Day 77 | The crazy car museum

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For today I had this big plan to drive from Valdum to Velling over the western coast. It was a 200km drive and on the way I should see beaches and the nice countryside of Denmark. I already knew that it would be a test to reach Velling as the roads would go up and down and I would lose range.

Jeppe is a teacher in biology, science and mathematics. He lives in the northern part of Denmark and is very interested…

Posted by Plug Me In on Dienstag, 31. Mai 2016

In the morning Jeppe tested my car and we drove to a supermarket where he bought me lunch. Then I started driving to Thisted, there was a huge testcenter for windmills and I was interested to see that. The weather was pretty bad today, from when I started it rained and it didn’t stop. Unfortunately it was closed for visitors. By that time I already lost 60% on a 80km drive and had to do another 150 to Velling over the coast. I decided that I had to change my plan. Yesterday I made a list of charging locations on the route. In Denmark there are almost no free charging stations and the ones who are free are mostly regular 220V plugs.
On Plugshare there was one location where they listed a free Mennekes plug. It was in Hanstholm, 20km north from Thisted and I decided to go there. At the hotel they told me that there was free charging station at a gasstation in Thisted so I drove 20km back to there, unfortunately it wasn’t free. I had two options: charge at a regular plug in Thisted or drive back to the hotel and charge on 16A. I choose for the last option, I would loose 40KM but still charge pretty “fast”. Around 1PM I plugged in there.

Because it was already late and I needed to charge for about 5-6 hours I decided that I could’t make it to Velling as with the weather it was not certain I could make it and would arrive fairly late. I let Anna (my plugger for that night) know that I had to change my plans and as an EV driver she understood my problems.
At the hotel I could pick of free WiFi and looked on my map for another possibility. The next day I needed to be in Vejle and luckily I had one offer just in the middle from where I was an Vejle. I send him an sms an he quickly answered that it was ok to come this night.

Danish traffic

Ar around 6pm I started driving, the car was 85% charged by that time. The traffic in Denmark is very well organized. On a highway the max speed is 130km/h, in residential areas 50km/h and on normal roads 80 or 90km/h. What strikes me is that all the drivers really stick to the rules. When you have to lower your speed everyone does that and also on the highways people blink their lights when they swap lanes, keep to the max speed and give other drivers the space to enter when they want.
What I found interesting is that in Denmark you are mandatory to drive with your lights on at all times. I still have to get used to this and even when the sun is shining and the visibility is perfect, other drivers warn you that you have to turn your lights on, I still have to find out the reason why.

Ellert Alert!

Around 8.30 I arrived at Keld’s place in Mammen. The last km’s I drove to expansive fields and the views where mesmerizing. Keld lives in a big single house and he instantly showed me his Ellert, the crazy Danish electric vehicle which I had just been introduced to by Jeppe. Keld told me he had a few more and asked if I was interested to see them, of course.

A short drive took us to a big building at a farm side. When he opened the sliding door I couldn’t believe my eyes. The whole area, which was about the size of a swimming pool, was filled with Ellerts. With my mouth wide open I asked Keld how many he had and he invited me to count them, he was not sure but he guessed there where about 60 of them.

Keld had been collecting them for about 25 years. He has the fourth ever who came of the production line and from every type he as at least one. He recognizes the cars by the serial numbers that are written in the dust on the front windows. In another room he had spare parts of the vehicles. Wheels, tires, red cables, blue cables, white cables, I don’t know what it all was but he had it all. Keld wishes that once he can build a museum to show his impressive collection. He really knows all the details about this vehicle and could talk for days about this so I’m sure he can fill a museum with his collection and stories.

Later we drove back to his house. Kjeld told me that Mammen (where only 300 people life) is famous for it’s cheese and history. Apparently it was a town where Vikings lived and during excavations they found an axe covered with diamonds. A replica of this axe is hanging at the entrance of the town.
His wife Line and a bunch of her friends just arrived home from a long cycling trip. They wanted to know everything about what I was doing and had to take about 50 pictures of me and the car which where instantly spread on their whatsapp groups.

Day 76 | Vejle, Åbyhøj, Valdum

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Around 7.30 I woke up in the car. When I sleep in there I put the seat horizontal and lift the sitting part a bit up so it’s almost straight with the back part. It’s not completely straight and that’s why I always wake up a few times during the night because there is something itching in my side.

Thomas and Annette where surprised that I slept in the car, they had no idea that I’ve been ringing the door bell, climbed on their house and yelled their names in the garden.

