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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
Yes, we capitulate – for now! Corona brought us to our knees.
It was already clear in Portugal; we were going home. Holding out any longer was not our thing and in three months we would have gone this way – one way or the other. For a long time, however, we didn’t know which way to go and how fast our journey north would be.
The crossing from Portugal to Spain took place without any problems and, as usual, via surreptitious routes. In any case, we saw neither any checkpoint nor anyone else who would have enquired about our plans. So we continued our journey with the knowledge we had received from other travellers and the contradictory information from the many internet sites (authorities/countries). And, we interpreted “transit” in our own way! Additionally, we did not want to be at the border with France before 15 December, as relatively strict corona measures were supposed to be in place by that date.
In Spain, we tried to bypass larger towns somehow. Stops were really only for shopping, refuelling or minimal contact with the staff of a campsite if we had to visit one. This way, we hoped to be on the safe route for the Spanish authorities as well, and so we continued to enjoy our freedom on the “way home”.
Maybe a bit cheeky, but we wanted to enjoy the warm and beautiful weather for a while. So we followed the coast of the “Golf de Cadíz” towards Tarifa. Unfortunately, the weather changed abruptly and a strong westerly wind brought a lot of rain. We experienced Tarifa with strong gusts of wind and the southernmost point of mainland Europe was not without “sand peeling”.
After Maria-Empfängnis, Saint Nicholas immediately followed, where there are a few extra Fridays in Spain and this was used by the local population – despite the Corona restrictions – in their own way. Apart from walking or cycling, all kinds of vehicles were on the roads and backroads (off-road routes). Although the Andalusian restrictions were very rigorous, we were very irritated by the respective sights of the overcrowded restaurants. For us, however, it was at the same time very relieving; everything only half as bad?
We continued on our way; followed the sea for a short time, climbed up again into mountains close to the coast and enjoyed the almost deserted stretches of land. Often we had to turn around again and look for a new way, because the chosen path was not passable or a chain prevented our passage. Thus, after the frustration, we usually discovered a much more fantastic alternative route and reached areas we would never have travelled to.
Our days in southern Spain were soon numbered and after the “kink” near the province of Almería, the 15th of December came closer and closer. We reached the province of Mucia again on “impossible” roads (off-road tracks or quad tracks) that could not have been steeper. For our evening camp, we usually looked for a spot near the Mediterranean Sea, where the night-time temperatures were somewhat more pleasant than at lofty heights. If there were any prohibition signs, we generously ignored them and settled in for the night. Apart from the sound of the sea, we were mostly alone and not a soul disturbed us. We enjoyed our privilege and the evening warmth pampered us even more. The weather and the temperatures on the south-east coast could have given us many more enjoyable days, but suddenly time was pressing on us too. We wanted to be home for Christmas and the way was still long. So we changed from the gravel roads to the motorway or other roads where the speed needle sometimes reached the 100 Km/h mark. As we drove on, we experienced the south-east coast in almost spring-like temperatures and in some places various flowers were already in bloom. Where no vegetable crops and eastern plantations were planted all the way to the sea, holiday settlements were in prime locations and often blocked our free access to the sea. This soon presented us with the same problem every evening: finding a suitable place to spend the night in good time. So, on a Saturday evening, we set up on the edge of a state forest for the coming night. Unfortunately, we forgot the Spanish tradition of hunting and were barked out of our beds by the hounds at 7am on Sunday morning.
In order to increase our travel speed a bit more and cover longer distances, we made more use of the motorway and followed it in a north-easterly direction. The increasingly heavy north-eastbound truck traffic was also an indication that we were on the right track.
For the evening camps, we swerved off the wide asphalt ribbon and looked for a suitable place to camp for the night. In the Ebro Delta, we already knew from a night far back where our spot could be. But further north it was increasingly difficult to find a dream spot. North of Tossa de Mar we were surprised by the early darkness and on some forest path we found a suitable spot under a large pine tree. That we were not alone there, we heard rattling around in the forest a short time later: Wild boars were looking for food.
It was only a short hop to the French border and we were on our way as planned. Apart from a shopping tour in Girona – we had to replace our pre-filter for the snorkel, among other things – there were countless scenic highlights on our return journey. We again searched for lonely byways, which probably only the locals know, and so we were able to experience wonderful landscapes in pre-winter Spain for the last time, or should we say in “Catalonia”. At first we didn’t notice it at all, but the longer we were on the road in Catalonia, the more conspicuous it was; nowhere was a Spanish flag to be seen. Even the town halls were only flagged with the Catalan flags.
We spent the last night again in a small patch of forest among the wild boars. While we were discussing all sorts of excuses and explanations for the French authorities, the pigs were grunting in the immediate vicinity.
Well, maybe we need a bit of “luck” for tomorrow; apparently things are supposed to be even stricter in France than here in Spain. We tossed and turned in bed for a long time; “hopefully we’ll have the right declarations ready at the border so that we can drive home without any restrictions”.
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