Thank You Everyone!

March 23rd, 2010

After…

- 8 days (6 and a half to reach Morocco)

- 4 countries

- 22 lifts

- £970 raised for LCD (at the time of writing – more is always welcome!)

- Several cups of coffee (for me – tea for Kat)

- 11 service stations

- 3 times waiting in the rain

and…

- 1 huge pain au chocolat

We are now sat on a rooftop in Fez, having just had tea in ‘Cafe Clock’ partially because it offered free wifi but it is also very nice! We’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who’s been a part of this – all our sponsors, everyone who’s given us a lift and the people on the accommodation helpline back in England! ;-)

Here is an (approximate) map of our route – over 1800 miles apparently – for all those interested (I hope this link works!)

Click for Map!

http://www.bing.com/maps/#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

Day 7: Marbella to MOROCCO!!

March 23rd, 2010

We were so close now we could almost see Morocco, nothing could stop us now! We got up and packed everything up, but as we looked out of the window we suddenly found ourselves all the way back in England – the sky was grey, the streets covered in puddles and raining raining raining (I thought the reason British tourists came here was to avoid the rain – Kat says more like ‘Costa del Rain’)

Anyway, we didn’t let this dampen (har har) our spirits and soon we were back at the side of the road with our signs. It took about an hour (during which time we were approached by a crazy Brazilian hitchhiking woman who’s tactic was to run at cars waving wildly – unfortunately she didn’t hang round long enough for us to see which tactic was better) but we were picked up by a pair of young Spanish people, who unfortunately didn’t speak any English. They took us about 30km closer to our target – almost walking distance now! We set up waiting again…

…and were soon picked up once more, this time by a pair of young Spanish ladies (again unable to speak English) in another posh Audi with a bulldog puppy in the back which we sat with (it did not like going round corners fast). Fortunately using our very limited Spanish they understood our aim, and drove via the ferry port to drop us off! We had made it! We booked onto a ferry at 3pm and waited (there was very little to do).

We got on the ferry, wandered around, browsed duty free (disappointingly little there) and after a fairly quick two and a half hours we were in Morocco! We checked into a hotel and had a bit of a wander around Tangier before eating and then sleeping (also the shower was disappointingly cold). Tomorrow we will get up early and head to Fez!

Day 6: Valencia to Marbella (so close…)

March 23rd, 2010

Well, having been up late last night to watch the fireworks and celebrations, we had an intentional(!) lie-in, before packing up and walking through the (surprisingly quite tidy) city centre to the main road to Alicante. Here we waited just under an hour (traffic was quite slow going to start with), until a Spanish guy also named Victor picked us up – he was supposed to go home to Murcia three days earlier but stayed for the festival! He also thought hitch-hiking was illegal so maybe he picked us up so we didn’t get in any trouble (it isn’t by the way, we even chatted to police back in Barcelona – unfortunately they weren’t going the right way to give us a lift)

Victor took us all the way past Alicante, chatting about his career as a chef and seemed surprised we were not hostile towards Spaniards – apparently his friends found England not very friendly when they visited :-(

We were dropped at a service station between Alicante and Murcia – although Victor was keen that we visit Murcia to get our next lift, we had had enough of trying to get out of big cities! We had some lunch and once again started waving our signs at anyone passing…

After only about half an hour (which was good as traffic was fairly slow through the service station), we were surprised – a fairly posh Audi stopped for us (we had found that posh cars do not pick up hitchhikers and try to ignore our presence completely). It was driven by a Hungarian beach-polo-loving quintuple-linguist called Robert. He was going even further than we hoped – past Malaga and all the way to Marbella, a beach town on the Costa del Sol only 50 miles from our destination of Algeciras! This journey was over 450km so took a good few hours, but was very good (lots of nice scenery and olive trees). Arriving in Marbella, we went to the supermarket for some food after a nice welcome shower (for me anyway*) and then to bed for hopefully our final day tomorrow!

* Apparently Kat had showered ‘way more recently’ than me so it was ok

Interlude

March 20th, 2010

Day 5: Barcelona to Valencia

March 19th, 2010

Having waited around for so long yesterday, we decided to get an early start to get very far! Unfortunately we slept a bit too much again, as my phone had sneakily changed the time and so the alarms did not sound at the correct times.

