DAY 293 !

Red Landy is in Jo-burg


Elises are in Cape Town


Last update 25 July 2011

Latest updates: Angola north, Angola south red, Angola south blue




Day 1 (6 October 2010)

Today is the big day. Waking up around 8 in the morning for some coffee and packing the last things in the car. The car looks like it’s getting full, considering I’m going alone…

The last few days have been long; shopping, packing, oil change, fixing the rooftent, etc… Finally I had a reason to gear up Elise with the sand ladders, the roofrack, and the newly mounted jack. The car looks like she can take up anything!

At 9.55 am (I’m always late…) it was time to leave Ven Zelderheide and hit the road! I picked up Chris to drive together to his estate in South of France and off we went crossing my first (unnoticeable) border. We stopped for fuel in Liege where there is a cheap Shell Express. It’s the first time I actually made use of the 160 liters diesel tank, it kept on going…

It was a long day driving, but the weather was perfect: cloudy and some rain. Passing by Paris gave an opportunity to spot the Eiffel tower. With the diesel gauge still pointing at “full” we arrived in the night at Chris and Isabel’s villa. It would only be in the morning before I could admire the lovely place they call home.


Day 2 (7 October 2010)

After a well deserved good night sleep breakfast was served with fresh figs and cereal. Finally time to make a walk around the premises to see the house. What a gorgeous place to spend the day! The area was beautiful with nice villages and farmers with the typical French hats.

It was a custom that the day after a long drive you would go out for a French lunch. The first restaurant was closed due to vacation of the owners, but in other towns we managed to find a place. For euro 12.50 you got a 3 course meal and ¼ L wine and coffee. Just perfect!

In the afternoon it was getting hot and thus it was time to cool off in the pool! C’est la vie!!!


Day 3 (8 October 2010)

Time flies and I still feel like just relaxing. In the morning we went out for a little site seeing in the nearby villages and exchanged some ones and zeros over the internet.

I placed the jerry cans on the roofrack and it now looks really like preparing for an overland. My onboard compressor managed to inflate the tires of Chris’ lawn mower and he let me go round! I always wanted to do this, just awesome! Happy like a little boy…
The evening was filled with duck on the bbq, champagne and Spanish red wine (Marijn, you really missed a great bottle…).


Day 4 (9 October 2010)

It was time to hit the road again. I wanted to drive on small town roads and avoid the toll high ways. My directions were South West towards Saint Sebastian in Spain. The first few hours went over hills with nice sceneries into the town of Condom. It was actually nothing like a condom but a nice little town with a river flowing through it.

From here on I took the “provincial” roads to do some kilometers. I ended the day still in France just before the border with Spain.

Day 5 (10 October 2010)

I woke up with the sound of raindrops on the tent… I decided to turn over and sleep a little longer, per haps the sun will shine later. I woke up, a second time, with the sound of raindrops on the tent… I can go on like this, but eventually I had to pack up the tent in the rain and drive the last few km’s to San Sebastian.

The third border crossing was even less noticeable than the others, I didn’t even see a sigh “Spain”… The majority of the license plates just changed from F to ES…

After driving around in the center of San Sebastian in the rain, trying to find some place to park the car, I stumbled on signs for the campsite (5km up hill out of town). I decided to make camp (read park the car at the campsite) first and than go by bus to the center. It ended up being a good choice!

San Sebastian is a lovely little city, if not raining… I explored under my umbrella some of the magnificent churches and the parte vieja (old town) with cramped and lively streets.
It ended up raining non-stop the entire day…


Day 6 (11 October)

After spending the rainy night at an too expensive campsite it was time to head on. Considering the short time I have (yes, a year is gone before you know it) I decided to skip Bilbao and go straight to Santiago de Compostella. This would only be a few hours driving, in my mind, and turned out to be almost 2 full days…

It was just a driving day, scenery passed by quickly. Landscape was amazing, as being told, but the towns looked like they have been deserted long before. Old factory building along the road, most of them still in use though, and simple houses.

Becoming tired I decided to end the driving and not to make Santiago just yet, better safe and slow than ... careless and sleepy… I looked for a campsite around the town Luaro and found the best one this trip! And they spoke perfect Dutch too! The campsite had nice grass ground (instead of the mud from the passed few days) and was situated on top of a cliff. During the day you could see the village on your left and at night the lighthouse on the right made its location clear. A recommended spot to spend the night!


