November 22, 2011 GMT
Aaaaa 1st border crossing!
Week 3 - Estepona in Spain to Cap Spartel in Morocco.
Mom and Dad tanked it across Spain and joined us on Monday evening. We had a few days relaxing, BBQing and drinking Sangria in Estepona. Got chatting to a Dutch chap who was also staying on the campsite. He and his wife are travelling around Africa for 12 months, but were stuck in Spain waiting for their carnet de passage to turn up. They were in a 15 tonne, ex UN, cruise missile truck, which we worked out did 13mpg. Bonkers!
We left Estepona on Thursday and headed along the coast to La Linea de la Conception. We had been reliably informed there was a campsite there conveniently located for visiting Gibraltar. Went round and round, but no sign of it. Had a quick trip into Gibraltar for some petrol and shopping at Morrisons, which was a bit surreal. Finally found a place to stay in San Roque as the sun was setting.
Back to Gibraltar on Friday. We went on the bike and Mom and Dad parked the van up and went on the bus. Unfortunately they had to pay, as their bus passes donít work on Gibraltar. To get onto the rock itself you have to drive across the airport runway and we got stuck for about 15 mins to let the planes go by.
Gibraltar is a mad place. Definitely British, but with a heavy Spanish influence. We rode around the whole island and the road takes you through some really long tunnels cut out of the rock. The roads are quite narrow so the place is packed with scooters. Iíve never seen so much bike parking! We did the touristy thing and caught the cable car to the top of the rock to see the view and the monkeys.
On the way up everyone is warned not to get too close etc. as they are wild animals. They are certainly clever. One snook up behind an unsuspecting gentleman unzipped his rucksack and stole his sandwiches. Luckily his wife thought it was hilarious so it was ok to have a bit of a giggle.
Out of Gibralter to Algeciras, where the ferry to Morocco leaves from. Searched all round the houses and along the coast, but couldnít find a campsite, so gave up and carried along the coast to Tarifa. Using the campsite Wi-Fi in the bar and got talking to Brendan and Eithne an Irish couple touring Europe for 6 months with their dog Charlie. Their blog is here http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/CrustyEithne/ . Finally staggered to bed at 2 after a cracking evening and drinking all their beer, oops.
Saturday it threw it down. Massive thunder and lightning storm. Ant was really grumpy, heís convinced itís raining on us personally! Want to get to Morocco ASAP to get out of the rain, but Mom and Dad still recovering from their many miles across Spain, so we had to say goodbye again. This time was definitely harder than saying goodbye at home. Stopped in Tarifa on the off chance there was ferry from there, rather than going all the way into Algeciras and 30mins later we were on the sea and off to Morocco. 5 mins after that we were both feeling really sick. The sea was rough and we had caught the small catamaran ferry which hit every single wave and, Iím convinced, a few that werenít there. All we could do was sit and stare at the table as all other movement would lead to unpleasantness.
Got our passports stamped by a policeman on the ferry and they were checked again as we got off the boat. That was easy I thought, then we got to customs. The customs chap took Antís logbook and asked us to park up. I was told to wait with the bike and they took Ant off to the customs offices where he had to go to various rooms and get lots of different stamps. He was gone for ages and I was begging to wonder if he was coming back! 10 euros and 2 packets of fags later and we had a temporary import paper for the bike allowing it into Morocco until February. We left the port, it was still chucking it down with rain and the traffic was mental, so we took refuge in a McDonalds until the worst of the weather passed. Heading out of Tanger and the culture shock kicked in as we saw a chap walking his camels up the road. The Tanger roads were all flooded so after a considerable amount of puddle navigation we took the road towards Cap Spartel. We found a campsite and fell into bed a bit soggy.
Posted by Nikki Robinson at 07:44 PM
November 18, 2011 GMT
Soooo Many Oranges!
Week 2 - Alcaser Do Sal in Portugal to Estepona in Spain.
Monday dawned warm and sunny in Alcacer Do Sal and we couldnít decide whether to stay another day or move on, so we walked into town. Nice place very picturesque, but itís one heck of a hill back to the campsite. By the time we got back it was too late (and we were too knackered) to move on so we went to the beach. It was beautiful, empty golden sand as far as the eye could see. You will note from the photo though it wasnít warm enough to take your coat off.
Started working our way down the coast on Tuesday and stayed in Lagos. All the campsites along the South coast are open and full of retired English and Dutch people spending the winter somewhere warmer, so no need to wild camp this week.
Wednesday we went to Sagres which is the furthest point South and West in Portugal / Europe. We visited the lighthouse there and for some reason there was a giant wooden chair ?!?
Worked our way along the South coast of Portugal to Vila Real De Santo Antonio. We thought we would have to go inland a fair way and across a bridge to get back into Spain, but we saw a sign for a car ferry, so we hopped on that. I think itís a bit of a stretch to call it a car ferry, there was probably enough room for one car and that would be tight. 10 minute crossing and we were in Spain again.
We worked our way along the coast a bit further then back inland towards Seville. So many oranges! Fields and fields of orange trees as far as you could see. Every town we went through had orange trees lining the road. Strangely they all had rotting oranges on so it seems no one bothers to pick them. I guess when you have that many it doesnít really matter!
On the way into Seville we passed the solar power station which was incredible. You can see all the shafts of light bouncing off the mirrors and being concentrated into one point. It looks like some strange alien technology.
Turned South again from Seville, heading towards Marbella. Road became really mountainous and twisty. Miles and miles of stunning scenery, I didnít know where to look. Ant didnít see much of it because it was a bit windy and he was busy keeping the bike upright.
Closed the week out on the Costa Del Sol. Chilling out for a couple of days in Estepona, waiting for my Mom and Dad to catch us up in their campervan.
Posted by Nikki Robinson at 10:03 PM
November 05, 2011 GMT
Rain Rain GO AWAY!
Week 1- Bilbao in Spain to Alcacer do Sal in Portugal
What can we say about our first week except itís been a bit of a roller coaster. From elated due to being on our adventure, to tense, very tense when wild camping, to miserable when wet and cold due to the weather.
The ferry crossing was a bit rough, both Ant and I felt pretty sick so most of it was spent asleep. Left Bilbao to a beautiful morning and the old road to Santander was really wiggly through some fantastic countryside. We stopped in Torrelavega to find it is All Saints Day and Spain is shut!
Decided to go south to try and find some warmer weather and found rain instead. 1st nights wild camping was behind a stack of pallets at the back of a water treatment works. I donít think either of us got much sleep that night! The following day after riding through about 6 hours of rain we caved in and got a hotel. We had a handy wardrobe/ drying cupboard and managed to dry out all our gear for the next morning.
We watched the Spanish weather forcast and the announcer was being quite animated about the amount of rain and the strenth of the winds. Although that could have been normal Spanish. It looked like our only option was to battle it out till Saturday when the weather should return to scorchio.
The rain kept on coming so we pushed on south west through Spain. In one village we found this statue of a man fighting a big crocodile with what appears to be a spoon. Not sure what it was all about as there was no plaque or anything.
Wet and soggy we crossed the border into Portugal on Friday afternoon. We tried to make it to the coast, but were worn out by the time we got to Alcacer do Sal. Then a heavenly choir sang and a campsite sign appeared out of the gloom. We pulled into the municipal Parque de Campism fully expecting it to be shut, but it wasnít and it was almost full of campervans.
Hot showers, flat ground, free internet and then the sun came out. Itís so nice we decided to stay for the weekend. Maybe this travelling malarkey isnít so bad after all.
Posted by Nikki Robinson at 06:21 PM