Sunday, 17 October 2010

Day 8, 9, 10, 11 + 12 - Nimes-Barcelona-Andorra-Bilbao-HOME!

The last few days of our trip were to be spent mainly on the Spanish autoroutes, firstly the leg from Nimes to Barcelona (where we would spend 2 full days), then onto Andorra-la-Vella (lovely little tax haven in the Pyrenees) and finally the slog to Bilbao and home via the last ever sailing of P+O Ferries' Pride of Bilbao cruiseferry.
This would be the route for the final days, a scenic but mainly motorway based route covering 750 miles
Yes, this is pronounced "poo-hole". Teehee
We saw some lovely Dacia Dusters on the back of a transporter just outside Spain
The first sign of our destination for the day....Barcelona
Crossing the border into Spain...where the weather instantly became sunny and lovely :D
Filling up (petrol is a lot cheaper in Spain at about £0.95 a litre) We saw quite a lot of frenchies coming over the border to get their fuel, and then turning round again.

Getting closer to our destination......I'd only ever flown to Barcelona before, so it was to be a new experience driving in a Spanish city! The Leg was performing superbly well today, doing about 85mph all the way and just sipping away on fuel. Amazing for a 30 year old rustbucket.
Waiting at some lights just around the corner from our hotel. Amazingly hardly any traffic in Barcelona and not very hard to navigate at all.
Checked in and enjoying the view from the 14th floor of the Novotel Centro
On a packed tram. We'd turfed up in Barcelona at the start of La Merce festival,and after a few beers at the hotel we decided to follow the increasingly large crowds of people walking towards the waterfront...
arrived at the festival (bonkers!) and loading up on litre beers!
posing with some lovely catalans (note the embarrasing spilled beer marks all over my person)
Bob Moore struggling with the litre beers (they were quite unpleasant.)
hahaaha awful poses!
One of the two stages at La Merce 2010 and the huge crowd!
Very friendly Catalans!
After a few hours and way too many beers/sangrias we decided to call it a night, and sent Kristian hunting for Kebabs (he went on a 40KM round trip in a taxi, and came back with four of the best kebabs we have ever had - mind you we were very drunk)

Next day we did the touristy thing - Gaudi, gaudi, gaudi, football stadium, get the picture. We got wind of a bar that did mojitos for €3.50 and that Goldfrapp were playing La Merce later that night (I LOVE GOLDFRAPP), so that was the plans for that day anyway.

At la Sagrada Família (still not finished)
So....that was Barcelona.......onwards to Andorra......
Novelty sized bottles of spirits can mean only one thing - you are in Andorra! >€7 for a litre of vodka would be considered expensive here. What a comedy place.
loaded up on Booze+Fags, we were ready for the night out!
At the same bar me+K went to last time in Andorra, enjoying some delicious Vodka+Bitter Lemons
Doing an impression of an Italian person
Kristian enjoying himself (and sideways)
The drive from Andorra-Bilbao is really boring - like notoriously boring. So I've only a couple of pictures of it. its 350 miles of mainly flat motorways (empty), but the weather is usually great. The starter motor decided to pack up just outside Bilbao, which would make the next day.....entertaining..........
duty frees...
The lancia glittering as always

Back into Spain....

Top Gear style pose at a petrol station just before the starter went...

Bonnet up - can't be good!
Arrived in Bilbao thanks to a bumpstart! Kebab time!!!!

Irish bar - typical tourists - and comedy pose!
 Final day! The short drive to the port of Santurtzi, and the final sailing of the Pride of Bilbao, a cruise ferry that has been in service on the route since 1993. Due to consistent losses it's been cancelled. (apparently, although staff onboard seemed to disagree and quite a few suggested it was a very questionable/dodgy decision by P+O - putting several hundred staff out of jobs...payoff to Brittany Ferries maybe? They've just taken up the route afterall....ok I am rambling...)

