Day 186 – 189 | Some weird days

To not distract from the subject I wanted the previous blog to be completely about Auschwitz, so now I pick it up from there.

Day 186 | Friday September 16

I drove back to Krakow where I had a hostel who wanted to take care of me, the Pink Panther’s hostel. A party hostel and when I entered they had a summer-holiday-party-theme going on. I was up for some drinks but still needed to find a place to charge the car, which was difficult I experienced the day before yesterday. I spend a while driving from location to location but they either were not working with my car or already closes, most of them are placed in shopping malls. I knew that there was one mall with a 32A plug so I thought to go there the next morning, charge a few hours and continue. I parked the car close to the hostel and joined in for some drinks.

Day 187 | Saturday September 17

If there goes something wrong on this trip it usually happens in a chain of events, so was this time the case unfortunately. When I got to the car I found it had a wheel clamp, damn! I couldn’t figure out why because I parked between the lines. All the other 5 cars next to me had a clamp too. Apparently there where some temporary signs and it was not allowed to park here. I got pretty nervous because I was expecting a fine of a couple of hundred euros but it was only 100 Zloty, which is ‘only’ like 24 euro. Even better news was that I still had some Zloty’s left from Wouter and Ania so no troubles.

Than I needed to find a place to charge. The shopping mall was fully occupied and the other charging stations in the middle of the city too. I was hoping to find a place in the city and do some sightseeing. In stead I found a shopping mall outside the town and charged there on normal speed. This changed my plans as I couldn’t leave today. I send a message to Magdalena where I stayed in Warsaw. Later that night she replied that she founded a friend who could help me. I could sleep there and charge the car at the university across the street.

Day 188 | Sunday September 18

My goal for today was to reach Rseszow, about 18km from Krakau. It was raining, there was heavy wind and I lost range fast. About 20km from I realized I was not going to make it and needed a pit-stop to recharge. Problem was a pitstop (fuel station, house or anything with a plug) didn’t appear and I had 4% left. I started dring on the emergency lane with 10km/h to safe energy but after 5km my battery was 0%, damn! It had to happen at least one time this trip so that I did only after 6 months is not a bad achievement I reckon.

The car stopped on bend of an exit to a smaller road but passing cars only noted me when they drove by so none of them stopped to see what was going on. There was no emergency lane too so it was even a dangerous situation. I called my insurance in Holland and they would send a Polish roadside assistance. Just when I hung up a nice man stopped and offered to tow me to the city.

When towing the car started to recharge itself, because of the spinning of the wheels it regenerates electricity, and that goes pretty fast actually. When we got to the city after 15 minutes I already had 25%. I thanked the good man for his kindness and drove to a charger. Before leaving Krakau I did some research and there were 3 chargers here, unfortunately the first one I couldn’t find and the second one was closed on Sunday. The third one was available but the slowest option. Again it was located in the garage of a shopping mall and I decided to spend the night in the car as I couldn’t find a place to stay.

Day 189 | Monday September 19

Hungry, sleepy and Grumpy I woke up in the car around 7am. I realized that the last time I had a decent meal was last Thursday at Ania’s place. The previous day I only had eaten some noodles. Today I wanted to reach Lviv in Ukraine. Early morning I crossed the border, on both the Polish and Ukrainian side they were very cautious. The Polish customs went through the car with dogs 3 times and the complete process took one hour. Luckily for Ukraine I didn’t need a visa.

My hosts in Lviv were Nazar and Lena. I met them at the presentation of the Detroit Electric SP-O1 in Oslo. They are installing a charging network in the country and also sell electric cars, more about this in a later blog. Unfortunately they were away from Lviv to install chargers somewhere in the mountains so they put me in a hotel. As I was super tired I slept some hours and woke up around 9pm. Than I was super hungry and made some rice in the bathroom of the hotelroom. 

Pictures

Day 186 | Auschwitz

Day 186 | Friday September 16

Ania wanted to make sure that I was allright for the coming days so she bought me some bread, bananas, water and even gave me some pocket money “for your Auschwitz trip”, that is where I was going today. Ania lives only 1 hour away from the memorial site.

