Berat, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Problem solved for now, and back on the road to a nice free forest campground

We sat in the parking lot at the RV dealer until about lunchtime when our service tech David came and got Max to try to repair the sliding pantry door. Did you know that the name for this type of door is called a "tambour door". We had never heard that term before.

As I expected, this was not an easy problem to fix. He ended up having to break the door to get it out, and although that sounds extreme, I couldn't figure out how else it could be done. 

Travel smoothly with the help of these apps in 2021

Whether you’re going on a fishing adventure to New Zealand or exploring everything Warsaw has to offer, we all take our mobile phone devices with us in today’s smartphone-obsessed world. It’s understandable, too, of course. Today’s mobile phones offer a range of functionalities, be it taking high-quality images or simply enabling us to locate the best nearby hotels in a foreign location.  

For many modern-day holidaymakers, the smartphone devices of today offer a range of other benefits also. Instead of solely using devices to track down family or friends who are staying nearby or for entertainment purposes like watching a Netflix movie or playing slot games like Chests of Plenty, travellers are downloading an array of travel apps too. Some apps enable a journey to go more smoothly, while others help you get the most out of an adventure abroad. The options in this space are comprehensive too, as developers aim to tap into what is proving to be a popular category of apps. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Hopefully it will be a quick fix, but I'm not betting on it.

A bit of a frustrating day yesterday.

We left our free overnight spot early Monday morning. We had forgotten that on Sundays the shops are almost all closed, and we had run out of milk so figured we would go into the nearest town that also had a motorhome service point where we could empty our toilet tank.

That turned out to be the town of  Vreden which was in the wrong direction to where we had wanted to be going, but it was only about 12 kms (7 miles) out of our way.

Monday, June 28, 2021

We never thought there would be flamingos in Germany

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to see the flamingos at Zwillbrocker Venn. One of the trails to the conservation area actually starts right where we were parked with Max.

This area is famous because of a colony of nesting flamingos. It is the furthest north colony in the world. We never would have thought there would be flamingos in Germany.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Arrived in Netherlands... and the world's largest camping gear store!

It was only a 50 km (30 mile) drive from our RV dealer to the Netherlands border... and another 10 kms (6 miles) after that to the world's largest camping gear store.

I am calling it "the world's largest", although that has not been confirmed. But now that we've been there, we don't see how there could possibly be anything bigger! It is quite the place.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Have a look at these European RVs

We relaxed for the morning, but then around noon we got Max packed up and ready to go. We had a 2:30pm appointment for him at the service department, but wanted to pick up a few grocery items before we left.

Of course part of the process of getting ready to go includes the emptying of our toilet casette. The European system is quite different from the North American system.

Friday, June 25, 2021

What a big set of antlers!

There were lots of walking trails where we had been parked Wednesday night, so first thing Thursday morning we went for a walk. 

We are still trying to figure out the best way to install a power inverter so that we can have standard electricity (230VAC here in Europe) inside the house part of the motorhome, running off the batteries. Until we sort it out, I was looking for an inexpensive basic unit that would plug into the 12VDC power socket with just enough power to keep our laptops charged up.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

First time driving Max!

We had a good day yesterday. 

It started with doing laundry. We don't have very many clothes to begin with, and we don't mind doing some hand washing to get us by, but eventually the larger items need doing too. It turns out there is no laundromat in the town of Dulmen, and we had to drive a half an hour into the city of Munster to get that job done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Why are we still sitting here? And a few warranty issues

We arrived here to meet Max last Friday, so we have now spent four nights sleeping in the new motorhome. Yet he still has only 30 kms (18 miles) on the odometer. That's because we haven't driven him yet!

We had explained beforehand that we were in no rush. Plus, we arrived on a Friday so we were pretty sure not much would get done over the weekend. And Monday and Tuesday were Amazon Prime days, so I was pretty busy working during that event, and quite happy to be sat in one spot.

And, it gave us a chance to go over the rig and check out any problems. And there are some minor warranty problems (detailed below) to sort out. But, they are very minor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A video tour of Max's interior

We think that we have the interior set up the way we want it. A place for everything, and everything in it's place, as they say.

Of course you put things away and store them during travel, but we try to do that even when we're parked up because it's easy for a motorhome's interior to start to look cluttered. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Exploring Dulmen, Germany

We took a break from the shopping yesterday, although partly because it was forced on us. Here in Germany, the vast majority of shops are closed on Sundays.

