Motorhome repairs then Onto Norway 2013

Motorhome repairs then Onto Norway 2013

After our “Sunday drive to China” I had thought we would perhaps have a quiet summer at home in New Zealand before we started our next adventure however…

We live on a hill called Scarborough Hill in Sumner Christchurch and were fortunate that there was no real damage to our house just a few annoying cracks, of course living on a hill means no real parking and so with been parking our New Zealand motorhome out on our friends 5 acre block about 30 minutes drive into the country. This is very kind of them and it is very safe there however we had at the back of our mind having a property that we could park the motorhome on and we had been looking for a couple of years for such a property around Christchurch.

When we decided it was nothing that suited us we widened our search and found an acre block laid out like a park on the outskirts of Ashburton town about 80 km south of Christchurch.

So that it was a matter of packing up all of our books, getting the movers in, and the uncomfortable and time-consuming job of shifting house. The then of course there was all the things that had to be done to the new place, so it had all sorts of tradesmen coming and going since our shift in at the beginning of December.

We had the pleasure of entertaining the Buyck’s when they dropped in to New Zealand during the Australian holiday and we had a chance to repay some of the hospitality we received twice a year when we arrive in Holland to collect and leave the motorhome.

And of course just in case that wasn’t enough for me to do I decided on my return from China to order a container full of electric folding bikes so they arrived about a month after we shifted into our new house and fortunately it had four external garages so we had plenty of storage space although the garages had to have electricity so that meant tradespeople in again to dig up the driveway to get the sparks (electricity) across to the garage and then there was burglar alarms, smoke detectors, video surveillance, monitoring system and with the label out on our new front gate which we had to get, calling the place “Fort Knox”!

Then of course there was the Internet site for the new business od bikes,, three trade shows showing the bikes, adverts, photography of the bikes, organising the availability of delivery throughout New Zealand and finally the selling of the bikes

And when we got our motorhome parked on our property we discovered we had a fieldmouse making a motorhome its home during the cold winter, we know it was a very clean mouse because it ate 3 cakes of soap besides making a bit of a mess on the bed, Peter was very upset that we did not return the mouse to his farm because livestock are an asset that need to be counted at the end of the tax year and some our he will have to make allowances.

The house on Scarborough was due to be sold two weeks before we left in the agreement had the normal clauses and it, then they got one of the home check organisations that have sprung up in Christchurch since the earthquake and they claimed the house was badly built, and that it would leak like a sive, of course the fact that we had not lived in it for five months and there was no sign of water damage anywhere did not matter, they had their theory and told the prospective purchaser the house would have to be totally relined on the outside of the costs of $150,000 of course he is still running, must be getting close to the North Pole by now

So really the last thing we should be doing is heading off North with an unsold house and a container full of bicycles, but is not linked much I can do about the house, and wintertime is not the peak time for selling bicycles, and I figure I’ll learn more about electric bikes in the northern hemisphere that I will hanging around Canterbury.

So here we are starting our holiday to get away from all of the work in New Zealand. We both flew out of Auckland on April 3, Luda flying west to visit her daughter in Fargo a North Dakota and I flew east through Shanghai. Shanghai airport, in fact any airport on the way to Europe does not match up to Singapore airport by any stretch of the imagination but you learn.

Before I left New Zealand I bought the Microsoft answer to the iPad, they call it the Surface, now if this is the answer, I think the of lost track of what the question was. There is no doubt about it the Macintosh products are wonderful, however my life in computers revolves around the PC system and the problem of non-interchangeability between the iPad and the PC was the biggest problem as far as I was concerned. I thought I’ll wait until the PC pad comes out, but that not only did they have to build new software for it they had to also design a machine.

Now you would think after three years that they would get something that could come close to the model one iPad because after all and this time they have upgraded the iPad four times but no, the Surface does not even have a SIM card!

Coming through Shanghai where I expected there to be a strong electronic presence in the duty-free shops, there wasn’t, just Chinese souvenirs, I was hoping I could buy the Surface Pro which is not due out in New Zealand until June but has been released in Hong Kong, but that was not to be, so I had to wait until I got to Holland and I’m now the proud possessor of an iPad 3.

Coming through Frankfurt airport and those terribly long corridors that you have to walk down to catch your plane, and when you coming off the plane they are just as long, but the one we walked down was a little more interesting as it had single camp stretcher beds stretched almost the whole length, now I recall reading where Frankfurt airport was closed because of snow so I guess this is where all the people slept that could not get flights.

