I don’t know if you have ever driven off of a ferry into a foreign country but it can be a bit hectic. You have the entire contents of
a boat trying to leave the dockside as quickly as possible all at
once because those few minutes getting out first just have to make
the difference when you are faced with a long drive ahead.
I hung back and just let them get on with it. Another hour or two
was going to make no difference at all to me with the drive I had
laid out ahead, so I just took in the tarmac and concrete buildings
shimmering in the heat unique view that I had from the low down seat
in the mini.
As I made my way through the port
towards passport control I had the dock workers then even the police
grinning and pointing at the car with talk and shouts of “Coche
clásico” as I passed. I just grinned back and waved as I
passed by at the pace the Queen normally sets whilst humouring her
security checks were pretty painless with the only delay being
questions actually about the mini’s set up and year of build etc.
The road now called and I set out building the speed up to a steady
60mph on the three lane road along the built up coastline remembering
to drive on the wrong side of the road as those quirky European folks
do. I had done this drive about a year or so before so was confident
that I would easily navigate my way through the poorly signposted
many road splits. I wove left and right confident in my driving
skills and memory enjoying the clear blue skies and that Spanish sunshine.
not going to lie here, after about twenty miles I really was not
recognising anything I could see along the way. Even the road looked
wrong. Some signage for a service station loomed up in the distance
and I decided that it was time to swallow my manly pride and ask
someone if and where I had gone wrong. Yea, I had very wrong. I was
basically heading towards home in a northerly direction. After some
laughter from the cashier at where I actually wanted to head, no need
for that really, he pointed out the route I wanted on a map, which I
ended up buying because I hadn’t brought one with me, I fuelled the
mini up and set off in confidence once again.
diversion wasn’t that bad if I am honest. I got to see some of the
country I had not seen before, nor since, and time wise it had cost
me about an hour. No biggy because there was no rush to get anywhere
were not designed initially with mountain climbing in mind. I know
this first hand because the beginning of the run from Bilbao has lots
of very long and steep roads that in a mini that is screaming it’s
heart out trying to get to the top of. As this happened a couple of
times early on in the drive I did wonder if I was going to make it to
the other side of the hills let alone to the other side of Spain but
as per usual the little fella just kept on plodding.
second thing that mini’s were not designed for in Europe was toll
booths. Modern cars are quite a bit taller than an old mini then
couple in the fact you are on the wrong side of the car saw me
hopping out of the drivers seat, which seemed to become harder and
harder as the day drew on, everytime I needed to pay for my passage.
It was never just a quick pay job though as everyone would start off
the transaction with “Esta Muy Classica” then go onto to asking
me exactly what model of mini it was and that they didn’t see many of
those over here any more.
stayed being polite hoping that a little conversation whilst
upsetting everyone else queing behind me would lead to free passage
on the toll roads, but it never did.
the first five or six hours carried on in much the same vein. I
would fill the mini up with fuel then drive until I hit a toll. Talk
for a bit thankful to stretch my legs out for a minute or two then
drive some more on the perfectly smooth european roads until I needed
to fuel up again.
sun rose high in the sky then stareted it’s slow desent back towards
the horizon leaving me marvelling at what a wonderful thing life is
and that travel was one of the best things you can do within it.
when the first very nasty painful sounding noise came from just
behind the dashboard…