Auschwitz

For many years I wanted to go to this place because of it’s historical importance. The camp is one of the few things that is still visible from the war. Auschwitz consists of 3 different areas: Auschwitz I (base camp and central office), Auschwitz II (Birkenau ) and Auschwitz III (Monoscwitz with the sub-camp and buna). Today I visited I and II.

The tour started in Auschwitz I, this complex was already there before the start of the war and used to be a Polish military camp and the town was called Oświęcim. When the Germans took over Poland they changed the name into how the camp is known today. The first people who were send to the camp were 700 polish people, mostly intellectuals or people who committed a crime. 

We entered the camp through the famous gate with the text “arbeit macht frei” (meaning: work sets you free) above it. Little detail: the ‘B’ in arbeit is placed upside-down. There are various stories of why this is. Some say the detainees did it as a protest or to warn new people but this is criticized as the Nazi’s must have seen that in the 5 years that the camp was in operation. Another theory is that in that time the Germans experimented with Sans-Serif fonts and in some variants the lower part of the B was smaller as the upper part.

The majority of the barracks in the complex are still intact, inside are various exhibitions and explanations about the war. In one room is a 30-meter long showcase of cut-off women’s hair. Every detainees hair was removed to avoid diseases and later sold. Another room was completely filled with kitchen wares. People who came to the camps believed they were going to a place where to would have a decent life, it’s one of the many cruel ironies you’ll find here.

Auschwitz I rapidly became to small for the plans the Nazi’s had so they gave orders to build a second camp, Birkenau. Man and woman were separated. The woman placed on the left side of the complex in brick houses. Bricks became scarce in the area so for the man they build wooden barracks. This complex houses 250 barracks, build to the design of horse stables which usually houses 52 horses. Now 800 to 1000 people shared one barrack. At it’s peak Birkenau housed 200.000 people in total.

The second camp was mainly build for factory scale extermination. Between 1940 and 1945 1.3 million people were send to Auschwitz and 1,1 million dead, 90% of them were Jewish people.

It’s unbelievable what has happened here, only 70 years ago. One of the survivors wrote in his book “it happened before and it could happen again”. Unfortunately that is very true and we should realize that our freedom is something to cherish and in many countries it is still not for granted.

Celebrate life!

Pictures

Day 184 & 185 | Warsaw – Krakaw – Jelesnia

Day 184 | Wednesday September 14

Wouter and Magdelena wanted to take really good care of me. They have traveled a lot themselves, with the bike they toured around South-America so they know the difficulties of traveling on a budget. I went shopping with Wouter, he bought campinggaz for me, food for today, rice for emergencies and he even gave me some Zloty’s for on the way. That is all really appreciated!

Magdalena sent out some requests to people in Poland asking for a place to stay for me.

My goal for today was to reach Krakow. 300km from Warschau so I needed to charge in between. In Kielce I found a car workshop with a type 2 station and charged for about 4 hours. It was a bit outside of the city so not much to see there. When I travel 200+ km days are mostly long and boring. I did had wifi at the workshop so I sent out some requests to hostels in Krakow asking for a bed. There were actually a few who replied positively so I was in the luxurious position to choose one! I decided to go to the Blueberry Hostel, just because I liked that name. I got there around 11pm. Problem now was that I needed to find a place to charge, most of the charging stations were inside parkings which were closed from 10pm, bad luck. I decided that I would charge my car the following day as there were many stations and thus didn’t need to wait 12 hours.

It was the first time this trip that I spend the night in a hostel. On previous travels (Australia, Asia) I only stayed in hostels. The atmosphere, people and the shared rooms instantly gave me the feeling of being a backpacker. Which is one of the best feelings.

Day 185 | Thursday September 15

Today I needed to drive only 80km to Jelesnia, problem was the car was not charged yet. I found a BMW dealer which allowed me to charge the car and after a few hours I could leave.

Around 6 I arrived in Jelesnia were I met Ania. This was the second time this trip that I saw her. Remember that day in Lofoten when my car broke down and some nice Polish people helped me out and invited me for dinner in their campervan? Well that was her. She saw I was in Poland and invited me again. At that time she was with her boyfriend’s parents, now I was at her parents place, and Pawel, her boyfriend dropped by later too.