So on on and on down the corridors I walked till I eventually got to the flight that was taken me to Amsterdam and that was about 50 minutes in length, just long enough to be a nuisance, is gratifying to see my luggage coming onto the carousel that it was out into the cold night air.

So was and Holland on a cold spring night at about 10 p.m. at the Buycks, I caught up on their travel experiences in Australia before collapsing in bed after 33 hours of travel time.

The Following day it was time to collect the motorhome, replace the car battery which was marginal last year, and as we store the motorhome in a glasshouse there is always the risk of a piece of glass falling onto the motorhome and this happen to ours during a storm the last northern winter. That broke a small skylight in the bathroom, and whilst we were washing the motorhome down later we discovered that the large skylight over the lounge, that the water poured through whilst we were in China, that we thought we had fixed, was not fixed so that’s another couple of jobs to be done by the good staff at Carthago which is on my list of establishments to visit to get the motorhome fixed after last year.

The mileage on the speedo as I left Holland was122,340 Kms and for those that are interested when I filled up the diesel the first time in Holland it was €1.5 a litre.

Monday, April 8
Today the motorhome was at the Airbag “Doctor”, and I find I need to apologise to the mechanics that replaced the clutch last year because I blame them for upsetting the control box making the airbags unusable. Well it was not the problem, one of the airbags had in an oil leak, and that oil went and jammed up the valves making the airbags just a bit of weight to carry all the way to China. So they spent four hours replacing the front airbags and hopefully that will be the end of the problems.

Each year I expect the Sim cards to be better, to be cheaper, and do many more things than they do, and each year I’m disappointed, in fact the NZ Vodafone Sim card has not been working very well at all in Holland.

So I made good use of the Wi-Fi that was available at the garage and loaded the iPad with apps and books and caught up with my email on my PC.

Well eventually the repairs were finished so before I set off South I went to the Aldi Market, a chain of supermarkets right across Europe and they sell cheap Sim cards that are supposed to work throughout Europe at a good price, so that gave me another Sim card for my telephoned, so time will tell.

Then it was onto the road south are getting out of the village where the garage was made me think I was back in England with the extremely narrow roads with trees either side so that 2 trucks could not pass, one had to wait by a gap for the other, but eventually I was on the motorway, cutting right through the commercial heart of Germany round the Ruhr Valley and of course it was getting close to 5 o’clock so the traffic was quite dense, I made several attempts to find somewhere for the night, but each one was too noisy and my current one near Seigburg on the A3 is a compromise out of a desperation to stop driving.

As I’m writing this is a light drizzle of rain so I am keeping my fingers crossed that all the water stays on the outside of the motorhome.

For the last three days I been sitting in the motorhome park at Carthago’s new headquarters near a small town called Aulendorf about 180 km south west of Munich, with the extra problems I’ve got I thought I better come at little bit early to let them know, and hopefully on Friday they think they may be able to start, but time will tell.

So far I’ve had no rain coming through the skylight so if anybody wants to buy two shower curtains that have not yet been wet they will be featured on Trademe and eBay, given the circumstances I hope the bidding goes into six figures, no I don’t mean .000001c !

Wednesday, April 17
Well the engineer tells me that will be another two days before they finish the motorhome, progress is looking good, they fitted the two plastic fantastic’s moldings, they fitted the two new skylights, fixed the fridge so things are looking good so it’s time to be moving on.

Yesterday I got rental car and went on to Ulm to do some shopping, I was there on Saturday but really no room to park a motorhome anywhere so a small Golf motorcar was a much better vehicle to use. Must say I was impressed with the golf as automatic lights come on when it’s dark enough like in a parking building, automatic windscreen wipers when is a drop of rain in all sorts of other gadgets which I didn’t have time to absorb, is very easy to drive at 130 KM

It appears that the problem I having with my Dutch Sim card in the iPad was that it was not connecting to the German data system and as it was on roaming I decided I be best to buy a German Sim card seeing I found out that I could. So I ended up with a German Telecom and a German Vodafone and things now seem to be working. I also had my New Zealand Vodafone Sim card cut down to the iPad size and that also set works but at a much more expensive rate.

The Carthago car park for motorhomes seems to be absolutely full every night with about 20 motorhomes from my size right through to the monsters, not sure if they all have problems and with the age group that own these motorhomes not all speak English.