Day 7 (12 October)

A great morning with (freshly ground) coffee and stokbrood and eggs. Finding my way back to the road West, I drove to town, a small and cozy looking fisherman’s village. I had the choice of taking the (more) direct route or a scenic route through the mountains. I choose for the first so I could spend more time at Santiago (it was so far out, would be disappointing to miss out on something). Not knowing that the 3 hour ride would take me 5 hours…

Besides so many people making the pilgrimage to Santiago by foot or by bike (or by car like me), I noticed the fuel gauge nearing the Empty side. I thought I would make it till Santiago to get fuel, only a rough 50km away. Up hill, down hill, fuel gauge moving between E and ½, up hill, down hill, … Until the point where it stayed just barely touching the red area, for some time… Then I passed a sign for fuel, nothing to worry about I thought. Going up hill I tried to remember what the sign said: gas station in 500 meters or not for the next … km? Going up hill the car now started to notice the empty tank and the engine stalled a few times. Finally made it to the top, the motor got another push, its last drops of diesel, it stopped completely… Not a single drop of diesel left… Using the last bit of rolling momentum before the car could not move forward anymore, I was standing next to diesel pump!!! I told the guy, fill it up! After a while and 156 liters of diesel I was heading towards Santiago again, I guess the saints were helping me out today.

At the end of the day, after driving around a few churches in the center of Santiago, I reached the campsite for the night. Quickly setting up camp (read registering and parking the car), I went into town. Arriving in the center of Santiago de Compostella I noticed the churches I saw from the car was nothing compared to other around it. I started reading in the Rough Guide, I should be nearby the Cathedral… Around this corner… Wow! This was one of the most extraordinary buildings I ever saw. All the detail, truly magnificent! Inside the cathedral, walking towards the alter would have been astonishing, was it not made impossible due to all the scaffolds: they are repainting the roof for when the Pope visits in early November. Still worth going all the way, but next time I should walk the pilgrimage…


Day 8 (13 October)

Day eight already, time flies. With my coffee I noticed the campsite had free WiFi and of course I had to make use of it quickly, before driving another long bit to Porto, Portugal. At noon I was finally ready to hit the road and it turned out to be an easy drive. Plus I traveled back in time, one whole hour!

As soon as I crossed the border, this time they manage to down a sign, the weather changed from “ok but chilly” to “smoking hot when you slow down”. This finally feels like holidays! I tried to take the small roads but I always seem to end up on the high way…
After setting the tent up at a cheap campsite just South of Porto, I took a stroll over the beach. Diner was served at 7pm: a beer with a perfect sunset over the ocean, and delicious cuttlefish with ½ bottle of nice Portuguese red wine for 15 euros! (all this at an expensive beach restaurant)


Day 9 (14 October)

Today is my birthday! The birthday breakfast consisted of some old bread with cheese, fresh grounded coffee in the morning sun, hot shower and clean underwear!

I took a day off from driving and went into Porto by bus. The bus drove through the smallest allies, one side the mirror hit the wall, other side only less than an inch of space…

Porto is another nice city with amazing churches and buildings. The more outstanding scenes are the tiles in the train station, the tiles on the outside wall of the Santa Clara church, but the most impressive was the inside of the Saint Francisco church. From the outside it looks as just another church, but ones inside the eyes open wide. The entire church was decorated with Baroque style carved wood painted with gold. It was said that the monks who built the church used between 300 and 400 kg of gold! Not a spot was left undecorated. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to make photos indoors so you can check yourself on the internet.

For lunch I got a recommendation for a … (little France) at Capa Negra II. It was a long walk but well worth it. At the restaurant I told the waiter about my recommendation and he complied “you are well informed!” What I got was a mix of a few sausages, some fillets and ham, all put on two slices of bread, topped with a fried egg, and to finish it French fries around the sandwich! Perfect, but enormous heavy…

To balance out the sandwich I could walk through the city the rest of the day, ending with some free tasting of a Taylors Very Late Bottled Vintage port. So good I could not leave the bottle behind!


