Wals, Austria

This tiny village sits at the foot of the mountains in Walsberg Austria.

Wals…a nickname for Wall-E from EVE? Nope, a small town in Salzburg, Austria as it happens. I found it by simply doing a google search for Peugeot dealers so that I could get my radiator repaired. And the back brakes. Anyway, I’d rung them and luckily they spoke English cos I speak no German at all and as it turns out later, not one of the other 4 garages I’d emailed around the Freilassing area replied.

Anyway, they said drop the van off at 7:30am which, because I’m running on UK time here was 6:30am to me * sigh * Never mind I’ll just be happy to get it sorted as I’ve wasted days now with not being able to move.

Anyway, he said it’ll be ready by 3pm which to me is 2pm so I have 6.5 hours to kill in a town that has a population of about 2,000. Hmmm.

I set off to walk around the town, it was already 22 degrees so I was slathered with 50 factor and I had a bottle of water and some food for the dog. Walking along the main road I spotted a nice little village a couple of miles away which I visited later. But my first stop was at a little shrine by a field of lettuce. As I’ve written before these shrines are everywhere and some are very elaborate. This one was quite substantial but had a bench next to it so it was nice to sit in the shade of the shrine and watch the sprinklers for ten minutes.

I’m always conscious of Jack’s paws when walking on tarmac or concrete. In that kind of heat they can get sore really quickly. I’m getting him some boots when I get back to UK. I know you can get some which are good for both summer and winter. I bet he hates them but…

Church of no name
Many churches in Austria appear to have no specific name, this one even on it’s website being called the Parish Church of Walsberg. It was the cemetery I’d come to see with it’s very elaborate and well kept graves.

The parish church of Wals, Walsberg, Austria

Anyway, so I find the little parish church in Wals. Beautifully kept, the most lovely gravestones every one of which was well cared for and some quite elaborate. Back in Stazi UK none of that would be allowed. Plain old boring nonsense for the Brits.

As usual the church was locked and a thing I’ve found over here is that many churches don’t appear to have a name. They’re simply known as the Parish Church. I noticed too that they chime in a different way to the UK. There’s a low, single note which denotes the hours, and a higher toned, single note which denotes 3 of the quarters of the hour. So 2 low, 3 high is 02:45am 

I did spot something though I’ve never seen anywhere before. A candle vending machine! Yes for 1€ you can have a candle in a coloured plastic jar, or for 2€ you can have a candle in a coloured plastic jar that has a design on. Ingenious. There’s also the most perfect public loo here, cleaner than in most houses I dare say! And an outside sink with watering cans so you can tend to the graves easily. Everything is pristine and perfect and fairly new by the look of it.

There’s a lovely public fountain which was nice just to be beside and I did consider dunking Jack in but wondered if someone might complain: they wash their faces and hands in these fountains.

Kiss and Go
I loved this official school drop off point which indicates in the nicest possible way that there’s no waiting.

Kiss and Go

The thing that made me smile n this little square though was the sign saying “Kiss and Go”. It was the drop off point for the school. What council do you know would consider a sign saying Kiss and Go? I love the idea and I love the attitude.

Another thing that struck me was that sometimes it’s difficult to determine which buildings serve what function. From the shots I took you can see that a dairy farm, a horse farm, an apartment block and a normal house all look almost identical. I love the chalet type style that is predominant around Austria and even modern built properties still try to adhere to the same style. But my first wander around Wals left me with the impression there were no shops or other businesses.

My second trip around it showed a cafe, deli, bank, hotels, garage, garden centre, DIY store, restaurants, farms, plumber and a wide variety of other businesses.

I suppose I can be guilty sometimes of walking through a place quickly and thinking I’ve seen it all, whereas if I look harder or go through twice I might find hidden gems.

Anyway, I went back to face a bill of almost £730 for a radiator and 2 rear brake cylinders and a few feet of brake pipe. Absolutely massive bill for fairly simple jobs and that’s what I get for using main dealer. I do actually know better than to use dealers and to go to independents but sadly I have to go with what I can find out here as I don’t speak the language. As it turned out not one of the other 4 places replied to my emails so I suppose at least I got the work done and am back on the road now.

Hello Innsbruck, I’m coming to see you!