So we spent some time organizing and figuring out the best way to store things in Max. And, we were overdue for some exercise so we got out for a long walk.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

It is a lot of work to set up a new motorhome!

Another busy day shopping yesterday, but things are coming together. 

We wanted to go to an IKEA store, and I knew there was bound to be a lot of them in Germany. In fact I looked it up and there are 53 IKEA stores in Germany. For comparison, there are 52 in the United States, and 12 in Canada.

But surprisingly, there isn't one really close by to where we are. There were three that were all about the same distance, so we chose one.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Introducing you to Max... our new European motorhome!

We were up early yesterday morning and had a big breakfast at the hotel. It was buffet style, so there was lots of choice for us and we made sure to walk away full since we didn't know if or when we would have a chance to get any lunch.

We had to make our way to the dealership which was located about 10 kms (6 miles) from the hotel. (Or so I thought at the time!) There is no Uber presence in this town, and we asked about a taxi, only to be told it might cost €30 to €40 for the trip. I would walk before I would pay that kind of money!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Arrived in Germany... country #43 for us. And, what have we named our new motorhome?

Not only have we arrived in Germany, but we have arrived at the town where our new motorhome is located!

We were picked up at 9:00am at our apartment in Warsaw by a young couple who were driving all the way to Netherlands... and they were doing the drive all in one day. This worked out perfectly for us, even though it's a long distance and it would be a full day in the car to do the 1,000 km (620 mile) distance. 

But, it goes by pretty quick when you're doing 160 km/h (99.5 mph).

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Visit with The Chouters, and a change of plans...

We left the apartment after lunch and began walking downtown. We were actually on our way to meet up with The Chouters, but they were located at a campground on the other side of downtown and the opposite side of the river.

We wanted to see the rooftop garden at the University Library and it was pretty much along the way. Then we could walk across the river and take an Uber from there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Planning to get to Germany and our new motorhome

Our new motorhome is located in the town of Dulmen, Germany. It's actually quite close to the Netherlands border. So from here, it is still about 1,000 kms (620 miles) away. There are too many restrictions still involved with flying, but crossing into Germany by land is okay since we are already in the EU and have not been in a "risk" country in the last 10 days.

Our current plan is to take the train to the city of Poznan here in Poland. That gets us a little closer to the German border. From Poznan there are quite a few rideshares available to get us to Berlin. There are some rideshares available directly from Warsaw, but it's an 8 hour drive and the ones that are available seem to leave at odd hours.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Easier said than done!

First order of business on Monday was to try to find out about getting the Covid vaccination. Here in Poland, you do not have to be a citizen and the vaccination is free. However it's not as simple as just showing up and getting the shot.

In fact, it seems it's not simple at all, and we are just about ready to give up!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunday wasn't a great day

It wasn't bad... it just wasn't great! They were calling for showers on and off, and the temperature never got much above 18C (65F) and there were gusty winds. It was just a dull day. And sure enough, it did rain but it was a little more than showers. It really came down a couple of times, and with the wind it was just not nice.

We still planned on going out though. After all, we have raincoats and we needed to get some fresh air.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

First day in Warsaw... lots to see!

I've always wanted to go to Poland. Mostly because not many other travelers from North America come here, when compared to the more popular countries of Europe. When North Americans think of Europe, they mostly think of Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Poland isn't nearly as popular for whatever reason.

Right now, we are only interested in Warsaw. We haven't done any research as to what to see in the rest of the country, and it's a pretty big country. All of that will have to wait until we get into our motorhome. Poland will be on the agenda at some point over the next couple of years. For this visit, Warsaw is our only interest.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Arrived in Poland... country #42 for us

I never sleep well the night before a travel day. Too many things running through my mind! And you just don't know what roadblocks will be thrown your way. I don't think I would describe it as stressful... it's more exciting to me than anything else. 

Yesterday's post ended with us in the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. Our flight to Warsaw, Poland was supposed to leave at 9:40am, but the departures board listed it as 9:20am. Turns out we didn't even start boarding until 9:20am, and didn't actually take off until 10:00am.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Off to Poland!

Writing this from the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. It's only a two hour flight, so by the time most of you read this we will be in Warsaw, Poland.

