After a short but sweet pit stop in Bordeaux (UNESCO heritage listed!) we spent a beautiful weekend in La Rochelle caught between la French cuisine (OMG, tarte aux fraises, croissants aux amandes, moulles et frites, crepes, fromage de chevre… forget the health trip, bring it on, vive la France!) and the massive harbor. How come we couldn’t find our boat amongst the 5,000 (!) there? A test of willpower and endurance, as my tarot cards reveal. Bring it on. We are young, time is on our side and I know our boat is somewhere out there waiting for us.
On the road to Paris, I finally get the time to write up a few disclaimers. Not that I want to nag, but given the many readers who are, soon will be or would like to be on a similar journey – and using the power of the consumer – I’d like to avoid anyone else going through the same frustrations that we’ve had with the following absolutely hopeless products and services:
- Arrival GPS Navigator – freezes every 20 minutes and sends us into suicide at least once every hour, either by suggesting a U-turn in the middle of the highway or telling us to turn left on a narrow coastal stretch, right over the cliff into the ocean.,
- Lidl pre-paid phone SIM card – a total scam. Not only does it not work as indicated, but also the customer service is hopeless. Moreover, you are dragged into paying more and more to, supposedly, then be able to use your mobile. Never happened. Worst purchase of my life! Chose another provider.
- Internet cards – Lidl’s again comes last. First it wasn’t working, then activated supposedly for a month, after two days we were back to no connection. Customer service said something different every time we called. In short, don’t got there. It took us over two months to gain the confidence to try another internet card. This time Orange in France. Again, the $45 Euro investment was going to last us a month, but after two days the credit was gone. Internet cards – never again. It’s back to the old fashioned WiFi Café for us.
- German consulate in Bilbao – don’t get me started. Customer service, a foreign word. Helpfulness an unknown. Making one’s life hard for no reason – seemingly their philosophy.
- Gas bottles – an awesome invention through which 11kg of propane have given us refrigeration, cooking facilities (stove), hot water and heating since we dropped from 30C degrees in Sevilla to 4C in Bordeaux! However, every European country seems to have its own system. Travelling internationally, you cannot exchange your German bottle, for instance, for a full French one. Instead you have to buy a completely new bottle plus filling which is not only expensive, but leaves your van full of empty gas bottles which take up a lot of valuable space. The way to go, I reckon, is have only one from each system. But then again, it depends on your itinerary. It’s definitely something to take into account though.
To bring the ying to the yang, my next post will be on equipment which has enhanced our journey undeniably. Stay tuned;)