic. That wasn’t a problem for me. But she didn’t had a plan for the routing yet… so, it was still open and we could plan it together.
So, I was writing her and got even a reply… a few weeks later. We started to write in Skype and to get known to each other (the distance isn’t that helpful… but luckily we have internet). And so we Skyped a while… and it seems like that she is a nice woman, which which I could live for a while (not to forget… 6 weeks all the time in a micro camper… that must fit).
And it seemed like that I am also likeable for her.

After a few weeks she told me that she made a decision… for me :) What can I say… I loved it! :) So, it was fix… we would travel together.
We decided to go west. Even we would both like to see the east as well… but it’s not that safe in the east and west Europe is more warm ;) Maybe we can travel to the east some when later.

Understandably she was asking for a personal meeting. Which I also preferred. Only in real life you really can figure out if you like someone or not. And also the car needed some attention. It is good when both lend a hand on it.
So, I decided to combine a round trip in Germany… customer, a visit at her and a visit at home. That’s why I was the whole April in Germany on tour. First one week at the customer, then a week with her and home. (Report will follow… some when :) ).

And so I met Julia at the beginning of April personally… and the Renault Kangoo… which will bring us hopefully good through Europe.
Julia is a very interesting person (yeah, don’t think something wrong here… she is happily taken! ;) ) and I think we will survive this 6 weeks. :)

Der Kangoo auf dem Lift

Der Kangoo auf dem Lift

In was talking a lot, was getting known to each other, was working on the car – building a bed, changing the exhaust pipe (I did it! :D), changing oil, added a coupling device, etc. – in the 9 days. And we even was 2 days on a globetrotter meeting, which was close, by chance.
So, I think we’ll manage all right. And I can’t wait to start the trip :)

As route we was choosing – as I said already – the west. There is still no detailed plan yet. But the rough plan is: Start in the last May week. Then first going down via Bavaria to Italy. Julia wants to make there her paragliding course. After a few days to Venice. And then south-France, south-Spain till Gibraltar. Then further to Portugal… on the coast up to the north… north-Spain and back east. North-France and some when turning more east… back to Germany via Paris.
The distance will be around 7000km – in 6 weeks. I think it will turn out a bit tight with the time… but we will see. She can’t go longer and I think the same for me – financial. :( Pity. I guess at the end of the trip I’ll not leave the car… just going on… further :) We will see.

Anyway, in my imagination it will be a great trip. In the car and just drive on. Finally exploring something from the world… well, at least Europe for now. Leaving all worries home… for sure fighting with new ones… but at least different ones. Taking a break from everyday life, exploring, discovering, photographing… doing as it pleases. Hmm…. :)

Of course we are also working on a plan how to get internet on the way. I want to keep writing (and even more on the trip)… to keep you updated. ;) Writing some words in my blog every evening… maybe even with some pictures.
Unfortunately there is no option to get a card for whole Europe. And roaming is expensive. The cheapest provider I could find is a German discounter. His offer is 7 days, 60MB for 5 Euro. But 60 MB is not much for emails, blogging, uploading some pictures and most important: searching for places of interest around.
But couldn’t find any better solution yet.
That is really something what the provider need to do.

Anyway. I was adding a new category in my blog (“Traveling” – “Road Trip West Europe 2013”). Here you’ll find from next month the travel reports ;) Stay tuned. You can also register for my newsletter, then you’ll get always a mail when I publish a report. So, you don’t need to come across every day and you will not miss anything ;)