Charging in Vente, Lithuania

Finally, fuse-box charging again

With friends, we spent a few days in Vente, a small Lithuanian village opposite of the Curonian Split. When we arrived Benedikt immediately found a fuse-box with three-phase electricity and was excited to set up a charging connection. We are used to be confronted with not so happy people when we try to set up a charging connection without previously asking. Accordingly, Benedikt and I were a bit nervous when the owner of our guest house arrived in the evening. But she was probably the coolest host we met on our journey. Not only was she happy to meet us, but she also offered a CEE-socket in the garage of the house that we had no access to originally. How great is that!

Wrong wired socket

Benedikt plugged the adapter and the NRGkick in and … nothing worked. The socket was wired incorrectly. A phase and the neutral was mixed up. Actually, this could have ruined the NRGkick and also the Tesla. Luckily, nothing like this happened. Benedikt fixed the socket and only a few minutes later the Tesla started to charge.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse-box & CEE-16  220 volt  3 * 16 amperes 11 kW 60 kWh

Charging in Siaulai, Lithuania

Dense charging network in Europe

Benedikt and I traveled in total for 72 days without any official charging station. We got used to manage finding electricity always somewhere and planned our days to have enough time for that. Being back to the EU means for us being back in an area with a wide charging network. The app “plugshare” shows plenty of opportunities where to charge electric vehicles. We feel spoiled and almost a bit lazy having such a resource of charging opportunity. Of course, charging and planning where to charge takes up way less of our mental resources and is no priority in our daily planning anymore. In Siaulai, Lithuania, we regretted this…

Charging or rather not charging in Siaulai

We left Riga in the late afternoon and intended to charge at a CHAdeMo charger in Siaulai. What we didn’t expected, was that the charger was out of service! We had our battery at 7% and there wasn’t really any other charging opportunity in the city. What to do? First, we asked at Lidl, the supermarket that provided the charger on their parking spot, if they have another three-phase outlet we could use for charging. They had none or didn’t wanted to give it to us. Second, we contacted someone, who offers a private CEE to charge EVs in Siaulai. Unfortunately, he was out of town and couldn’t really help us either. Benedikt already thought about camping at a Schuko outlet. That would have been the last option for me. It was about 7 or 8 p.m. when we started to drive around the city to look for restaurants or gas stations that might have three-phase outlet. And then we found a small mall. Since we had quite a few good experiences with finding CEE-outlets in underground parking, we also gave that one a try.

Charging (at least a bit)!

And there it was, right at the entrance door, a red CEE-32 outlet! There were even a few official charging stations in the garage! But, all of them were without electricity. No one in the shopping center was interested in solving this problem. We found one other, better hidden, CEE-outlet in the garage. But, since it wasn’t our lucky day, the fuse blew after only 2 minutes charging.

We had no other choice to go back to the “obvious one”, roll out an extension cord and charge like in a goldfish bowl. Luckily, no security noticed our doing. Unfortunately, we could only charge with about 13 amperes (even though the outlet was a CEE-32), since the voltage dropped increasingly with more amperes. It took us 2 hours to reach a percentage of the battery that would allow us to drive to the next charging possibility at a hotel, 80 km away from Siaulai.

The last charge of the night

With the 22 kw of the hotel charger that we could use for free, it took us another hour until the car was charged enough to finally drive to Kaunas. We left Panevezys at 1 a.m. and it took us almost 2 more hours to reach Kaunas. You can imagine how tired we were when we finally fall asleep in the early morning in our hotel beds in Kaunas.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-32  220 volt  3 * 13 amperes 8 kW 15 kWh
Typ 2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 25 kWh

Charging in Riga, Latvia

A normal day in Riga while catching up with an old friend

Darya, a friend of mine who I met 6 years ago while doing an Erasmus-semester in Vilnius, Lithuania, invited us to visit her and her boyfriend in Riga. It is such a treasure to meet old friends and to catch up with them. For us as notorious travel birds, it was especially nice to not need to worry about anything since our host took care of everything. We strolled together through Riga, enjoyed the view over the cities roofs from Darya’s former university, saved ourselves from a thunderstorm while hiding in a cozy bookstore/café and were guests at a house party of a friend of Darya and Reinholds in the evening. What a fun day!

