6 March 2006

Home James, or benny if you like it...

Just before leaving, and what a nice day..

Leaving Portugal was hard, of course on the day we were leaving, the weather was the best we had seen for ten days. The day was warm, the sun was hot, and there was no wind at all. Looking at what we were heading home to, snow, rain and cold wind, the girls were given the option to stay for another week, how could they not. Five decided to stay, four headed home, I put up a good fight to stay, but more frames had arrived and work was more important than sitting around in the sun, damn I hate been responsible sometimes. So we headed home, another small drive ahead.

Only 2450km to go..

We took a different route home this time, right up the side of Portugal, then across Spain almost at a 45’ angle to the bottom of France. We headed towards Lisbon or Lisboa, depends who you are talking to. Once again we were surrounded by cork trees, yep and I was right, this area was responsible for 55% of the worlds cork production. See http://www.stpats.com/corkproduction.htm, http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/features/index.cfm?uNewsID=22370 for some cool pics and facts. And the cork plantations didn’t stop following us for at least three more hours north. Lisbon was amazing, with it’s giant statue of Jesus looming out of the city, bit like the one in Brazil, I tried to catch a photo of this one but we were in the middle of rush hour, traversing a wickedly skinny bridge, in a wide truck on the wrong side of the road. I kept my eye on the road, but lost interest when a huge bridge came looming in the distance, this one I managed to get, just before tuning a corner and heading directly into a traffic jam. This was pretty slow as we sat for about a half an hour, moving about 30m, which was almost as fast as the police car moving with full sirens and lights just in front of us. Thank god for the GPS again, as navigating through this mess was crazy, especially when the police directed us off the highway for a while, ahh her nice soothing voice again, got to love her.

Leaving Lisbon, the shot i missed, stolen off the net from some lucky person driving the other way.

And the one I got

Up through Portugal then we hung a right and headed for Salamanca, such a great name for a city. Though my bloodshot, Autovia (Spanish name for motorway) strained eyes, I spied some cool floodlit structures, which later I found out to be the old university. Such an oasis after the road works we had been fighting with for the last few hours. We found a hotel in the middle of nowhere, where at 1.30am, was the last room left for miles. There was three of us, but only two beds, I just wanted to sleep after 12 hours driving and the floor was looking good, and it was. The morning greeted us with nice new snow, through the sunlight it was great to see Spain for what it’s not famous for. And off we went, destination The Netherlands, only 1700km to go, this was going to done in a day, as I was hanging out for my own bed for a change, and why drag it out into three days, when two will do.

The bumpy highway at night

The scenery through Spain was way cool, covered in snow the mountain ranges looked spectacular, such a beautiful day to be driving. The roads just disappeared into the mountains, more times than I can remember. Thinking we were going to drive over some of them, we just turned the corner and there was this huge tunnel staring me in the face. Quite amazing when we exit the other side into another gaping hole, nice.

Where he go??

France was getting colder, almost 3’c and we were getting closer to home now, only 1000km to go. The weather turned to shit as expected, I was driving right into a snowstorm heading into Paris, the roads were getting slippery, and the windscreen was hard to see anything. No Eiffel tower view for me tonight, as it’s a bit of a game to find it through the city every time we pass through it. The weather was turning bad, the wind was picking up and throwing the truck all over the place, man I am looking forward to some sleep now. 500km to go on the other side of Paris, and what mess getting through it this time. Ahh into Belgium, and 360km to go seems like just up the road to me now. And things we starting to fine up now, thank you. I found out later that the roads were closed soon after I had passed through them with far too dangerous conditions to be open. On the news the next day there was scenes of thousands of stranded motorists on the very roads I had just been on, sweet, missed it all, just.
I got to bed not too far past 2am, what a relief, but getting out of the truck after such a long drive as it makes you feel as if you have been on a boat, for weeks. Just a little bit off a lie down and the rocking goes away, but walking for a while is freaky, and yes I was straight. I awoke the next day to about 4cm of new snow, ahh good to be back in to winter. Off to work with a truck to clean and empty, ready for the next mission.

Out my bedroom window, damn it.

Stats for the trip, Total distance 5213km, Tolls paid E516, Diesel E764, and 45 hours driving, 12 cans Coke, 7 red bulls, 18 Coffees, 3 near misses, and I’m sure about 4000 trucks passed. Passed through 8 borders and16 times I thanked my GPS with admiration and a rub on her head, and looked how far to go on her about 1000 times….. And the girls just called to tell me it was another fantastic day down in Faro, and I am freezing cold, Taking bidons off a bike in the truck that are frozen solid…doh.

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