They took me with the car for a sightseeing trip, it was a typical Polish village. famous for a beer brewery, the highest mountain in the Beskidy mountains and a 5 meters high waterfall which was the highest in the area. To finish the tour we went to a traditional pub to have some apple pie with ice cream. When traveling without money and eating basic food you really learn to appreciate a treat like this. Not that I had bad food the last days by the way, everyone treated me really well!

When back home we had even more food (we already had dinner), it looks like the Polish eat all day long. Which is definitely not a bad thing.

Pictures

Day 182 & 183 | Exploring Warsaw

Day 182 | Monday September 12

Today I did nothing else but work. I’m very busy with preparing the next stage of this trip: the Middle East. Every country requires a visa, I need Carnet de Passages and injections against diseases. I did not find the solution for all of this yet, or money, which is also a problem.

That’s it for today. Not every day is crazy adventurous.

Day 183 | Tuesday September 13

The last 3 days I have been in Warsaw but didn’t see anything of the city yet. In the morning I had a little bit of time to look around. I parked my car at a EV charger, this was the first time since St. Petersburg, a few 1000 kilometers ago. Parking & charging is free for electric cars in the city. Sadly there are no rules for people parking on the EV spots with normal car, and so the first 2 chargers I found were occupied with ICE-cars, which made it not easy for me.

Warsaw is nice and calm. During WWII the city had rough times, nearly one million people were killed and the biggest part of the city was bombed into ruins. After the war it was rebuild and because there were not much people left they made very wide streets. In and around the city huge shopping malls are placed were most people go shopping so this makes it very comfortable to walk in the city without bumping in to anyone, a luxury for a capital.

Michal’s office is also located in the city and I went to have lunch with him in a restaurant under the former headquarters of the Soviet Union. Next to this building is now a street called “the new era” and there is this Polish saying “If you have the Soviet Union in your back, you look into the new era”.
I interviewed Michal about Bioelektra, which will be online soon.

Than I went to a next host, parked my car right in front of the Palace of Culture and Science and walked a few minutes to his house. The palace was a gift from the Russians to Poland and you can find copies of this building in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

My host was Wouter, a dutchman and son of a friend of my mother from years ago when we lived in Belgium (it’s ok to read this twice). I didn’t remember if I had ever met him but according to him we didn’t.
Wouter has been living here for 10 years with his wife Magdalena. They’re expecting a child within 4 weeks. The bathroom was fully filled with children’s clothes so I expected it was their 2nd child coming but it was their first. They have a lot of friends.

Magdalena and Wouter took me for a sightseeing tour in the old part of Warsaw. We visited a store were the sold amber. I learned that amber is actually fossilized tree resin. When you heat it up to 150 degrees it becomes fluid again and you can reshape it. Here they sold ambers of 40 million years ago. And the special thing: with insects inside of it (remember Jurassic Park?). Some stones were worth more then a million euros.

For dinner we went to a Polish restaurant. Polish food is a lot of meat and potatoes. Very much practical food. Wouter ordered some different things and the main dish I could’t finish, friends of me would know that’s something special.

Pictures

Day 178 – 181 | Poland

The last days I traveled from hotel to hotel. I’m on my way to Ilawa were Michal wants to show me a waste recycling plant. He arranged all the accommodations for me and I used these days to do a lot of work. I wrote this blog about Tuup, RePack and made some movies on Facebook.

Thursday I arrived in Olsztyn and Friday I spend the night in a beautiful hotel in Ilawa.

Day 180 | Saturday September 10

Krysztof, the manager of the plant picked me up in the morning and brought me to Boielektra. It’s a huge factory with 3 different chambers. In the first chamber the waste is brought in. The waste is coming from Olsztyn. In a shredder it’s crumbled into pieces to remove any large waste components and shredding the waste for a more homogeneous mass.

In the next chamber the waste is put into autoclaves and heated up to 180 C and goes through some processes. After 3 hours the waste is emptied from the autoclaves and is now sterile and free of smell.

In the next chamber the sterile waste is segregated in different categories: aluminum, plastics, PET bottles, biomass, textile, glass and metal.

At the end of the line the products appear on a big pule. There was a big pile of aluminum cans and this was worth €25.000 and is sold to recyclers. Impressive. Definitely considering the fact that this waste is normally burned or buried. With this system is possible to recycle almost 100% of the materials.

