On our way to the Balkans – through the Alps

On September 17, the time had finally come: Nigel was ready to leave and all our affairs were in order, we could leave with peace of mind. That weekend, a final visit to Nikki’s family was scheduled. Just put the tires on the right pressure, they had forgotten that at the tire center, and then on the express road in the direction of Antwerp! However, after a few drops it became clear that the wipers no longer felt like moving. It became too dangerous on the highway because of the splashing water, so we continued on smaller roads.

Arriving at the family I could start tinkering, with the help of father-in-law Pat, the wiper motor and associated rods came out fairly smoothly. The motor itself still functioned, but the steering turned out to be as dead as a doornail, probably because the pivot points of the windshield wipers themselves had become very stiff from a long standstill. So I had no choice but to look for a new engine. Fortunately they had the right type in stock at the well-known jungle site and a day later we could finally leave, €50 lighter but with working windshield wipers.

Opened engine

To Germany

We wanted to catch up on some time so no stop in the Walloons, but straight to our German friend Steffi around Mannheim. We met Steffi last year in Asturias, Spain during our first trip. It was quite cold there in Mannheim and we could immediately use our diesel heating. Luckily it stayed dry the whole time and the sun came out. The first night we slept next to the Rhine, the second night we could go to a private ground that was owned by friends of Steffi, between the vineyards.

On the private spot with Steffi
Nikki grills on our electric fire

The next stop was in Augsburg, with another German friend: Henning. Well, you do meet some Germans in sunny countries… We ate and drank something, and the next day we went for a walk in the fields with the dogs.

Onze vans naast elkaar in Augsburg
Salzburg Castle in the background

The weather in Augsburg was great and the late summer sun recharged our batteries and Nigel’s, so we could start the next leg of our journey with new energy. Our next stop was Salzburg, Austria. We visited the city briefly, but due to the Oktoberfest that is apparently also celebrated there, the city was overrun with visitors, not exactly our thing…

We threw 30 liters of slightly cheaper diesel into the tank and drove on through Austria. As last time we avoided the highway and took B-roads towards Villach, a beautiful route that took us past several ski stations. We spent the first night in Austria in Weng, in the parking lot of a cable car, where many paragliders were at work. The second night was less idyllic in a parking lot next to the road, in the pouring rain…

A nice highlight during this trip was the Johanneswasserfall in Untertauern, where we happened to stop for a short walk.

After Villach we got to see SLO on the signs. These took us through a short but tough mountain pass called ‘Wurzenpass’. Before we knew it, we no longer understood what was on the signs and we had entered Slovenia…

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