I don’t know if it’s just the feeling that I’m getting closer to home or if it’s the perfect weather, either way I feel like I’m walking on air. This side of Spain is wonderfully beautiful, I’ve decided to head straight up the middle via Madrid then up to the French border over the foothills of the Pyrenees and into Saint Jean de Luz.
I didn’t make it as far as France but ended up in a crappy chain hotel just south of the foothills. As I was passing 360 miles for the day on the speedo I saw a wall of raining heading for me, I watched in horror as the storm, stretching from horizon to mountains came straight for me. Seven, eight, nine streaks of lightening hitting the ground at the same time as you could feel the warm air rushing before it trying to escape the frigid cold that hid behind the hail stones.
I ducted into the nearest services (Autogrill) to wait it out, no sooner had I parked the bike under the sun shelter than it pelted down, I ran the 50 yards to the entrance of the garage and even in my bike gear was soaked to the skin. I’ve never seen anything like it. I decided there and then to book in and get dry. By the time I made it to my room the storm was in full sway. I stood on my protected balcony and watched was the biggest hail stones I’ve ever seen dented cars, vans and people alike as everyone ran for cover.
If you’re ever passing by an Autogrill, keep going, The hotel rooms are nice enough, and it was the best shower I’ve had since leaving home, but it appears they offer cheap rates to lorry drivers, who come and go all night long, shouting, laughing and drinking into the wee small hours. Even with my ear plugs in I didn’t have the best of nights.
Off the ferry and onto the open roads of Spain! Or so I thought. Nope, this being the Morocco ferry much messing around in customs as every single car and van is searched from top to bottom. Several drug dogs on duty and I resist the urge to give them a cuddle and play tuggy with them!
My turn eventually arrives and expecting the third degree I remove my helmet, get off the bike and take off my jacket. The stern looking guard eyes my up and down, apparently ready to give me a good frisking, when he boss appears behind him, takes on look at my passport and waves me through… five minutes and a very upset customs guard later and I’m away, into Spain!
It’s only when I’m about an hour in that I realise I have no euros, am fast running out of fuel and actually, it’s going to take about four days to get home. Bummer. Running into a little village on route I manage to find a telebanco withdraw my budget for getting home and fill up Toby. Then four hours later I decide enough is enough and seek out a nice comfy hotel.
Hotel La Paz is wonderful, a traditional place full to the brim with hams hanging from the ceiling, when I order a ham salad for dinner the owner takes one down and moves to the kitchen – it can’t get much better than this. That is until I actually try the bed… this is why it’s so cheap then.
Tomorrow brings me a day closer to home and with any luck into France.
Here in good old GB it’s National Day – I’d say it’s a riot of colour, but actually it’s a riot of red and white – everywhere. You can’t turn around without seeing the colours balzened over people, shops, animals and even the drinks. The Gibraltarians take this very seriously!
I’ve spent most of the day joining in the party, drinking red drinks and laughing at the very few people who didn’t get the message that today you had to wear red & white – it’s a bit like playing spot the tourist – oddly I don’t feel like a tourist – not sure why.
I’ve made a lot of friend here and I’m going to be quite sad to leave. The day before Yesterday I met a couple of polish backpackers on their way into Spain and a chap called Ed who had just come out of Morocco. It was my duty of course to purchase him a beer and get the very latest intel. Yesterday 4 new people joined me in the Youth Hostel dorm – 2 backpackers from Brighton and 2 German chaps – very nice people who are all 7 years younger than me but can’t hold their drink – inexperience.
Tomorrow I leave for Morocco. Wish me luck.