Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Made it back to Europe and our motorhome Max!

Well, the last 24 hours or so are a bit of a blur. Let me see if I can back us up a bit and try and remember all the details...

It started off Thursday morning around 11:00am when our daughter Lindsey came to pick us up and take us to the Ottawa airport. She arrived right on time and I loaded the bikes into the back of her van.

It took a few minutes to get things organized. Her van has those fancy "stow and go" seats that fold into the floor. Really cool, but it did take a few minutes to get things set up. While I was doing that, Ruth was still rushing around the house taking care of some last minute details.

The airlines try to put you in panic mode by sending out emails saying something like "you had better be at the airport at least three hours in advance or there is the possibility you might miss your flight". 

We know better than that, especially at a small airport like Ottawa. Still, there is something in the back of your head that tells you it's certainly better to be there early than late!

So I went in the front door and grabbed our two carry on suitcases. I put them in the van, then walked back towards the front entrance step to grab the larger suitcase. 

That's when I saw Enke the escape artist cat! And he was outside the entrance door, not inside. Of course he had a typical "I''ll do what I want" cat attitude towards the whole situation, and proceeded to make his way under the porch. Totally my mistake... when I was carrying the bags, I had my hands full and the door didn't totally close shut. 

Well, there was nothing we could do to coax that cat back inside. And we were already a few minutes later than we planned. 

We ended up going to see one of the neighbors to see if she would go back over later on to let the cat in if she could. Nothing else we could do. But it was so dumb... we were so careful for six weeks... and then the cat gets out minutes before we are due to leave. Unbelievable.

We drove to the airport and got a luggage trolley. I don't think we've ever travelled with this much stuff. Yes, the two bikes in shipping boxes that Ruth's brother had got for us from his work. But we also had a large suitcase that was pretty full. Mostly our silk comforter, but quite a few other things as well.

The check in agent charged us the $50 each for the bikes, but I don't think she followed the rules the way they are written. I think she was also supposed to charge extra for the one big suitcase as well, but she didn't. And no, I wasn't about to question her decision!

Then, after the bikes were tagged, I had to bring them over to the oversize baggage department where the guy said he had to open all of our packing to inspect the insides. Okay... whatever. But I wish your website instructions would have mentioned that. What a waste of time that was. But eventually we got the boxes all taped up and we wouldn't see them again until Frankfurt.

Sure enough, we still had an hour and a half to spare.

The first flight Ottawa to Toronto was a non event. It's only a forty minute flight. Makes you wonder why they try to rush themselves to serve a coffee or tea, yet they do. Makes no sense to me.

While in Toronto, we got an email from the neighbor. She had managed to get Enke the cat back into the house! Whew!

Toronto to Frankfurt was on an older Boeing 777. I would say the plane was about 3/4 full with lots of empty seats towards the back. Our row of three had another person in it, but she moved to an empty seat behind us just before takeoff. So it was nice to have some extra room.

The food on this Air Canada flight was terrible. Probably among the worst airplane food I've ever had. And somebody forgot to stock the plane with white wine. The staff were really friendly though, I have to give them that. And to their credit, Air Canada has a fantastic seatback entertainment system.

The flights went by quickly though. Ruth had a few longer naps, but I didn't sleep at all. Still, it felt like it went by quickly.

Ruth with all of our luggage.

At Frankfurt airport, we were once again quickly welcomed through immigration. A friendly border officer with a smile. When I explained that we were only staying 26 days, he said that Canadians have more privilege than that when it comes to Germany. He actually told us that as Canadians we can stay 90 days in Germany and then exit for a few days or a week and when we come back we get 90 days more if have have entered and exited the Schengen Zone through Germany. That essentially means that we could travel to all of the other Schengen zone countries because of the open borders, and that nobody would care provided we enter and exit the zone from Germany.

Yes, it's all very confusing. I will check into it further.

Once we got all of our luggage together, we made our way to the luggage storage area. We had too much stuff to manage it all in one go. So we had made a plan to store the bikes at the airport, go get Max, then drive back to the airport to pick them up.

We just didn't expect it to be so expensive. But, knowing how airports treat things like this, we should not have been surprised. It's €15 per bike per calendar day. So €60 ($88 CAD, $70 USD) to store two bikes for two days. Crooks.

But we didn't see a choice. Although, we wondered what would have happened if we simply hadn't claimed them from the luggage area. 

Then, we bought our train tickets to Dulmen. It's a very confusing system. The route we wanted had one very short connection time, and we almost missed the first train. Once we got on the train, I wasn't even positive that we were on the right one! When the ticket inspector came by,  he was really sympathetic to our situation. But it turned out that we were in fact on the correct train, and he said we could switch trains at Dortmund meaning that we had the more scenic route that follows the Rhine River up to Cologne.

It sucks trying to take decent photos through a train window.

I bet we saw over a dozen castles.

The windows weren't very clean.

Big RV park by the Rhine River.

Another castle.

We are going to have to bring Max down to this area on another trip!

