Category: Travel reports

At the mercy of the elements…

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

….back to eastern Iceland
Iceland’s location in the middle of the Atlantic has a great influence on the weather. When the sun is shining, a storm can blow up within a few minutes and amounts of water can fall from the sky that others can only dream of. Snow can fall at any time. But the opposite can also be the case; after heavy rain, the sun can peek out from behind some peak as if nothing had happened. If a weather alarm is issued, you notice it immediately; no Icelander goes out of the house unless it is absolutely necessary; …unless the tourists are still cruising around the country! Read More

The “golden donkey”…

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

…on the road in southwestern Iceland.
The south-western corner of Iceland is where most of the country’s inhabitants live, and it is probably also where the majority of visitors travel through the country. The trump card of this part of the country is almost obvious: here you can see almost everything that makes Iceland so special. Besides active volcanoes, there are glaciers, an almost uncountable number of waterfalls and landscapes as if the earth had been created a few hours ago. The Icelanders understand the golden business of tourism: everything is a bit more expensive here than in the other parts of the country and there is some kind of fee for a lot of things. But there are information boards in different languages everywhere and nothing is left to chance. It’s actually amazing what so few inhabitants do and organise for their guests. Read More

Solitude…

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

….against the highlands and in the northwest (Westfjords) of Iceland.
The north coast and the Westfjords are very sparsely populated areas. Sheep and horse breeding is practised on the coastal strips and in the long valleys, and a few dairy farmers complete the picture. In the few towns on the coast, everything revolves around fishing, or what is left of all fishing. Fishing must be in deep crisis here, and a huge transformation process is leaving deep scars in the rural coastal villages. But the farmers are also feeling the effects of the drop in prices for their products and the cost gap is widening more and more to the disadvantage of the producers. In addition to many former fishing businesses, countless farms are disintegrating or about to be abandoned.
In a chance conversation with a farmer who breeds horses – Icelanders eat their horses too – he estimated that the price of his products has fallen by 40% in the last 10 years; and at the same time, expenses have risen dramatically. Many give up because of this, the next generation no longer wants to work in agriculture and migrates.
If you drive a few kilometres inland, the human settlements become fewer and fewer. The many sheep grazing somewhere in the meadows enjoy their independent summer life and are herded in by the farmers before autumn, or the first snowfall; otherwise there is – apart from a lot of nature – nothing far and wide! Read More

Fire and ice…

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

…hurray, we are in Iceland

In terms of geological history, Iceland is a fairly young island, and human traces have only been found there for just over 1500 years. Today, around 350,000 inhabitants live on this island, which is about 2½ times the size of Switzerland, with most of them living in the south-western corner. Therefore, Iceland is also one of the most sparsely populated areas on earth and there are huge stretches of land where there really is not a soul to be found. The various volcanic activities, but also the drifting apart of the European and American continental plates, make us humans amazed again and again at what is going on here directly under the earth and has already caused a few surprises. Read More

Going to Iceland

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

It was a bit annoying when a stomach flu put me (Tom) to bed one day before our departure. Although everything was ready, there are usually many little things that have to be done before departure that can hardly be done beforehand or have been forgotten. So in the end Chantal had to lug the heavy luggage to the jeep and stow it in it, while I lay hunched in bed hoping for a quick recovery. Since we had opted for the motorail train for the trip to Hamburg, another departure day was not possible and so we – Chantal with her lifeless husband – went on a short farewell tour. The jeep was quickly up on the transport wagon in the Lörrach goods station and I (Tom) was even more quickly horizontal in the sleeper compartment. Read More

Tour de Suisse…

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

….once around our country!
At the beginning of May, the time had finally come again; we set off once more. No, not on the big tour around the world. Due to the pandemic, we were still only allowed to take small leaps. But after five and a half months in the asylum, every little tour was a relief from the standstill. Especially since we wanted to test all the new parts we had installed and find out where we could add a small improvement. Read More

Standby….

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

….or was it an extended hibernation? On our return shortly before Christmas (2020), we were full of confidence that the whole Corona spat would soon be over. To be sure, the second wave of infection was already shutting down many things again and putting human togetherness into a crawl.

On our return from southern Europe, I (Tom) had made a lot of plans for myself and as a snow sports fan, I was already dreaming of many snow sports camps where I would be appointed youth leader. I hardly considered the fact that these camps had been cancelled for a long time beforehand and was slightly disappointed when browsing through any search requests for snow sports leaders. So my winter season said goodbye before it had even begun. Without any source of income, our travel budget did not allow me to buy new winter sports equipment.

