Wild camping in Golestan National Park, Iran

Challenge of finding a good spot for the night

That evening, the search for a place to sleep (outside) took longer than expected. Our common procedure for this is that I search on google satellite maps for potential spots. When we reach the spot, we check whether it is good to stay or not. That night, all suggested spots either had an awful road (we already push the car to the extends of its not existing 4WD qualities), were too close to the main road or we got told to leave. At 20:20 with the sun almost setting, we found a spot in the Golestan National Park, close to a village, in the open grass lands, underneath a few trees. It felt good to just be by ourselves again. We spend the whole upcoming day at the same spot as well. Our (and Teslas) only movements in the hot weather (it is try and hot again…), were to follow the shadow of the trees. But it was good to have time to read and write.

Too much disturbance during one night

There were quite a few trucks, cars and motorcycles passing the road close to our camping spot during the day. No one distracted us though. While I was preparing dinner, Benedikt said, that this night, I can probably sleep much better (I usually sleep a bit lighter when we sleep outside). If no one distracted us during the day, no one will come during night. Again, we were proven wrong… The first motorcycle drove to the Tesla at around 10:00 p.m.. It was already dark outside and we were ready to go to bed. The only word they said was “home”, we guessed it as an invitation to their home. Since I already had my pajamas on, the timing couldn’t have been much worse for that invitation. About 30 minutes later a car stopped on the dirt road nearby, put his head lights bright towards our car and yelled something. He vanished after Benedikt yelled “SLEEP” back. At about 11:30 p.m. three guys on one motorcycle (yes, that seems to work perfectly) drove to our spot and only disappeared when Benedikt told them that we want to sleep. We were almost asleep when the last car showed up at our campsite at 12:30 at night. It was someone in uniform and his “translator”. They tried to tell us that it is too dangerous to stay out in the nature and that we should go to a city. After Benedikt repeatedly told them that we don’t care, we will go to a city (Bojnurd) the day after and that we just want to sleep, they left. I was glad, Benedikt was handling all those situations. I have no idea, how they would have reacted with a woman appearing out of the car… It was 1:30 till we finally fell asleep.

What we learned

What we learned during that night was that it is not smart to stay at the same spot for 2 continuous nights, especially if people saw you and the car at that spot during day. We will know better the next time.

Charging in Kolasin, Montenegro

From Sarajevo to Kolasin, Montenegro, we had an adventurous way through narrow valleys, along spectacular lakes, through very basic tunnels and up on high mountains. I booked an Airbnb in Kolasin already 1 day ahead. We came to that mountain village to spend the following day hiking in the Biogradska Gora National Park.

After already having done a few general mistakes in Sarajevo, we continued just like that in Montenegro. The apartment we choose on Airbnb was ok and the host overwhelmingly friendly. We decided to stay for 2 nights, before we noticed that the bed sheets smelled after cigarette smoke, that it is cold and the bathroom has no heater and that the landlord is rather a moneymaker than a host (What we learned: never book a second night, before you spend the first night somewhere). That landlord “helped” us find electricity in the village, where we ended up paying 0,35€ per kWh. That is roughly at least 20 cents (or 130 %) more than the average electricity price in Montenegro. Benedikt brought the car (still charged with about 15%) to some people in the village that owned a little electricity shop. The 11kW outlet charged our Tesla Model S overnight to about 90%.

The following day we had a great time in the national park. Unfortunately, we did not check the weather report for the upcoming days. We should have noticed that it would snow till about 800m above sea-level (Kolasin is at about 1200m) the next day. The 20 to 30 cm of fresh snow posed a major challenge. We left the Airbnb with an angry landlord, after we charged on one of her three-phase outlets for about 30 minutes that morning (remember: electricity prices are “soooo high”). We were frustrated with her ourselves and offered the true 0,50 € for the electricity (they were denied).

That landlord warned us of the police and high fines for driving with summer tires (we found out later, that there was no obligation for winter tires after April 15th). After ditching the first police control, but totally getting stuck on the first little hill (yes, summer tires just don’t really work to push a 2 tons car through heavy snow), we decided to return to Kolasin. It is fun to tell the story now, but at that point sitting in a car that is totally uncontrollable, I was terribly scared.

We hang out at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Kolasin till the snow started melting a bit on the still warm roads in the afternoon. Since a bridge on the main road collapsed, we had to take a detour along a tiny road. I was so happy, when we finally left the snow and reached a “normal” street again. That evening we made it till Shkoder in Albania, where we were greeted by a warm mediterranean breeze.

Charging in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegowina

Benedikt booked us a Hotel in Sarajevo that had good reviews, a parking lot and was big enough, so that we expected that they would have three-phase outlets. We arrived Sarajevo pretty low in battery (6-7%). At first the hotel offered us a three-phase outlet (it found it in the back of the building). Though, we did not have the right plug at that point of time.

Until we returned after the visit of some do-it-yourself-stores without having found the plug the hotel called the manager and owner of the hotel to find out that this person is scared of an electric vehicle taking too much electricity. Benedikt already started to improvise with the outlet (opening it to take out the phases and adjust them directly to our adapter), when some hotel person came up and told him to stop working. Even our offer to pay for electricity did not convince them. The Tesla had at that point of time about 4-5% of its battery left. I thought to myself, if this is, how every “electricity-search” is going to look like, the trip is not going to be fun.

One of the reasons why we were in Sarajevo was, that I really wanted to see the tunnel museum. It is a museum about the resistance of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war that is now 25 years ago. I read about it not long ago in the NZZ.  The museum was really interesting, but unfortunately it could not offer us any electricity.

Our last hope was the Marriott hotel in downtown Sarajevo that is offering a 22KW charging station to their guests. Hoping that they would also offer it to us, we drove to the hotel. For 12,50€ we could charge for 3 hours up to 95%. This was enough to make the journey to Kolasin, Montenegro the next day. Only after we parked our car at the Marriott hotel and started charging, we found out that the underground garage of the shopping center, that is only 500 meters from the Marriott, has plenty of 22KW three-phase outlets that we could have used for free… I guess the pretty low battery made us decide for the first best option.

That day realized that we made a few pretty bad beginner’s mistakes in Sarajevo:

  1. booking a hotel when depending on electricity to charge. One never knows if a hotel has a three-phase outlet available and if it wants to offer that to us. Having already booked a room minimizes the room to negotiate.
  2. not going right away for the hotel that offers charging. Even if the hotel is more expensive, the time and nerves one is saving with an easy-charge-solution is priceless.
  3. not searching in a large underground garage for electricity. We found so far in every large garage electricity (11 or 22KW). It is a shame, if one isn’t searching there for three-phase outlets as the first thing.

We left Sarajevo the next day almost fully charged and a bit smarter. Let’s hope it helps for the next “electricity-searches”.