It’s been a busy few days since relocating back up to Yorkshire but I’m delighted that the whole process is now complete. I first started to plan my return to the county where I was born, brought up and educated over twelve months ago and everything has now happened; selling my flat in Berkshire, leaving work and the physical job of moving all my stuff is over and done with. I can finally move ahead and finalise my plans for 2015 which, as I’m sure you are aware, involve the small matter of cycling from the southern tip of Spain to the northern tip of Norway.
But it’s more than just that of course. The reality of life means that rather than spending the rest of my life cycling (or perhaps just travelling) and then writing books about what I have done I will probably need to return to paid employment later in the year here in West Yorkshire. When I first started looking for language teaching jobs in the general area of the north of England, it was clear that one thing would be an issue; I currently only teach French. Most adverts for teaching posts state euphemistically that ‘an ability to teach a second language is preferable‘. In other words, even if you are very good at teaching just the one language, almost all schools will probably employ a teacher who offers them greater flexibility over one that doesn’t. Hence my pre-cycling plan to head off to Spain to try and learn a modicum of Spanish.
Initially I had set my heart upon Salamanca. It seemed like an interesting place to spend a couple of months, it was a city that I had never before visited and crucially, it wasn’t too far from the original starting point for my cycling trip which was at the end of the Eurovelo 3 in Santiago de Compostela. But then I decided to attempt a complete bottom to top crossing of the continent. I’m not sure why I didn’t think this was the best thing to do in the first place but there you go. The practical knock-on effect of the change of departure point was that Salamanca was no longer anywhere near as convenient as… well, where? Seville? Perhaps, but I had been there twice before and really wanted to spend time in an unknown-to-me city. Malaga? Wouldn’t it just be full of tourists, even in early Spring? Cadiz? Only a stone’s throw from my the starting point of my cycle at Tarifa, an interesting, historically important city and crucially, not a place I had previously visited. Bingo! I had my replacement Salamanca.
So, since arriving back in Yorkshire and having tied up all the loose ends of my old life down in the south, I’ve been pretty busy. On February 25th I fly to Malaga. My plan is to stay overnight in the city (if only to prove to myself that it isn’t just a place that’s full of tourists!) before heading down the coast the following morning to a small town called Estepona. I have an uncle who lives there with his wife and they have kindly agreed to accommodate me for a couple of days. On Friday 27th my bicycle and most of my cycling luggage will arrive courtesy of Luggage Mule (see previous post) and I will leave faithful Reggie (my bike) in what my uncle promises is ‘secure storage‘. On Saturday 28th I will travel to Cadiz where I will be sharing an apartment with other students from the language school. It will be interesting to see who I’ll be living with for my four weeks in Cadiz; I have been promised a mixture of people from all walks of life. The school is called K2 Internacional (is there a suggestion there that I will have a mountain to climb?) and the course I have signed up for starts on Monday 2nd March. Unlike the other schools in the city, it is in the old town and just outside its front door is a square with cafes and bars and I can see them being pressed into service at the start and end of my rigorous days of linguistic mountain climbing. I’ll keep you updated…
The course will finish on Friday 27th March but the following week is Easter week and a time of great celebrations in Spain. It may be an wise decision to stay on at the school until the following Wednesday – Thursday and Friday being public holidays in the run up to Easter itself – and try to stay in the shared apartment until the following weekend to make the most of what there is to see and do during that festive week. I’ll discuss my options with the school when I enrol.
Once Easter is out of the way, it’s back to Estepona to pick up my bike and everything that I will need for the cycle, cycle down to Tarifa (via a quick rummage around Gibraltar which is en route) and embark upon my third continental crossing of Europe. More of that anon.