Charging at the golf resort

Reinholds, Darya’s boyfriend, is one of the best amateur golf players of Estonia. He had a tournament the weekend we were in Riga. Since Benedikt and I have never followed a golf tournament, we were excited to be Reinholds support team during the finals. Of course, we were even more excited when he won the tournament with at the decisive 18th whole! The car charged at a Schuko outlet at the golf course with 2 kW throughout the day.

Charging at Raddison blue

Darya and Reinholds live at an awesome location in the middle of Riga. The neighboring house of them is a Raddison blue hotel that offers CEE-outlets in their basement for charging. We would have charged there earlier, if the garage wasn’t packed. Sunday afternoon, there were enough spots free. We enjoyed charging with 25 amperes, like recommended on the info-board next to the outlet. Since the outlet was only a 16 amperes one, we weren’t so sure if that works… it didn’t. We blew a fuse and only noticed when we thought the car would be charged. Another 45 minutes waiting (and charging with only 16 amperes) and we had enough energy to reach Siaulai, Lithuania, half-way between Riga and Kaunas. Read in the following post, how nothing worked like planned and how we arrived in Kaunas 5 hours later than expected (means at 3 a.m. in the morning)…

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Schuko  220 volt  1 * 10 amperes 2 kW 8 kWh
CEE-25  220 volt  3 * 16 amperes 11 kW 12 kWh

Charging in Veliky Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod

With settlement first being mentioned in chronicles in 859, Veliky Novgorod is supposed to be one of the oldest cities of Russia. During the Middle Ages, the city was even one of the largest settlements of Europe. Of all the former glory, mainly the Kremlin and a view churches are left. Nevertheless, Veliky Novgorod, situated at the Volkhov River, is a nice provincial town that’s worth a visit.

Easy charging

We stayed there for two nights. Our “problem” (it doesn’t really seem like a problem anymore…) of charging was solved by a CEE-32 belonging to a restaurant in the outskirts of Veliky Novgorod. The restaurant was on plugshare and therefore super easy to find. Since the kitchen worked very slowly, the charging was just done, when we were ready with lunch (2 hours after we entered the restaurant). I guess, it doesn’t happen very often that one doesn’t mind at all a slow service 😉.

With a car charged at 70% we left the next morning to Saint Petersburg.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-32  220 volt  32 amperes 22 kW 35 kWh

Charging in Tver, Russia

We left the Supercharger in Moscow (see this post) relatively late in the afternoon – we still had about 4 hours of driving in front of us. It took us at least an hour to get out of Moscow. Traffic was (like always) really bad.

A guest house, owned by Tesla drivers, offered on plug share that you could sleep and charge there. It was perfectly located between Moscow and Veliky Novgorod. Everything just sounded brilliant to us! The place seemed almost deserted when we reached it. We found a lady working at the bar of the restaurant. She welcomed us quite rude (made us walk to her side of the bar and didn’t even try to talk slowly. Since our Russian is still poor, we just didn’t understand what she intended to tell us). After a while the owner of the hotel appeared and showed us the room as well as the CEE-16 outlet. I guess, we got what we needed (sleep and electricity) at the guest house. Hospitality is just interpreted quite diversely in Russia.

Our drive continued in the morning to Veliky Novgorod.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-16  240 volt  16 amperes 11 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Kazan, Russia

Airbnb in Kazan

We had times throughout our journey where we wished Airbnb would be available (it didn’t exist in any country between Armenia and Russia). It’s a different feeling having an apartment or house to yourself, with no reception desk that you need to walk by every time you leave the house. We were therefore happy that we found a nice Airbnb home in Kazan. Kazan is the capital of the republic of Tartastan. The region has it’s own language and the majority of Tartans are Sunni Muslims.

