Saturday, 13 September 2008

Fourteen hours from Bordeaux

By now you'll know that stopping along the way is very much part of my travelling. Overtaking a convoy of highsided trucks I missed a road sign and found myself off the AP1 north of Madrid heading for Miranda del Ebro. Listening in to the chat between the women petrol station assistants where I stopped to get directions, you would wonder if there is equal opportunity employment in the province of Burgos.

Some hours later swinging south off the busy, bumpy, concrete surfaced stretch of the A4 linking Madrid with Cordoba I stopped at the first BP station to refuel and have a coffee. The late afternoon light warmed the forecourt and pumping Latin music flooded the shop, the cafeteria and even the loos. I thanked the young cashier for her warm welcome and the music and was rewarded with an even brighter smile. It felt good to be back in Andalucia.

My journey yesterday started at the Gare St Jean railway station in Bordeaux after seeing my wife off on the 5.35 TGV to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Getting back to the hotel I checked out and was gone by 6.50. Heavy rain fell all the way down into the Basque country and it was 10am before I could switch my wipers and lights off. Whereas the French drivers scrupulously observed the speed limits, back in Spain, at 130kmh I was one of the slowest cars on the road in the 4.30pm Friday afternoon rush by Madrid drivers to escape south from the capital for the weekend.

The Autovia de la Sierra Nevada heading down towards Granada bordered by olive trees on rolling slopes never fails to give me a lift. Around 6m I stopped at the venta which you see in the picture above to check texts from my daughters and learned that my wife's flight to Boston was on time and already at the arrival gate.

Dodging the Costa del Sol cinema going cowboys at the exit roundabout from La Cañada in Marbella off the A7 was the most severe test of my driving skills over the last two weeks of driving but by 9.30 pm I was safely back home.