The plan is that two weeks today – Thursday 9th April – I will be standing somewhere near the southernmost point of the European mainland looking north and thinking “here we go again…” (or even, “bloody hell, here we go again…”).
Between now and then, my time is split three ways:
- A final week here in Cádiz learning Spanish (the school closes for Easter next Wednesday so I now have just four days of lessons remaining) at the end of which I will hopefully see some of the city’s ‘semana santa‘ festivities (if you have an image of a fat bloke in a red coat and a white beard, please get your own coat and move on…). This coming weekend is a bit of a blank. Should I go off and explore somewhere new or just take the opportunity while I have it of loafing around in Cádiz itself and relaxing?
- After exchanging a few emails with my uncle (who is currently looking after Reggie, my bike) back in Estepona – on the coast just to the north east of Gibraltar – I have agreed to meet him in Tarifa early on what we British refer to as Good Friday. I don’t think that the Spanish call it ‘Bueno Viernes‘ but if you know otherwise, do let me know. I’ll catch the bus to Tarifa and meet Ron (that’s my uncle) at the bus station in Tarifa. Later in the day we will drive up to Algeciras and will spend some time in a place called San Roque taking in the Easter events. Over to you Ron: “This is a famous parade and often has at least 14 “thrones” The parade is one of the most famous in Andalucia and has applied for World Heritage recognition. I will certainly be going. It is all rather weather dependant as some of the thrones are over 400 years old and they do not venture out of the church if there is any chance of rain.” That’s what he told me in his first email. Last night he emailed me again with a snippet of information about a geo caching meeting taking place in Tarifa at 9.15am on Good Friday. I think geo caching is one of Ron’s interests and the meeting is taking place next to the sign which says ‘you are standing at the southernmost point of the European mainland‘. According to Ron, the group will be discussing the question as to whether the southernmost point of Europe is where the sign is, or whether it is on the Isla de las Palomas, the island that isn’t an island and that is currently occupied by the Guardia Civil. That does sound very interesting (and the kind of thing that might make a good tangential paragraph in the book). It will require a very early departure from Cádiz that morning but there is a bus at 7am so it’s certainly possible to get there by 9am. No news, incidentally, from the Parque Natural del Estrucho that I contacted following the reply from the Guardia Civil themselves. Once back in Estepona later on Friday 3rd it will be a case of last minute (well, last weekend) preparations for the big trip. Ron is taking Reggie (they sound like a couple of Costa del Crime villains!) to a bike shop in San Pedro (the town on the coast between Estepona and Marbella) called Yep Bikes. I exchanged a few emails with a guy called Roman who sounds as though he is the boss and he has agreed to check my bike after Ron takes it down there next Monday. I’ll be able to pick it up on Saturday 4th leaving the rest of the weekend to pack.
- The final segment of the next three weeks will be the two days prior to my departure from Tarifa. Two relatively short rides from Ron’s apartment to Gibraltar (where I will stay in a hotel) on Tuesday and then on Wednesday to Tarifa (where I will camp).
I’ve also been thinking more about the accommodation for the first few days of the cycle. Campsites abound on the coast and I shouldn’t have too many issues finding one near Tarifa, a second near Conil de la Frontera and then a third not too far from Jerez de la Frontera, albeit near the sea. I’m now thinking that a longer ride all the way to Seville might be the best idea for Saturday as the accommodation options between he coast and the city are fairly limited. My approaches to three Warm Showers hosts in the Jerez / Seville areas have been negative but at least this forces me into getting into the camping spirit at an early stage of the long trip north. For more details of that first part of the trip, see this post written earlier in the week.