.....from NZ to Singapore and on to Germany

Well I set off for this year's tour and on Wednesday the 25th March leaving Christchurch and 11:50 a.m. on Singapore airlines bound for Singapore, we managed to put all of my luggage into Luda's sports car so she was able to drive me to the airport and I had a few anxious moments whilst checking in with my overweight luggage but all was well so was settling down for a 10 1/2 hour flight to Singapore arriving there at about 11 p.m. New Zealand time, and then there was a six hour wait before leaving on the Lufthansa Frankfurt flight at about 5 a.m. Thursday New Zealand time.

At that stage of the proceedings I was almost like the walking dead and for the first time realised that perhaps I was human after all and was not able to do the constant air travel of 40 years ago.  Needless to say I was asleep almost before the plane took off the ground awaking in time for breakfast before we landed at Frankfurt.  It was then a fast plane change to fly on to Amsterdam where Hank was waiting to meet me at the airport.

It was well little bit of a challenge at staying awake, but we stopped on the way and a scooter dealer has sussed out the 100 cc: scooters and found one that was the right height to that in the garage of the new motorhome.  Of course the dealer did not tell me that he needed four days to make the scooter ready, evidently all of the stock of motor vehicles in Holland is owned by the importer and only when the vehicle is sold doesn't pass into the hands of the dealer when he pays the 40% import duty so I had to find this out the hard way.

I relaxed for the rest of the day at Hanks managing to stay awake till about 8 p.m. and then crashed for about 12 hours, Friday was the day that the temporary driving plates were due to arrive from Munich and that in itself involves an interesting story.

The Hymer motorhome was purchased from a company called PALMOWSKI  in Bielefeld and what I would describe as the north of Germany through salesman called Julien Baltrusch, he was the English-speaking salesman who evidently sold a lot of Hymer motorhomes to the English in a lot to the Dutch whom they offered a registration and insurance service to stop them paying the 40% duty in their country.  This was a service that I took advantage of and whilst I realised that I was being charged through the nose for the insurance it got the around the predicament that as a foreigner it is very hard to register and insure a motor vehicle throughout Europe.

Now in December I received a letter from Julian telling me that the insurance on the motorhome was cancelled from the 31st of December due to the fact that they were changing insurance companies this meant after that date I was uninsured according to Julian.

This was not exactly exciting news to be presented in the middle of the European winter when you're some 12,000 miles from the company so we confirmed our decision to purchase our new motorhome from a company at the other end of Germany in Munich and they had promised a set a temporary driving plates to get me from Holland to Munich.

The salesman in his wisdom decided the best way to get them to Holland was to use the express post service (a government run business) and he believed them when they said it would be there in 24 hours, of course being a government run business the plates disappeared and were never seen again.

In speaking to Munich he asked me did still have the plates on the Hymer and did they have the two small stickers in the centre of the plates, and when I answered to the affirmative, he said you can drive the car, under German law the insurance company that issued the sticker on the plates are liable for the insurance whilst the plates are on the car.

So Saturday at four o'clock after getting this news I started the 500 km drive South, stopping in a hotel car park on the motorway getting their by about 12 o'clock Sunday noon parked in the dealer's parking area will is room for about 20 or 30 motorhomes and relaxed until Monday morning when I was due to take delivery of the new vehicle.

Monday morning and the first obstacle appeared, evidently with the vehicle being registered to PALMOWSKI they have to release the vehicle, and Julian, who at that point discovered I had bought a new vehicle from another dealer started dragging his heels.

I've always said if you dealing with a really smart salesperson they will stay in contact with all of their existing clients and if by some chance they lose an existing client they will make sure that their departure from their company is a pleasant experience so they will want to return.

Unfortunately Julian was not aware of this concept so he took a week to release the vehicle and would only do it after the outstanding insurance had been paid, a step that was unheard of at the large dealer in Munich, he said they are constantly dealing with other large companies and this had never happened before, and this could mean to say that I had to hang round Munich for a week, which I have Julian to thank for, but I was able to put that week to good use stocking the Carthago Chic T47 up with some of the basic essentials required to make a living for the next six months reasonably pleasant.

