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We start at 07:30 am- without any breakfast because the next shopping mall is about 500 m away.
To everyone’s regret, it doesn’t open before 09.00.
“No problem,” says the leader of the expedition, “we will get the caffeine- fuelling soon, because our cars are thirsty, too.”
At 8:23 we pass the Spanish border. At a distance of about 100 km we stop at a gas station. But there is neither any breakfast nor caffeine. The first withdrawal syndromes are appearing. But with positive talks we can avoid that the suffering staff eats the simple coffee powder.
After an odyssey through Girona- and after being awake for 3 hours- the team uses the short shopping trip for searching a store of a fast-food chain, which should open at 10:00.
We are on time, but it’s closed. Did our watches stop to work properly? Don’t the Spanish have a daylight saving time? We even couldn’t find a staff member with cleaning stuff. Desperation is on the increase. Finally someone had the brilliant idea to look for our camping stove.
Up from now nothing and nobody can stop us anymore.
Short time later the leader of the expedition Gernot Grömer finds his team in a queue in front of the camping stove waiting to get coffee filled in plastic bowls. We didn’t need any comment on this.
In the meantime we noticed some movement in the fast- food restaurant- we didn’t think of the Mediterranean 15 minutes.
But they won’t make any profit from us this day, because in the meantime we’ve already started to unpack our snack. The ones who come late, will be penalized by the hungry ones.
* * *
„South France could be described somehow like: An endless row of tollgates and roundabouts, only interrupted by small pieces of highway”. (Quote from expedition control). Only more of it in Spain. Around noon we pass through another tollgate. We enqueue on the left side but we see that all the others are on the right side. Damn – why are all on the other side? Are we wrong? A radio set would be nice but all the charging devices are stored theft-proof in the loading bay buried under all the other equipment. Yes we know, packing logistics is still developable.
Finally we have to cross roughly 20 lanes just that we don’t loose our convoy. At the end we find out that we have just risked our lives to get to the lane where we can pay by credit card. Unfortunately the toll automat does not accept ours. Thank god there is still human help and finally we start to like the toll system in Austria.
Just 30 minutes later – the next tollgate. The automat once again refuses to let us pass. This time the only solution is the reverse gear. We start a not really innocuous try to enqueue us into another row. Somehow we manage it to annoy a following truck driver with this. The weaker caves in but after we passed through the gate and start to look for the remaining convoy the trucker behind closes in on us using his horn with insistence. That’s enough – as if we wouldn’t be stressed enough. An Austrian is also done with his patience at some point. We transmit a message in international acknowledged sign language – with success. As a result the truck driver tries to throng us against the crash barrier. We manage to escape unharmed but as we catch up with the truck later, the truck driver opens his window and pours a fluid in our direction. Some of us still believe that whatever it was it wasn’t drinkable.
Those are only a few examples, representative for a lot more adventures we experienced on the highway since the start of our expedition. Streets are like battlefields, there is an ongoing fight for every inch of it. We are tired of all the fighting and we have enough of the southern temper – time for a break. We camp at a service area although the clouds are still hanging in the sky, the day promises a feeling of summer.
At 14:25 local time we pass the meridian of Greenwich, marked as an archway. The countryside looks sparse, different from France but still abundantly covered with vegetation and outside of the congested areas nearly uninhabited. A detail that specially attracts attention are the rocks and the red earth everywhere. Absolutely marslike.
Absolutely typical for Spain is that there are oversized (but anatomically completely correct ;) ) bulls, decorating the hilltops from time to time. Once we discover an observatory in the distant. Over and over again we pass through wind farms. They where as well in France, besides the obligatory nuclear power plants.
In the afternoon we have another stop in Zaragozza and are now aiming for Madrid. While Gernot Grömer is picking up a Spanish team member the remaining convoy is heading to Talavera de la Reina – around 950 km away from today’s starting point – where the hotel for tonight is booked.
This article is available in: German
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