We have known since December 2013 that we were leaving Spain in August, the run up to us actually leaving seemed to take for ever, but little by little time was passing and when we least expected it, time was up, it was time for good byes and time to hit the road!
Everything that we were keeping was either packed and shipped to Qatar or loaded in the car and all set for an early start.
After one last visit to LBV bar and further goodbyes, I tried to get some sleep, yeah right, no chance of that happening! The alarm was set for 2 am, I kept waking up every few minutes, paranoid I would oversleep. Eventually, the alarm went off, it was time for a shower and time to get things into action. The car was fully packed, the air was warm and several drunks were trying to find their way back home. I chose to drive through the night as of course it’s nice and cool and also to avoid any traffic.
Traffic? What Traffic?
For one last time (for the foreseeable future) I drove on those roads I know so well, from Monda towards Alhaurin el Grande and then dropped down to Fuengirola past Alhaurin Golf. I then headed up the A7 past Malaga and onto the A45 (too cheap to use the A46 toll road). From the A45 I turned onto the A92 past Granada and the headed towards Jaen and Madrid. Cathy had written down some excellent directions for me which made life a lot easier. ever since getting horribly lost on the Germany/ Austrian border in 2011 and then again, hopelessly lost in Serbia last year courtesy of a GPS I reverted to old fashion technology!
Night gradually turned into day and I was making good time, there was virtually no traffic at all as any traffic on the road was heading towards the coast and not North.
I stopped for some fuel in Madrid, it was pretty dull and overcast and pretty windy, I got out of the car and felt like getting straight back in, it was pretty cold!
Somewhere along the road between Madrid and Santander, a car carrying some bikes lost its warning sign (like the one on the right hand side), the sign hit the road, went under two cars, the second one lifted it and it flew straight into my car, damaging my bumper and bumper then going under the car making a horrendous noise of metal against metal.
I continued a couple of miles and paying special attention to any noises or signs of damage to the car but all seemed OK. I stopped at the next service station and gave it a more thorough check but all was OK.
I arrived in Santander in around 10 and a bit hours which isn’t too bad for a little over 1000 km. I managed to find the hotel I was booked into and checked in. Had a quick sleep and then went out to explore Santander, had some tea and an early night!
Playing the Waiting Game
I decided to pop into the port first thing in the morning, the policeman at the entrance to the port thought it was quite funny I had arrived 12 hours before departure, he very politely told me to come back at 16:00 hrs.
I spent Sunday walking around Santander, I even managed to find the Sunday market I had been to some 14 or 15 years earlier which is set in a tunnel. Santander is a nice city, the number of homeless people and beggars did call my attention, but other than that I had a pleasant time. Had some lunch and after walking around for a few hours I decided to have a rest.
Waiting for the Ferry
After what felt like an eternity, I checked in and then the next lot of waiting began! Cars, motorbikes, vans and trucks arrived and we all started queuing but no ferry to be seen. Eventually as we were about to give up all hope of being repatriated, she started making her way into the port.
Eventually, we boarded the ferry. The car was on the top deck, secretly I was hoping for some rain so the car would get a free wash, but the weather was quite good. As soon as I boarded I regretted having not booked a cabin, for the first time ever, I decided to be cheap and book a seat, oh, what a mistake that was! The so called reclining seats are as uncomfortable as it gets, the ferry company at least provides you with a blanket, this came in very handy later in the night.
I settled into my seat which fortunately was in front of a plug but also in front of a door leading to the deck. I connected my tablet and started a Michael Palin Marathon (around the World in 80 Days and Pole to Pole.
At around midnight I sort of fell asleep, however, the constant stream of people going in and out and the massive draft every time someone opened the door kept waking me up. I then decided to put the blanket over my head, a little like a sheet covering a corpse.
I slept on and off for around 3 hours, eventually decided to go walkabout at 7am. There’s nothing more depressing than realising you still have 17 hours to kill on board and then a 5 hour drive after that.
We arrived in Poole (Dorset) at 23:30, by the time we disembarked and went past passport control it was now 00:30. Oh joy of joys, now for a 5 hour drive.
The Long Road home
As I came out of the port, I was most confused as to why road warnings on the road were written upside down, fortunately, I quickly realised I was on the wrong side of the road!
Unlike my Spanish directions, none of the roads coincided with my written directions, not what you need at this point! Eventually I found my way to London and then headed towards Oxford (not without taking a couple of wrong turns adding extra time to my journey). I arrived in Oswestry Travel Lodge at 05:30, fortunately they were expecting me so I quickly checked in and fell asleep. At 10am Cathy rang to let me know they were now boarding their flight, time to get up, have a fry up at Little Chef and head off to unpack the car. After unpacking the car, it was time to head to Liverpool to pick Cathy and Katja up. We drove in convoy as the girls were coming with a few suitcases, we arrived at pretty much the same time Ryanair landed so at least neither Cathy and Katja nor us had to wait for long.
Their arrival in Liverpool had completed our move, time to relax in England, and see friends………….