Taking The Watery Road

•April 27, 2010 • 5 Comments

The howling winds and dreary rain clouds gave way to clear blue skies and bright warm days. Christina was ready to set off again into the glittering thousand diamond ocean along the Atlantic coast.

She sports a new cobalt blue dress and two new crew in the Kansas “cowboy” and Malaysian “lemon”. The skipper had every reason to feel confident-afterall, they have shown enough courage and talent to learn straight from the “competent crew” and “day skipper” colouring books. Trading the RYA yatchmaster courses and small sailing dinghy for make-believe sailing at the marina and 60foot, 35tonne steel Ketch. What could go wrong?

the new crew, in shades and fingerless gloves

setting sail from A. Coruna

About four hours out, we were greeted with a spectacular sight. Just as shooting stars marked our very first day on the road, dolphins raced alongside Christina to send us on our way on our first day down the watery road.

sunsets at sea is always captivating

We got to Camarinas by nightfall, anchoring in a bay for a peaceful night’s sleep. Morning was spent in tranquil view and the warm sun of spring. Camarinas is a quiet harbour town surrounded by hills of green with wind farms on its peaks. Freshly made pancakes and a hot cup of coffee brought about sighs of contentment. Drew had returned from town riding on Dolphina-doing flips and shit, splishin splashin getting everybody all wet (Dolphina the dinghy). He brought back bounty in local Galician bread and sardines which the local fishermen gave us for free. Now a basket and a prayer and we’re all set for 4 thousand meals..

Camarinas

We spent the rest of the day motoring into Porto Sin, which is a little bigger and more developed than Camarinas. Two days were spent as we went about town, sneaked showers and water in true hobo fashion.

Porto Sin in the background of Christina

Having spent the weekend there, we set off once more for about 40hours straight at sea, taking watch shifts through the night and made our way into Portuguese waters by dawn. Povoa de Varzim was our first stop for rest and general upkeep. The English family we meet there had labeled the place the “Marina of broken dreams” as many were forced to call time here or the place to sell their ships. Walking through the shipyard, we found a junk pile and managed ourselves a bike that was left there for 3 years. A new chain and some work and we would have ourselves a working bike. “The weasel” was reborned.

Rested and resupplied, we moved on to Leixoes for the night to anchor out and sailed to Sao Jacinto. We had plans to sail upriver to the nearby town of Aveiro, the “little Venice of Portugal” but decided against making the news in Yatch Monthly for running the mast into the electric lines with height we were not confident of clearing.

Aviero is nice and despite some trouble with a local fisherman in Sao Jacinto (fishing nets had taken over the anchorage area with us damaging one when we dropped anchor, not knowing it was there), near collisions with another yatch and rocks as we drifted with our anchor across the muddy bottom (the net may have been the culprit) we ended up with our own “private” pontoon (except with all of town coming by to check out Christina) for free.

taking dolphina from Sao Jacinto upriver to Aveiro

Between trips to Aveiro we got the ferret (bike #1) operational and also had Crispin, Fie and Wesley whom we had met in Povoa De Varzim catch up with us. When we realized that they had left to move on down the coast the next day we scrambled after them.

Figueira da Foz was our next stop and I took the ferret out for a day trip.

walkway to the beach at Figueira

Then we made our way to Cascais. The Portuguese liberty day had seem to release the northerly Portuguese trade winds that were nowhere to be found since we left A. Coruña. There always seems to be some sort of compromise as the main sail tore on our way and we arrived late into the night looking a bit of a mess both Christina and crew. After a nice shower, some eggs and toast, we headed in for some much needed rest.

Hobo powers at work again meant that we’ve scored free food from sailors clearing off and a possibly a second-hand sail to replace the one that had ripped.

We hope to make it to Gibraltar soon and then into the Mediterranean waters. This is a big boat, and with room for up to 10 of us, Captain tells us to bring some friends aboard!

You’ve heard our stories so far. Now we’re sounding out the hobo call for those who are looking to get some sailing experience to hang out with us and share our adventure 🙂

Thats right, Captain wants YOU!

