Even with us both visualizing a sunny day today, we are greeted by heavy rain with interspersed snow flakes. YUK!

After breakfast we leave Budapest on the motorway – we don’t like driving along smaller roads when it rains. Should the rain stop later on, we still can leave the motorway and go back to our original route.

First, rain only...
First, rain only…

My Austrian family is waiting for me in Vienna and expects us sometime after 5pm – with all this time at our disposal, we had planned to visit Bratislava – Slovakia’s very pretty capital city. (TW560 has already been to Bratislava in 2010 – one of the first long-distance drives with my LiFePo3-pack purchased in 2010 and replaced in 2016)
Instead of getting better, the further away from Budapest we get, the more I’m fighting against massive cross-winds and slippery conditions due to snow. With most of the weight at the back, TW560 is very susceptible to cross-winds. I lower our speed to 70-80kph and still need more than one lane…

This was getting more and more dangerous by the minute
This was getting more and more dangerous by the minute

I decide to leave the motorway and continue along some larger roads. This part of Hungary is completely flat – this means the winds have no obstacles and hit with full force.

The wind gusts push the rain into the TWIKE … past the seals. In 10 years of driving my TWIKE, I’ve never been in such weather conditions.

Wind and rain sideways
Wind and rain sideways

Even with our speeds down to 50 kph, I find it difficult to keep the TWIKE on my side of the road. I have to keep both hands on the yoke – pushing hard against the wind…until we heard a bang and stopped the TWIKE.

One super-gust blew away the wheel well cover - incredible!
One super-gust blew away the wheel well cover – incredible!

That last gust had sheared the wheel well cover off clean. Driving back we tried to find the cover but were unable to find it and as we got out (very carefully and always holding on to the roof) because we saw something white in a nearby field, were drenched in seconds as was the TWIKE’s interior. Seasoned TWIKE pilots know what this means: heavy windscreen fogging.

With heavy headwinds, gusts, rain it is unsurprising that our consumption was sky-high. We had to add a quick 30-minute one-phase charge somewhere close to Gyor in order to make it to Bratislava.

Besides all these problems, outside temperatures plummeted to around 0°C – we were starting to feel very, very cold.

This village name had my daughter giggling
This village name had my daughter giggling

Even with the extra kW-hour in our battery, we cut it very finely and arrived in Bratislava with about 5km left. LEMnet advertised a Type2 plug in the park garage of the prestigious Carlton Hotel. Arriving at the garage, no plug but a cable. (Arrrgh: I have to start my TW560-Type2-plug project ASAP!)

The parking garage manager then showed maximum flexibility by providing me with an extension cord connected to a plug in his office.

Charging at 2kW would take around 3-4 hours to give us enough energy to get to Vienna factoring in current weather conditions…not good. It’s already taken us more than 3 hours longer to get to Bratislava than planned and with 3-4 hours charge time our ETA would be late evening and we don’t want to miss the home cooked meal that was waiting for us.

We were both feeling very, very cold. With TW560 charging at any rate, we were better off than not charging – I decided that we would warm up in the Hotel Carlton and I would try to find a better charging option for us – ideally a three-phase 16A industrial plug.

Warming up in hotel Carlton's mirror bar
Warming up in hotel Carlton’s mirror bar

Sitting at a fireplace with a hot drink in hand, we slowly started warming up again whilst I was researching charging options nearby.

Within half-an-hour I indeed found such a plug listed on a Slovakian site. We unplugged TW560 from the extension cord and drove 4km to the next plug and were very disappointed to find not only no industrial plug but two type2 plugs…occupied by two Tesla’s. Our hearts sunk and we were about to leave to drive back to the Carlton as the owner of one of the Teslas appeared and started to disconnect the car. Karma: thank you, yet again!

Charging in Bratislava
Charging in Bratislava

With us now quick-charging at 7.1kW, we stayed in the TWIKE for a reason: each one of TW560’s additional chargers dissipates about 250W in excess heat which made the TWIKE a very nice place to be in if one feels cold…or better: if you like being warm! 🙂

Charging at about 110 kph, we were ready for our last leg within 90 minutes with a comfortable margin for heating en-route.

We started our last leg towards Vienna.

Even though my daughter had a very warm back and was comfortable (both chargers are located behind her back), I started feeling cold again since strong winds were pushing into TW560’s cabin.

Time to fight back TWIKE-style!

Keeping warm in TW560
Keeping warm in TW560

Keeping warm in TW560, part II
Keeping warm in TW560, part II

Pushing onwards, weather conditions deteriorate further as we enter Austria: Snow! YUK! What have we done to deserve this kind of weather?

Wind, snow - unbelievable weather conditions in Austria
Wind, snow – unbelievable weather conditions in Austria

With this kind of weather, we had to go even slower. Why? Well, a quick look at my tyres will give you the answer!

Certainly not the right kind of tyre tread for this weather!

We’re super-lucky that we decided against taking the motorway into Vienna that evening – both directions were blocked by accidents and according to local news outlets, people were provided with woolen blankets by authorities because the traffic jam lasted until 4am!!!

We, however, on the so-called Bundesstrasse were also cold, but at least were inching towards Vienna’s town center which we reached at 8.30pm.

Occupying a public parking spot, we had to use some creative cabling to the outlet at my family’s apartment to get our over-night charge going.

We were greeted by warm food and very good Austrian white wine.

Warm apartment - hot food: just what we need!
Warm apartment – hot food: just what we need!

I stayed up until about 4am – chatting, exchanging all the news from the extended family and drinking more wine and artisanal schnaps. We’re not going to be back on the road too early tomorrow morning! 😉

TDE2017 day 7 GPS track
TDE2017 day 7 GPS track

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