Charging in Vilnius, Lithuania

My 30st birthday was on August 15th. We celebrated it at the Caspian Sea with few very good friends. I invited more friends to join us at the weekend. A house in the middle of nowhere, equipped with Sauna, beach volleyball field, a lake and more fun stuff waited for us to spend an awesome weekend there.

Charging #1

Vilnius is located 350 km from the Baltic Sea. We had a short charging stop at a CHAdeMO charger located right at the highway. Only the few minutes we needed for a bathroom break and to get coffee were enough to charge additional 120 km.

Charging #2

There was hardly any doubt that the guest house we rented would have three-phase electricity. Benedikt really enjoys (and misses) setting up charging connections at a fuse-box. You can imagine how happe he was, when he found a fuse-box right at the entrance of the house, where he installed our adapter. We didn’t charge a whole lot at the guest house, but it was good to have the back-up there.

Charging #3

Thursday night, the day before the rest of our friends would arrive, we did a “big-family shopping”. Lidl and another hypermarche offered charging stations (CHAdeMO) right in front of the supermarkets. By the time we were done with shopping, the Tesla was charged with 90%.

We had a blast kayaking on a river not far from the guest house on Saturday. The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed the day out in the nature. Since the house was perfect to accommodate a large group, we didn’t mind that it started raining in the evening. A large kitchen, a barbecue, a sauna and a lake in front of the house were enough to make the evening in the Vila Tola very memorable.

Charging #4

On sunday we planned to do a guided city tour through Vilnius. By chance we parked on a parking lot in the old town that offered a typ-2 charging station. The parking rate was high, but we didn’t mind paying for it, since we charged about 50 kWh for free (a lot of energy got used by several trips to the airport and back).

Charging #5

Together with Ben (friend from Zurich) and Timon (also Zurich friend, who we also met in Kyrgyzstan (see this post)), we stayed one more night in Vilnius (Mo-Tu). Right before we had to bring Timon to the airport on Tuesday, we charged the car at a CHAdeMO-charger in downtown Vilnius. Ben had brought to Vilnius stickers of almost all the countries that we traveled through. We only had to put them on the car! That’s what we did at the charger. It is such a proud feeling that we have when seeing so many different flags and have very special memories to each of these countries. These memories are something, that will stay for life. We are extremly grateful for this.

Even though we had to renew the charge every 15 minutes, we managed to charge the car full enough that we could leave in the afternoon to Poland.

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 Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia

Naberezhnye Chelny in the republic of Tartastan

Some Russian city names are super easy (like Ufa), some are extremely hard to pronounce (and remember) – like Naberezhnye Chelny. Even though we always received puzzled faces, if we tried to tell a Russian what our next stop is, we found our way to the city. The car needed to charge and so did we.

Naberezhnye Chelny is situated in the (almost) independent republic of Tartastan. A big road sign indicated our entry into the Tartastan. I guess, we really noticed that we crossed a republic border in the Russian federation, when the time on our cellphones was minus two hours. Tartastan already has Moscow times (UTC +3) and are only one hour ahead of the German time.

Easy charging at a hotel

I wrote a few emails to hotels in before we got there. One of them was so friendly to answer and after a few emails forth and back trying to explain what we need, they gave us green light. Two janitors helped Benedikt to set up our charging at the transformer of the hotel. Like always, we connected the three phases and the neutral connection to the according fuses. The connection was very stable, but we charged with only 10 amperes (on all three phases), since the car could charge the whole night long (and should be as little time as possible fully charged).

With a nicely charged car we left in the morning to continue our drive to Kazan. The capital of the Tartastan republic.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse-box 230 volt 3 * 10 amperes 7 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Ufa, Russia

It’s (sometimes) good to be the second

Usually we are always the first electric vehicle approaching a hotel or workshop with the unusual question if the place has three-phase electricity for us and if we can charge our car with it. It is very enjoyable to sometimes not be the first one. That’s why we followed the charging advice (in a hotel) of our friends from NoMiEV, who also went through Ufa on their 80 days around the world (80-E-days).

Charging in the hotel kitchen

A well-maintained hotel in Ufa could offer us a three-phase fuse-box based in their hotel kitchen. The first fuses, we tried to put our open-adapter on, had too much other stuff running on them. They blew immediately. The second ones we tried, worked out. We charged the car with 16 amperes on three phases.

I need to mention at this point that the most valuable equipment that we have with us is our NRGKick. It let’s  us charge without a ground connector (very common not to find one anywhere outside Europe). It lets us exactly adapt the current (ampere) that we want to charge with (sometimes due to bad wires very necessary). Lastly everything is controllable via our smartphone, since the NRGKick can connect to bluetooth. We love that thing and our journey wouldn’t work without it!

