Day 28

Ive now been on the road for 4 weeks, have travelled 3000 miles and im back in Spain again woohoo!
Prices have gone up for everything, except petrol. Obviously the spanish want me to get going and not hang around. My budget is completely blown, 15€ camping, 8 on petrol and 6 on food and drink. Im definitely going to have to cut this trip short.

The next trip will have to involve me and a mate (or a lady friend on the back of the bike) or a vw camper and ill be off to Italy and Greece. I feel like ive given Portugal a fair going over, id love to come back but there are so many other places to see! Europe is much much bigger than id imagined but the prices for most things so far are prohibitavely expensive. I can definitely see the attraction to backpacking/hosteling around Asia, im sure on a budget of 20$ there you could easily get a room, food, drink and get around. In Europe its hard hard work.

Yes i could have wild camped far more in Portugal but when your on your own its not nearly as cool as it sounds. The lot from Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa basically seemed to wild camp everywhere, fine if its 7 of you who the hell will approach you then. Plus you have each others company. But Wild camping alone the feelings of vulnerability and lonlieness are too overwhelming; campsites are a much friendlier option but im still surrounded by either A) young couples im jealous of B) old couples just getting on with their retirement C) families who mind their own business. Obviously there are exceptions (Astrid my neighbour from the last campsite, Lutz the German biker who travels and camps alone, etc…) but they are not everywhere.

I was expecting some hippy/traveler lot to be everywhere i go, but obviously they know the good spots and i dont. Saying that Franc and i did meet a slovenian couple who’d been travelling around Europe since christmas. Wait till ive saved up for a camper and got a travelling partner and ill be doing the same!

So to my day. Its been 4 weeks on the road and what an experience it has been. Today i said goodbye to Astrid (it was her 30th today, happy birthday!) and rather sadly ive moved on. Crossed into Spain but first i dropped in at a suzuki dealer.

I was hoping they could give me an oil and filter change, they seemed to have the right filter and eventually the price was reduced to €30, not bad considering labour/time/part costs. In petrol stations i was paying almost 17€ per litre of oil and the bike, after almost 5000km, deserved a good service.

I was sent round the back to what seemed a bike graveyard. Everywhere there were dead/decaying bikes, left by their owners when they couldnt afford the repair bill. There was a kind Norwegian man about who translated for me and eventually i got the bike looked at.

The dirty old oil was drained, old filter removed and new one inserted. The new one was a perfect fit, circumference wise, but unfortunately a cm or two too wide. The old one was cleaned as well as possible with some sort of solvent then placed back in the bike. A couple of litres of fresh oil and €20 later (a deal considering the price of oil for the average consumer) i was on my way.

I have yet to encounter the roads i have in my mind – bendy, windy, on a cliff overlooking beautiful coves and beaches – im sure France or Italy could offer these, BUT i did spend 20minutes or so following a lovely Spanish beach. The map i have made it clear there was a campsite located where i was travelling. But try as i might i spotted no sign. I got the the end of the road (blocked further East by an estuary) and asked a local. Back that’a way he basically said. I retraced my steps, found a campsite literally 50m from the road id driven earlier and booked in. The price was similar to Southern Portugal, Expensive! What can i expect im hardly in the wilderness and people (tourists!!) have the money to pay so they’ll charge. Just pisses me off, all i use is a square m of earth (sand in this case…) and they still charge me a lot of money.

Nevermind ive got free accomodation to lookforward to with my sister and her friends in Fuengirola and my auntie and uncle a bit futher East. A couple of weeks should recover some costs nicely 🙂

I went shopping, bought beer and food, cooked a great meal of hard boiled eggs, vegetables and tuna in a warm salad type thingy and am now planning to read my book before bed.

Tomorrow i continue my search for the ultimate campsite. I think Tarifa in Spain will offer something great, we’ll see!! Much love to anyone reading this still! Alex out

Day 27

Had another (yes another!) lazy day today. The point of me not planning too much so i could do exactally this, if i felt like staying in the same place for a few days i could, and for the last 4 days i have done exactally that. Yes the campsite fees are horrendous for Portugal (over 15€ per night vs the 5€ i was paying in the north) but food is cheap and it costs nothing to lay around on a beach all day swimming and reading.

Have i done anything useful? Well yes i bought my self a pair of knock off flipflops, the trainers were becoming a pain in the bum when i was on the beach and honestly my socks are like some sort of biological weapon so the more i can stay away from them the better! I also got cheap sun cream, didnt stop me getting burned after a quick swim and “5 minutes to dry off” which turned into a half hour nap in the baking midday sun.

I had a good lunch (sandwiches, coke, fruit, cheaaapp!) And a great dinner, consisting of almost a kilogram of spiced pork, 4 beers and the rest of my pork. Ahh the beauty of being able to drink whenever i like. Im not an alcoholic but its definitely hard work to deny myself a few cold beers every evening after a long hot day.

Right now im just reading a book in the slowly diminishing sunlight, full, content and thourghly enjoying myself and the freedom im lucky enough to have at the moment. Tomorrow i head for Spain as im meeting my sister in Fuengirola on the 2nd and would like to spend a day or two in Tarifa, a kite/wind surfer bums paradise before hand.

To anyone at home reading this i hope everyone is well and enjoying their summer! X

Day 26

I have finally managed to get my phone charged again after a few days of it sitting around dead. Somehow ive managed to loose my adaptor but ive borrowed one and can now write this!