The parents of our Airbnb host (who was herself in Moscow) welcomed us. Right after we entered the house we saw a red CEE-32 outlet. What a surprise! Just like Airbnb, there were no red CEE outlets between Armenia and Russia.

Meeting Arthur and Regina

On our way to Kazan, a car stopped next to us while we took a short break on the side of the road. We met Arthur. He was traveling for work and has seen an Instagram post by the hotel that we stayed at in Naberezhnye Chelny. He told us that he first thought it’s a joke, what the hotel posted. But latest when he met us, he knew it wasn’t.

We met with Arthur and his wife Regina later the evening in Kazan. They tried to help us to get a charging station next to Arthur’s workplace to work. It didn’t really work out… and took them 24 hours to make it work. I guess, not so many electric vehicles try to charge there. For us, it was the first real charging station since Georgia. It already felt create that people at least intend to build up an infrastructure for charging EVs in Kazan.

We spent the rest of the evening walking through the gorgeous Kazan, with its Kremlin, waterfront and many old buildings. The city of Kazan has a great atmosphere.

Charging attempts

The charging station that I just mentioned, was our charging attempt #2. Charging attempt #1 was at a basement parking of a mall in Kazan. Only after a long search we found the charging station, that was a.) fully occupied with combustion engines, b.) wasn’t working and c.) seemed to be that badly wired that hardly the supposed 22kW would be possible to charge there.

Charging attempt #3 was at a different mall basement parking. The parking garage was equipped with quite a few CEE-32 outlets. But again here, the wiring was bad. When we raised the ampere number above 20, the voltage dropped dramatically. We only had a few minutes to try this out. After that the security came and told us to stop charging. I guess, no EV friendly or customer oriented crowd in that shopping mall.

Charging attempt #4 was at the Airbnb home. We could use the above mentioned red CEE-32. Except that we lost about 10%, charging worked out perfectly.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-32 outlet 230 volt 3 * 10 amperes
(later 3 * 20 amperes)
7 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Charging in Bishkek

Niyaz from Bishkek got in touch with us, before we arrived at his city. He is the only Tesla driver in Kyrgyzstan. Another Tesla!!! We were so excited to see his white Tesla Model S 85 P (used to be a S 60, but he “pimped” it). Niyaz literally spoiled us. He organized a flat in the city center, where we could stay. In the basement parking of this apartment building, Niyaz has installed a CEE-32 to let Tesla-friends from Kazakhstan charge. He, himself, has an American Tesla that can only charge with one phase. It felt like a home away from home to have an entire apartment to ourselves, including a large kitchen and washing machine. We are grateful for Niyaz to introducing us to his city and helping us with the apartment and charging!

Meeting an old friend from Zurich

On our first real day in Kyrgyzstan, we went hiking in the beautiful Ala Archa National Park that is only 30 km away from Bishkek. In the early morning after this hike, Timon, a friend from Zurich, and his friend Arnauld, arrived in Bishkek to go mountaineering for the following 3 weeks in the Kyrgyz mountains. We found out only 2-3 weeks ago that our plans are overlapping and that we can all meet in Kyrgyzstan. We had a blast together and I am so glad it just worked out wonderfully.

Border Kyrgyzstan – Kazakhstan

After 3 great days in Kyrgyzstan, where we got absolutely fascinated by its natural beauty (we want to return some day to go hiking here), we had to leave towards Kazakhstan. The border isn’t far from Bishkek. Shortly before arriving to the border we exchanged the rest of our Kyrgyz money to the Kazakh currency. While doing this we apparently parked in a restricted area. That is what the police told us, when they pulled us out, a view meters after we left the parking spot. Benedikt discussed with them for 20 minutes and in the end, we could go without paying the fine of about 20€. It just seemed that they have the non-parking area there, to fine people who are parking there. They also fine/get bribed of people crossing an unnecessary stop sign without stopping (check out Caravanistan).