When we returned later the evening to our Tesla, the car was already charged at 100%. Since it is not good for the battery to stay fully-charged overnight, Benedikt cruised through the city for about one hour and enjoyed the Russian “night live”.

 

 

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 230 volt 3 times 20 16 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Chelyabinsk, Russia

Being welcomed in Chelyabinsk

Our drive from Kurgan continued west and ended in Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk is a city with about 1 million inhabitants. It seemed that it doesn’t have a lot more to offer than a pedestrian zone and some neat parks. It is written nowhere how hospitable and friendly people we would meet in Chelyabinsk, though. A hotel wrote us before arrival that they could offer us three-phase electricity. A charming receptionist that spoke great English helped with translation and the janitor helped Benedikt to connect our adapter to the fuse box in the basement.

The hotel wasn’t fancy. But the hospitality of its employees was exceptional. When we left the next morning (with a fully charged car) and received a matryoshka as a gift to remember the hotel, it really felt as if we have been guests for much longer or as we would say good-bye to new friends.

We continued later in the afternoon to the Zyuratkul national park.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 230 volt 3 x 5 (32 possible) amperes 3 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Kurgan, Russia

Border Kazakhstan – Russia

The border between Kazakhstan and Russia would be our second last “real border”. Since both countries are befriended, we thought the border process should be easy. Leaving Kazakhstan was easy indeed. Entering Russia was little nerve-racking though. At the passport control, I went first and the border control discovered my visa from Iran and started questioning me, what I did there and so on (Benedikt thinks that they are afraid of terrorists coming to Russia – even though, terrorists from Iran don’t really exist. Terrorist organizations usually follow Sunni-Islam and Iran follows Shia-Islam). They also wanted exactly to know I am doing in Russia and so on. We had to wait for them doing a “special investigation” for about 30 minutes. After that, we got the stamps in our passport anyways. Our car got searched for about 10 minutes. After that procedure, we were free to go… uff!

Getting insurance and SIM-card

On a small both on the side of the street about 30 minutes after the border, we found the places that sold car-insurance. We were obliged to buy one (and from Kazakhstan we knew that police like to control this). After at least an hour in one of the booths, we had our insurance and a SIM-card. We managed all of this without really speaking any word of Russian and the insurance guy not speaking anything word of any other language than Russian. If people are patient, it’s possible to communicate in any language though!

Hotel & charging in Kurgan

We felt like already being in Scandinavia, when we started to drive in Russia towards the city Kurgan. Small lakes, birch trees and a lot of unsettled land form the landscape of this part of Russia. It is beautiful!

The first hotel we approached in Kurgan offered us right away help with charging (this is a situation that hardly ever happens!). There were small fuse boxes on the parking lot opposite to the hotel. The hotel organized an electrician that helped setting up a connection (even though this help wouldn’t have been necessary – Benedikt did this by now so often). Unfortunately, the connection wasn’t very strong. We could only charge with 10 to 15 amperes.

The hotel took extremely well care of us. They set up red and white security tape around the parking lot, so no one would enter during night. They also “secured” our charging cable during night (well… we planned to charge during night. I left the hotel to go on a jog in the morning and was quite surprised when I saw that there wasn’t any cable at our car anymore. But, we managed to charge the rest that we needed during the rest of the morning). Even though, somethings weren’t exactly what we asked for, we felt extremely well taken care off in the hotel in Kurgan!

 

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 210-225 volt 3 times 10-15 amperes 10 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Petropavl, Kazakhstan

Searching for electricity…

Petropavl is the most northern city of Kazakhstan. It is only 60 km to the Russian border from here. After having been spoiled with Kazakh hospitality throughout the country, we had to find in Petropavl a hotel by ourselves again. We had a hotel suggestion from the NoMiEV people, who passed through Petropavl themselves one year ago. Their suggested hotel was one of the more expensive ones (60€/night). Therefore, we tried at 3 other hotels to get a room to sleep and three phase electricity to charge. One had no parking spot, another had a huge wedding party at their hotel and the third had a mean receptionist that didn’t wanted to help us solve a problem (of course did this large hotel also have three phase electricity – most often it just depends on how much a receptionist wants to help their (future) guests to find it).

… and finding it!

We ended up staying at the same hotel as the 80 E-days people used to stay. The staff was very helpful at the hotel. Only a little after we arrived, an electrician helped Benedikt to setup charging at a fuse box in the server-room of the hotel. The connection was very strong. I wish, hotels would always be that helpful…

 

 

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 230 volt 3 times 16 (32 possible) amperes 11 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Shchuchinsk, Kazakhstan

The national park Burabay

In the north of Kazakhstan, the national park Burabay can be found. It’s only a 3 hour drive from Astana. We stayed in a hotel at lake Shchuchye. The nature reminded us of Scandinavian countries, since birch trees, soft hills and lakes shape the beautiful national park.