Anyway… after yesterday’s attempts we decided to try another location; we got a Metro train to the outskirts of the city and started the wait! After not too long, we got a lift with a Spanish guy who unfortunately couldn’t speak any English, but approved of being English as he was a big Iron Maiden fan! He took us about 30km outside Barcelona, where we then waited again!

After waiting maybe 15 minutes, we got a lift with Victor, a Spanish man who described himself as a ‘Beatles fanatic’ (he’d been to Liverpool twice already, and planned to return!) He was headed just south of Tarragona, where he dropped us – unfortunately poor Victor picked up a speeding ticket along the way though :-(

From here we got a lift with Samba, who wasn’t going very far but was very chatty and spoke good English! About this time the sky was rapidly turning grey – a most unwelcome sight! After Samba dropped us off near Tortosa we waited at yet another toll booth, where it rapidly got colder and started raining :-(

We had to wait two hours, but eventually got picked up! :-)

From here we managed to get a lift all the way to Valencia (we decided, given the weather and time, that Valencia would be a good place to stop for the day), by another Spanish man (a civil engineer!), who spoke fairly good English but rang his sister to translate for us! He also drove very fast but his satnav told him where all the speed cameras were, sneaky! (We tried explaining the concept of average speed checks but they don’t seem to have them in Spain!) We even got a lift right into the centre of Valencia where we soon found out that it is the last day of the Fallas festival, so the centre was on lockdown and extremely busy with people – and we had nowhere to stay! Luckily after some searching by the support helpline back home, we found a room to stay in :-)

And this brings me to this minute where I will stop writing and start enjoying the festivities (there are lots of fireworks going on!)

Day 4: Toulouse to Barcelona

March 19th, 2010

Well, today we had a slight ‘accidental lie-in’ as Kat calls it; she ignored the alarm and I was a bit too tired still to get up. Nevertheless, we were up and about and ready to hitch a bit after 9!

Our first lift was from Natalie, a bubbly French girl. She was heading into Toulouse but was passing by the junction to go to Carcasonne, where she dropped us. After a brief coffee break (and to upload the last 2 posts) we got back to our usual activity: standing by the side of the road. Luckily this wait was also a short one; we were picked up by a Moroccan-French (coincedence?) man who was heading to Montpellier, so he could take us to to Narbonne, where the motorway heads north to Montpellier and south to Perpignan. We were dropped off just by a toll booth, and quickly got another lift by Marie, a French lady who was headed just south of Perpigna – even going a bit further than normal to drop us at a good place which was very nice of her!

Our next lift – and last lift in France – was by a Spanish couple who were heading just south of the border; and so we found ourselves in the penultimate (hopefully!) country of our trip! We were dropped at another toll station; this seems to be a recurring thing!

Our fifth (and final) lift of the day was from Paco, who was quite literally the first car to drive by us as we stood with the signs (making this the second fastest lift hitched!) He was driving all the way to Barcelona and, very luckily, spoke very good English! (Unfortunately our knowledge of Spanish is entirely unimpressive)

Once in Barcelona our ambition to get as far as possible took over; we wanted to reach Tarragona or even Valencia! So we located a main road in the right general direction and waited and… nothing… Unfortunately it seems the better route out was the more inland motorway, which unfortunately was not within easy walking distance. So, after a long period of trying we conceded and found a hotel to stay the night. On the plus side, this did mean we could have a nice walk around Barcelona and see the Sagrada Familia – our first sightseeing of the trip!

Day 3: Bordeaux to Toulouse

March 18th, 2010

Well after our initial success we were keen to make some good distance today! We got up nice and early, leaving the hotel at 8.15am and headed back to the service station where we were dropped.

And waited…waited…waited…

After a couple of hours it still didn’t look very hopeful, so we changed location to a nearby junction onto the main road. Unfortunately still no luck, but after moving location several times and 5 hours later we finally got a lift from a local guy who was only heading to the outskirts – but this was definitely better than nothing! Having been dropped on the main sliproad to the Toulouse road there, we quickly got another lift from a nice woman with a baby, who took us about 50km to Toulouse, to be dropped off at a large (by French standards) service station.

