Tag Archives: driving holiday

Amazing Journeys

Yours truly will disappear again in a couple of days, doing another trip that could be added into our “Amazing Journeys” book!

Here’s a summary of those amazing trips we have made during the last 7 years:

– Towing a caravan from Scotland to the south of France where we filled it to the brim of household stuff (that was when H sold his UK house and had to empty it of its contents)

– Towing a 5-meter boat from the south of France to Corfu, Greece. We had to have a trailer especially made for it, went to pick it up from Besançon close to the Swiss border, then towed it to the south, had a crane lift the boat onto the trailer, then towed it to Venice, took the 24-hour ferry trip to Corfu, and now it’s happily moored there.

– Doing the “mammoth journey” last February when we drove the car from Paris to the south where it was overloaded to the roof of our household stuff from both the UK and Paris. “The UK” because we emptied my pa-in-law’s house that time before he went to the Nursing Home. So the car was so packed that passing motorists would stare at us twice and police stopping us at the border threatening to weigh the car if we exceeded the allowable limit !! Luckily, they took pity on us and let us go

packedcar.jpg
The mammoth journey

This time, we will tow our caravan to Corfu in Greece, a caravan whose fitness to be pulled for the six hour journey to Venice, where the ferry port is, and the 24 hour sea crossing to Corfu remains to be seen as it was parked for almost 7 years in the garden, unmoving!
We had a choice:
– to either smash it to pieces which we don’t have the heart to do and besides, it will still cost us a fortune and too much hassle
– or sell it for One Euro just to get rid of it easily but it’s complicated since it is British-registered parked in French territory.

After months of contemplation, evaluation, calculation, this is what we have decided:
We will drive it to Corfu and make it as our home for the entire six weeks of our stay.  Then we keep it there permanently so that everytime we want to go for a Greek holiday, we have a mobile home to go to. 

H bought a British car at eBay!
Now, now, don’t laugh.  He is actually driving it as I type, a 1998 Peugeot estate and it’s impeccable! For it’s price of 850GBP, he believes it was an excellent buy. The seller is a car trader in the UK and his eBay history is as impeccable as the car. The car will serve as our UK car as well because hiring one is not only expensive but impractical, especially when you have to return it to the car hire company at 4pm but your flight home is at 4am the next day. So last time we stayed and slept at the airport like in the movie, “The Terminal”..oh so much boo-boo to tell and I wouldn’t be able to finish this story if I keep going on and on.

07 June 2009

sawakas.jpg

Here is the caravan which we towed from the south of France to Venice! This baby is really amazing! It ran smoothly in the autoroute, we just love it! 

Corfu, here we come!

Spain: Driving holiday ’99

H and I had our first ever driving holiday to Spain ten years ago. I made a travelogue scrapbook for that trip with maps showing our route, tickets of boat trips made, flyer of a Flamenco show we attended, brochure of the hostels/campsites we stayed in.. and many more. I am looking at the scrapbook as I type and it brings back happy memories  
I will post extracts of our travelogue and some (poor quality) pictures as we only used a video camera that time and the pics were just digitally captured from the video recordings.

spainroute.jpg
Map of Spain divided into her 17 autonomous communities + 2 autonomous cities.

The white broken line on the map indicates our route. We started in Catalunya, proceeded to Valencia, then Castilla La-Mancha and finally Andalucia.

12 August 1999……. we were on our way with the intention of getting to Granada (Andalucia) that day – some hope! We began to realize just how damn hot this country is! While trying to find our way out of Valencia, H made plenty of mistakes on the road. We had no intention to go inland but we just found ourselves heading towards Albacete (Castilla La-Mancha). Meanwhile, the day seemed hotter and hotter and we saw more and more olive trees. 

aug99_1a.jpg
Olive trees as far as the eye can see!

