Monday, August 16, 2010

August 9th – The Long and Winding Road South

Today starts our 2 month Odyssey around Northern Spain and Portugal. Unfortunately, to get to Spain, you have to drive the length of France first; however, we ambitiously felt that we could easily drive this all in one day, all 1,000kms of it.

So, we got up at 5am to drive to Dover, caught the Ferry to Calais with some of the more alarming examples of Britain's finest, and started the drive down. For the first time ever, we are throwing caution to the wind, and taking France's expensive toll roads to save time – this would cost us 110 Euros by the end of the journey, but the roads were fast and fairly traffic free.

Driving for 13 hours non-stop gets pretty monotonous, so the one highlight of the trip was at one of the queues for the tolls, when a van that was clearly over 2 meters high, ignored all the signs and lined up to pass through the barrier that prevented vehicles of his height going through. There were 10 cars in the queue ahead of him, so he had plenty of time to contemplate his actions, nevertheless he ploughed through the barrier, breaking it off on the top of his van, paid his toll and drove off – I presume it wasn't his van.

This excitement aside, the tiredness started to get the better of us, so we gave up at 9pm, 261kms short of our target on the French-Spanish border. We pulled into a service station and spent a surprisingly quiet night there.