There is a spreadsheet that is always open on my desktop, the one that I check every time I float between windows or switch off my computer. It is called ‘to-do list’, and it contains all the tasks that are to be performed until January 7, the day i’m bound to take off to the Alps. Obviously, this is not much of a breaking news. But it does get those butterflies running as the list gets that ‘check’ after each item.

The latest one, and one that definitely gets my winter Mojo running, is the ordering of winter tires for the van. Every other item before that could have been used for other purposes – checking snow gear, updating travel insurance, ordering enough supply of contact lenses , brushing up the inside of the camper van… all that could be used even if there was no journey. However, spending hundreds of €€ in winter tires is kinda like the point of no return (OK, I’ve put an advance payment on my house in Gerlosberg… but that was long ago, almost doesn’t count anymore). What the hell would I do with winter tires in Faro? Nothing. See? Commitment right there.

In the process I’ve been learning a lot about driving in snow conditions. I’m not going to brag about having been in the mountains with a car before, and snowchains and all. The truth is we Portuguese don’t know how to drive on icy or snowy roads. Period. Maybe that odd winter day where maybe there is a small patch of ice at night, or that yearly pilgrimage to the ski resort, where you catch a snow day – but then the car is parked and you only think of it when you return home. But driving a whole winter in snow conditions is definitely a new game.

So snow tires are mandatory in Austria during winter. ‘Oh but you are a tourist, they won’t bother you’ someone told me. But I’m not falling into that typical portuguese desenrascanço (translation needed here) storyline. We’re good at improvising – arguably the best in the world! However, improvising while driving through the Alps in full on subzero temperatures does not seem to be the best idea. So let’s buy those suckers. Where? At my usual workshop… how naive of me. ‘Winter what? All tires are good for winter. What? Specific tires for winter? Oh, I’ve heard of those – the ones with the spikes? No? What do you mean then?’ After quite a bit of convincing, the lady went on to check in the catalogue and -alas!- there was a section called winter tires. ‘But only a month from now’ she said. No one ever ordered such a product there. I wonder why.

So went on to the internet. Much cheaper tires, of course, but better learn your details boy. Should I buy reinforced ones for a cargo van? Are the dimensions the same? Are all kinds of winter tires the same? As long as it says the ‘M+S’ (for mud and snow) it is OK, apparently. The best websites I found were http://www.pneus-online.pt and http://www.pneucity.com . Cheap and shipment included, good service but not very detailed information. Anyway, I finished the order, scratched the ‘buy winter tires’ from the list and checked the calendar.

46 days to go.

Then checked the webcam. It looked like this:


This is the first big snowfall of the season, the Alps are getting hammered with the with stuff and the cold front is (hopefully) here to stay. Can’t wait to get on the road!


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