I arrived in the outskirts of Cologne on Sunday the fifth where I was to have hydraulic steadies fitted to the Carthago Chic T47, these were a big improvement on the last set both on price and performance.  Whilst I was waiting for Monday morning to arrive I decided to finish fitting the loading rack for the scooter to loaded in to the garage and also to hang in the garage the folding chairs, and somewhere during this installation I must have drilled a hole through the wire from the backing camera because on Monday morning that no longer existed.

Monday morning they sound of the installation of the steadies and by three o'clock they were finished, and that had gone so well I decided to head back to Holland and Hanks.

I decided to use this time to collect the motor scooter and that's when I found out it normally took four days for the scooter to be delivered and when he was told it had to be by Friday or there would be no sale in he sprang into action and was finally able to make the delivery on Thursday afternoon when I was able to head off to Frankfurt to collect Luda who had flown in from visiting her daughter in Minneapolis.

Fortunately before I left New Zealand I had made arrangements for a hotel to be available near Frankfurt airport, and as it turned out with the motor scooter delays it was a good move as Luda had to spend Friday morning at the hotel whilst I made the 400 Kilometre Drive from Holland.

So I collect Luda from the hotel and we headed off South towards the German Alpine road stopping for the night at Bruchsal, the first stop at a park and ride parking spot but decided we should go to a campground that was closed by as perhaps the motorway noise may be a little but loud, but turned out the campground, which was packed, was probably as noisy with all of the children as was obviously a family destination point with lots of static caravans all parked side-by-side, which of course is not too unlike the New Zealand campgrounds at Christmas time except in these type of locations they become the German's equivalent of our batch!

We headed off Saturday morning looking for shops as Friday being Good Friday all the shops in Germany were closed for the day but were open for Saturday so we stock up on supplies and I hunted out a hardware shop where I purchased some spanners to make adjustments to the scooter rack that had jumped out of its guides.  That being done we headed off to a large car park that appeared to be a starting point for walking and was also a car park for a large restaurant which had a nice view over the city of Horb am Neckar.

Whilst I was making the adjustments to the scooter tray Luda walked down to the city which turned out to be a picturesque German city with a beautiful church and a very photogenic river flowing through the centre.  She arrived back about the time I was putting my spanners away so we decided to stay in this location for the night.

Once all the cars in the restaurant had gone by about 10:30 p.m. was an extremely peaceful night with the car park being totally empty apart from us in a truck that happened to be there for the weekend.

Sunday morning we started heading South again towards Lake Constance where we found all of the campgrounds packed, and all of the motorhome parking areas packed, which of course is not surprising being Easter weekend so we made a stop in a car park of a plant shop and as tomorrow it is Easter Monday, which is also a holiday in Germany, we may be okay here 24 hours.

Monday April 13th
After spending a peaceful night in the plant shop campground along with two other motorhomes we set off towards Lindau and found almost every body else in Germany was doing the same, the campground we visited was fairly full and they wanted eight euros an hour for wireless WiFi and as we weren't that desperate to receive e-mails we drove on and finally found a parking area for motorhomes which turned out to be 1.7 km from the walled city of Lindau, so we feared in all of our small change and finally purchased two hours of parking and walked on down to the island city with the Tom Tom on walking mode guiding us through the streets.

The city was a major tourist attraction, and quite honestly it was not the best we had visited, but perhaps it is, the best round of this area.

We got back before our two hours was up and then headed off a long route 308 which is the German alpine highway and shortly we realised we had about 150 km worth of diesel which is a little bit too little when you and alpine area and not sure of petrol stations.

So we programmed the GPS to take us towards a petrol station, and we drove and drove and finally I said he enough of this and turned around trying back the way we came and then we saw a motorhome parking area they had about six motorhomes in it, it was attached to a hotel who charged us €10 to Park there the night, with no services, although electricity and a shower was available at an extra cost.  This was near the city of Scheidegg.

Having repaired the scooter SmartRack from where the roll was had jumped out of its guide and consequently wasn't working properly, I decided to take the scooter out together to another test run to get myself familiar with writing at two wheeled vehicle again.  Well I think it went very well, Luda tells me she got some great photos, but when I put the scooter back on the rack to lift it back and to the motorhome not only was it heavy but it jumped off the rails again so I pushed it in, bolted it up and will leave it until I get back to Munich.

