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TDM2014 – Day 4, Istria: TWIKE to the MAX!

our trip today is filed under TDM2014 *and* one-day-trip. we start in trieste and circumvent the istrian pensinsula and arrive back in triest.

we have three learnings for today.

1. croatia/istria is extremely nice; there will be another TDM/TDI(stria)
2. the tour we did today is one of the most diverse you can have with a TWIKE in one day (more about this below)
3. ads with pictures of croatian coastlines that look unreal and photoshopped are *NOT* photoshopped and unreal: what you see is what you get!

note: this will be a long entry!

note2: if you get the chance – absolutely do it yourself!

below the route we will be taking today:


View to the sea, sea and back (TW560) TWIKE in a larger map

we start bright and early and head out south along the coast – our trusted phone showing us the route we prepared long beforehand. (i just checked: the first map for TDM2014 was created 26oct2013 – more than one year ago!)

the first part of our route today

the first part of our route today

the coastal road takes us towards slovenia and gives us a chance to cruise lazily along with virtually no steep hills in between.

the coastal road from trieste towards slovenia

the coastal road from trieste towards slovenia

we then, rather unceremoniously enter slovenia – thanks to the schengen agreement, just a simple sign at the side of the road reminds us that we are leaving italy: (not really, since the istrian peninsula is – at least historically, read about tito’s stunt when it was time to hand back istria! – as far as we can see, still very italian – architecture, culture and all)

welcome to slovenia

welcome to slovenia

we are immediately confronted with the language difference where the signs are not in both languages (the norm here)

looks dangerous :)

looks dangerous šŸ™‚

the distance to croatia from here is just a few dozen kilometres – just a few very nice old coastal cities.

city of izola

city of izola

since this slim part of slovenia has access to the sea, there are two large commercial ports – we see many, many cars ready for import – none of them electric, though!

lots and lots of non-electric cars

lots and lots of non-electric cars

trees and vegetation are decidedly mediterranean here: pine trees, olive trees and arid patches are the norm – we like driving along the pine tree alleys!

slovenia: pine trees along the road

slovenia: pine trees along the road

40 mins later, we arrive at the croatian border: schengen ends here. we europeans are no longer used to stop at borders and have our passports checked. with no fuss at all and some very interested border control officers asking us some questions, we enter croatia.

looking forward to croatia

looking forward to croatia

Even my otherwise pristine canadian passport is feeling finally useful (i usually use my british passport for travelling…it somehow currently went AWOL due to redecoration work going on at home)

we've officially arrived in croatia

we’ve officially arrived in croatia

we get some kuna, the local currency, and a piping hot coffee to start our trip in croatia.

croatia’s wine is well known in the balkan region, i can even get it in my cooperative shop in the village i live in. the countryside is dominated by this industry and tourism.

wine, wine, wine

wine, wine, wine

one in five cars has german number plates – most tourist signs are also in german. whilst most tourist options are closed, we get an idea that this place must buzz with activity and even more tourists and traffic in summer!

for us however, driving through croatia in october is a very relaxing experience. no traffic and many, many friendly people waving at the TWIKE.

crossing a bay in croatia

crossing a bay in croatia

it's less flat than it looks like

it’s less flat than it looks like

we even found some old friends here in croatia:

at the end of our first charge, we head to the port of vrsar and are greeted with an attractive selection of plugs from 6-64A – perfect!

after asking around (and losing lots of time) we get one resounding answer from all the places we ask: NO CHARGING, GO AWAY!

hmm. not good. we certainly could ask a restaurant or private owner but charging at 5-8A would take too long for us to complete our one-day trip today. keep in mind that in most countries around the mediterranean, cooking and heating with gas is the norm. therefore, buildings are usually just connected to the grid with 1x16A, 3.7kW. (i’ve got 3x64A at home…)

with only 9%/14kms in our battery, we head back to the only camping site close-by. arriving there, it turns out that the place had closed for the winter just days ago (5oct14). i sneaked in and checked the closest electricity distribution point and … it was active!

back in business, we set-up our charging gear to charge at 26A using 2 cables (although set to 26A, you might spot in the video that TW560 was temporarily charging at 29A). one cable was charging at 19A instead of the rated 10A. before watching the video below, please read the stern disclaimer i added to the video and HEED THE WARNINGS!