I bought a small step ladder for €15 is five steps on it which will get me high enough to clean off the large scratch, what should I call it dent so once is clean about fill it with gunk and then sprayed with a grey coat of paint from the aerosol can I bought, once that is dry I’ll get some transfers to put a long line which hopefully will hide the Chinese damage.

Saturday, April 20
Yesterday Carthago finished the repairs to the motorhome I drove about 8 km to a garage to get the equivalent of New Zealand warrant of fitness, and Germany a new car does not need the certificate until its third year and in every second year after that, may become more frequent the older it gets I don’t know. I’d made an appointment for 11 o’clock and three hours later I was paying the account, not sure if I was on a waiting list or whether they had a lot to do for the cost was 160 Euro. For that they put a little sticker on the number plate and to get the gas sticker had to go back to Carthago may stuck that on the motorhome so it is now warranted for gas and for mechanics.

It was a fairly long wait, the five days I spent at Carthago, the TV and Wi-Fi is not working till the end of the month so there was just reading and working on the computer without Wi-Fi, but I guess the end result with the Carthago are back in almost new condition it was worth it.

The been raining all day so as it was about quarter past four the stage I decided to stay in the Carthago camping spot I think there were two others overnighting as well.

Is good not have to wake up early to get the motorhome to the mechanics by 7 a.m. so I have and all of an hour and a half sleep in, looks at the temperature outside was -3°C, looked at the vehicles around me and they had about 50 mm of snow lying on the top of the bonnet cetera, of course Bavaria possibly one of the southern states of Germany, of course it is next door to Switzerland, 48° North which in New Zealand latitude is more southern than the bottom of Stewart Island, so one should expect snow!

So my first destination was a large shopping area near Dachau so I set the destination into the GPS and it took me through very many of the small villages of Bavaria some rather beautiful with the slight sprinkling of snow, all on quite a narrow road but eventually after 20 km the GPS landed me on a motorway so was smooth sailing after that.

Bought a wire brush to clean up the big scratch on the motorhome before fill it with plastic goo, wandered round the shopping centre to see if there was something I couldn’t live without, received a message from Hank telling me of an apps for campsites throughout Europe, about 33,000 of them, at the apps is about €3.50 and time will tell are worthwhile it is.

Was then onto Hofstetter’s and are used be plenty of parking inside the compound, now I saw it was taken up with display stock in the parking area for motorhomes visiting is across the road, at least now that put electricity onto this parking area, last year it was missing.

Spoke the Hans who sold me the motorhome and he is continually amazed at the mileage I have done, he’s never had a motorhome do such a high mileage in such a small time, I tell him each time, at least we use it!

Monday, April 22
Drove to the front of Hofstetter’s salesroom this morning, paid the insurance another year, went down to the large motorhome accessories shop and collected the television that I left for repairs, finished work to be done by Hofstetter and then started heading North towards Berlin, first stop near Cologne to have the jacks looked at. Stoped for the night in a parking spot about 120 km from my destination.

Driving today went through quite a few potential bottlenecks, I have the feeling that the autobahn system of Germany is slowly clogging up, almost all the parking spots on the side of the motorway are full of trucks from every part of Europe and in places this massive works happening on the rebuilding of the autobahn but the sheer volume of trucks must be taking a major toll.

Monday, April 29
For last week I been at a camping ground near Tegel airport, as called WohnmobilPark Berlin its address is Waidmannsluster Damm 12-14 13509. The cost about 81 Euro for six or seven nights, it’s a pretty basic camping with really no amenities however they do have a washing machine and of course you can dump your waste products and get fresh water.

It is very close to a convenience store and you can currently visit all of the attractions in Berlin through the management.

Around mid-dayLuda flew in from Kiev and I went by taxi to the airportknowing she would get a cold reception from any taxi driver wanting to go 8 or 9 km.

Once we got back to the campground, was just a matter of throwing the suitcase in the back of the motorhome and were on our way North towards Denmark with the first stop near Molin, following day we drove on to Flensberg near the Dutch border.

Around this time we start seeing lots of wind mills generating electricity, and of course all the way through Germany I been seeing massive solar panel farms, this is something one normally associates with a hot climate like Spain or Arizona but no even though they are further from the equator on our Stewart Island they go after every little bit of green energy they can get.

Wednesday, 1 May
Today we headed off to the left hand side of Denmark intending to hug the coastline is much as we can going north. Of course by doing this we ran into many fortifications left over from Hitler's war and his Atlantic Wall which he thought would keep him safe. Currently we at 56° North and as we go through Denmark we are seeing massive solar panel installations, it will be interesting to see how far we have to go North before this method of generating electricity disappears.

