Day 48 Barcelona to Civitavecchia

So, it proved to be an interesting night on board our ferry. We were joined for our 20 hour journey by the company of what seems like an entire 6th form college of Italian students. Noisy would be an understatement. Last night, the testosterone levels were at an all time high. Groups of teenagers marauded around the boat, many in couples, nominally under the supervision of a gaggle of rather new-age looking female staff members, who appeared to be as apprehensive of these youths as we were. At one point, a huge argument broke out between two of the lads, it appears over one of the women. Passions were high as the two young men faced up to each other like bulls about to engage in combat, and were only deterred from doing so (by presumably) the girl whom they were arguing over. Whilst all this was going on, the teachers slunk in a corner, discussing how to deal with the conflict. Crew staff members hovered, waiting to intervene if a fight did actually break out. It was all quite entertaining – much more so than the poor Italian musician, singling and playing corny Italian love songs on his electronic keyboard, to an audience who were paying no attention to him at all, but rather the real life drama that was unfolding a few yards away. All good fun. This morning, there is a frosty calm between the youths – clearly the dispute is not yet resolved.
Today, we are at sea most of the day, and don’t land until evening, so I thought I might spend the time to reflect on our travels to date.
It was with huge intrepidation and apprehension that I set off on this journey. Having initially embraced Howard’s idea of travelling around Europe in Oscar with enthusiasm, as the time of departure grew nearer, I became more and more scared. This puzzled me, as I am well travelled, and love seeing new and interesting places. But I think it was the mode of travel that was bothering me most, along with the length of time we planned to be away. Never had we spend so much time together, in such small a space. The lack of sanitary facilities was also causing me to fret considerably.
As it has turned out, the issues that I thought would be a problem, have not been. We have stayed in a mixture of campsites and hotels, mostly the former. On all the campsites, so far, the facilities have been good to excellent, with hot showers, and clean toilets. During the day, needing a pee is a perfect excuse to stop for a coffee, and in most towns or cities there are public restrooms as well. The restricted space, at times, has been difficult, but this has generally been dealt with by me sending Howard outside for a walk or a run, while I tidy up and put things away in cupboards. We have developed a well oiled routine now. To start with, everything was a little chaotic and muddled. But now we have a system, and each their own roles. Howard generally does the van things – driving, putting the covers on at night, topping up the AdBlue, changing the gas. I do more of the organising, most of the navigating and writing the blog. In the evenings, whilst I type up the blog, Howard will often cook tea, The only difficulty that arises is when tea is ready, and we have to limbo dance around each other to sit at the table to eat – quite a feat.
So the things that had really troubled me before we left have not been an issue. Unexpected things, however, have really bothered me. The day we used up all our data allowance, and had no WiFi left, upset me most of all. It turns out that being able to contact family and friends has been really important for both of us on this trip, and something that still continues to frustrate us. I have really valued the little emails and What’s Apps I have received from my buddies – it can sometimes really brighten a tedious drive or rainy day. Our long awaited dongle is still trying to catch up with us, and is currently far behind us in Cordoba.
The really positive aspects of the trip so far are many. Howard is considerably more relaxed than we was before we left, and is endeavouring to stay fit. On days when we are driving, more effort is needed to maintain some daily exercise, and those days, we will always try to walk either before or after a long spell in Oscar. So far, we haven’t fallen out, bar the odd dispute on whether to turn left or right. My map reading skills are improving, largely due to complete ineptness of our two Satnav systems.
It has been an absolute joy to discover new parts of Europe which had previously been unknown to both of us. We have both been stunned by the beauty of the Picos de Europa in northern Spain, the Sierra da Estrela in Portugal, and by the Sierra Nevada in the southern Spain – perhaps our love of mountains due to the fact we have lived in Scotland for twenty years now. Some of the rugged coastal areas in Asturia and Galicia in the north, and on the Western Algarve and around Moraira have been just beautiful. Our discovery of new cities has also been a delight – San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela, Porto, Lisbon, Seville and Cordoba, and re-discovering Barcelona has also been a pleasure. Stumbling across little towns for our morning coffee breaks has also been enlightening, many completely off the normal tourist route, and all the better for it.
Most of all though, to date, we have been struck by the kindness and hospitality of the people we have met – the small campsite owners, people in bars and restaurants, old friends, fellow campers (particularly VW owners!), and even the riot policeman in Barcelona, who stopped to direct to our hotel. I think we have been lucky and blessed to have had such a wonderful experience in Spain and Portugal.
For the next phase of our trip Italy beckons. I’ve promised Howard that I won’t judge an entire nation on the behaviour of their youth on the boat. But I have learnt one thing about Italy already – vigorous arm movements and gesticulations are a must in order to communicate!

5 thoughts on “Day 48 Barcelona to Civitavecchia

  1. And we are enjoying your tales, and the memories of our own travels to some of the areas you have been so far. Keith is ( snow permitting!) flying to Italy tomorrow , but to Milan, as skiing in Chiesa with 13 others… I’m hoping he makes it back smiling and uninjured, he assures me he’s no longer a ‘boy racer’ and happy to sit in a bar if too blizzardy to ski- we shall see! You’re really well out of the uk weather wise, v v cold and snowing everywhere. May not volunteer at Kew this week. Enjoy Italy, keep the arms waving wildly, may provide enough exercise😀


  2. At least you are having nice weather. We are spending a couple of days at Dunkeld House Hotel and our walk today included both snow and sunshine within minutes of each other. At least we are enjoying the nice food and wine! Don’t know if we will get home tomorrow as heavy snow forecast so might be holed in here for a day or two!
    Enjoy Italy.
    Liz x


  3. Well you’re wrong there Liz. There’s snow in Rome too, and it was minus 10 last night! I’m wearing more clothes than I needed on the NC500! The last time they had snow here was over 10 years ago, and they’re having snowball fights in the Vatican City!


  4. Well at least you are witnessing a unique situation. Snowball fights in a Rome hard to believe! We did manage to get home today but A9 was very challenging and red alert now in place for travel etc. However scenery was absolutely stunning. Even wild deer seen in Dunkeld’s High Street coming down from the hills seeking food last night. Was even on national news tonight so quite unusual. Glad to be home safe and sound and cosy.


  5. Hi Liz. Yes, we saw the deer in High Street on TV in Rome, but didn’t know it was Dunkeld. But Dunkeld is just beautiful in the snow – I was up at the Hilton one weekend before Christmas with the girls from the practice and it snowed – just magical! Heather x


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