Austria, Italy, added and removed equipment
Our first week was a blur of passing kilometers, bad diner-coffee and trying to find parts and equipment.
The second week we finally saw our new rooftent from Gordigear installed. Ofcource, nothing is ever straight forward. There is always some thing that goes wrong or is delayed. Since our would be norwegian 4×4 equipment supplier (who shall not be mentioned by name) could not deliver, we had to find an alternative. I reached out to Franz at Gordigear, Germany, – hoping that he would know where I could get what I needed. True enough, Franz delivered. He helped us locate a nearby 4×4 equipment dealership, Taubenreuther, across the border to Austria. All good so far. But it is never that easy. The parts could be ordered, but would not arrive until friday, 3 days later. So we spent a few days in Salzburg before showing up at Taubenreuther very early in the morning.
These guys helped us mount new rails on the roof, but also talked us out of buying quite a few nice-to-have items from their shop. Then to top it all they then pointed us to a different caravan/camping store for some other bits and pieces we still needed. Great help, great service and very nice coffee. What, the bullbar? With some knowhow, a quick discussion on the merits of the law in all of EU regarding how very illegal the large bullbar is (since 2006) and how complex the propper fitting would be, we decided to get rid of it. At 0755 in the morning…
After our session at Taubenreuther we drove over to this new caravan store, then back to Euopark, a big shopping senter to buy a camera and som other electronics, and then back to Laufen to get our new tent installed. It turns out that my masterly navigational planning had us crossing the German/Austrian border about 4 times. It also turns out that outside Salzburg there is always rushour. We know this from experience…
Coming late to Gordigear (thanx for waiting), we finally fitted the last big piece of the camping puzzle. Our new tent is called Gordigear Explorer Plus, and is a marvel both to use, pack and unpack. I admit I felt a little uneasy sitting on the ledge in the beginning, considering that it seems to float unsupported a good 120 cm over the cide of the car. But wow! This is a lot of tent for the euros spent! In unexperienced hands it takes maybe 5 minutes to pitch, and maybe 15 minutes to pack up. And the best part is being a good 185 cm off the ground. You can imagine Tonje being very exited on the prospect of NOT sleeping on the ground in South and Central america later this year and in the beginning of next. For those of you who have read my earlier posts, Tonje has a total of 7 camping nights under her belt. All of them with me on our shake down trip summer of ’13. Now, the experience is more luxurious by several degrees. This is going to be fantastic! For us, this is a brave new world..
Franz mounted the very large tent on the very large car (using a fork lift!), explained how everything worked, stoically shouldered all our repeted questions, explained again (like I was five years old, much because I asked him to) and then sent us on our way.
We had allready decided against testing the tent the first night, knowing that we would probably get ourselfs lost again and find a campsite very late… Instead we booked a very cheap room in a alpine, well Hostell seems a bit too nice.. a nice alpine dump. To be fair, it was very cheap. And the innkeeper, not speaking any english or german (in austria) was very charming. It was an experience and an eye-opener. The room was so filthy that we really didn’t want to tak off our shooes before going to bed. Tonje took a shower, and later professed that she positively could not wait to go camping! The room had been cleaned, probably just after WW2.. The dinner, I don’t even know where to start. We put all our money on schnaps killing all germs in the food.
The next day I plotted a fun fun fun backcountry treck all over the tiniest roads over the alps. As the roads got steeper and steeper, and the lane narrowed more and more, I knew I had gotten what I bargened for. The car got a proper test and we got som spectacular scenery. Then followed our first night in the new Gordigear tent. Morning came and we looked at the looming rainclouds and quickly decided to pack up everything and head south. Driving by GPS, you have to understand that it’s like having a tempered teen giving you directions. It can be fine at one moment, and the next (after you change your mind and ask it to please please please recalculate to the new destination), you have to be punished by taking the very much longer trip through the places of hillbilly Italy that will never ever make it to an tourist information brouchoure.. My current favorite is the intersection that was so narrow that it felt like a parkingspace two sizes too small. However, after promising the GPS that I would buy it some new map-upgrades, we finally arrived at a very nice camping site in Toscana, wine country! We stayed for 2 nights, before heading to Genova.
Oh what a mistake that was. Genova is one of those places that I will most likely never come back too. It’s not a ghetto per say, – that would probably be offensive to other ghettos all over the world. We ate at McDonalds and stayed in our hotel room..
I would like to just ad one thing about Italy. The traffic is rediculous. Maps, signs, intersection-lights and even directions from police are very much a good indication, but not really any rule. Two lane streets will be filled by five lanes of cars and wespas. Everyone is honking so you honk back, just because it seems like the right thing to do. And all this in the behemoth of a Pajero. I may or may not have ran ove a few Fiat Pandas down here. We’ll probably never know..