Thursday May 2
Last night we stopped at a parking spot on the coast of Nissum Bay near a town called Jestrup, there was a strong wind blowing in across the bay and the temperature around 5 p.m. was down to 4°C and of course during the night had kept on going downwards.

We see campgrounds at almost every corner in the books we have tell us that freedom camping is not permitted, of course having everything inside a self-contained motorhome, it is hard to find a reason to go to a campground so we will continue to try our luck.

Today we visited the largest German fortification in Denmark at Hanstholm, they started building it in 1940 and were still working on it in '45, it was a massive underground bunker all built around a 15 cm revolving gun that was mounted on the top of the bunker commanding a wonderful view of the North Sea.

The information on a lot of the bunker was in three languages but this disappeared once it got on to the German uniform and other bits and pieces. It did say there were 6000 concrete bunkers or pillboxes around the area, I guess the supplier of concrete was sorry to see them go.

The night were parked on the side of a back road near the town of Tuen, is beautifully warm in the direct sunshine of the temperature outside is 7° and it did get to a high of 11° today.

Friday, May 3
Today we decided it was time to head to the Sweden- Norway headland so we headed straight for the port of Fredrikshaven and for about €350 purchased a ticket on the ferry to Gothenberg, a trip of about three hours.

We were one of the last off the ferry and it was a matter of getting out of the city which like any large city is a major problem.

We drove on into Sweden and headed for some of the little villages near the town of Ronnang in the province of Tjorn

Saturday, May 4
Today we drove in towards lake Vanern and then followed the road that went along the Dalsland canal starting off at the incredible Haverud aqueduct which was built to take boats about the size of canal boats across the valley.

The road along the canal was very winding and took us through some of the incredible Swedish forests with all of its natural growing trees.

What is really noticeable is the large number of 60s and 70s American cars, or perhaps one could call them mobile aircraft carriers, with today being the weekend we saw a lot of them on the road and most them looked in very good condition. There was at waterfall today or yesterday’s okay that is accounted ask

Eventually we got to a small town called Billingsfors which was on the edge of another beautiful lake where we decided to spend the night.

Sunday, May 5
After spending a peaceful night beside the lake we started to head back towards the population and to make things easier was a beautiful fine day with a nice blue sky and the temperature got to a high of 11°C.

We drove through the beautiful countryside passing many lakes covered with ice, with every background solid stone where ever you looked was interesting crossing from Sweden to Norway we just went over a Bridge and we are in a new country no customs no nothing, and we kept on driving until we got to a town of Halden in Norway, it is famous for its fortress on the top of a Hill which dominates the town, is built on the 17th century, and of course in today's modern world is a mere curiosity rather than something for the security of the town.

We then drove on further to the old town of Fredrikstad which itself was a fortress town with walls that are 4 m thick and there was a delightful variety of houses that had been built since the 17th century.

From there it was driving on deeper into Norway until we got to the village Drobak we drove down towards the wharf and again we were impressed by the history of the town with all of its old wooden houses. It was then back onto the motorway where we had to pay a toll of €20 to go through a tunnel that was 7 km long going under the fjord, going down was second gear all the way they seem to go on for ever and eventually we reached the bottom and then it was two Lane road up to the top, and of course being Norway that was not the last of the tunnels we went on through five other tunnels of varying lengths and eventually we found a town called Burger we with pulled into the car park for the railway station where we will spend the night.

Monday, May 6
Today from about Drammen and started driving south towards Verdens Ende and on the way we passed through Horten and stopped to see the oldest shipping Museum in the world. It was started as a private collection and then was passed on to the Norwegian government of substantially added to the original collection.

Carry on with our travels we passed a high tower was evidently built on the site of an original Castle in the city of Tonsberg and we eventually we reached Verdens Ende and photographed the interesting lighthouse that is distinguished by its pivoting fire basket, not exactly 21st century technology.

Carry on back the way we came we found a nice car park which was nice peaceful until about 11 p.m. when three buses arrived full of teenagers dancing inside the buses with loud nightclub music that had our windows pulsating, knowing that this age group never gets tired we decided that we were the ones that had to move so we got on the motorway and headed towards the car park of the shipping Museum where we spent what was left of the night.

Tuesday, May 7
Today we were driving North towards the fjord’s, and when we came across a nice parking spot near a church we felt a little bit confident that last nights teenagers would not be heading towards this parking spot so we decided to call an early day and spend the night peacefully.

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