Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
After getting some more gasoline on the car, we again started driving towards Wroclaw in Poland. I could have closed my eyes and still known for sure when we passed the border between Germany and Poland. Road quality is not comparable at all. All the way from the border to Wroclaw it was a really bumpy ride, as opposed to flat, smooth roads in Germany. We took a random detour off the highway, to take a little rest. We ended up in some rural area and found a road that lead into a forest. Warm weather and the smell of the forest. It was lovely. I worked a bit more on the car stereo, but there is still some issues to be solved. Harald did nature a favour and picked up some trash in the forest.
Harald just called and said he now have 10 liters of gasoline. He was some 30 kilometers away from me, and that it was a bit hard to get a ride from the gas station but he will keep on trying. Not sure if he is in front or me or behind me. With this Autobahn thing, I do not think it is safe to cross it at any circumstances, so I hope he solve it in a safe manner. About 75 minutes since we stopped. Faster than expected, and I guess I will still be able to see Wroclaw in daylight.
A thought just occurred in my mind. We are driving an ambulance. I wonder how many people who have already died in this vehicle. Probably a few, yet the car is in good condition. What were the causes? What were their stories? Did they live a happy life before the trauma? I guess we will never find out.
Yesterday we planned to sleep at Harald’s friend in Moabit in Berlin, but she was not home at the time, so we ended up sleeping in the car. Driving an ambulance is kind of awesome. There are so many buttons and switches to play with, even with all the medical equipment and emergency lights removed. And one of the seats in the back and be folded back to 120 degrees – a perfect sleeping place.
Harald put a bag between the two front seats and laid down to sleep there. I pulled out my sleeping bag and laid down to sleep on the seat in the back of the car. I had a good night’s sleep.
Today I woke up at five minutes to six. After a quick session of filming in Moabit, we aimed for Wroclaw, Poland. Exiting Berlin went smooth and easy – Harald seems to have become friends with Nora already, and no longer need my help for map reading and directions. When we drove on to the Autobahn, we noticed that there was very little traffic. Not a big surprise, being an early Sunday morning.
According to our friendly GPS, we were to arrive at Wroclaw at fifteen minutes past ten unless we had any stops for breakfast and refilling of gasoline. Harald also said he should buy a jerry can to have some spare gasoline stored in the car, just in case. A very light rain shower, quiet morning and everything seemed all right..
…until…. Just a couple of minutes after Harald mentioned the plans of buying a spare can of gasoline, things went wrong. Mentioning that seemed to jinx our smooth ride out of Germany today. Suddenly the engine stopped, and we were out of gasoline. The gasoline meter on the car is non-functional, but according to Harald’s measures, it should last a little further. But it did not. So we managed to pull safely over to the side of the Autobahn and put on the emergency lights.
Harald put the emergency marker behind the car, and we started checking the GPS. Nearest gas station is 8 kilometers away from here. That is some good 90 minutes of walking in a fast phase, and that’s only one way. Harald raised his thumb – the lovely international symbol for hitch hikers – and got a ride in just over two minutes. The drivers was working today, so he kindly refused to drive all the 8 kilometers to the gas station, but agreed to take him to the nearest exit from the Autobahn, so Harald could continue waving his thumb from there. I added the spot of the vehicle as a favorite on the GPS, and gave the GPS to Harald so he could navigate back.
Sitting in a vehicle on the Autobahn, with not much to see and not much to do, I started eating breakfast. Some lovely rye bread and cream cheese, and slightly luke warm milk. Sitting in a stranded vehicle on the Autobahn is a bit scary, I can feel the car shaking due to air pressure as every car passes by. But the car is parked on a leveled surface, visible from a long distance, so I do not expect more trouble yet.
Yesterday at Cafe-Cox, we spoke a bit about how the problems with the heating system was solved in such awesome manners yesterday, with the Serbian Romas. Harald said he thought we were just gonna cruise in to Poland with no more trouble, but mentioned Moore’s law – if it can go wrong, it will. I thought that more problems could be interesting since you never know how you will solve them before you find the solution. Though I would have wished we had something slightly less of a challenge than ending up with no gasoline on the Autobahn 8 kilometers away from the nearest gas station.
Still, I find this trip quite pleasant. Always keeping in mind the gently words written on the front cover of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC!
So, we managed to get the car fixed. Amazingly enough, since it was an early Saturday morning. We went on a detour and drank some coffee at a lovely restaurant – and even got a free biscuit. I tried to fix the car stereo, and called my father a few times to get some advise on the wirings. It turned out that we lack correct power on one of the pins, to tomorrow I will have to utilize my McGyverism skills and use some gaffa tape to fix it.
We started to more and more love Miss Nora, the lovely Norwegian voice on the Garmin nüvi GPS. After our detour, she guided us back on to the Autobahn. And due to some FM traffic system, Nora also sent us on a detour off the highway, to avoid some heavy traffic.