It was a four and a half hour train ride and it cost €160 ($234 CAD, $186 USD) for the two of us. Yes, trains are kind of pricey in Germany.

But, we made it to Dulmen at close to 1:00pm. We then had about a 2 km walk to Max.

Part of our walk was along this track beside the horse pasture.

With a six hour time change, we arrived at Max at just after 1:00pm Friday and got some of our stuff unpacked and organized. Just enough to be able to drive him, because of course the fridge was empty and we had no propane. Our new tanks had arrived and were installed, but they were still empty so getting them filled was the first priority.

There is a self serve gas station just around the corner and it also has a self serve LPG fill station. I had never used one before, so it took me a few minutes to get it figured out! I had been told to not fill a brand new tank to the 80% fill level (not sure why not?) and so I put between 12 to 15 liters in each tank. (they normally hold 21 liters at the 80% full level). That should keep us going for about a month though.

Then we went to get a new SIM card for the phone so that we can keep in contact with you all. €25 ($37 CAD, $29 USD) for 13 GB of data.

Next, a stop at Aldi for some groceries. We were pretty tired by this point and only bought what we needed for dinner and breakfast. 

We try to ignore time zone changes and just stick with our normal schedule using the time that is in the new zone. We find that the easiest way to beat jetlag. But by 8:00pm we were both zombies. We went to bed... and we slept for ten and a half hours! We feel great today! Best sleep in weeks!

Today, we will do the three hour drive back to Frankfurt airport to pick up the bikes. We will take the main highway. No time for sightseeing along the way. Then I'll have to put the bikes together in the airport parking lot and get them installed on the bike rack. I hope it's not raining, because there are some showers happening as I write this at 8:00am Saturday morning. Oh well. We'll figure it out.

Then to the other side of Frankfurt where we will find somewhere to overnight. We're trying to catch up to our friends Glen and Steve who are a little ahead of us. Hoping to do just that by Monday or so.

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And in Canada...


23 comments:

  1. That drive/train along the Rhine is breathtaking. Never tired of it. You bring back memories.

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    1. It sure was and we can't wait to do it with Max one day. It would take us ages to make our way along that stretch. Glad that you enjoyed the pictures and that they brought back good memories for you.

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  2. Wowza, with sugar on top!!! You two are superior travelers. So happy you're back with Max.

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    1. Thank you Kent and Monica, not sure I would say we are superior travelers but we seem to have it together for the most part when traveling.

      We are so happy to be back in Max. Still another busy day ahead of us and then we can get ourselves into more of a relax mode. :-)

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  3. Yahooo We are back on the road again.

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    1. We sure are and boy it sure is going to be an interesting fall and winter ahead of us! I think there are going to be some cool adventures waiting over then next little while. :-)

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    2. It is a little disappointing not to be heading to the MX and meet up with everyone, but I will enjoy your travels through Europe, a virtual caravan.

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    3. This is the first time since 2007 that we haven't visited Mexico for two whole winters in a row. We have missed one winter a couple of times before but never two. I hope you enjoy your visit back there this winter. We will look forward to reading about your adventures there. :-)

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  4. Woohoo, good going, you two! Sounds like a helluva trip, but you made it, and hopefully you were able to get the bikes put together in dry weather. I commend your efforts!

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    1. Thanks Emily! It was definitely a long day but well worth it, It feels good to be back in Max and we had such a great sleep which is good because we had another longish day for us yesterday too.

      You can read today's post and hear more about the bikes. The next few days we will start to slow down and get ourselves more into a relax mode and really start enjoying the trip itself. :-)

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  5. I'm tired just reading about it all, haha!

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    1. Lol, just image what we felt like doing it! :-)

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  6. I was wondering what it cost to ship the bikes. Not bad at all. Enjoy!

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    1. Not bad, all things considered. Kevin is going to have the real cost of shipping the bikes in today's post because there is more involved in it than just what the airline charged us. Having said that we are so happy to have our bikes with us now. :-)

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  7. Good deal,back were you belong! Look forward to adventures! Take care, Rawn Stone

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    1. Yes, we are! We love being back in Max and in travel/exploring mode again. :-)

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  8. So glad you made it back to Max! What a day + !! Cannot wait for news of your continued travels!! Enjoy!!

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    1. Thank you Larry and Nancy! We are happy to be back in Max and yes, it was a long couple of days but so worth it. We hope that you enjoy reading about our adventures this winter.

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  9. Dear Ruth and KEvin I am so happy to see you are in Germany again and this day you just described was incredibly taxing-- you are both champs-- looking forward to following your travells. all the best Carol Furpahs

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    1. It is good to be back in Max and in Germany and to be able to start our fall and winter adventures. It was a couple of long and tiring days but everything went pretty smoothly so it was well worth the effort.

      It is going to be an interesting and exciting fall and winter this year. We loved our travels last winter but it is going to be so much better this time around now that we have Max, we hope you enjoy reading all about it. :-)

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