1st visit 2nd visit

Highlights

Paris is always wonderful but sadly we didn't get much time to explore it. The other great sights in France are their patisseries!

Spain has such a lot to offer - if you spend long enough there. We dashed through pretty quickly but were very impressed by Seville. The mountains up in the north are excellent.

The great highlight of reaching Gibraltar was being able to speak the lingo. Fish, chips and Guinness were a real treat, especially as the prices were so cheap.

Five minutes into the conversation and the monkeys had enough

 

England

Thanks to all those who were able to attend our barbie. For those of you who were unable to attend there will be time to redeem yourselves next year at the homecoming party.

Seeing relatives created a mixture of feelings. I think they were glad that we were actually off. It also reduces the Christmas present bill!

Departure day was pretty hairy. The car insurance documents failed to arrive. At least they were sitting on the brokers desk rather than being in the post! After being on the receiving end of my temper (it doesn’t happen often but guarantees results when it does) the man agreed to send the documents by motorbike courier.

Only half an hour (give or take a year) behind our planned time of departure Punda was on the road. Just before Harlow the entire contents of one of the cupboards spilled all over the floor as I hadn’t fastened the lock properly. We had only travelled 6 miles and with 40,000 to go we had to laugh.

"Tunnel Closed" was the first greeting from the motorway as we headed towards Dover. Ha ha, we didn’t care because we had ferry tickets. Our cheesy grins soon disappeared as we missed our ferry due to the long queues of people who should have been on the train blocking our way. We got the next ferry and our first night in a French autoroute service station proved to be quite comfortable.

France

Entry 6th April 1999
Tripometer 0 kms
Currency Franc (9 = £1)
Language French
Time GMT + 1

The next day we aimed for Paris, armed with our French dictionary, to get a visa from the Mauritanian Embassy. They sent us to the Consulate who sent us away without the required documents. Apparently one has to get the visa from the country directly before Mauritania – in our case Morocco. Never mind, the sights of Paris are always welcome and we had a bottle of Champagne from Claire to crack open. Cheers!

We visited La Rochelle as this is where Andrew’s forefathers are from. I can say that it is a lot warmer and prettier than Lincolnshire. It has good cakes too. The visit was brief because as in true Le May style we were late to visit our friend Susan in Bordeaux. Her family has some land there and we were delighted to spend some time with them in a lovely setting. It was good to speak some English for an evening. Our French is going rather well due to in-car learning (revision guides and picking up the dictionary each time we come up with a new word). We left Susan some Punda dents in her lawn. For those who don’t know Punda is the name of the Land Rover – it’s Swahili for 'donkey'.

After Susan’s we were off to the Spanish border!

Spain

Entry 9 April 1999
Tripometer 1,362 kms
Currency Peseta
Language Spanish
Time GMT + 1

We like the EC borders – straight through, no passport checks. Decided to push the boat out and go to a campsite tonight as we were in need of a shower. In true fashion (proven in Italy) the campsite was next to a motorway. As we arrived early at the site we got all the kit out – tent, awning, mozzi net etc. Talk about fantastic! What fun! The locals didn’t know what to make of it. Three brave French chaps came over for some salt (a nosey really) and ended up being guinea pigs in a French lesson. Opened the 2nd bottle of Champagne – cheers to the Oceanus boys.

One of the wheels on the car has been giving a bit of a wobble. Andrew performed roadside surgery on the bearings with me as gopher. Fortunately we’d had a lesson on just this job so a "big thanks" to Eddie, Mark and Christian at Frogs Island 4x4 for their teaching skills and the tool recommendation. We changed the wheel too but the wobble got worse. Above 45 kph was just dreadful, so we swapped them back again with the intention of balancing the spare yet again.

Fuel is fabulously cheap in Spain. In England a fill costs 60, in France 37 and in Spain 24. Hurray. The roads are amazing too, particularly the A and B type roads. Northern Spain is perfect biking terrain and we pined each time groups of bikers shot by. We’ll be back on bikes (return ferry to Bilbao) just as soon as I have got one! Spain is a bit like a hot Wales – mountains, hills, sheep, lakes and streams. Beautiful scenery throughout the country – we went from arid land to snow capped mountains in one day.

Punda is going really well and loves the mountains judging by the fuel economy. The sights of many other pundas (the 4 legged variety) might have helped too.

Took the wheel to be balanced and we were mighty miffed to discover the wheel was bent. That would account for the wobble but is odd as the wheel was balanced recently. To add insult when putting the wheel back onto the door fixing one of the pegs broke off! We hadn’t even reached Africa.

In Seville we found a Land Rover garage and were right chuffed with ourselves when we arranged the peg welding via communication with a Spaniard in French! However, we refused to pay 100 for a new wheel. The campsite that night smelt of honeysuckle and made a pleasant change from Andrew’s boots!