This is the Linnepe Garage SmartRack costing about costing about €1000, we saw this at the Dusseldorf motorhome show and I'm not sure of what they must have done but it worked sweetly and lightly so obviously I you have a dud or the instructions of fitting it not precise enough even if they are in German.  More about this later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today was back on the 308 to carry on our journey, or that was the intention, because we quickly ran into what appeared to be a “closed road sign” which took us the best part of one hour to plan our way around it seeing a very amount of countryside which we had not intended to see and of course capturing the natural odour of the countryside, natural that it is after the farmers had spread all the manure they have collected over the winter time to get natural fertilisation to the ground and of course supplementing the fresh air as they do at.

We finally got to the area of route 308 where they were doing the major roadworks so we are able to carry on our way to do a side trip to Buchenberg, 9 km from the city of Kempten, a city I first visited 40 years ago, our German friend Christian, who has formed a video production company lives in this suburb of Kempten.  He is specialising in the winter sports one finds in this area of Bavaria and car racing in the summer season.

We again found a 24 hour parking area for motorhomes in this suburb and just as we were about to Park we decided we should do some grocery shopping first and so with the aid of the GPS found 7 km away, which when we arrived, had no parking, so we turned around and went back to the last one we had seen and passed and finished the shopping successfully.

With the aid of the GPS we returned to our car park, parked up and went right walk into the town, and of course we found a grocers shop there with probably all we needed but then it was not on the GPS, so we did not know about.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We had a good long chat with Christian and then about four o'clock headed off towards
Immenstadt driving through beautiful Bavarian farmland with the incredible mountains that divide Bavaria from Austria along with all the winter sports opportunities that these mountains create.

We drove reasonably quickly through some of the following city's Sonthofen, Oberjoch, Nesselwang, around this area we found a location where we could dump our water and toilet and select fresh water and then we're on the Road again towards Vils and Reutte which meant we were in Austria then on to the beautiful Plansee Lake would still had a thin coating of ice and naturally there were substantial piles of snow on the side of the road all the way through the mountains.  We drove as high as about 1200 m and eventually crossed back over into Germany were we found a large car park with about three dozen massive logs waiting to be collected and here we decided to spend the night.  Elevation 930 m.

Thursday, April 16, 2009
After a peaceful night on the side of the road, Road that had very little traffic it any and all, we headed off back a long the German alpine Road with their magnificent snow-covered mountains forever has a background, the beautiful alpine villages with their painted houses, and we did a small side trip into Oberammergau, walked through that highly decorated town, decorated with paintings and beautiful carvings, it looked like they are getting the theatre ready for next year's passion play, which the city is famous for, we found a rather quaint little figure we liked, and paid too much money for it!

Then we're on our way again and very quickly we passed through Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the most important Alpine sports Centre in Germany and then it was onto and other highly decorated town called Wallgau, again with beautiful paintings on the outside of the houses, and then we did a small side trip through a private tollroad, for the motorhome it cost €5, and it wound down the mountainside to a small village called Vorderriß, a delightful drive beside a river and thickly forested trees on each side, every so often we saw a sign promising us in view of some bird of prey, but today they must have stayed at home.

We kept on along route 308 and found a parking area in a place that appeared to be called “Fall” it seemed to be on a little bit of a head land a around the middle of a large Lake before 308 truck a Bridge across the narrowest part.  We have settled in amongst the trees with all of last autumn's leaves on the ground. Elevation 786 m.

Friday, April 17, 2009
We set off thro the lakes start continuing hour drive along route 307 still driving through forests with snow on the ground and when we came to areas that were being found again got the natural odour of the German countryside.  We pass through the village of Kreuth without noticing it and drove on to the city of Tegernsee sitting beside a Lake of the same name.

Around the village of Osterhofen we noticed a large car park with a gondola so we stopped to look and found it was the Wendelstein Cable car which went 932 meters up the mountain of the same name, so we donned our warmest clothes and paid the €16 each and went up to the area that should have been above the snow line with plenty of snow, yes a little of snow lying about, and it did snow whilst we were there but was seen much more snow on our drive along route 308.