-Jon

ps: I’ve set a trap for the mysterious snicker monster who has been after all our candy. If Drew sports some bruises then we’ll know…

Out of Spain and Back Again

•March 21, 2010 • 3 Comments

The dream spot was pretty lush, but morning broke and it was time to wake up and carry on.

Destination: Portugal.

We tried for a quick lift, but the plane was already full..and going the other direction..and in the air..and charging airfare….excuses.

So it was the usual road for us, with lots of camping

And even more walking

The first day out went great: it was sunny, the small-town Españoles were cheery, and we didn’t have to wait long regardless of where we stood. At one point, we had just set our bags down and Jon commenced a road-side leak when our next lift pulled over mid-deed. It was then that we discovered that Jon posseses a great gift: the Golden Arches of Fortune. His powers would be called upon in many an hour of need along the way (it never worked again).

In fact, it seemed all our luck had been exhausted in that gutter. The end of that lift was the beginning of the slowest crawl of our career: four days, 135km, plenty of rain, lots of hiking, and very little hitching. It was tough. Jon even died once.

There was one redeeming night on this leg, however: Carnaval. In the states, we call it Mardi Gras. In the small pueblo of Gibraleon, they call it the wildest night of the year. Everybody was in costume,

somebody brought their pig,

a man on a horse,
and Jon killed a guy in the heart with a trident. I’ve talked to him about that. He’s laying low for awhile.

The best part was when all these Avatars unleashed the most overt, acceptable, and welcome act of racism I’ve ever seen. Jon, being the asian that he is, was snapping photos in every direction. I guess there aren’t too many Chinese people touring around this town, so the party-goers got pretty excited about it. In a lightning raid, the savages surrounded us and began chanting “saca foto chino!” (tr: take a picture, chinaman) until they got their ransomed flash of light. You can’t get upset at stereotypes if they hold true, can you?

When we did finally reach the border, though, it was as if the floodgates had opened. One lift took us over the river and dropped us at a gasolinera 80km in. Just minutes into asking around, we had a lift all of the remaining 275km into Lisbon. The driver, Nuno, like so many of our angels of destiny, used to hitch himself and was happy to let us squeeze in. As we took the windy backroads through acres and acres of brilliant pine forest, he told us his travel tales and about his life in the city. An artist by birth, he knew he needed to do somethin to set himself apart if he was gonna make it professionaly. With an interest in forms ranging from paint to plaster, food to fashion, sets to stage, and more, he decided to adopt six alteregos, each of them with different personalities, artistic styles, and methods. Nuno walked us through each one, taking on their different accents and manerisms, and my mouth was agape for three hours at the extent this man goes to for the sake of his art. Amazing guy.

In Lisbon we set up camp in a city park not far from the city center but very sheltered from passing conventional life. By the second day, we were already well established in our spot with designated cooking, camping, living, and bathing areas. I’ve seldom felt so at home. Perhaps it was this sense of home that inspired a new sense of hospitality, for it was there in Lisbon that we initiated the new sensation of tentsurfing. My friend, Allison, has been living in Spain the last several months and made the trek out to see us for the weekend. With more than enough room at our park in the city, letting her stay at a hostel seemed like a crime. She happily obliged, and we had the grand honor of welcoming a friend to our hobo life.

The coolest thing we did was go to this lego land-like castle in a place called Sintra

It looks like a life-size 3D puzzle if you ask me

Al was so thrilled she sworded me. Well, umbrellaed me anyway. Either way, it hurt – my feelings.

The consulates in Lisbon had nothing but bad news for us: they’re not interested in helping us because they usually only help people from their own country. Although both Jon and I know other people that have had no trouble getting themselves in order while in the midst of their travels, there wasn’t much we could do. So we got creative. I found an Australian guy online who’s got a yacht in A Coruña, Spain, where he’s getting it ready to sail the Mediterranean this summer season before heading back to his home in Perth this fall, stopping in Malaysia on his way. He invited us to come meet him and stay a bit on the boat, so upon leaving Lisbon, we were on our way to go check things out.


Arriving at the marina, this is what we found, empty, with a note inviting us inside and telling us to make ourselves at home for a couple days until he returned from a weekend trip.

So this is what it’s like to have a roof over our heads..

