Valladollid - Porto

Trip Start Jun 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 14, 2007

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hey everyone, sorry for the slack updates but have been not been near an internet computer. I am currently typing this on a laptop to download onto our site when we head into Porto city centre soon to find an internet.

So anyway starting from where we last left off which was London, we went out to Cyrus and Annettes flat on Saturday night and caught up with friends Scott McKenna and Marty Curham, had a few drinks then walked back to Scotty Evans flat. Up early on Sunday morning to pack our van, bit of an effort after the few 'quiets' we had had the night before (Libs and I gave a bottle of vodka a good nudge). Cyrus and Ants, Suzy & Astro came past in their vans and picked us up and we followed them to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais. Just down the road our vans (we call him Frank the Tank) horn starting going off for no reason....hmm embarrassing, stopped at petrol station and disconnected the fuse which fixed it but also meant we had no ciggie lighter, so therefore no ipod, lucky I had bought a portable speaker!! No problems with the ferry crossing. The biggest issue was remembering to STAY RIGHT when we got on the road, the first few roundabouts were a little weird but after that we were sweet. The walkie talkies we bought are gold and have already paid themselves off and the boys are having so much fun with them. After some great naving from Suz & Astro we cruised through to Rouen where we camped next to the river Seine that runs through the middle of town, go the free camping!!

The next day we traveled to Normandy and the D-Day landing beaches, the weather was very misty and a cool wind, so much for summer, reminded us of the good old Palmy weather!! Visited the museum at Gold beach which showed how the Allies created a sea port in 12 days, it had the most amazing models made up showing how it was done complete with moving seas, ships, trucks, men and of course the piers and breakwaters them selves. Travelled further up the coast to Omaha Beach and visited the American memorial (the one featured in Saving Private Ryan) which was pretty cool. Then we went to Bayeux and saw the Tapestry which tells the story of William the Conqueror. Pushed through to Le Mont-St Michel, which is a monastery out on an island connected by a thin strip of land. Camped in the parking lot and headed up early the next morning to the monastery for a nosey and then gapped it before the parking warden could charge us for the night. It was a cold misty night with a similar morning .... Still waiting for some nice summer weather!

Next day was Drive Day! We had to catch up with the rest of our van tour who were waiting for us south of Bordeaux in Biscarosse Plage. We were sick of driving through all the little French towns so jumped on the toll road, cost 17 euros but saved us a good 2 hrs driving. We all got separated at one stage (was bound to happen) but managed to all met up further down the track, the french roads are not labelled very well at all. We arrived late that evening to a warm welcome from the rest of our crew - Hamish & Katie, Zeke & Jen, Paula & Digger. It was a great free camp site on the coast (water is freezing) in a forest. There was a free toilet and we had solar showers - they were great after not having a shower for a few days.

Day four and we drove further south to the seaside town of Biarritz...bit of a struggle to find a free campsite for all 6 vans (for those wondering why 6 not 7 vans Bambam is starting later and doing his own thing now) but we managed to find a parking lot fairly close to beach. The beach had a free toilet and a beach shower to rinse off after a dip in the chilly sea. We played a bit of beach cricket and flew Hamish's kite surfing kite ...good times...even got some sun! Yummy nachos that night for tea and just hung out at the beach drinking French red wine, 1.20 euros a bottle, bargin!!

Day five was a mission along the coast into Spain and then to Bilbao it looked pretty close on the map maybe hour and a half but the winding roads pushed it out to 3 hours. Zeke has a GPS (tomtom) and he has saved us a few times when the maps we have don't show roads. Paula and Digger got pulled over by cops just before the Spanish border, they fined them 90 euros for going through a red light, few dramas as light had only just gone orange, very dodgy as they wouldn't show their police badges.

Finally got to Bilbao which is home to the most amazing building - the Guggenheim art museum built out of aluminium plates to look like fish scales and designed with amazing wings shaped with a fish and a ship in mind. Also out the front there was a huge 20 foot high puppy covered in flower plants - pretty cool place. From Bilbao we had a drive mission towards Portugal stopping half way just past Valladolid for the night. The drive took us up a mountain and thru a pass where it bucketed down for a good half hour, water was even starting to leak through the front vents of Frank.  We camped the night in a rest area another free site (doing well in this department).

Day six we cross the border into Portugal (another non event, no passport checks) and head to Porto where we get our first pay camping ground do some washing of clothes and ourselves .... Hot showers, what a treat!! Beer, wine, cricket, 2-on-2 soccer and a meal OUT, a nice end to the week.

Day seven we awake to misty rain so much for our endless summer. Going into town this morning in search of some diversions i.e. shopping, and then we're having dinner with a lovely aussie couple at the campsite who have kindly offered to cook for all 12 of us. We kindly offered to eat whatever they cooked.

Overall we are having a great time, old Frank the Tank is holding up well, had a few issues with brake lights, lucky we have a few ex aircraft mechanics with us!!
That's all for now folks. We are on our way to Lagos tomorrow, hopefully will get some sun down there.  Will try and keep you updated again in the next few days, cant promise anything.  Hope all is well with those back in kiwiland and those skifields are looking better now.

Kim & Mads
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