This was the biggest group of people where I stayed over so far. Actually I didn’t stay in the house as I locked myself…

Posted by Plug Me In on Montag, 30. Mai 2016

After a shower and breakfast Thomas and I drove to Vejle for a meeting of the FDEL. On the way to Vejle we drove over the highest mountain in Denmark which was a staggering 172 meters!

The FDEL is an association originally founded to handle the problems when Better Place went bankrupt, now they are actively promoting electric cars. Thomas is a member of this club and on their Facebook group some other members had already posted about Plug Me In and offered me energy. Yesterday Thomas called one of the board members and because he was enthusiastic about the project he asked me if I could give a short presentation about my plans.

The meeting was a bit hard to follow as it was completely in Danish and I took the opportunity to do some work. It was interesting to meet the members of this club and surprisingly there where three people where i’m going to stay later this week. I gave a short presentation about how I came up with the idea, what my plans are and how I experienced the first two months. I received lots of questions from the audience mainly about how I experienced electric driving and the problems I encountered.

At the end of the meeting there was a presentation from a Danish couple who drove around the world in an electric car, way before it was popular. They also drove through countries where I’m planning to go to so it was very interesting to see how they experienced that and afterwards I could ask them some questions about which problems they encountered.

On the way back to Thomas’ place in Åbyhøj we stopped at a former Better Place station. See yesterdays blog for a short explanation about this company. I was surprised that the station was still there and also about the size of this unit. It was about the same size as a carwash and it looks and works a bit the same too. You would drive the car on two rails, the under-neat of the car would be cleaned (which was not necessary in Denmark), the battery would be taken out, replaced by a new one and then the car would roll out on the other side of the building.

From Åbyhøj I drove 133km to Valdum in the northern part of the country close to Aalborg. I should meet Jeppe & Gitte there. Their street address didn’t show up in my navigation so when I arrived in town I texted Jeppe how I could get to his place. He answered: “just keep driving, im almost there, you can’t miss me”. A few minutes later I saw this funny and odd looking car driving towards me, I suspected that this was the guy I was looking for and while he was heavily waving at me I was right. I followed him to his house and of course I wanted to know everything about this “thing” he was driving in. It appeared to be fully electric too. He didn’t call it a car but an electric vehicle, which covers it. It was 25 years old and he replaced the lead acid batteries with lithium ones. It has 40km range and a topspeed of 75km/h.

I could testdrive it too and it’s really fun to ride! Because you’re low to the ground and the material is light it feels like you drive a really fast car. The noises it makes from the wind also add to that.

Jeppe and Gitte are two active persons in their late 30’s. Gitte manages seven library’s in Aalborg and Jeppe is a biology, science and mathematics teacher at a high school. He is very interested in everything that is electric. In his basement / mancave he made a 3D printer which he hardly ever used once it was finished, he enjoys to the process of the making more. I also spotted an old Commodore computer in his house.

The roof of Jeppe and Gitte’s house is filled with solar panels and during the summer they produce more energy then needed. Jeppe told me that the Danish government aren’t really promoting PV’s or green energy. A few years ago you could get back the same amount of energy as you would put in to the grid, for free. It encouraged many people to buy solar panels and now they changed the rule. When you put energy into the grid you can get back energy only in the same hour as you’ve put it in. If you want more energy you pay the high price for that.

Day 75 | Aarhus

Dag75

Henrik returned home from his work in the prison at around 7 in the morning. I didn’t want him to stay up after a long night so I set the alarm early. I drove 160km to Aarhus (Århus). It’s Denmark’s third biggest city and I saw many pictures of it and somehow I already liked this place before I got there. Recently it was nominated Europe’s 2nd hottest travel destination by Lonely Planet.

Henrik was the first one who I visited in Denmark. He is a real man; likes beer, football and he made me a barbecue….

Posted by Plug Me In on Sonntag, 29. Mai 2016

I got there pretty early and was looking for a parking space, it took me a while to find a free one and it was 4km outside of the city so I had to walk 40 minutes to get into town. I never use any maps to find my way around but try to find the nicest places myself. I started in the old town where they have all these nice buildings, every house has different color and the patterns in the buildings somehow attract me.

Why I really wanted to visit Aarhus was because of the ARoS museum. It’s a huge building and on top of it they have this donut panorama lookout. The glass has different colors so you don’t need an Instagram filter when you take picture.