And full warm meals in our bellies..

When Richard returned, he offered us passage. All we had to do was earn it. We just might make it after all.

First, I made improvements to the hull.

Then I made a loaf of bread – to demonstrate my versatility.

Jon, being the one afraid of heights, naturally got stuck with crow’s nest duty.

Our big, blue, watery road awaits

May Poseidon and the lighthouses guide us

Cap’n’s gonna make Jon walk the plank if his cooking keeps tasting like campfire. You know what they say – once a hobo…

-Drew

P.S. Jon has been making some suspicious comments regarding our continually disappearing candy bars… a rather obvious defense mechanism.

Sun, Sea, Wine and Apes

•February 24, 2010 • 1 Comment

Algeciras, Spain

Days went by as we explored various means of getting to Malaysia. We sought the keeper of great knowledge that is Google and spoke with people at the marinas hoping for a chance at Aquastop or any opportunity to sneak aboard any ship we could find. When it was evident that there wasn’t any point in staying, we set a course for Portugal.

The Rock of Gibraltar

Before leaving, we took 2 days to see Gibraltar and realized that all the effort, over 2000km, and almost 2 months trying to get away from England, we found ourselves on British soil once more.

Gibraltar, the last colony in Europe, welcomed us with the majestic Rock of Gibraltar, which Hercules formed by dividing the mountains to make the pillars that are the Rock and the tallest mountian in Morocco on the other side. In ancient Greek mythology these pillars represent the gates to the edge of the world. Sailors believed that beyond these gates ships will fall off the flat world into the mouth of Hades. This is known to be true until 1980, when Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked the world into shape.

We planned to climb Upper Rock, but the resident apes snatched our bag of food. Not having any of it, Drew flung the water bottle at it just as it tried to take off. The battle was won. We had our bread back. Drew thumped his chest and let out a triumphant alpha male roar. The alpha male supertramp hobo-sapien then produced a sign that is not only understood across borders but as soon proven, across species.

the transborder, trans-species sign of defiance

The apes prepared a counter attack and we were ambushed shortly. The ape doggedly trailed Drew despite the traffic as he tried to shake off the pursuit in vain. I did what any good friend and traveling partner would do. I whipped out my camera and got Drew’s traumatic, phobia-inducing experience on video.

The view of Algeciras from atop the rock

A short bus ride took us back to Tarifa and we walked on the road leading into the distance with our thumbs out. Blades of the windfarm lazed in rotation on the mountains that rose on the horizon over the road as it meets the waves of the Atlantic. The breeze cooled our feet as we walked in shorts and flip flops. It was the warmest since we left at 23 Celsius.

Drew's thumb of approval to the great weather

Francisco gave us a lift to Barbate, and left us with a bottle of wine in our hands. Once there we called Josep, who had given us a lift to Tarifa from Sevilla and stays there in Barbate. He helped us to a spot to camp for the weekend. We disappeared into the pine forest under the stars to the sounds of crashing waves. It would not suffciently prepare us for what was in store when daylight broke.

The weekend was spent at what is the most scenic camp spot since we left. A “villa” that sits on a hill overlooking the town, ocean, cliffs, and the lighthouse at Cape Trafalgar. The violent Atlantic waves became the surfer’s sandbox as they carve lines on the waves seeking the tranquil tube amongst the chaos. Sunsets filled the canvas sky with orange behind the sillhoutte figure of the lighthouse. I could never do enough to capture the sights and sounds. Around the fire to the sunset and rushing waves, we enjoyed wine in our “dream spot.” We had found that which is typically seen only in brochures and travel advertisements.

the pine forest of el Parque Natural

It took less time to get a lift between Caño and Barbate than it would to wait for the bus or your friends to pick you up. The 6km distance is filled with pine forests of Parque Natural on cliffs tht separate the seaside village and town.

Needless to say, the weekend completed a good holiday away from our “holiday.”

