New adventure: Sweden and Norway from Croatia by car — stretching the teflon :)

Beginning of the year, we got a home exchange request from Sweden. We decided to go by car, we always wanted to go to Sweden by car. Then Norway just happened because we had a time gap to fill in.

Anyway, Norway gets a lot of rain, and things that we were planning to see in Norway are located outside — you know, fjords and stuff.

I looked at my footwear before the trip and realised I don’t have anything waterproof. Since I get cranky if I have to walk around with wet feet in freezing Scandinavia, we went and bought me a nice pair of hiking shoes. With GoreTex. So I don’t get wet feet.

GoreTex made me think — what the hell is that? It just says: “GoreTex — keeps you dry” on a little label. Not enough explanation to comfort my curiosity.

So I opened up Wikipedia and found out what this GoreTex is.

Anyway, Lora and I are riding in the car, we just started the second leg of our journey towards Scandinavia when I decided to share my findings about GoreTex with her:

You know those shoes that I bought for hiking the Norwegian woods? Apparently, the name of the fabric that keeps you dry comes from father and son that invented it. Their family name is Gore. And that “Tex” is not really a textile. It is teflon. Like in frying pans or in plumbing. But they invented a way to stretch it. They were chemists and they were reading about how teflon can stretch and they wanted to see how it stretched because, well, they were curious. Anyway, it kept breaking. As much as they tried, they couldn’t stretch it. And one day, the son finally found all the right parameters and stretched the hot teflon rod a 1000% in one stretch, almost by accident. And they noticed that it was 70% air. It was the material that lets the sweaty air out and no water in so this became a staple of outdoors clothes and it made them rich, and it will also keep my feet dry.

Lora then told me that this is another example of people not losing their faith and succeeding because they just couldn’t let go of something they believed in. I agreed, but we discussed it further and concluded that you have to go ten extra miles to make a really great breakthrough. Also, if you don’t try it, you can’t succeed. But also, there are countless people who also went to extraordinary lengths with stuff they believed in, but they were not so lucky, and many of them actually died when things went wrong or just kept failing all the way to the end.

To reach our destination, we still had to drive for 5.5 more hours to make it to the ferry, that will take us from Kiel to Gothenburg. Ferry departs at 18:45, and we started our trip at 10:30. So we had 8.25 hours. For the 5.5 hour trip. That is almost 3 extra hours we counted in the trip, you know, just in case. Although, to be fair, we did have to be at the ferry check-in at least half an hour earlier. But still, 2.5 extra hours seemed like plenty of time riding on the smooth german motorways. …or so we thought…

Couple of hours later, we are sitting in our fourth traffic jam. “Fun, fun, fun auf die Autobahn“, as Kraftwerk is singing. Our GPS is telling us that we are still going to come to the ferry in time — if there are no more traffic jams and delays. I decided to enable roaming on my phone and check what Google maps have to say about all of this. And Google told us that we are going to be in Kiel after the ferry leaves the port. There were at least half a dozen more traffic jams ahead of us.

Shit.

We started fighting and accusing each other. Then we were just sad, because we booked a great room on that ferry and really wanted to use it :) But none of that would get us to the ferry on time.

One solution was to ditch that ferry and catch the one going from Rostock and go to other part of Sweden and try reaching Gothenburg that way. We would lose one day by doing so, extra money and be very tired for work on Monday. And it wouldn’t be fun because we really wanted the experience of long overnight ferry ride (it takes 14.5 hours). Plus, the room.

Then we decided to go to Kiel anyway. We just believed that we’d get lucky. Although we didn’t stand a chance, according to our GPS. And then, Google re-routed our trip and offered us a 20 minutes shorter travel time. But it was still not enough. We were going to come to Kiel at 18:30, and last check-in time is at 18:15.

I drove a lot in the left lane, and put myself through a lot of stress, competing with german Audis and Porsches. But, over the next 2.5 hours we managed to make the time of arrival to be 18:21. We were so afraid that Germans will not let us board the ferry, because, you know, they are Germans. They follow the rules, and they are punctual. When we reached the port it was 18:18 which is really just three minutes late. But, I missed the right turn and had to make a u-turn and lost a couple of minutes there. Finally, we came to the check-in, at 18:23. All the guy said was:

Have a nice trip!

We drove the car onto the deck and we were just sitting there for a few minutes in total disbelief that we actually made it. That was the moment when one of us said:

It looks like we managed to stretch that teflon.

And then, another car boarded the ferry, so we weren’t even the last car on it.

The room on the ferry.
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