Charging in Warsaw, Poland

Last stop – Warsaw

A friend, for whom I will be the maid of honor at her wedding in October, planned to have her bachelorette party during the last weekend of August. I am no fan of these kind of events, but still, I bought a flight ticket and left Warsaw on August 25th to Munich. Benedikt and I enjoyed the last day of our epic journey in Warsaw the day before. Both of us can hardly cope with the fact that it is over now. No searching for electricity anymore, no continues travelling, no new input every day. Instead, more and more a “normal” life will start again.

Charging in Warsaw

We were in Warsaw last June. The first public charging station where we tried to charge last year, didn’t work. But exactly this charging station was only a few meters down from the airbnb that hosted us during our days in Warsaw this year. Benedikt didn’t forget to take the RFID-card (Galactico) for this particular charging network in Poland with us on our journey. Unlike the year before the charging station worked and we could very comfortably charge almost right before our apartment. I really appreciate this convenience and sometimes still wonder how easy everything is and seems here in Europe.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Typ-2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 60 kWh

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 Kaunas, Lithuania

Lidl-charger in Kaunas

After a desperately needed sleep (read this post, to read what hold us back from sleeping), we approached a Lidl parking lot in Kaunas. Unlike the day before, the charging station at this Lidl worked perfectly. We did grocery shopping for the upcoming week and hung out at the charger until the car was fully charged (took us about 2.5 hours).

CHAdeMo-charging

First time we were using a CHAdeMO-adapter that volker of the TFF forum (German Tesla forum – Tesla Fahrer und Freunde) offered us to use during the rest of our journey. We are very happy that we have this adapter with us now. The adapter allows us to charge at CHAdeMO charging stations. These fast-charging stations deliver up to 50kW of direct current (300-500 V, up to 350 A). That means we can fully charge our car from 0-100% in about 1.5 hours! On that day in front of the Lidl in Kaunas, there were so many Nissan Leaf who wanted to use the CHAdeMO-charger (and can’t use typ-2) that we hardly used it ourselves.

Lithuanian Baltic Sea

Even though we weren’t charging as fast as we could have, we were still in time to pick up our friend Corinna from the airport in Kaunas. Together, we drove to Vente at the Baltic Sea where we met other friends and where we stayed all together the upcoming 3 days.

 

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CHAdeMO  350-400 volt  120 amperes 44 kW 10 kWh
Typ 2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 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 on Saaremaa Island, Estonia

Digital Estonia

After a beautiful drive through the picturesque landscape of Estonia on roads, we arrived at the ferry port of Virtsu. Estonia is probably the most digital country on the world. Since almost 10 years, things like voting or submitting the tax declaration digitally are normal in Estonia. Of course, also buying a ferry ticket on the phone is an easy task. After being part of probably the smoothest “ferry-boarding-process” that we have ever experienced, we arrived on Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest island situated in the gulf of Riga.

Charging on Saaremaa

Estonia has an excellent network of charging station. The company Elmo is responsible for it. ABB is their hardware partner. A person working at ABB found out about our trip, contacted us and offered his help, whenever something wouldn’t work with the charging stations. We came back to his offer in Kuressaare, the capital city of Saaremaa. The first charging station that we approached didn’t really work (even though a Nissan Leaf was charging with the CHAdeMO charger). Unfortunately, our contact at ABB couldn’t help either. Luckily, there was another charging station in the city. That one worked without any problem. While we enjoyed the city and strolled through a local festival at the harbor, the car was nicely charging with 22kW.

Elmo charging app

One fact that we highly appreciate about the Elmo charging network in Estonia is that there is no special RFID-card needed to start the charging. One can download an app, create an account and manage the charging process through the app. Every charge costs around 4,50€, which we think is a fair price. I think, most EV-drivers are willing to pay the price for electricity for their charge. But no (travelling) EV-driver appreciates complicated authorization processes via RFID-cards that need to be organized before arriving to the country.

Enjoying our time on Saaremaa

We stayed one day longer on Saaremaa, because we just liked it a lot there. It’s a picturesque, quite island with nature reserves to hike and lots of streets with little traffic to cycle on. It is very likely that we’ll return to that beautiful place.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Typ 2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 60 kWh

Charging in St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg was our last destination in Russia. Besides its famous Hermitage, we mainly remembered the city from history lessons (Siege of Leningrad). On our last day, we experienced our own very, very little siege of St. Petersburg. I’ll tell more about this later.

Meating the EV-time team

Vadim, working with his team to grow the charging network for EVs in Russia, invited us to visit him and his team to learn more about his work. He told us, how EV-time is steadily growing the charging network especially in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, the main part of the network is only open to holders of a special card. This card can only be distributed to Russians so far. The EV-time team is trying hard to change that and to extend the network outside of St. Petersburg. We are excited to see the result of their work the next time we’re in Russia!

Charging the car in the underground parking of a mall

Due to the reason named above, we didn’t use the EV-time network to charge the Tesla in St. Petersburg. We used a (individual) charging station in the underground parking of a mall. Of course, another legitimization card was necessary to get the charging going. It took a little while, until we found this card: The first security guy we asked brought Benedikt to the parking ticket machine. Since this was not what he wanted, he was sent to the information desk. The lady there told him to go to the administration of the parking garage. There, the people finally understood his question and followed Benedikt to our car. Apparently, there was no other EV in the parking garage for the last 4 months. Maybe, that’s the reason why nobody is informed… From a parking garage in Poland, where we charged last year and that had the same model of charger, we knew that charging only starts when you close the little door after you plugged in. After this was closed, charging started and we were happy!

Our siege of St. Petersburg

24 hours before we wanted to leave St. Petersburg, we noticed heavy road works in front of the gate leading to the backyard where we parked. There was a sign in Russian, probably put up the night before, that roadworks would last 2 days. One day too long for us… The feeling of being locked in, isn’t great. We decided to try to find another exit. Backyards in St. Petersburg seem to be like labyrinths. Our host helped us to find another way out. Somehow, we managed to get the car through a gate, only a few millimeters wider than the car, into the next courtyard. Thanks to an open gate towards the street, we could leave the courtyard labyrinth from there. Uffff…

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Typ 2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 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