-Jon-

Ps: We had some snickers stolen from us when we had stashed our bags the other day, or so Drew claims. I have my own opinions…

Next:
“The Daily Grind, Hobo Style”

All Seasons, One Spain

•January 29, 2010 • 5 Comments

We´ve now seen spring rains, summer sun, autumn winds, and winter snow – all in one country – all in one month.  Here´s the story:

This traveler’s first dreams of Spain started in the university classroom years ago. At least once a week, my profesora would lose her way with words trying to tell us all about the country’s endless diversidad and showing us pictures of her previous trips here. It didn’t go straight to the top of my to-do list, but I knew I needed to be here one day. That day is today, and I can see now what inspired Sra. Calderon to have such a passion for this land.

It was time to head south from Barcelona, but after a dismal performance hitching in Catalunya, Jon and I opted for an e-hitching option, compartir.org. It was from there that we got geared up to join a wayward band of VW van travelers headed for Granada. With Tania at the wheel and Ingrid sitting copilot, it was DJ Gepe, Marina la Rusa, Fura la perra, and Jon and I squeezed into the back (with all our stuff, a turntable, and a kitchen) for the five hour road ruckus south.

Jon and I had our sights set on the sunny beaches of Malaga, but our driver´s destination was just a bit shy, in a mountain town of the Sierra Nevadas. On the way, Gepe decided it was in our best interests to stay there with him and Ingrid for a few days. As the resident Spaniards, I trusted his judgment and put our travels in his capable hands. He was right.

Our first day in Granada treated us with a rare snowstorm, painting the already famously white, Arabian barrios even whiter and providing a unique backdrop to Spain´s most well-known edifice, La Alhambra. Another day there we went up to the peaks of Sierra Nevada, where we stumbled across a port-a-potty-door-turned-sled and invented the newest sport to hit the Spanish slopes, portaboarding. What a tremendous and assanine blast!

By our final day in the town of free tapas, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and we had had the fortune of seeing three very different faces of this magnificent city.

My Professora used the right word.  Diversidad indeed. But it didn’t end there. From a gas station at the edge of town, Raul crossed our path and agreed to take us within 20km of our next home from home, Malaga. My inadequate Spanish drudged on and our chariot driver entertained some friendly (albeit basic) conversation. ¨¿Donde esta the biblioteca? Si, me gusta mucho el queso.¨ Ha. Turns out I misunderstood (no surprise), and he was going past Malaga after all and didn´t mind dropping us right at town. Jon and I headed straight for the park to find a bush to stash the bags under and get right out into the Friday night mix. Off the bat, we met some of the local couchsurfing community for a typical Andalucian round of appetizers and wine. I got into some fun with one of the residents, Nacho, coming up with bizarre ways to initiate conversation with girls at clubs. I, with a language barrier and no permanent home, had much more against me but much less to lose. After five hours of showing the señoritas stupid dances and inviting them to our fictitious birthday parties (complete with donkeys and bouncy castles), needless to say Nacho and I both left solteros and he was kind enough to invite Jon and I to sleep on the floor of his living room for the weekend. Jon, actually, without a lick of español, did the best, getting two girls to agree to marry him at the same time!

While Nacho got up to working from home, Jon and I spent most our time touring the city with another traveler we met, Thomas. A real animal, Thomas was seldom seen without a beer in his hand (even when hiking) and was really good at ¨making party,¨my new favorite cross-translated expression.

As the weekend wound down and the revelers got back to their respective grinds, Jon and I were back to the gas station, waiting for our lift to Sevilla. A tricky one in that people passing our stop could be going in three different directions, luckily it wasn´t too long before Miguel approached us (in an unusual reversal of roles) and asked, ¨¿A donde vais?¨ Hey! I know what that means! ¨Sevilla,¨ I answered succinctly. He responded with a bunch of Spanish I didn´t understand, to which I responded with a blank stare and poorly timed ¨Vale! Vamos!¨ Another friendly chap that didn´t mind the broken Spanish too much, he was happy enough to tell me about his family´s spice business and get us half of the way there and past the junctions that provided handy scapegoats to the drivers that weren´t interested in our company. Late into the day at that point, we decided to make camp; cook some rice, beans, and tuna in our new pot (upgrade!); and continue the journey in the morning. What a fabulously delicious choice. What was I ever doing without warm meals??