So I made do with hikes in the immediate vicinity and a few bike tours. In addition to the trekking boots, I still had my old bike at my disposal, so that I could enjoy a few wonderful tours through the wintry Jura in good weather. Unfortunately, my old beloved bike failed shortly after Easter and with a broken chain stay, no further trips can be made. So I definitely became a hiker.

For our jeep we had already made a few more adjustments and changes. When we returned, the spare wheel carrier, bought as a bargain, was already in the workshop at my mother’s house ready to be fitted. The existing spare wheel is simply too heavy for the original carrier on the rear door and this load kept causing problems with the closing mechanism of the door. In addition to other minor repairs to the camping kit, we also planned to change the awning from the pop-up roof. The almost three years of use left traces on the tent fabric and due to the abrasion it was no longer completely watertight everywhere.

While Chantal attended to her medical problems and clarifications, I deepened my skills in planning the frame extension of our basic vehicle so that we could mount the new spare wheel carrier accordingly. The technical drawings were soon prepared, but the procurement of materials was another hurdle; small and private customers are supplied by dealers only reluctantly or not at all. In the end, previous relationships helped. Although we were sometimes charged incomprehensible surcharges for small purchases, they were no longer able to harm my work on the frame extension. Among other things, I needed 20 screws of a certain size and strength and had to grudgingly accept the package with 100 screws.

It should be self-evident that such tinkering work, which has to be designed exactly for an existing product, often costs a lot of money. If a part is welded together incorrectly, this often only means disposal in the scrap bin. Despite the mistakes during the whole construction around the new suspension at the rear of the car, I enjoyed the whole work a lot, and I was almost a little disappointed when the work was successfully finished. The other small jobs bogged me down in time and every now and then, after solving one problem, there were two more to be solved; or even bigger ones that also had to be solved. But I had more than enough time, because the restrictions around the Corona pandemic didn’t seem to stop and the authorities gave me one excuse after another. This was truly a bad time for travelling!

So I devoted myself to a completely new experiment and tried my hand at arboriculture. During my walks around Aesch, I always observe the different tree prunings and how they were cut. In our community of inheritance there is still a piece of land on which cherry and apple trees stand, and their last care was more than fifteen years ago. I bravely took action and thinned out the trees heavily, cut out the dead wood completely and reduced the appearance both in height and width. The future fruit yields played a subordinate role, as we don’t want to treat these old trees with chemicals and thus can hardly harvest top fruits. In any case, I am curious to see how the trees will revitalise after my pruning and whether they will continue to delight us with their flowering splendour for a few more years. In addition, they will certainly bind a few kilos of CO² and reduce the poor ecological footprint of our mobile home.

Towards Easter, restrictions were tightened again in many countries, and the authorities had a huge amount of respect for a third wave of disease in connection with the Corona pandemic. In comparison, the Swiss measures with regard to the foreign environment were just harmless and allowed us relatively great freedom. But this Swiss looseness also had its price: I had hardly visited someone when the cantonal crisis management team called and imposed a ten-day quarantine on me. It can happen so quickly sometimes, and you’re already in the middle of the action and trapped in your own room with an extremely short escape route.
….By the way, my second birthday in quarantine! Well then, cheers and all the best for your future plans.

Ascension Day and Whitsun were rather damp in Central Europe and unsuitable for trips across Switzerland. We preferred the warm and dry room in Alain’s flat to the wet camps, especially as the temperatures dropped again and snow fell from 1300 metres.

Before Whitsun, we both soon went for the first Corona vaccination, followed by the second vaccination, and we hoped that thanks to this vaccine in the bloodstream, our adventure would soon be able to continue. But, far from it, the official mills grind very slowly at times, new variants and findings emerged and again a lot of patience was needed. We also planned a lot of new destinations and had to “give in” again and again; there was simply no security in planning anything outside Central Europe. For individual tourists, the world almost stands still!

Well, we were actually ready – the jeep packed and we were in the “starting blocks”.

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Home to the Refuge

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

After the last night among wild boars on Spanish soil, another crossing followed, which brought us to Portbou/Spain. With great tension we climbed up to the border pass “Coll dels Belitres”, where we expected a large control and many officials. Chantal was also prepared to do all the talking with the officials, as she speaks French much better than I do. Read More

Capitulation!

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

Yes, we capitulate – for now! Corona brought us to our knees.
It was already clear in Portugal; we were going home. Holding out any longer was not our thing and in three months we would have gone this way – one way or the other. For a long time, however, we didn’t know which way to go and how fast our journey north would be. Read More