Disaster on the 13th. We awoke to find the Engel fridge was not working. We still had a bottle of Champagne to chill and of course there was the beer trade in Africa – 3 warm beers for 1 cold one! Fortunately there was an Engel dealer in Gibraltar so we continued on our way.

Gibraltar

Entry 13th April 1999
Tripometer 2,942 kms
Currency UK pound
Language English
Time GMT + 1

Gibraltar offered us the opportunity to sort out the problems that occurred in France and Spain - in English. We were also looking forward to some fish and chips!

What a delight Gib was. We found a man who could supply us with a 2nd hand wheel for 30. Booze was cheap as was the fuel at 31p a litre. There was even a Tesco's! We found the company who helped us fix the fridge so the beer trade was back on, as was the chilling of our final bottle of champagne from Kate, Stuart and Clyde.

The bent wheel turned out to be a bent tyre! Our man in the UK (Gary at Nene 4x4) phoned his mate John Tilbury (Capurro Overseas Project Sales Ltd) in Gib and arranged for a wheel swap. What luck. It turned out that John was the chap we bought the second hand wheel from the day before. We swapped the odd tyre and 2nd hand wheel for a balanced new lot.

With the jobs jobbed we went off to do a bit of sightseeing. Eight hours in/on/around the rock just wasn’t enough. There is so much to do and see. There is a fantastic cave system within the rock that kept us amused for a few hours. You wouldn't believe that a rock measuring 1 km by 5 km would have so much to offer.  The famous apes are rather good fun too and it was essential we got some monkey viewing practice in.

The sight of Africa over the straits of Gib were calling us along with the need to get out of Europe because the car insurance was about to expire. However, leaving Gib was tough as there was still so much to see.

Had to nip back into Spain to get the ferry from Algeciras. The one hour ferry over the straits took us to Ceuta. It is owned by the Spanish so there is effectively no border control and no hassle with port formalities. It is also a tax haven so we thought it would be rude not to stock up on gin at 3 a litre, etc. Apparently non-Muslims can drink alcohol in Morocco. With the food cupboard transformed into a booze cupboard we headed towards the Moroccan border!

Next "Morocco"

Click on a picture to see it full size

France

First night It's still cold Some big tower rBack to my roots, La Rochelle  
First night It's still cold Some big tower Back to my roots, La Rochelle  

Spain

Try out the nets no mozzies North Spain coast Punda and Jac by the seaside Teeth out and best Punda impressions on
Try out the nets No mozzies North Spain coast Punda & Jac by the sea side Teeth out and best Punda impressions on
There's sheep in them there hills Beautiful scenery So high we could ski It's finally hot enough to put on the lotion  
There's sheep in them there hills.   So be careful Tony - don't get diverted Beautiful scenery So high we could ski It's finally hot enough to put on the lotion  

Gibraltar

Gib from Spain A lake in the mountain Jac finds something almost as old as my jokes John Tilbury and bro from Land Rover, Gib Five minutes into the conversation and the monkey's had enough
Gib from Spain A lake in the mountain Jac finds something almost as old as my jokes John Tilbury and bro from Land Rover Gib Thanks John Five minutes into the conversation the monkey's had enough
  Did someone say nuts! Fish, chips and mushy peas please Africa from Europa Point  
  Did someone say Nuts ! Fish, chips, mushy peas, bread 'n' butter and a cup of tea * 2 please. Africa from Europa Point  

France

What can I say about French cuisine - CAKES made in heaven!!!!!!!

Spain

We spent our few days at campsites and ate our own food. Sadly nothing local was tried.

Gibratlar

What else but fish and chips.

Guinness is good too!

 

 

from England

 

 

After Calais we took Autoroutes practically all the way with the exception of La Rochelle and Bordeaux. The autoroutes are quite expensive but are really quick. Our aim was to find the sun, and quickly!  
 

Arrived at San Sebastian initially then took a variety of roads south. The A and B type roads are glorious but very slow compared to the motorways. There were no peage fees and the fuel was cheap so all in all travelling through Spain was quite economical.

Our route - a very convoluted one - took us around Madrid and into Seville. From there we took the very slow windy road down towards Marbella and followed the beach road to Gibraltar.

 
  Around and about the peninsular Camped illegally
 

to Morocco

 

 

Gibraltar

There are apparently 33 miles of tunnels within the rock, mostly used for military purposes.

On the eastern side of the rock large plates have been secured to the rock so that rainwater runs down them and is channelled into an inter-rock reservoir. (Apparently no longer used).

There are no campsites in Gib.

There is an incredible cave system which is still being excavated.

Buy your booze here - it's much cheaper than duty-free on the ferry.

You can buy fuel here or wait for the cheaper duty free option in Ceuta.