Day 6

Chasing blue skies

Day 6 has a name like a lighthouse family song but was the opposite in that i really like the lighthouse family but did not enjoy this day. It was raining when i woke up, big heavy rain. The thought of having to put all my wet gear back on, trek out to the bike and load all my stuff back on, in the downpour, did not excite me one bit. But it had to be done.

Id said goodbye to Lutz earlier after taking down locations of a few campsites he’d stayed at and wished him well for the rest of his trip.

View out the window in the morning

I was finally ready to leave and half the day had gone but oh well. On the road i could see in the distance a slight break in the clouds. I powered to it, heading west, trying to escape the rain. It didnt work.

I pulled over at a petrol station for breakfast and to shake off the mild hypothermia that im sure was over coming me. I bought a bag of peanuts, a baguette and a small coffee. I held this tiny cup of coffee with both hands trying to warm up. When it was finished i held my hands over my hot exhaust. God i was cold.

I had my thermals on under my jeans and waterproof trousers, and on the top was wearing 5 layers. But when your boots are full of water, and your gloves completely saturated all the heat is just sucked out of you. As i sat there on the forecourt, scoffing my peanuts and trying to warm up, getting odd looks from everybody of course, the army turn up. Or something like that, the civil guard maybe.

They were all quite young, wearing just short sleeved shirts to my layers, and all carrying big assault rifles. Great. They spread out and seemed to be watching over the petrol station, as if we were about to be attacked. Which im sure we werent. They all looked incredibly intimidating and i had all sorts of scenarios going on in my head. Was it illegal to be tramping around on a motorcycle? Against the law to be scoffing peanuts? Or wearing a camoflauge jacket? I didnt think so but i couldnt shake the feeling that they were all watching my every move.

Eventually one came up after id been checking my map and asked me where i was going. I told him, though i wasnt sure he understood. I felt like this was the beginning of something aweful, that they would arrest me and start pointing guns and searching bags. Dont ask me why exactally i just felt that way. So i packed stuff up, put the wet gloves and helmet back on and went to continue. Damn i hadnt filled up with petrol.

So i do a u-turn, go through the petrol station the wrong way, and wait behind a van for my turn. He moved off, i moved in. Carefully leaning the bike on its side stand (too hasty with this and it would all just fall over) i got off. Two more army trucks turn up. More squaddies jump out. Even more men with guns great, and they were waiting for me. I was under survelience i was sure. In the panic id worked myself into in my head i even left my petrol cap off, the keys just lying there on my seat as i went to pay. Now they think im either an idiot or hiding something.

Well thats what i thought anyway. I get back on, start the bike and drive off, easy peasy. Obviously there was no issue but id somehow managed to create something ridiculous in my head
The next few hours were spent chasing those blue skies i was talking about. Id get to a spot of no rain, only to have big black clouds on the horizon and in the direction i was going, and then id catch up with them and get wet again. It was like this all day, rain, no rain, rain, no rain. But not ever warm and dry just wet and soaked alternating.

At one point i did break out into sunshine, so at a different petrol station i layed there and basked, soaking up the warmth. A quick map check and i found a campsite nearish the portuguese border. I noted down the town names to get there, headed off the mainroad at the next junction and worked my way along the backroads.

This whole northern part of spain id seen wasnt particularly nice. Every town seemed to cater for truckers, petrol and bars and hotels. And the crappy weather just put me off everything. As i write this i feel i havent seen the nice side of Spain, lets hope my trip in the south will be better.

I got to the village marked on the map as having a campsite and asked a cyclist for directions. Nothing here he said, down the road. So i continue for another 20minutes before coming across a big, ugly, rundown building with campsite, hotel, bar and restaurant all marked on it. I checked the campsite at the back, lots of mobile homes in one corner and empty tent pitches in another. There was no sign of friendly life. I left and continued down the road as id seen signs for another campsite. It was closed, great.

Back to the first one, i asked a danish couple who to talk to. Inside the building they said. The reception was deserted but a lady around the corner mopping floors seemed to be in charge. We worked out a price (€10) and she hunted for the card machine. Unfortunately id run out of cash and hadnt found a single cash machine all day. Things i take for granted in england (ie a cash machine at every petrol station, themselves open 24/7 with staff inside) were not the same abroad. So today was a miserable day and to top it off i was paying £2 + 2% for everything, petrol, food, camping.

There was another old lady who looked like the chef from matilda who smiled at me. I left sharpish and got the brand new tent set up. Oh id forgotten to say i went to decathlon in Pamplona on the way, to buy a tent. Went for a two (well one and a tiny bit of room) person ,ultralight tent. Its great but did cost me a weeks worth of travelling, but then if it means i actually get on with the trip rather than calling it quits because of my other sleeping set up it would be worth it. While there i got a gas cooker and fuel, as i hadnt yet found meths and the gas canisters seemed to be available everywhere. Another big slice of cash spent on the card.
Plus the 3 fuel stops it had been a very expensive day. But id covered most of Spain (id done about 400km, at 80km/h not bad going) and had gotten away from the rain, mostly.

The trip saving tent

A couple and their friend turned up on bikes later on. From weston-super-mere (which is an annoying accent if ever i heard one). We had a chat, they’d got the ferry to santander and so missed the highs and lows of France and the Pyrenees, and were travelling for 10days or something. I didnt go have a drink with them in the bar as i couldnt justify spending even more that day. I did finish off the rest of my pasta though and made lovely fried bread, one slice with garlic puree and one with nutella, absolutely lovely.

I got into my fancy new tent and slept. In hindsight the tent and stove were great buys and definitely woth it. That day in Spain had been the worst of the trip so far but i got a good nights sleep and was ready to push on for Portugal the next day.


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