Yesterday, we walked downtown and had lunch at the very first restaurant we went to when we arrived here almost three months ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

View above Tirana, and more Poland planning

One of the things we had wanted to do here in Tirana is to take the cable car up into the mountains. Wednesday was supposed to be warm and sunny, so we figured the views should be good. 

The lower cable car terminal is located on the outskirts of the city, about 6.5 kms (4 miles) from our apartment. We thought about driving, but traffic in Tirana can get backed up at all hours of the day. Also, when we return to the apartment it's difficult to find parking.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Life in Communist Albania

We wandered downtown yesterday afternoon. There had been some showers in the morning, but by after lunch it was a pleasant day.

It's only about 2 kms (1.6 miles) to downtown, but we took a bit of a different route because we wanted to see a small archeological site in a nearby neighborhood. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Planning for Poland, and the cost of a haircut

Monday was a nice relaxing day! It was a bit overcast all day, and there were a few scattered showers. We didn't even leave the apartment until about noon. But that's okay, I had lots of planning to do for our upcoming trip to Poland.

First thing was to find suitable accommodation. There was lots of availability on Airbnb, but not much suitable at a half decent price. Warsaw is a big capital city, and even though Poland is one of the cheaper European countries, the big cities can still be expensive. So I started looking at shared accommodation, which we've been trying to avoid due to Covid. But sometimes economics comes into play. Anyhow, we got lucky!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Moving day... back in the big city of Tirana, and Covid update

Well, we are back where we started and our almost three month tour of Albania is coming to an end. We fly to Poland this coming Friday, so that gives us only four full days left here. Today, we don't have much planned... we both need haircuts though, so that will be on the agenda. And we do have a couple of day trips we want to do before we leave, so the rest of the week will go by quickly!

On Sunday, we drove from Koman to Tirana, with a couple of stops along the way.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Hiking high above Komani Lake

We came to Komani Lake specifically to do the Komani Lake Ferry ride. But when we were researching the area, we learned of a hike that goes high up into the mountains overlooking Komani Lake where there is the ruins of a settlement dating back to the 3rd century.

The hike itself would be great, but even better to see some ruins that not many other people see because it's a difficult uphill climb to get there.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lake Komani Ferry. And decision time!

Let's talk about decision time first.

We have to leave Albania by June 13th one way or the other. Our destination of choice would be Germany to pick up our motorhome, but Germany is still closed to most visitors arriving by air. And the European Union (EU) countries are not united when it comes to entry rules for visitors... in fact they are a jumbled mess with all 27 countries making their own rules despite recommendations from the EU itself.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Koman, Albania

The little village of Koman doesn't really have a lot to offer. However, after wandering around for a day there is more to it than originally meets the eye.

This was a remote mountain village until 1980 when they began construction of the Koman Hydroelectric power station. The dam was completed in 1985, and the reservoir filled in 1986. When the reservoir was filled, they began a ferry service for the locals to be able to access the other villages along the waterway.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Moving day... and tire damage update

We said goodbye to the Albanian Alps yesterday after a fantastic week in such stunning scenery. We weren't going very far, but it was going to take a while to get there. 

First, we drove back to the city of Shkodra to get our flat tire problem fixed up. The other day, I had backed onto the shoulder of a narrow road in order to let another vehicle pass, and in the process a rock cut into the sidewall of the tire. I knew that it was not repairable, and I figured that we were going to be on the hook for the price of a new tire.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Trail markers, but no trail

We've really enjoyed our week here in the Albanian Alps. Other than one rain day, we did some hiking each day. In fact, we did 44 kms (27 miles) with some decent elevation gains.

Yesterday was our last full day here. We decided on a walk on the other side of the valley. For most of it, I think we were following an old logging road. But the signs at the beginning pointed to the top of the mountain, which we kind of figured would be a tough hike. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Hiking in the snow!

This is the second post of the day. You may have missed our May Expenses post earlier on.

On Monday, we drove a short distance up to a trail that leads to a castle ruins. We had already been told that there isn't much left of the castle, so we knew not to expect too much. We also had already been told that "they" (whoever they are) are building a five star hotel up there. 

May Expenses

And so another month begins... it is June the 1st today. 

We are still using the TravelSpend app to keep track of our expenses. It's really working well for us and it's easy to use.

May was a good month, simply because we came in right where we expected to be. There were no surprises! We spent $2,413 CAD ($2,002 USD) for the month.