It’s been a while since you’ve heard from us! Well, that’s because we had a small problem and lost the motivation for a while…
As some of you may know, we had a small problem with our van. It was shaking when we drove up hills at a very specific speed. It had gotten worse over time and when we were coming back from Greece, going over the San Bernardino pass, it was so bad we knew we couldn‘t continue.
At the top of the pass the van was vibrating really hard, it was a little bit scary because the steering was shaking and wobbling from side to side. So, we took it to the garage to get it checked out.
Long story short: a marder had a big party under our van many many months ago in Wettingen and ate a very important piece of rubber around the steering. This rubber protected the grease which helped the wheels turn. So, without it, the part slowly wore out and started vibrating. Badly.
Sure, we could still drive. And we did. But it wasn‘t very reassuring. And we were not sure the van could continue all the way to Norway, as planned. So, we had the garage order a replacement part – unfortunately, it was not available. Anywhere. In the world. So, we had to wait. Weeks? A month? Who knows!
Now some of you may be thinking – that’s easy, just park the van somewhere and enjoy yourself. Unfortunately in Switzerland and much of Northern Europe that is not so easy – in peak holiday season. With a large van.
Campsites are full. Parking wherever you want is not possible (like in Greece). We could not go too far because the van was not in great shape! So, we had to improvise for while….
After a fun visit to our former neighbor (thanks again Reto) we had to change our plans. So, off to our storage to get different clothes and a few things we needed for a quick trip to Belgium to see Ann’s family for a week. There we had lots of space and time, so we gave our van a good clean, did a lot of clothes washing, and ate a lot of good food (Els, Mieke: sorry for not visiting, there was just not enough time and it was all a bit last-minute)
After annoying Ann’s parents for about a week, we decided to drive south (back to Switzerland) while waiting for our spare part for the van. We headed to the Ardennes (somewhere Ash had never really been and I was probably a teenager last time I went to do some cross-country skiing – yes, believe it or not). It pleasantly surprised us.
The small, historic towns are fantastic, and the scenery is great. We also ate more delicious food, gained more weight, and called the garage again (still no part). Then we drove further south, stayed with a farmer in the Vosges in France, did some more local walks, waited for the spare part, got our tires changed at a very friendly place with extremely friendly staff, crashed at a friend‘s place (thank you!) and then finally got the call from the garage that the spare part had arrived after 4 weeks.
So, we dropped everything, went straight there, and prayed to whatever car gods we could think of that the problem would be solved (the mechanics weren‘t sure it was going to work). Luckily, after waiting 3 hours, walking in the forest around the airport, we went for a test drive and….YES! It was fixed. Only problem was insurance did not cover it (below 1000). So it cost us a lot to fix it (beware the marders!).
Then, we left the same day for Norway. What? The mechanics could not believe we were going the same day as it was already 4pm, but yes, we were dying to go!! We got in the car, did a test drive over the hills to Winterthur and kept going for as long as we could stay awake.
So, How Is Norway?
So, yes, we are now in Norway!! This country is absolutely stunning! We haven‘t seen much yet, but this country is something else! It‘s like you walked into an ever-changing movie set! Mountains – check. Forest – check. Fjords. Check. Cute wooden houses. Check. They have everything.
The driving and the hiking are both very challenging. The roads are very narrow and require some nerves (thank god Ash had a lot of practice in Greece). The hikes are always an adventure: usually very steep, up and up and up, often with no clear path, slippery and always with a lot of wind, fog, rain and sometimes some sun.
Yes, the weather is a bit of a challenge. In the 8 days we‘ve been here, we’ve had 1,5 days of sun. For the rest a lot of rain and pretty cold weather (talking below 10 degrees – hard to believe heh) As you all know, I hate the heat, but this is quite another level and it‘s testing our nerves. It’s definitely a plus we have a very cozy van 🙂 As soon as we see a ray of sun, we get out and do something. But we never ever leave without our rain jacket, down jacket, gloves and beanie, as we will most likely need it! I‘m not sure whether I will ever need that bikini or that summer dress … And yes, it may look like it‘s always sunny from the pictures, but that‘s because you just don‘t take that many pictures in the rain 🙂
So, while it‘s raining outside again and we are checking those 15 different weather apps again (to see when the next sunny slot will be), we wish you a „cooler“ rest of the week!