Full interview coming up soon.

Ok people, I've had enough of this trip. Recycling the car, selling the metal and going to buy a ticket back home….

Posted by Plug Me In on Sonntag, 11. September 2016

Than it was time to go to Warsaw. A 220km drive. Michal arranged that I could charge my car at a workshop in Plonsk. They had some cars there who were being repaired an a mini museum with Polish cars. Well, semi-polish cars because the brand is called “Polsky Fiat”. If the cars were being build in Italy or here was not clear.

They had a 32A socket (which is the fastest possibility for my car) but it was behind some tires and machines. Quickly they tried to remove all the obstacles but unfortunately the cable was too short and we charged the car on 16A. Luckily they had two 16A sockets and my car has the wonderful possibility to insert 2 cables, in the front and in the back. So we had the same 32A power through 2 different cables and one hour later I could go again.

In the evening I arrived in Warsaw at Michal’s place. He lives here with his wife, 2 children and an au pair who takes care of the kids. We had some food and talks and went to bed early.

Day 181 | Sunday September 11

With the whole family we went to the city to have breakfast. I had a croissant and that last time I saw one was in Bodo, Norway. Than we moved to a park were a Chopin concert was. Michal told me that the Polish don’t have a really rich culture so they are very proud of the things they have, like Chopin.

Pictures

Day 176 & 177 | From big city to little town

Day 176 | Tuesday September 6

Tuesday started with a TV-interview, it looks like there is coming more and more attention for Plug Me In. The show is called “Labas rytas, Lietuva!” or good morning Lithuania! They asked me to come to a charging station in the city and asked me some questions about my plans and stay in Vilnius, will be broadcasted tomorrow.

After the interview I went to Cozy and said goodbye te Bernie and Renata. They have been very hospitable to let me stay for 5 nights, I could do whatever I wanted and they treated me with a lot of stories, beers and food. That last one was also now the case, Bernie send me to his hamburger restaurant Le Butcher were I could have a final free lunch. They had a beef steak burger on the menu and I never had that before. It was beef cut in tiny slices with some sauce, lettuce and potato wedges, excellent choice if you would ask me 😉

Time to leave Vilnius now. Simonas invited me to come to his parents summer resort in Pivašiūnai. I actually wanted to go there yesterday but because of the TV interview today I postponed it. That was no problem for him bit today he could’t be there himself. Luckily he was able to come to the meeting with the electric Honda yesterday and we had the opportunity to meet.

Pivašiūnai was only 75km from Vilnius. I was welcomed by Simonas parents Gerardas and Ramute on this countryside mansion. It was really a mansion because the area of their place was at least 5 football fields. They had a big house with a big stable with a big sauna next to it and very very big solar panels. They had 3 huge arrays of panels, at least 15 meters wide each of them. On a average day they collect around 200KWh of electricity, which is a lot and way more than they can use. What remains they sell back to the power company.

Gerardas and Ramute didn’t speak fluently English and one of the first things I could understand was Gerardas asking “you want shot tequila?” Which I than couldn’t decline. Some more shots of local spirits followed and after dinner we sweat it out of our bloodstreams in the sauna.

Day 177 | Wednesday September 7

I woke up before 9 to watch myself on television, broadcast was between 9 and 12. We waited, waited more and eventually were let down, no handsome man on television. I sent a message to the interviewer and she replied that the planning for this week was already full so it will be aired on the 14th. They will sent me a link which I will post here.

A few weeks ago I received a message from Michal who lives in Poland. He saw one of my movies and wanted me to show his sustainable project. I thought it was interesting so a few days ago I’d let him know that I would be coming soon. As I had no-one who plugged me in between the Lithuanian border and his place (about 450km in Ilawa) I asked him for assistance. He wanted to take care of me and look for friends or other possibilities on the way. For today he and his assistance Weronika booked a hotelroom for me in Augustow! Great because I had a lot of work to do and had now had some time and quietness to write and edit stuff, like this interview about RePack, go read it!

So today I arrived in Poland, country #15 this trip. Since I got to Denmark all the countries I passed I had never been before. Poland is new territory too but it feels (and it not only feels) like I’m getting more close to home, but that is what makes this trip so much fun, letting other people decide how I’m traveling to Australia.

Pictures