in this video we creatively source a charge for our EV at a camping site closed for winter. we *do not* condone charging without asking the owner of a plug first. this was an emergency charge after asking and driving to many other plugs! furthermore, charging at 190% of the rated power is not advisable and should not be understood as the norm. please learn about the consequences overloading electrical equipment can have BEFORE YOU CHARGE: fire, lethal shocks, live cables exposing due to excessive heat, death hazards, etc.!

within 45 minutes, TW560’s batteries were full again. we charge until our arbitrarily chosen cut-off max-voltage of 430V (the DC bus would be able to handle 440V but i don’t like to mistreat my batteries too much šŸ˜‰ )

1 sec until full

1 sec until full

the charge went well, even though the cable and all connectors used at 190% over the rated power were – unsurprisingly – *hot*. we are glad about all the stuff (cables, connectors, extension cords) we took with us. only this way, we can get a (creative) quick charge even out of the most adverse situations. (i am currently preparing a “what you need to take with you when travelling with a TWIKE”-page)

thankful for all the cables and connectors we have

thankful for all the cables and connectors we have

we head along our route through central croatia and randomly come by some kind of tourist spot where busloads of (rude || non-german) pensioners are dumped to see a valley with a river and are told to generously buy from the handful of stalls with lots of tacky souvenirs.

jc felt pretty much at home here – exactly his age bracket, he was immediately accosted by women wanting to get out of the package tour nightmare and join him for the ultimate freedom šŸ™‚

i discreetly left jc to his own devices and took some pictures. i then proceeded to sample the local destillates “rakija” – yum! at 7ā‚¬ per litre this stuff is not only very tasty / potentially lethal at higher doses but also extremely well priced! (i could have stayed for much, much longer: one of the women at the stalls was a jobless astrophysicist. we had some interesting talking points about the second law of thermodynamics and about entropy at atomic power plants… fascinating! all this whilst insisting that i drink shot after shot of rakija whilst we speak)

view of tour bus stop from above

view of tour bus stop from above

jc is very much the centre of interest of the tour-bus women

jc is very much the centre of interest of the tour-bus women

local produce - bursting with colors

local produce – bursting with colors

one of the rakija stalls

one of the rakija stalls

i knew rakija before and there is a music video that nicely sums up the role of this drink in a balkan context. also, many of the images of this video look like the landscapes we crossed through later on this day.

jc, however, somehow just wanted to leave the place in a hurry and dragged me off. šŸ™‚

it is difficult to describe the basic amenities the people in rural croatia have – they look and are happy. just like the brits we saw on with a miniature camper van – reduce to the MAX!

reduce to the max!

reduce to the max!

for us, used to the population density of switzerland, driving through rural croatia was a special experience. for kilometres on end no buildings, no infrastructure, no fields – nothing! just a road and some signs to small villages.

rural croatia - endless roads, no people.

rural croatia – endless roads, no people.

if you feel like joining us for some minutes in rural croatia, watch this video. get into the groove and overcome your 15 sec attention span before you pause the video again! we enjoyed hours of this kind of road!

we reach the coast and are treated to an exceptional view. as mentioned in the intro: this is exactily how it looked, no photoshopping required! wow.

it's as unreal as it looks.

it’s as unreal as it looks.

this place deserves a pano

this place deserves a pano

croatian coasline 2

croatian coasline 2

(my mobile phone is a little heavy on the reds)

our second objective of TDM2014 is in reach: rijeka. our road along the coast is dotted with stunning vistas and is definitely worth a second visit!

TW560’s charge is going to be about 11% when we reach the northernmost point – this is why when we reach lovran and see some signs for an electric car charging point, we’re more than interested! energy is for free and there is none of the nfc card nonsense required to get the electricity flowing.

if you were wondering how to say "just for hybrids and electric cars" in croatian...

if you were wondering how to say “just for hybrids and electric cars” in croatian…

CHARGING!