Inland Spain this time of the year is dry and the heat is vicious! There are no shades to stop by and we were just driving in the middle of boundless and never-ending olive groves. The sun pounded us down all day, unrelenting. We were getting dehydrated so we kept stopping for water.We soon realized with the progress we are making that we would not make it to Granada. We started looking for hotels at around 6 pm but only succeeded in finding small villages with smouldering piles of evil-smelling ash – unbelievably disgusting! How can people live in a place like this?

Albacete

 One thing that H and I still talk about to this day is the desert-heat-olive-grove-country that is Albacete. And since all we saw were olive groves upon olive groves (Hey..Spain must be the world’s largest exporter of olives or olive oil!), we made fun that if we did decide to buy our first home there, the mailing address could easily have been:

Mr and Mrs H
The Olive Cottage
Olive Road
Olive Village
Albacete, Spain
——————————-

It was around 2pm that seering hot day on the road when the first sight of civilization came upon us. A village comprising of white washed houses. But where are the people? There is not a single soul around.

(I learned later that in Spain, people take their lunch at 2pm, have their siesta, then go back to work at 5pm. Don’t expect to see humanity between 2pm and 5pm, sometimes until 6pm. Dinnertime is at 10pm. If you get hungry before that, better find a Chinese fastfood!) Badly in need of rehydration, you cannot imagine how delighted we were when we saw a bar, its facade so typically rural Spain! Upon entering, I saw three men sitting on high stools by the counter, two in their cowboy hats as if the scene is in the Wild West. Nineteen ninety-nine (1999) was my first time to travel to Europe and also my first time to enter a bar so the sight of men holding bottles of beer kind of intimidated me, so I asked H if it was safe to be in the same room as these men. “Of course it is safe! you have nothing to worry about!”What was fascinating about the bar was the several gigantic hams hanging from the ceiling! Like any ignorant Pinay whose full knowledge of a ham that size was only limited to the Chinese hams I saw in Chinatown (in the Philippines)  and they are actually smaller and fewer. The Spanish version and the huge number of them hanging just one after the other really blew me away!

 hams.jpg
A ham kiosk in a Barcelona market. The arrangement of the hams is exactly the same as the one I saw in the bar in Albacete

Granada

 alhambra.jpg

The 14th century Alhambra Palace sitting on a hill overlooking the city of Granada.

I still have the entrance ticket on my album and it shows we paid 2000pesetas for the 2 of us (in 1999), wonder how much is that now?

alhambra2.jpg

The gardens

alhambra2c.jpg

alhambra3b.jpg

The Alcazaba which is part of the fortified wall of the Alhambra. The mountains you see are part of the Sierra Nevada range

alhambra7a.jpg

The hostal where we stayed. We can see the view of the palace from the terrace where we were served breakfast (included in the price)

alhambra7b.jpg

At the back of the hostal’s business card is the map showing how close they are to the Alhambra Palace

alhambra8.jpg

The old town of Granada where we walked past a workshop of a guitarmaker. H fell in love with one of their guitars that he bought one at 39,000pesetas. It almost melted and its strings went haywire because we left it at the backwindow of the car never realizing how the sun could bake it like a cake!

alhambra5a.jpg

On our first night in Granada, we went for tapas in one of the restaurants in town. Different kinds of eatables were served on a chopping board which H and I shared. Although they were meant for 2 people, we enjoyed it so much that we asked for another one!

alhambra6b.jpg

This is the restaurant where we had our tapas. Big paprikas tied up in bunches hang on the terrace. It was so charming. I don’t know what those dots on the wall were.

While we were having our tapas, we could hear traditional dance music being played on the square. Then people started dancing, and the (dusty) square was getting filled with locals and tourists alike, dancing to the beat. H and I, after thoroughly enjoying our tapas, went to join in the fun!

flamenco.jpg

That same night, we went to watch a flamenco show. That was one of the most unforgettable moments of our Spanish trip! As the dancers moved and danced at the pulsing rhythm of the guitar and their faces cringing with orgasmic-like expressions, I was totally enraptured, almost crying in awe! Huh! I love to dance it myself!