The first stop they made after the border was a small hotel. They were planning a short biological break and something to drink but then ran into a group of … American tourists. 🙂
Of course, the group could not be taken as representative of all of the US, but it was great to hear one of them owned a Model S and another had just had a test drive in a Model 3 and ordered one. Everybody recognized the car and was eager to listen to the driver’s story.
The first question was: “What are you doing here in a Tesla!?” Funny, considering it was asked by Americans in the middle of nowhere in Albania. 🙂 The second question: “How do you charge here!?” You can get tired of this question, to be honest.
Somehow, the last stage of our trip seemed to attract more and more interest from passers-by and EV enthusiasts and they all seem to have the same set of questions, which some of you probably know too well from your experience as EV drivers: Where do you charge? What’s the range? How long does it take to charge? Doesn’t it have a NORMAL engine, too? Etc.
Even when exhausted, Tomek made sure everybody got their answers. We all realize EVangelizing is critical in changing people’s mindsets everywhere you go. And so the team did.
Next stop — Tirana, and a good lesson that first impressions are not always right.
There is one fast charger in Tirana, near the hospital, which the Tesla Shuttle team wanted to use. Upon arrival, they were welcomed by serious-looking guards, who looked more like secret service agents with professional earpieces and guns. Our team hesitated but all unnecessarily as the guards were super helpful and open. Ice broken, the charge was successful and cost €15, not bad at all.
What was more interesting was the meeting with a taxi driver, an electric taxi driver using, who would have guessed it, Nissan LEAFs. There are 15 of them, all nicely branded, and apparently very successful. I always felt electric taxis are one of the best ways to introduce EVs to people — if we convince taxi drivers, they will convince others. How about grants for taxi operators? I’d go for it.
From now on, the adventure begins to fall under the category of time pressure (to politely not say wives’ pressure) and seems to be a mirror of the beginning of the adventure. Our Tesla zipped through Montenegro and arrived in Dubrovnik late at night only to find out the parking fees in the centre were ridiculously high (make sure your hotel has a parking lot or stay outside the city). The nearest charger was a Tesla Destination Charger in a paid underground car park (or “parking lot” for you Americans). The funny bit was that “only” parking was more expensive than “parking and charging.” I have no verification whether it was just a mistake or a deliberate policy — one way or the other, the Tesla Shuttle budget appreciated the approach.
When I said the end mirrored the beginning, I meant quite easy accessibility of chargers, including Tesla Superchargers since we were back within the region Tesla has so far extended to. Croatia seems to be responding quite well to the needs of all foreign tourists, many of whom come from Germany and Italy in their EVs. Although the team had magnificent views all around — the sea, the beaches, the rugged mountains — they kept pushing north from Supercharger to Supercharger (remembering the wives 🙂 ).
I’m not sure about you, but I hate this moment when your adventure ends. I still agree with one of the travel writers I know that the best moment is when you close the home door behind you and set off.
That slight disappointment is probably what Tomek and his fellow bikers felt on Sunday night returning to Central Poland after 10 days on the go. The reporting team — that is, myself and Zach, enjoyed listening to the reports and sharing some of the stories with you. We will be back with one more article to focus more on the trip figures and venture a comparison with a hypothetically similar trip in a gas/diesel vehicle. Stay tuned, folks.
Want more? Check out more from our road trip and our long-term Tesla Model S review.