The museum has many different exhibitions varying from Chinese art installations to middel age paintings. My favorite part was “school of disobedience” by Jani Leinonen. His art was about the big brands in the worlds who influence the costumers in a negative way. A huge installation had the sentence “The most terrible things, war, genocide and slavery had resulted not from disobedience but from obedience”. Every word was written in the logo of a well known brand like Heineken, Ikea, McDonalds and also Volkswagen.
The fast-food sector also played a big roll in this exhibition. Ronald McDonald was shown on a cross and even beheaded by a guillotine. On a screen they showed an interesting and funny story, some guys from Finland stole a Ronald McDonald statue at a restaurant. They made an ISIS like video where they demanded money in exchange for the release of the statue, when they didn’t pay they would behead him. McDonald’s didn’t reply and so they decapitated. This story even made it to CNN.

From Aarhus I drove 7km to Thomas and his family in Åbyhøj, who was my next plugger. Their house was under total renovation and on all sides there was placed scaffolding. I was surprised to see that they had a Better Place wallbox. Better Place was an innovative startup from Israel, they installed charging stations which could swap battery’s. You could park your car on it, then a robot would take the empty battery out and will put a new full one in. Great idea but unfortunately they want bankrupt four years ago.

Thomas, his wife Annette and daughter Cecilie where nice people, Thomas is a union worker and does gardening. Annette is a consultant for unemployed people who are looking for a new job. They made a nice dish with fish and afterwards we drove to Aarhus to get ice cream. We did a little detour and they showed me the harbor of the city where many new apartments are being build.

Back home I went to my room and watched the Champions League final on a livestream. When it finished I went outside to get some stuff from my car, stupid mistake. When I left the house I closed the door, during the day it was opened but they had locked it now. It was around 12 and Thomas went to bed an half hour earlier, I rang the doorbell a couple of times but they didn’t hear it. I could see that the window from the bathroom on the third floor was open so I climbed the scaffolding to get there but there was plastic in front to protect it from the rain, bad luck. In a final try to get their attention I tried to call their names in the garden as their room was on that side but they where already dreaming deeply.

Luckily I had the car key with me so the only (but not uncomfortable) option was to sleep in the car.

 

74 | To Denmark!

Dag74

For the first time this trip I arrived in a country where I haven’t been before: Denmark! (Oke I went to San Marino for 20 minutes but that doesn’t really count) I always wanted to visit Scandinavia but never had the chance, now I’m doing all four countries!

But first a short note about day 72 and 73. Tuesday evening I got a bit sick and Wednesday I stayed in bed most of the day. It was probably because of the hectic weeks I had before and my body gave a signal that I had to slow down. Thursday I felt better and worked all day at the Fairhaus, I managed to do 90% of the work I still had to do and now I feel a bit more calm as I can look forward instead of keeping up with unfinished business everyday.

This morning I said goodbye to Stephan & Uta. I stayed for 5 nights at their place and so far I have never stayed at the same location more then 3 days. Uta & Stephan took really good care of me, everyday they made delicious food, showed me around and they would let me do my work when I felt like. I’m very thankful of their kindness!

 

Utah & Stephan own the Janbeck’s Fairhouse in Germany near the Baltic sea. It’s an impressive hotel and most…

Posted by Plug Me In on Samstag, 28. Mai 2016

 

Before I drove to Denmark I did a quick stop in Ringsberg where Hanno had his garage, he is the guy from the old Barkas V901. A few days earlier I did a stop there with Stephan in his Zoe and of course Hanno was really interested in my ca so I drove there to show it to him. I told him everything what I knew about the Golf and he was impressed by what was on the inside.

Then to Denmark, it was just a 70KM drive to Rødekro where Henrik plugged me in. On a Danish Facebook page about electric cars someone posted about my project and that’s how he found me. He lives in a quite town surrounded by huge fields and lives in a big house with a wallbox installed for the Zoe he drives. Because my car has a reversed Type 2 plug I can’t use wallboxes with cables attached so the car is now charging on the schuko cable, which is no problem as I’m staying here for the night and it will be fully charged by tomorrow morning.

Henrik is a cool guy, a real man. He likes to play football and last night he went to a match of his favorite team and still had a hangover. He works as a guard in a prison, drinks beer and made me a barbecue with big piles of meat. His work in the prison changed him though, sometimes he has a hard time to trust people because of the experiences he had. He teached me how to ride to airboard, it’s this mini segway without a wheel thing which you have probably seen somewhere lately. In the beginning it feels very unstable and I pushed my toes hard to go forward. The trick is to not force the board but think about where you want to go and you get the drill quick.

At around 8.30PM Henrik had to leave to work, he has a nightshift and I’m finishing off some work. Tomorrow morning when he will return home and I’m leaving we will probably cross each other.