The next day´s morning fog lifted to reveal a very hot and dusty January day. Nearly all the traffic at the station was headed our way, but hitching is not part of the culture in this country, and a lot of people can´t muster the interest or enthusiasm to help a couple young bucks see their dreams to fruition. And with only about one car every ten minutes, I was very thankful to have our tattered soccer ball to keep me entertained while we waited in the sun for upwards of three hours.

Just when we were about to restock at a supermercado in town, Javier pulled through to the rescue. A university professor, he tells us that if you google ‘biostatistics in Spain,’ he’s at the top of the list (we haven’t tried it so you’ll have to let us know).

He dropped us directly at the center of town, and we were immediately entranced by the laid back atmosphere and peaceful setting. Bonus for me: The Plaza, in my hometown of Kansas City, was inspired by this beautiful ciudad. Jon and I took our time exploring, stopping by the café, and having a kickabout at a futsal court before finally putting up camp out by the river, but still within walking distance of the city center. Our time in Sevilla was very relaxed: exploration of twisting alleys and sun-soaked plazas, always wandering back into a wooden, wayside city park.

Time to go meant a bus to the edge of town and a short hike out to the fueling station.  But to our tremendously pleasant surprise, we never reached the station, as Josep pulled up to help us on down to the coast. The winter winds at their worst, Josep was heroic enough to let us sleep in his van over night and take us on the port city of Tarifa on his way to an appointment the next morning.

The gargantuan wind farms carpeting the hillsides captivated, but somehow failed to clue us into their more relevant significance: Tarifa is fucking windy. Eleven months out of the year, in fact, wind and kite surfers flock to it, Europe’s most southern point, for some of the most consistent winds on the Mediterranean. With a plan to catch the next boat to Africa, this wasn’t supposed to matter to us, but at the ticket office we found out that we could save several days’ food budget by embarking from the other port, 20km up the road. With the rains just beginning in the early afternoon, we decided to wait it out in the public library. “Waiting it out” didn’t work, and at an hour long after dark we went to make camp in winds and rains that had only gained in strength.

Deciding that a wee patch of grass behind a supermarket at the edge of town provided our best shelter for the upcoming battle, we pegged in, drew the guy lines, and battened down the hatches for the fight of our lives. Victory meant sleeping soundly through the night. Defeat meant that the big bad wolf would make little more trouble of us than a little piggy´s house of straw, and we would find ourselves cast amongst the throngs of more-willing wind surfers, the tent now our kite, thrown to the sea and mercy of the crashing waves (and flesh-eating dolphins). We did have to make some adjustments in the midst, but all in all we survived. I grew very proud of our tent that night. The Vango Spectre 300 and I bonded, and all three of us leveled up.

Europe´s most southern point, with crashing waves and Morocco faintly in the background.

In the morning, the winds died down an the clouds parted, so it was back to the bus stop to get our short ride to the next port. Mostly goofing around, I did some goofy dances for the cars as they passed, and I flashed them a smile and an outstretched thumb in fleeting hopes of these conservative folk finding any amusement in my boredom. Much to my suprise, someone was amused, and the car came to screeching halt right in front of me there at the bus stop.

“Whoa. ¿Tienes espacio?” I asked, thinking the driver didn’t realize there were two travelers and their rucksacks being represented by that stupid dance.
“Where are you going?” he responded in plain, but German English.  No wonder. “We’re headed for Algeciras.”
“Us too. But we have to drive fast.”
“No problem. Is that cuz you have an appointment or because you’re German?”  He smiled.  But only as much as German´s are capable of smiling, which is nearly imperceptible.

So now here we are in Algeciras with our first really big twist: Jon’s Malaysianity got denied entry to Morocco, so we’re on a bench outside the consulate, thinking about what we should do from here. At this point, you know as much as we do…ha, I love this life.