Charging Benedikt and the car

Benedikt got a cold at the Expo. He needed to rest and recover. That’s what we did during 2 days in the Kazakh nature.

Also, the car needed to charge. It took us quite a while to make us understandable what we need and what we were looking for. Eventually the technician of the hotel showed Benedikt a fuse box and we started charging with all three phases.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 230 volt 2 times 16 amperes 7 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Arriving in Karaganda

It was a long drive (350 km) from Balkhash to Karaganda (we crossed again almost no village or point of civilisation). By 10:30 p.m. we finally arrived in Karaganda and two friends of Meiran were waiting in front of an apartment complex (we met Meiran in Almaty – see this post). Meiran was responsible for the construction of the complex and owns a flat there. He offered us to stay in this apartment.

Charging in the underground parking

 Meiran’s colleagues welcomed us and showed us a modern fuse-box in the underground parking of the apartment block. It took Benedikt only a view minutes to set up a nice connection. Even though we had a strong connection, we charged with only 10 amperes and until the maximum of 85%. It’s better for the battery to leave it only for a short time fully charged. Before we left Karaganda after two nights, we fully charged the car.

Getting spoilt and learning about Kazakh history

On our first morning in Karaganda, we got invited to have breakfast at Meiran’s ants house. Of course, her self-made bread and everything else was delicious! We spent the afternoon at the KarLag-Museum. It is a museum about a large Gulag labor-camp during the Stalin-times of the Soviet Union.

We are thankful for Meiran for all his help and his great hospitality. We had a great time in Karaganda thanks to him. It really makes our journey special, meeting people like him!

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
connection to fuse-box 220 volt 3 * 10-32 amperes 22 kW 60 kWh

Charging in Balkhash, Kazakhstan

Meeting Meiram

When we were about to leave Almaty a guy on a brand-new Ducati motorcycle signaled us to stop. We drove to the side of the road and met Meiram. He himself traveled on a motorcycle almost the same route as ours. We will have noticed later that we were extremely fortunate to have met him.

Charging-attempt #1 and #2

Meiram knew people in Balkhash and arranged for us help with charging there. We met our “charging crew” at the city entrance. The first car workshop where we tried to find three-phase electricity, could only offer 16 amperes and Benedikt didn’t really find the earth connection. The next large car-workshop we drove to, was by chance a place where the NomiEV people also charged on their 80 E-days journey.We were excited, when we found a Turkish Style outlet in the workshop. Benedikt re-adjusted the adapter (we used the Montenegro-style plug a view times in Iran. That’s why the plugs of the adapters changed after we left Turkey again – see also this post). The fuses were set for 50 amperes, so we didn’t worry to let the car charge with 32 amperes.

Shortly before we wanted to leave, Benedikt checked the connection again – and there was smoke coming out of the outlet. Uuuuuups. Probably the plugs have not been used for a long time and dead bugs and the same started to slowly burn with the heat of the strong electricity. Since we didn’t want to risk setting the workshop on fire, we stopped charging immediately.

Charging-attempt #3 – finally a success!

There was a fuse-box close to the Turkish-outlet. Since it also had three-phase connections, the plan was to get the electricity from there. As soon as we were about to set this up, Benedikt noticed that he forgot our open adapter, his safety cloves and the screw driver at the first car-workshop we have been to (charging-attempt #1). We opened the Turkish adapter, dissembled it and used the three-phases and the earth connection to set up a new connection on the fuse-box. And voila, charging worked out! Since the cables got a bit worm (the connection cable to the fuse-box seemed to thin), Benedikt wanted to charge only with 25 amperes. That meant, the car needed to charge for the next 3 hours.

We get entertained by the best charging-hosts ever

Our charging-helpers were our hosts during the next 3 hours. They drove us back to the first workshop to pick up our forgotten stuff. Due to language misunderstanding, they also bought us a new screw-driver (we later gave our old one as a “souvenir” to them). After that, we went to a garden restaurant and had a late lunch there. The restaurant was at the shore of lake Balkhash and we went to the beach later. Lake Balkhash is apparently the 15th largest lake on the earth (16,400 km2), but only 26 m maximum deep. The water was therefore really worm (maybe 25 degree Celsius). Before we left Balkhash again, we got a beautifully painted plate of lake Balkhash as a gift to remember the city. We started our continues drive through the Kazakh step with a feeling of gratefulness to have experienced this superb hospitality. Thank you!

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
connection to fuse-box 220 volt 3 * 25 amperes 16 kW 50 kWh