CHARGING!

however, the place is disappointing because the maximum power provided by the plug is 3.7kW on just one phase. aargh!

onwards we press towards our second goal for this trip. we cannot stop at the northernmost point itself but just beside it. the red dot marks the point.

our second objective for this trip

our second objective for this trip

it feels good to have achieved this second of three challenges for TDM2014.

the port of opatja is our best bet for easy electricity – arriving there, we are very happy to see the same 10-64A selection as earlier today. the plugs are deactivated and it takes us some time to find someone to ask. the answers we get are simple but dishartening: today is a national holiday. (this explains why we saw so many closed shops) and although they would like to offer us some electricity the person with the keys for the tri-phase plugs would be back only tomorrow morning… why not stay in opatja for the night they asked. a very good idea – it’s a really nice place. but for us with many more kms and adventures awaiting us, unfortunately, not an option.

this is where i, for the second time today, have to resort to creative sourcing of electricity. i will not say how i was able to get to the plugs, but suffice to say that salt water and its long-term effect on metal played a role…

tadaa! we're back in business!

tadaa! we’re back in business!

charging with a view!

charging with a view!

ready to be lifted away

ready to be lifted away

we settle in for a full 75 minute recharge from 4% to 100% since we will be climbing from sea level to a plateau at 700m.

the charge is uneventful and we start out climbing the mountains which start directly at the sea in rijeka.

the roads are extremely steep and TW560 had a really hard time getting up some of the roads!

this is just the beginning!

this is just the beginning!

it's really, really steep!

it’s really, really steep!

don't ever think about stopping on the way up!

don’t ever think about stopping on the way up!

what follows is a taste of seriously dedicated twiking – rural croatia on our usual single road diet – and the end of the road…or is it?

when preparing these trips, i usually check the satellite images for TWIKE-driveability – this patch somehow escaped my scrutiny.

we press onwards after double checking and ascertaining that this part is only about 1 km long. we felt like in india with TW560 rattling, squeaking and groaning under our weight and lumbering along at 3-4 kms/h.

we made it to the other end and were rewarded with a beautiful climb towards 700m exactly along our blue line.

our route is not always this parallel to the blue line :)

our route is not always this parallel to the blue line šŸ™‚

here comes a quick question for you, dear reader: look at the image below. we’re driving from rijeka to trieste. the blue dot at about 1/8th of the line towards italy is our current position. you’ve already munched through roughly 50% of your 5.9kWh your batteries hold and you still have to climb to 700+m. will you make it to trieste or are you going to look out to charge somewhere along the route? (why not comment below?)

hmm... what would you do?

hmm… what would you do?

our answer: we decided to press onwards and try to make it on one charge.

this plateau turned out to be mostly devoid of any kind of infrastructure and population. dozens of kms driving through non-arable land and forests with the slovenian border closing in from both sides along the mountain ridges.

the picture below is symbolic for what you may expect km after km. (very relaxing!)

representative sample of views along this road

representative sample of views along this road

just before the border crossing to slovenia, we’re at 750m and the surroundings feel distinctly alpine. they could be anywhere in switzerland at around 1500m.

distinct alpine feel

distinct alpine feel

the place is this special, we stop and not only take pictures –

hard to describe this place

hard to describe this place

rural crotatia

rural crotatia

(all the hills in the background are slovenia)

…and panos,

this place deserves a pano

this place deserves a pano

…but a video, too! šŸ™‚

we have no clue, why the place had such an impact on us.

just a few kms onwards, i get a second stamp in my passport from a good looking croatian border control lady.

after the no-mans-land between croatia and slovenia, slovenian border control stops us and we hand over our passports. whilst one guard is interested and chats with us and eventually gets a camera to happily snap away, his boss somehow takes lots of time with my canadian passport. he does not have any proof of residency or visa for the schengen zone in my passport and therefore, theoretically would have to turn me back due to the lack of proper documentation. happily, the positive vibes of TW560, jc’s explanation who i was and last but not least the fact that i have been writing about my swiss adventures on this blog helped to convince them that i was bona fide šŸ™‚

in slovenia, the sun slowly set and by the time we arrived back in italy, the last rays of sun were coloring the sky in dark shades of purple, blue and grey.

sunset impressions from TW560

sunset impressions from TW560

just outside trieste

just outside trieste

ah. yes, we made it on one charge: we arrived at our hotel on the northern outskirts of triest with 17% left.

what a day! wouldn’t want to miss it for anything in the world!