28-3. THE DAY DRAWS CLOSER
Again today I, Green Car, have been driving on the small mountain-roads between Monaco and France. After Nina and Hjalte had a walk to the light-house at Cap Ferrat Hjalte heard a buzz in the driver's side. At that time I had begun to sweat and shake. Hjalte thought it could be the servo for the stearing. I had taken some tight turns in the hair-pin bends. Nina said she got all dizzy from the buzz. They started worrying if I could develop a problem before the rally on Saturday. Finally they discovered they had turned on the heat. They quickly turned it off and I got my normal heart-beat back. On the way back I got time to rest while Nina and Hjalte visited the Matisse museum in Nice, which they loved.
Today France switched to summer-time and the rain was pouring down. At mid-day we drove from Nice to Monaco. Still very beautyful with the mountains half covered in rain-clouds. We went back over first part of the rally route, but made a error with time calculation, so we have to come back tomorrow and try again. Green Car drives perfectly and the Conti tires stay firmly. But I do not dare drive fast enough in the tight bends on the poor narrow road with cars coming against me. Hjalte sits near the edge and thinks I am very close. It is thrilling and we enjoy the driving with the awesome views.
26-3. A VISIT TO CANNES
In glorious summer weather with a cool breeze from the blue Mediterranean we had a long walk in Cannes. In the harbor were all the über-large boasting boats. The game is to show all your money. We saw the festival palace, the luxury hotels and the casino and met Jose, a wonderfully eccentric Parisian hair-dresser. The shops of all the big fashion houses lined the croisette like diamonds in a pampered actress' necklace. In the showrooms you saw not only clothes but also diamond-studded cell-phones and watches. We got so elated of not being in the race to show who got the most money. In the afternoon we visited our rally friends Torben and Merete, discussed our competitors and had a wonderful dinner with a view of the sea.
Nina and Hjalte
25-3 NOT ONE KILOMETER IN THE CAR
The day had come to see some more of Nice, and not just speed through. Green Car had a day off and we walked past flower and fruit markets and all the small sidewalk cafes with tables full of young people under blossoming trees. We tried out the blue city-cycles and came to a street only for the brand-new trams. They came with short intervals, we jumped on and rolled silently down to old Nice by the sea. Small interesting shops lined the narrow streets and on the promenade the first beach-lovers enjoyed the afternoon sun.
24-3. GREEN CAR TRAINING
With Torben Arp in the back seat we went through the second part of the rally route. When we needed a break we stopped at a cafe and had chocolate croisants. The power-meter in Green Car acted up again. We thought we had plenty of power when we rolled back to Nice. So it came as chock when Green Car suddenly - and for the very first time on the whole circumnavigation - stopped with an empty battery. (Actually the car is made to stop when there is still 20% battery-power left in order to protect the battery.) As luck would have it the dear car had stopped right outside the door of our hotel! After half an hour with power from the kitchen window of Villa Aramis Green Car could drive down to the garage and charge.
Nina and Hjalte
23-3. WE BUY A STOP-WATCH
First we had to find power for Green Car. We found it in Monaco where the parking-garages now have charging points. There is a reserved spot and you pay for parking but not for power. Very nice for us, but the Monègasque seems still to prefer their Masseratis, Bentleys and Porches. We bought a stop-watch in a partly underground shopping centre and were ready for training the second part of the rally. It was now afternoon and rush-hour so it took long time to get out of cramped Monaco, and when we went up the steep mountains we crawled behind a lorry with stones. We took a few wrong turns and ran ten minutes behind the fixed time. The road got real narrow with nothing between the car and the free fall. I honked and braked before the blind bends. On the way down I rolled most of the way, braking as little as possible. Yes, we learned a lot and had a wonderful day with great views.
We had to move from Villa Aramis and found tiny Hotel Parisienne in Menton. Menton has a well-preserved old town, nice for walking and with a much more relaxed vibe than super-expensive Monaco and big-city Nice. The day went by with some shopping and office-work necessary for traveling and keeping in touch with the world. Hotel Parisienne was run by a couple of lovely old ladies. It was clean and nice, but we missed a kitchen and the ladies did not dare to let Green Car charge from the hotel.
21-3. FIRST GO AT THE RALLY-ROUTE
Worried to burn the fuses in the garage we had turned the power down for Green Car. So we had again to start with less-than-full charge. With Torben Arp coaching from the back seat we had our first try at the rally route. His road-book was an absolute necessary help. On the waty back to Nice Green Car got very low on power. We found a tyre-shop but they demanded a real Monaco-price: 50 € for electricity. We said good-bye and luckily I found a closed garage on the other side of the road with a live electric outlet. We helped ourselves to power for half an hour and continued up to the mountain-top village Eze. We have developed an eagle's eye for accessible power-outlets and in front of a closed restaurant I found electricity. While Green Cr got power we walked to the top of old Eze perched on a cliff with the most spectacular view of the Blue Coast. When the sun dropped into the Mediterranean we could roll down ten kilometers into Nice. We said good-bye to Torben and Green Car was parked after a long day.
Nina and Hjalte
20-3. A LUCKY ENCOUNTER
The fuses clicked at the campsite during the night so we had to start the day with Green Car only half-charged. In Cannes we met with Torben Arp, a seasoned rally-driver and navigator. He has very generously promised to help us prepare for the Monte Carlo Rally for electric cars. We said goodbye and started towards an all-year campsite near Nice we had found on the net. Leaving Nice we were close to zero power. What to do? Luckily Hjalte saw a municipal bus-garage. Sunday-quiet but open. Friendly mechanics let us charge for an hour. On the last drop of power we finally reached the campsite only to find it closed. The only hotel in the village was also closed. I spotted a community-building where some women were cleaning up after a muslim wedding. They let us charge for some hours while Hjalte via our satellite-connection booked a cheap room in Nice. Late, hungry and tired we found Villa Aramis Guesthouse - all closed. Just as we prepared for a miserable night in the car the door was opened. We got a room, there was a kitchen we could use and Green Car got a proper garage with power!
Nina and Hjalte
19-3. IN A LITTLE PORT
After a visit to the hectic St. Tropez we made a stop in a little sleepy port where we found an excellent free power outlet. We could enjoy our lunch while Green Car got new energy. We had coffee at a cafe, the sun was shining, the sea azure and all was just fine. In the evening we stumbled upon a campsite on the coast where we became neighbors to some friendly Danes. They spend the winters in southern Spain and the summers in their sailing boat back in Denmark. The couple invited us for coffee and cookies, and we had a nice evening in their mobile home with dark clouds outside. We had rain during the night but our tent stayed dry inside.
Nina and Hjalte