– Drew

Drying clothes and assessing casualties after the great battle of Tarifa

Our new home atop the hill overlooking Algeciras

The Road to Barcelona

•January 8, 2010 • 3 Comments

From 14/12/2009 to 20/12/2009

Day 1
The day finally came for 2 hobbits to leave the shire of Herts (Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England) and we had Selina give us a lift to Dover. We marveled at the white cliffs disappearing into the distance as the ferry took us to Calais. It dawned upon me that after months of dreaming, discussion, preparation and prayer that I’m finally taking my first few steps in the long journey home. No turning back now. (I tried, but Drew dragged me onto the ferry before Selina could hear my desperate cries to take me back to Hatfield)

Selina who gave us the lift to Dover from Hatfield

The white cliffs of Dover

Into the sunset toward Calais

Just outside the port, Peter from Hungary gave us a lift along the motorway and we walked on into the night sky lit with darts of shooting stars before we set camp right along the highway. Baked beans over the fire never tasted this good. Wild berries, grass, and leaves too when you’re this hungry.

Day 2
We woke up the next day to find everything covered in frost on the outside and frozen bottles of water in our tent. It was so cold we got brain freeze swallowing our saliva. (okay, not really) We walked along the motorway until the police picked us up and gave us lift to the next toll booth where we got lifts from Sebastian first and then Jerry to Paris.

Frost covered camp along the motorway

Drinking water in our tent that froze over

Jerry, who took us into Paris, had us over at his place for some tea and food before we walked toward the edge of Paris in search of a spot to camp. It was 4 hours later into the night that we found ourselves next to the motorway setting up camp and quite literally crashing for the night.

Camp along the city motorway

Day 3
We got a short lift late in the morning from a young couple on their way to lunch and found ourselves waiting fruitlessly at what eventually turned out to be the wrong spot. Camp was set underneath an electrical tower in a clearing between the motorway and a business park after several more hours of our futile attempts to escape Paris.

Day 4
I woke up to what sounded like leaves falling on the tent only to see everything around us dressed in white. Snow had besieged Paris. It was one of the many milestones and one that can be regarded as a “leveling up” experience in our own role playing adventure. (level 3 rookie token Asian sidekick so far :p )

White all around to the backdrop of an electrical tower

We finally got a lift waiting at the right spot to get out of Paris. Maude dropped us at a services some 20km from Paris. The adverse weather hit the traffic pretty badly and had us on small roads with Henry passing through towns that looked like they were plucked right out of “Beauty and the Beast” and thorn forests from “Sleeping Beauty.” We were on our way to the castle where the princesses await, along with the dragons.

With my battle axe harmonica and Drew’s double edged vocal chords, we toiled to slay the dragons of boredom at the next services before Thierry walked up and offered us a lift to Clermont. It would be the first time we “busked” and got us a lift over 300km toward Barcelona.

At the services outside Clermont, we meet fellow hitchhikers Jaime and Enrique. They are street performers on the road to Barcelona with homemade wooden saxophones and juggling balls to keep them company. We camped out in the snow behind the services and resumed battle with the demons of boredom armed with the harmonica, left over sandwiches from tables, and loaves of bread through the next day.

Hitchhiking comrades in Jaime and Enrique

Camp spot behind the services

Day 5
After waiting all day, we finally got a lift into town from a social worker who approached us when we were busy jamming loaves of bread into our mouths. We set up camp in a farm, disappearing amongst the trees to the visions of “Robot Chicken” and “Fan Boys” from Drew’s dreamweaver-pod after conversing with beings of the tea and strumpets dimension using the skype portal in the wi-fi shrine of golden arches.

Camping out on a farm

Day 6
In the morning, we got a lift to St Flour from Vincent “powerline climber by day and pro-ski-gliding-wings-of-terror on weekends.” Vincent went out of his way to drop us into the -10 Celsius caveman-in-ice-preserving-temperatures wilderness at the mercy of the mountains and it’s wolf pack. Only the small cafe with nothing but hot drinks, heater, food, rifles, beer, hot bartender, bed, hot shower, and snickers provided some consolated refuge from the flurries and the flakes. We were without hope indeed if not for Gillan, purple heart awarded former hitchhiker who passed her rites of passage killing wolves with her bare hands (almost true story) rescuing us from the grasps of the mountain ice queen and took us to Millau.

It´s all smiles with Vincent who got us on our way toward Montpellier

Millau welcomed us with a breathtaking view of the spectacular bridge across the town nestled in the valley pierced by a river and surrounded by column-like mountains. We soaked in the sights as we indulged in our victory meal of bread and canned tuna in tomato sauce to the greetings of “bon appetite” from bemused passersby.