The border process itself went on the Kyrgyz side very smooth. On the Kazakh side, I got pulled out and had to go to a car-scanner. They seem to thoroughly search for drugs at this border. I played the little, innocent girl and could leave the car-scanning hall (without even using the car scanner or any other searching happening) only 10 minutes later. Another guy in the hall told me that he is already waiting for 2 hours. The border controllers dissembled his car. I left the border area after maybe 1 hour, all in all. The drive to Almaty took us another 2-3 hours after the border.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
connection to fuse-box 220 volt 3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 70 kWh

Charging in Bojnurd, Iran

Invitation and setting up charging in Bojnurd

A TV station invited us to come to Bojnurd. They wanted to do an interview with us. That’s at least what we understood. Again, it all came a bit different.

About 7 boys at the age of 16 to 18 welcomed us at the hotel they booked for us. One of them was Mehran (who, with his neat briefcase, looked much older), our initial contact in Bojnourd. After a rest in the hotel the group of boys picked us up in the evening to bring us to a building complex where some of them lived. There was a 4-pin CEE-32 outlet in front in the house entrance of one of the houses (which was awesome!). We (and them) took pictures and left the car to charge. A pleasant walk through the city with the whole crowed followed.

An evening with a crowed of interested boys and a helpful girl

There was also one girl coming with us. She was supposed to keep me company (I guess they felt uncomfortable with me being the only female in the group or thought I would feel uncomfortable with boys only. But, probably contrary to them, I am used to this since I am little). We spent the afternoon walking around the city of Bojnurd and Benedikt arranged to get a haircut (which we deemed highly necessary, considering our upcoming border transits first to Turkmenistan and later to Uzbekistan — none of them is known to be easy and a good appearance might simplify things).

When the sun was setting, me and the girl returned to the houses, where the Tesla was waiting. A dinner to break the fast (everyone seemed to be strict Muslim, following Ramadan) with the neighbors was set up outside of the building (right behind the Tesla). It was a fun evening with the entire neighborhood community. Unfortunately, the charging of the car didn’t work out as expected. Probably the connection wasn’t strong enough for 32 amperes. The charging process stopped after only a few kWh charged. Since we didn’t want to make a big hassle, we charged the rest of the electricity that we needed at a Schuko in the parking garage of our hotel.

Visting an Iranian middle school and giving an “interview”

The next morning Mehran picked us up to bring us to his old school. We only noticed then that he just recently graduated from school and is doing the interview with us as a student project. Since he was really attached to his former school and teachers, we did the interview there. The school (only for boys) was nice, even though I couldn’t really get the concept of parting boys from girls. We were guided through the rooms and I felt a bit like Angelina Jolie, doing some charity work. Everyone wanted to show us something (like a tiny baby fetus in a glass in the science lab) and tell a story. I was surprised to hear that 30% of the lessons the boys have are religious class in that school. What an impact that must have on the little boys.

After the walk through the school, we had the interview with Mehran. We could feel the impact the religious lessons had on him… From his point of view, you can clearly see why a head scarf is great and necessary on women or that the fasting during Ramadan makes people commit less crime or lies. Mehran will have a fruitful journalist career in the state-controlled media.

Meeting Mohsen, initiator of the facebook group “Overland in Iran”

We know Iran as always offering us something of both extremes. It felt like almost no surprise that after having spent the morning Lost In Translation (and inbetween cultures), we met Mohsen for an evening tea in his home. He is curious about the world and travelers from different countries and, in order to meet even more travelers, initiated the facebook group “Overland in Iran” that I joined shortly after entering Iran. We had a wonderful and deep conversation with him and it felt like we found a friend in Bojnurd.

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
4 poles CEE-32 230 3*32 amperes 22kW 20kWh
Schuko 220 6 amperes 2kW 40kWh