We arrived Berlin without any problems, and tried to locate Cafe-Cox. a bit trouble finding it, since Harald had written down the wrong address. But after he walked around a bit randomly, he managed to find the place. We parked our car and Harald went for some beer. I tried locating a food store, and after some staggerish communication with Germans, I managed to find a local store. Bread, cheese, milk, orange juice, chocolate and deodorant, and I was ready for the next morning. A beer at Cafe-Cox. Lovely beer. I think it was a blonde Flensburger.
We then went to eat at a random place. We found a halal fast food restaurant called Ris A Chicken. Potato wedgies, bread and pepsi. Not the best meal, but when you are traveling and are hungry, every kind of food is good food.
Back for another beer at Cafe-Cox – dark beer this time, and some recharging of the laptop battery, and talked a bit the plans for Sunday. Still amazed how we were saved by the Serbian Romas. It really made our day.
Tomorrow we will be headed for Wroclaw in Poland. The GPS tells us it is about 325 kilometers away from our location in Berlin, and I am really looking forward for tomorrows adventures.
Today has been a really interesting journey – Mr. Medbøe is not your average travel parter. Full of interesting stories, views on life and the big issues, but also paying attention to small details. I think the next few days will be just as interesting.
I woke up at around nine this morning. Took a long an lovely shower. It might be the last for a few days, so I enjoyed it for as long as possible. Breakfast was dry salty crackers. Not very healthy, but cheap and easy. We tried to locate the correct entrance to the car deck, but failed on first attempt. Though we found it on the second try. After navigating in a tight space between the wall and trailers, crouching to get past one, we found our car.
Harald made another attempt to fill the cooling water system to the minimum level, but it leaked a lot. After filling up 3-4 bottles, we were still far away from the minimum level. A quick phone call with my father helped a bit. We got a few advises on how to find a solution and an overview over the severity of the problem. From under the car we saw a small stream of water pouring down.
As soon as the trailer in front of us was towed out, we took a chance and exited the ferry. At least the car was moving forward. Outside, some guy started running in front of us and waving. It turned out we were driving on the wrong exit. We saw some customs exit, and drove through. There was a customs officer there, but she just smiled and turned her back against us. We stopped at the first available car repair shop. They looked on the leak, and sent us further towards some WV repair shop in Hamburger Chausse. There we got a more thorough look at the problem, but they sent us even further. With a printed map from Google Maps and an address, it was time to fire up the Garmin GPS. Being a bit uncertain whether or not there was power in the cigarette lighter outlet, I hesitated a tiny bit when plugging in the power adapter. But the LCD of the GPS suddenly lit up. The friendly message on the display asked what language to use, and a few clicks later, it was up and running.
We drove to the next WV repair shop, where they offered coffee, and tried to locate a spare part for us. They did not have any spare parts, but again, we got a new map from Google Maps, for PV Auto, some 10-12 minutes away. I entered the address into the GPS, and we started driving.
We ended up at PV Auto, some spare part store. The staff there was not the most friendly. He came out, looked at the car – we explained that we needed a T-joint, with 20mm diameter on all ends, but he promptly replied that he did not have the part. I asked kindly if we could get some more water, and we got about a liter and a half. And off we went again.
Ended up at a random gas station, and met a young lad who looked like a mechanic, carrying a sixpack of beer. He told us to drive behind the building next to gas station, and we went inside. Again, we were offered coffee, but the the coffee machine did not have any free coffee. We were told to wait for Der Meister – apparently this is the name they use for the chief mechanics. Der Meister arrived, and he said they only fix trucks, but he sent us to another auto repair shop a few minutes away.
After getting a bit lost on the way, we finally managed to locate Auto-Service Hennschen. It seemed to be closed, but outside we met two Serbian Romas (gypsies). They advised us to call Der Meister for this place, and helped us with the phone call, since none of us are fluent in German. The people told us a bit about their life, what they thought about Norway, after spending a few years in Kristiansand, Arendal and Farsund, and life in general. They said they loved the Norwegian landscapes and nature. A few minutes later, Der Meister arrived, and looked at the car. He said he would fix it for sure. So we said goodbye to the Serbs and went to the gas station to buy some breakfast.
Travelling on a low budget, I was somewhat afraid of what to expect, but I ended up paying only 3.29 euros for a crossaint with nougat, another piece of bread and a Sinalco Cola. And I even got 25 cents back for the bottle!
We went back to Auto-Service Hennschen, and the mechanic was still working on the car. He told us that his name was Mathias, and he owned the store. He showed us pieces of the old T-joint, which was completly broken. A few minutes more, he was finished, and we started the engine for a test. Success!
After Harald paid him 35 euroes for the repair, we were headed for Berlin on the Autobahn. After visiting 4-5 different places without meeting anyone who could solve our problem, we were both a bit frustrated. But if you never give up, and keep on trying, eventually you will meet the right people – always. And it was some sort of a strange coincidence that the people who helped us today, were Romas – considering Harald is on a trip towards Romania, to meet local Romas there.