After a bit of waiting, we very handily got a lift all the way to Toulouse by a nice French guy, who even dropped us off right by a Hotel formule 1! Then, time for food and sleep….

Maybe Spain tomorrow….

Day 2: Caen to Bordeaux

March 18th, 2010

After a fairly rubbish night’s sleep on the ferry (the reclining seats were far less comfy and warm then they first seemed), we arrived in Caen at about 7.30am local time. Unfortunately due to there being no one at Customs to check our passports and so having to wait 15 minutes, we missed all the potential hitching from the ferry traffic. Undeterred, we decided to start walking to Caen centre to find the main road out in the right direction. However, when the ferry claimed to be going to ‘Caen’, what it actually meant was ‘a small town near Caen’ as we found Caen is actually about 10 miles inland! So now we found ourselves very cold walking around in this small town with very little traffic at 7.45 in the morning…

Luckily we managed to hitch our first lift after only -5 minutes of waiting. Yes, we got picked up before we had actually started waiting (we were still writing our signs!) This was by a nice British couple who lived in Brittany and were currently touring around Europe in a motor home. It turns out they had been chatting with another group of hitchers on the ferry and so recognised our green hitch attire! They gave us a lift all the way to just outside Rennes, dropping us off by a junction onto the main road to Nantes.

After only about 10-15 minutes of waiting, a kind French (very French-looking!) carpenter stopped for us – although he wasn’t going all the way to Nantes he would be heading in that direction for about 35km. Kat sat in the front seat while I sat in the back of the van with all the tools! After this lift we had a coffee break (including a massive pain-au-chocolat) at the service station where we were dropped. Here we found French service stations are nowhere near as extensive or busy as those in Britain – there were very few people around. This led to our longest wait yet of an hour (still hardly a huge wait!) We were picked up by a Brazilian-turned-Frenchman called Octavio, who was visiting his daughter in Nantes, and was also a professor of Materials Chemistry. Very helpfully he took us around the Nantes ring-road to a service station just before the exit for Bordeaux, before heading into the centre. This took us to about lunch time so we… had lunch!

Having waited for so long at another service station this morning, our hopes were not too high for a quick departure. After asking around the vehicles at the site, we resumed our usual tactic of standing by the route to the exit. Amazingly after only about 20 minutes of waiting, we were offered a lift by a very nice Portuguese lorry driver named José, who was going directly all the way to Bordeaux! This was a very long stretch – about 350km – and took about 5 hours! Unfortunately due to having got next-to-no sleep on the ferry, we were very tired and probably not great conversation, but we were massively thankful to José! Once arriving in Bordeaux, we located a cheap hotel nearby as soon as possible!

Day 1: Lutterworth to Portsmouth

March 15th, 2010

Well here we are sat in Portsmouth Ferry Terminal at the minute! The day has gone well we think, starting our hitch from Watford Gap services (thanks Paul!) we got a lift in a boiled egg delivery van after only about 2 minutes of waiting by a chatty Iraqi fellow. He took us to Toddington Services just south of J12, where we waited once again!

Again, we got a lift after not much waiting – a (comparitively) huge 10 minutes! This time it was in a big red lorry piloted by Ian ‘Captain’, delivering a whopping 24 ton payload of gro-bags to Hove Homebase. Even better was Ian continuing from there to give us a ride all the way to Portsmouth on his route home, so once again massive thanks to Ian!

From there a short-ish walk through the streets of Portsmouth (past the birthplace of Charles Dickens and everything) brought us here to the ferry terminal, where we set sail in 3 hours to Caen, also meeting fellow Cambridge hitchers Emma and George, who head on to Le Havre later.

The day has (almost) come!

March 14th, 2010

This March we’ll be hitchhiking all the way to Morocco! This isn’t just because we are cheap students and want a free holiday – it’s to raise money for the wonderful work done by Link Community Development. These guys work on sustainable projects to provide education for children in Africa (find out more at www.lcd.org.uk), and so obviously we want to raise as much as possible to support their work!

Well, tomorrow we will be setting off on our journey to Morocco! Wish us luck!

If you haven’t sponsored us yet but would like to (or if you have, but would like to sponsor more!), please do at www.justgiving.com/katandalan