Engine rebuild

I found a company in Paisley called Premier Engines. They pick the block up, rebuild it and send it back for £1284. That finally happened last week and on Friday I received an email to say they had tested the block and there were no further problems so it will take between 5 and 10 working days to rebuild.
When it gets back it needs new timing belt and a few other bits and pieces and the MOT will be due, so the spending isn’t finished yet. The final bill is probably going to be about £2500 however I ought to have at the end of that a van with a totally refurbished engine and gearbox so, fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong.

Whatever anyone else says, I will never own another Peugeot in my life, I’m put off them forever and not just the lack of reliability, but the sheer extortionate cost of parts.

An interesting side story comes from when I tried to pay Premier engines so they start the repair.
I logged into internet banking and filled in the online forms to pay them using bank to bank transfer. However Nationwide stopped me saying as it was a new payee that hadn’t been paid before I had to have my electronic card reader to get the code from. The reader is in the van so I rang them to explain and they said telephone banking was automated so it too would need the card reader. I said well no problem, can you please do it. They said no they don’t have the ability.
After a short and frustrated discussion I asked for a supervisor who confirmed, without the card reader I could not make any payment. premier engines does not take card payments over the phone due to high levels of fraud, so as this occurred Friday morning I would have to wait another 3 days before I could pay them by going into a branch and get the job started.
The principle that I cannot spend my money how and when I wish to because the bank controls when and how I have access is to me a huge problem and not fair or right. I understand their need to be secure but they have a responsibility to establish security that does not result in people not being able to spend their money.

So I’ve raised a formal complaint with Nationwide because this is the 3rd time I have been stopped from spending my money by their practices and it simply isn’t acceptable.

I logged onto Santander as I had enough in that backup account to pay the garage so I did that. Their security sent me a one time code to my phone, I typed that into the online payment form and hey presto, the bill was paid! Thank God for Santander! Oddly when I went back to Nationwide to transfer funds to the Santander account to replace what I’d just spent, that transaction was also blocked despite Santander being a named payee! In frustration again I used the app on my phone and that allowed me to pay Santander immediately! No consistency or sense in how this all works so I am going to continue to make a formal complaint about the bank to the ombudsman in the hope that if enough other people also complain, the bank may eventually change it’s practices.

In the meanwhile I am staying with my friend in the lakes while all this is going on. By the time I get my van back I’ll have been staying with her for 3 weeks, so massive thanks to her and I shall have to find a way of making it up to her for being such a fabulous friend.

Robins and Day put to the test

As you probably know my motorhome is based on a Peugeot short wheel base van. It was looked after by the same Peugeot dealer in Bensham, Gateshead until last year when I finally sent a complaint into Robins and Day head office. They had undertaken and recommended work that did not need doing, overcharged for work they did, done shoddy work which exists to this day, not done work that needed doing and given me attitude on the phone when I cancelled an unnecessary repair.

I went to a different Robins and Day in Benton in Newcastle on Tyne and they promised me a free 96,000 mile service, and a lifetime discount on work on my van as an apology. I accepted that.

Months later I went for that service and when they finished I found they had not identified a leak on the radiator, they did not change the air filter or the oil filter, they topped up the oil but put too much in and it had to be drained off later, and they failed to remedy a starting problem that’s been going on for about a year now.

I emailed Robins and Day again to complain and ask why I was being treated this way and what were they going to do about it? The least I expected was that my van would be repaired properly and all faults corrected. But no. Here’s the email I received from them today:

Dear Mr Finnigan

Thank you for your email received n(sic) the 26th February.

I am sorry to learn of the problem with your vehicle and of your recent experience with Robins and Day. Dealerships will always do their utmost to satisfy and accommodate all customers, however it is appreciated that misunderstanding and communication can arise on occasion. I am confident that it was not the intention of any dealer staff to appear disinterested and if this is the case I sincerely apologise on their behalf.

I have informed the Peugeot representative of your concerns and this information will be used to help the dealer improve their service levels. All customer feedback is taken seriously and we expect the highest standards of professionalism from out(sic) network.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to inform us of your experience.

Regards
Stuart Adamson
Customer Relation Manger

So, I’ll find other dealers who will value my vehicle, look after it properly and carry out work to a decent standard. After all, their base rate is £93 per hour, you expect something for that amount.