Millau

It didn’t take long standing at the roundabout to get our next lift with a couple in a VW polo. The views from the mountain roads were breathtaking as we made our way to Montpellier. We managed another lift after dinner taking us a short distance down the motorway toward Barcelona and found ourselves standing next to Jaime and Enrique again, the hitchhikers we met earlier. It was a bittersweet moment as we were torn between the feelings of camraderie and concern for making Barcelona. They managed a straight lift to Barcelona shortly after we arrived, having spent most of the day there.

An hour later, two guys strolled in and one started to show a picture of a cat to the cashier and us to our amusement. A conversation ensued in a mix of French and Spanish before we both found ourselves in the town of Narbonne just off the services, in a bar which Drew describes to be like the basements of his highschool parties, with party streamers and random bits of cloth for decorations and a DJ playing off a MacBook. Still, it belongs to Mikaela’s cousin and he took care of us. He provideth us free beer, a bed for the night and our first shower since day 1.

Day 7
Mikaela took us to the services just before the border in the evening the next day after we made a late start to the day. There we were somewhat discouraged to the difficulty to get a lift toward Barcelona when a silver Mercedes pulled up. Out came a young man in a suit which almost immediately made us write off our chances. I had a vague profile of someone who would likely give us a lift. (one of which would most likely be driving a VW hatchback and definitely not a Mercedes). Drew asked anyway and the man smiled and agreed to give us a lift right into Barcelona within seconds. It left us both bewilderdly starring at each other, dumbfounded as to how easy that turned out. We then found out that he actually drives a VW polo (reinforcing the profile), with the Mercedes belonging to his stepdad.

We rolled into Barcelona in style, triumphantly in a silver luxury chariot of comfort. It concluded a 7 day journey of more than 1,300Km, and 15 rides through the flurries and the flakes, mountains and valleys, farmlands, highways, and an “enthusiastic” bar.

And to think that there is 6 months more to go…

-Jon-

Barcelona!

Off and Away!

•January 4, 2010 • 4 Comments

Now twenty one days in, we’ve finally made the time to get this thing under way. At a hostel in Barcelona where we’ve made a couple friends, the WiFi flows like the Spanish sangria, a strange luxury for two guys that live in a tent on the side of whichever road they find themselves at sundown.

Since leaving London on the 14th of December, we took seven days to pass through France and a snowstorm that made the news in Kansas City, apparently. Finally to Barcelona, we met my cousin, Scott, and spent a couple disappointingly drizzly days in the city before deciding to get ourselves some sun for Christmas. Alicante was where we planted ourselves, an extremely beachy town even by California standards. After our first night in an abandoned fort near the city center, some homeless guys chased us off by counting out of order at us. (My Spanish isn’t perfecto, but I do know that ocho does not come after tres, and cinco doesn’t come between puta madre and adios.) I liked our second spot better anyway. Though tucked beneath some conifers in a city park, we were just a morning stumble from a cliffside looking well out over the city and the Mediterranean Sea. Sometimes the homeless have the best real estate…

Christmas eve wasn’t what we’re used to, but one friendly Uruguayan restaurant owner took us in for some bocadillos, cerveza, peach whiskey shots, and plenty of jokes at Jon’s Asian expense. Christmas day saw a bit more excitement, with gifts from Caga Tio (video coming soon), a sunbath at the shore, and an ascent to storm the city’s medieval castle.

Back to Barcelona for el Noche Viejo, we found ourselves celebrating over sangria (of course) with Lat, Jia Yi, Ching, Tzi, and Amanda, Jon’s friends from high school. The clock struck and horns blared throughout the timezone. Six hours later, Jon and I were passed out on the beach.

Since then, we’ve found a more secure roadside spot to pitch the tent at night and take the metro in to do the tourist thing during the day. Just this morning, we rolled the dice to see where we’d be off to next. Portugal it is!

Next stop: south to Málaga.

– Drew

*posts will be better when we learn how to work this thing 🙂

La Sagrada Familia with its European crown of cranes.

Ringing in the first sunrise of el año nuevo in style.