Sitting in the backbar, waiting for dinner
Dinner onboard @ Langans
Goat and langans
Roughly 20 hours later, we docked in Portsmouth, bumped the car off the ferry and less than 2 hours later, we were back home in Maidenhead.

Kind of a sad feeling after such an incredible trip. It's been expensive. I know I spent about £800 on the trip (not including the car!!!), but every penny was bloody worth it. It's been one of those experiences that I'll never forget, and one of the best times of my life. It was great to spend the rally with my Dad, chatting about things past and present, (the odd argument too), drinking and eating in foreign places never visited, experiencing cultures, meeting new people, and then the trip back with my best mates. Wouldn't change a thing.

Above all, using this opportunity to raise over £5,000 (including prize money) for the MND Association. What an experience.

I hope you enjoyed reading the blog entries, and I look forward to doing it all again next year! The 37 minute edited video is shown below (it is made up of three Youtube Parts so I've set up a playlist that you need to click - all three parts are there).

If you want a copy of the DVD, please mail me your name and address and I will send it when I get a chance (

For now, thats all folks!



Sunday, 26 September 2010

We have made it to Bilbao....just.

Internet is rubbish in spain so will be 3-4 days delayed in our nimes-barcelona-andorra-bilbao-home postings.....

About 200km ago, while getting fuel, the car didn't start. The solenoid to the starter motor has packed up so we are having to bump start the car every time we need to start it.

That should be interesting tomorrow when we board the ferry and tuesday when we try and disembark in portsmouth......

More later....
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Leg has made it to Barcelona

We got here yesterday.

Having a great time. Will post pics and vids tomorrow as we are going to be late for mojito happy hour at La Rosa bar (apparently!)

Off to the festival again tonight hoping to see Goldfrapp.

Having an incredible time.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Day 6 + 7 Naples - Ancona - Parma - Nimes (1,500KM)

The posts will become more sporadic on our journey home simply because

1: The challenges are over
2: the distances especially days 6+7 are greater and there is less time.....

I dropped Dad off at Naples airport (real dump), but not before the car caught alight due to some spilt oil in boiling naples traffic (a worrying but amusing episode), and picked up Bob Moore who flew in (late) on the easyjet plane Dad was taking out.

We then had 500KM to Ancona and then another 250KM to our hotel just outside of Modena (in an industrial estate)

Lovely view of the mountains en route to Ancona airport

Taken off the motorway and on an endless string of winding roads behind trucks
At Ancona airport having a similar picture of one I had taken 4 years previously
Goat the sheep enjoying the ride
Bob enjoying the lovely lancia ride quality
and Courts clearly doing the same
We arrived at our lovely Mercure just outside Modena at about 7:00PM, and checked in (it wasn't really that great but it would do). We cooked ourselves Pasta in the room (well on the balcony) and enjoyed a few beers.
Next day - on our way to Nimes (a massive 450 mile drive)
Nice out of the window shot
tunnel vision (there are so many tunnels in this part of the world)
slightly failed but still good shot
one of many epic bridges of Italy
on one of the high altitude autostradas above the med
Stopped in Villanova-Albenga
The Leg

Old lancia meet modern lancia (the one pictured is called an Ypsilon)
Hello France!
Kristian succumbed to the heat and noise and fell asleep
Another gratuitous out of the window shot
a lovely sandero just outside of Nimes
Nimes is a stunningly beautiful town nestled between Montpellier and Marseille in the south of France. It is home to the second oldest Colosseum in the world, which was featured in the film Ronin starring Robert De Niro. Most people recognise Nimes for its buildings but don't know where it is.

Le Colosseum
Cool architecture at a bar where we had some Mojitos
Courteney very much enjoying his (strong) Mojito
Memorial to the dead of WW2 we believe.

So - two long driving days, but a hell of a lot of ground covered:
Next few drives are short - 250 miles to barcelona, 150 miles to Andorra and 300 miles on the final leg to Bilbao. Really looking forward to sightseeing again in Barcelona but not so much the drive in the city........ Here is a short video of the last two days:


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