We up on the mountain for an hour, which was the length of time between gondola trips, at this time of the year with a being as cold as it was, it could have been half that length of time.

So was on through the village of Wall down a winding road until we came to the city of Oberaudorf and then we lost route 308 and headed briefly towards Munich, and decided to stay in the area for the evening and found a campsite on the edge of Lake Simssee we were just enjoyed a beautiful sunset.  Of course we could beautiful sunsets from our home overlooking Pegasus Bay in Christchurch every evening, it is interesting how those on the other side of the world seem more interesting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

After leaving the campground we started heading back towards the motorhome dealer at Sulzmoos, but first we called in at a large shopping centre refilled our suppliers arrived back at the dealers on Sunday afternoon latish, server the rest of the day, what was left of it, and Sunday we relaxed.

Monday, April 20, 2009
9 a.m. we filled our appointment to have several things look at on the motorhome, one was the backing camera, which fortunately just needed resetting, one was the egg timer, which had to be ordered and the other was the roof of the and above the kitchen which had a seal missing and was consequently making a lot of noise as we were driving along, they explained a could only be replaced on three sides and one side had to be left open, and of course it still makes a noise, so we will need to check on that again later.

Then we had the motor cycle tray adjusted so we put the motorbike in out easily, that took the best part of an hour which turned out to be wasted time, read on……

Early afternoon everything was finished so we took the B177 to Innsbruck which for about 4 km outside Innsbruck goes down a hillside on a 16° slope with several run off's where the Road angled up steep part of the hill with loose shingle to stop running away trucks.

I went down the hill with the motor home like I have every time in the past except this motorhome was heavier and had his scooter in the back, according to all my calculations was well within the weight limit permitted to be carried.  It also had the automatic gearbox and a switch beside the gear lever to place the gearbox in load when it is going up or down the hills and we had this in operation so everything should have been fine.

Near the bottom of the hill I pulled into a parking area, saw masses clouds of smoke coming out of the rear brakes and the front brakes, the handbrake would not work, fortunately the footbrake would still work as that stopped me from rolling on down the hill, we quickly got the wheel chocks which I did not totally trust, so Luda sat with her foot on the footbrake, and we waited until the smoke stopped billowing out.

It occurred to me if the motorhome was 12 months older there would have been sufficient oil floating about for the motorhome to catch on fire, and with the handbrake not working, if it had caught on fire, we would have had to jump from the motorhome, which would have meant the blazing Carthago Chic 47 with careered on down the mountain taking out everything that crossed its path.

So with the brakes cooled down we carried on slowly down the mountain to Vols campground, which we had stayed at previously, a bit of rough ground in behind  a pizza
restaurant and at €25 we felt the facilities were quite expensive.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Now I had time to think about the events up on the mountain and the only conclusion I could reach was that I had too much weight on the motorhome, it did not really matter if I was within the prescribed limit, when the brakes get redhot going down the mountain is obviously too much weight trying to find its way to the bottom.

The obvious conclusion is to ditch the motor scooter, and the scooter tray which will remove a substantial amount of weight from the rear of the motorhome and as the scooter was registered in Holland I have to head back via to dispose of it or content with a the importing of the vehicle into another part of the E EC, so we set off Tuesday morning early to get as much of the 960 km journey completed and we have stopped near Bickenbach, about 60kms from Frankfurt, in a trampers car park near a busy road, at the moment, and some nice forest, so the scooter exercise will prove to be an expensive test.

We have since weighed the motorhome and with the scooter & rack it would have been JUST over the permitted weight, less, however, than carring the extra two people Carthago make allowance for with the extra two seatbelts on the lounge seating.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Here we are back in Innsbruck, we got back to Holland on Wednesday afternoon, dropped the scooter in the scooter tray at our ever suffering friend house, then took off for a campground about hundred kilometres in this direction.

On Thursday and Friday we took our time to travel the remaining 800 km arriving here in Innsbruck, after choosing the Fernpass which certainly did not have a 16° incline.  It's unfortunate after this experience that is going to take quite a while for me totally to trust the braking system on this vehicle and at some point on this trip have the motorhome weighed to see precisely what my trouble was.

Tomorrow we head off towards Venice and hopefully the rest of the plant tour.

This is new our motorhome