To fill in on the last few days… the adv meet finished on Sunday 19, i said goodbye to everybody and headed south. I had a pretty miserable day and was trying to decide between getting to my family in Spain asap or to Lisbon. Spain meant comfort (bed, shower, kitchen, pool…) and id be with family and would be back in my comfort zone for the first time in a while. But it meant missing out on Lisbon and the whole coast of Portugal.

I decided on Lisbon, i could man up for a bit i said to my self, theres no need to rush for safety. I met up again with Franc who id spent a lot of the previous week with and stayed the night with Joud (Joun?) and Franc after drinks in the marina with Luis. I have so much to say about the great people ive met in Portugal but thats not the point of this post.

Franc and i left lisbon on the Wednesday and headed south. We had a great few days travelling, seeing the sights, exploring beaches and drinking and eating whatever the area had to offer. We ended up in Quarteira in the Algarve on the south coast of Portugal.

We had one lazy day of doing nothing (Franc had to be back for work in Slovenia on the 4th July but wanted one day of relaxation before having to drive the 3000k or so home). No rush was our motto. We bumed around on the beach, had a beer basically every half an hour from midday till midnight and ate like kings.

He then left yesterday. He has been a wondeful travelling companion and very generous to me and i hope he gets home safely.

So to today. Ive had another lazy day (3 in a row now ahhhh!). Ive been very lucky to meet my neighbour at the campsite, a lovely portuguese/dutch girl called Astrid. Shes been living at the campsite for a couple of months now, has a night job and some how manages to sleep enough during the morning and the evenings to not collapse! How she manages this i dont know, in a tent as soon as the sun is up i have to get out otherwise im literally drippping with sweat.

Anyway shes been very generous (im only writing this thanks to her charger), lending me books to keep myself busy and offering everything from sheets and matresses to free electricity. We shared a chicken last night and chatted till she had to leave for work.

Once again id like to go on about the amazing people ive met on this trip. The french bikers, the american lady, “pepe” the portuguese campsite owner, the great lot of bikers from Nomads and Adv, the bunch of climbers at the last campsite, Franc and Astrid and who ever else ive met and missed out right now. Everyone has been so kind and generous and hospitible and just really great company. I cant say thanks enough to them all, i just hope one day i get the opportunity to treat someone in my position to the same generosity i have recieved.

So as the day comes to a close im reading a book, drinking a beer, waiting for Astrid to wake up so we can have hotdogs and just really relaxing properly for the first time in a while. Oh ive also bought a ticket for Benicassim music festival in Spain from the 11-18 July so have an amazing week there to look forward to. The music will be huge, ive got friends coming over from England i can be with and it will hopefully be the most awesome time.

I know i need to catch up with the other days, this will happen at my aunties and uncles in Spain and ill get my 1000+ photos uploaded and put onto the blog too. Peace out 🙂

Still going!

Im very behind in updating this but just so that anyone reading knows im still alive and kicking. Relaxing in mid Portugal somewhere with a cold beer (70c each!) and aiming for Lisbon in the next few days.

Money wise my budget is failing. As generous as everyone has been while ive been travelling (out with the ADV lot i dont think i paid for one beer! Very kind and amazing week as you’ll find out when i get to writing about it) i think im about halfway through my savings and not 3 weeks into the trip yet. The plan then is to cut it short.

Im heading for my aunties and uncles in Spain and hope to be there in the next week or two. I can then properly relax and wash things and chill out. I think im then going to go to Benicassim music festival from the 11-18 July because it will be amazing to see friends and the music will be ridiculous. Then its heading home (ive got a few things to do on the way back). I think ill be home early August rather than the end of it, so yes a month less trip but i get a few weeks at home to see friends and my dad and sort my life out before staring uni.

Even though its been just over two weeks i feel like ive been travelling for months. The things ive seen and done have been incredible BUT i seem to have lost the passion, the wanderlust to see anymore. I say this now after a hard emotional day. Maybe tomorrow or next week the spirit of adventure will have returned and going home early will be the last thing on my mind. We’ll have to see but every option is still open to me.

Finally ive learnt on this trip that i am a social person. I was never one that needed to be out 24/7 with friends and could go weeks just being at home and working but i definitely require social interaction and abroad this is harder to find than i had imagined. Maybe its a confidence or a comfort thing. The looks i get from people might be inquisitive and if i made the effort to say something then conversation could follow.

Instead i just think every look i get from an old person is disapproving (what is that boy doing, he looks like a tramp with his dirty jeans and socks hanging everywhere to dry) and from younger people its too intimidating for me to go up to a group and try and make something happen. I always thought i was a confident person but being so out of my comfort zone its easier for me to make no effort and be a recluse. Also the language barrier doesnt help. Was i sitting in scotland or cornwall (or even australia) the situation might be different.

Saying that i am supprised at the level of english that people do speak. I can hold whole conversations with someone who has had literally a handful of hours of lessons. But its hard work and when things revert back to Portuguese (which they invariably do) i just have to sit there attempting to understand or leave.

Anyway chin up alex, keep on going. Ive got family a few days ride away and a maybe a week with friends to look forward to in less than a month. But id like to enjoy the trip rather than just going from A to B and suffering inbetween of lonelyless and boredom.