Saturday, July 9, 2022 - 21:45

Welcome to our blog!

This summer we are attempting to drive from London to Baku in our brand new BMW iX3. The 'we' in this sentence are James and Melisa, and our 11 month (at the start of the trip) old daughter Lucy. No member of the family gets left behind, so we are also bringing our dog Summer with us, who is a 2 year old Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi.

The planned route will take us through the following countries: UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy (we plan to get through all of these very quickly since we already know them well), and then onwards to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. If we make it, the route back will be slightly adjusted as we go from Azerbaijan, back to Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, and then up to the UK via France.

Dog Notes: 

Possibly the most challenging part of preparing for this trip is how to take a dog across so many international borders. Even before we properly decided the trip was going ahead, we did some early research into countries like Turkey, which have stringent requirements around rabies vaccination. Similar rules apply when taking a dog back into the EU from high-risk rabies countries such as Turkey, Albania, and Montenegro. To take a dog into Turkey for example, the dog not only needs a rabies vaccine (or booster) administered in the past 12 months, but also something we had never heard of called a Titer test, which proves the level of rabies antibodies in the dog's blood. More complicated still, the Titer test must have been completed more than 90 days prior to entry across some of the borders, and by an EU-approved laboratory in the case of coming back into the EU. Therefore we had to get this part done and dusted by mid-May 2022 in order to have any hope of doing the trip.

In addition to the rabies vaccine and Titer test, we also needed to get a parainfluenza vaccine for entry to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Research is one thing, but getting all of this done at our vet in the UK proved to be complicated and rather expensive.
- Getting a rabies booster when one isn't required takes some convincing! ~£90
- Finding a receptionist at a vet who has even heard of a Titer test, let alone will book you for one at an EU-approved laboratory proved, took a few calls. ~£200 total, 3 trips, quite a lot of blood from a shaven paw, and some confusion over whether us or the vet should keep the original certificate from the lab (it definitely was us!)
- Parainfluenza has been wiped out in the UK so many vets don't stock it. We had to find another vet to get this done, and it required two jabs. ~£80

Finally, a lot of pet movement to/from the EU is made much simpler with a pet passport. These are usually only issued once your pet has lived in the EU for 3 months or more, but we plan to try to get one anyway at a vet local to our family's apartment in Switzerland since Switzerland is in the EU pet passport scheme.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

The BMW iX3 we got recently has a maximum range of 280miles/450km, but in practice we are planning for a range of about 250miles/400km, mostly due to the need for a lot of air-conditioning as we drive through the Southern parts of Europe in the middle of summer. Add to that the fact we would never want to run right down to empty in case a public charger was faulty, and in practice we need a charger at least every 200miles/320km. People generally assume there won't be any electric vehicle charging infrastructure outside Western Europe, and while there is a lot less, it is still possible to charge at least every 200 miles as far as my research suggests.

All the way up to the edge of the EU/EEA, the BMW charging app has us covered. Once beyond the EU/EEA I found the following providers in each country (will keep this list updated as we go through the trip):
- Bosnia, EPBIH and Procredit Bank
- Montenegro, Hrvatski Telekom (also in Croatia)
- Albania, Procredit Bank and e-mobility - I messaged e-mobility on Facebook and they sent me an Albanian number to Whatsapp (+355 67 666 1666) which sent me photos of all their charging points.
- Greece, Blink - realise Greece is in the EU but Blink have some charging points in more remote places in the north of the country
- Turkey, ZES - I had been particularly worried about Turkey but ZES have a network of 22KW and even some 50KW chargers across the whole country. Also E-Sarj have an even larger network than ZES including DC chargers in the East of the country, but their app currently only allows Turkish nationals with an ID card number to sign up. You can however call them on +904448303 and pay over the phone where they will then activate the charger remotely.
- Georgia, Procredit Bank - lacking a charger in the south near Vardzhia, but otherwise good coverage
- Armenia, Solara AM and Eco cars - just about enough coverage to get down to Tatev and around Lake Sevan
- Azerbaijan, AZ Petrol - ironic that it is the national petrol company providing the only charging network I could find in the country, but just about enough coverage to get to Kurdemir and then Baku
- Bulgaria, El Drive - another EU country but this network is quite a bit larger than what is on offer by BMW Charging
- North Macedonia, Procredit Bank though the ones we tried in Skopje had closed down.
- Kosovo, Procredit Bank though the ones we tried in Pristina had closed down.
- Serbia, Charge & Go and Procredit Bank - Charge&Go seem to have a near monopoly on high speed chargers in the country, though I have struggled to sign up for their app with a credit card payment error showing every time. In the end it only took a debit card.

Miles Driven: 

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