Day 10 (15 October)

It’s time to head down South and pick up Martin in Lisbon. It was a 310km drive, taking around 5 hours… I told Martin to meet him in the middle of the city center, the only metro station I knew by name and where it was, and was only 1 hour late! Considering the Friday traffic was chaos, looking on the map for directions and following the signs with the very difficult Portuguese names, it was not bad at all.

After meeting we enjoyed a calm beer at the terrace and headed for Silvia’s place. In the eve we went out for nice food and beers in the maze of small allies in Bairro Alto: drinking and partying out on the streets. We could do this everyday!

Day 11 (16 October)

After a lazy morning it was the usual tour through Lisbon: Some churches, pointing at the castle on top of the hill saying “if you want you could walk up”, the very impressive cathedral and monastery in Belém and while we were there anyway: Pasteis the Belém!!! This time I had enough experience to directly order 2 pieces each… If you don’t know what this is, the translation would be something like custard tarts but they are much tastier than the translation would sound. And this is by far the best place to eat them, when they are still warm and crunchy! Hmmm…

At night we went out in the one of the many many many bars/clubs that Lisbon had to offer. Afterwards in the back of the car the eyes were closed automatically…


Day 12 (17 October)

No morning, lazy start of the afternoon…

We went to the tiles museum! On Sundays in Portugal the museums are free to enter until 2pm, we arrived a bit after 3… Tiles sound simple, but it had some fascinating compositions! The Portuguese even hired the Dutch Delfts Blauw artists to make tile compositions for there perfection (and then they tried to copy us…). Silvia had also a wealth of information that made the visit just perfect. The museum was placed in an old church/monastery. It was the place where the king would come. The combination of the blue tiles and the cold painted carvings looks just marvelous.

In the afternoon we took it easy, had a few drinks of Ginjinha (before Martin started shiver), had few more drinks and headed home for some chicken piri-piri! That was sooo good… hmmm…


Day 13 (18 October)

Early morning and packing all our stuff. Like always it took much longer than anticipated before the car was filled again. Silvia, thanks a lot for your hospitality and the fascinating guided tours! Many thanks! And I will see you next year!

On the road to Vila Nova de Milfontes, going round the toll roads, quite a drive, but what a place. Thanks for the tip, Ana! Although we have to admit that the tamboril (Monkfish) at Restaurante A Fateixa was slightly different than expected…

Martin had his first opportunity to set up his 2” tent (Quechua). I have to admit it did not take more than a minute.


Day 14 (19 October)

It took Martin less than a minute to set up his tent last night, but putting it back… After roughly 15 minutes he was right back from were he started… It took 2 very smart engineers to read the manual and get the thing folded properly…

Down to the Algarves towards Tavira. We stopped for shopping in Lagos and found a nice picknick spot (although we were not the only one to find it…). The coast was beautiful with its steep rocks and nice beaches (see photo), but the water was not the 28°C I was used to… After looking around Tavira for a campsite we ended up at a field next to all these campers, a campismo municipale (read free place to spend the night, nothing more).


Day 15 (20 October)

Another border crossing day. This time I was going back to the Spanish vocabulary… (if only there was such a thing I mastered). It was a clear border crossing since we had to cross a river plus a sign notified us for entering Spain.

We drove straight to Tafira, not to confuse with the Tavira… hmm, I’m always confused by this. So we drove straight to Tarifa, with lunch in Cadíz!

Spain is expensive compared to Portugal (we had to pay for campsite) and we setup camp at one of the many beach campsites it has to offer. The medina had many influences from the Magreb, the small streets with buzzing restaurant that are buzzing when we would be finished eating… so we for pizza at the campsite…

Day 16 (21 October)

Tarifa is Surfers Paradise! It’s the most southern point of the Spanish mainland and Morocco is clearly visible. I think because of the street of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean sea on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other side, the wind is always present. Martin became the surfer dude! First time in a few years he did pretty good with some nice hard crashes in the water (all on photo)…

We had time to relax and clean the car a bit. Martin made sure the windows were shiny again and I had to clean out the rooftent. Besides a lot of sand and a big bug, I found 2 big bolts under my matras, after 2 weeks sleeping on it I never noticed…
For diner we fired up the bbq for sausages and “45-minutes-each-side” ribs!