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Dear Diary:

27th September 2007  -  Spain, Portugal and Andorra


No doubt due to tons of money exchanging hands somewhere, Australia found them selves playing their game against Wales in France. Given it was the FRENCH world cup, I found this a tad annoying, so I decided to spend the time in between this game and the Fiji game in Spain and Portugal (ok, I made a quick detour to Oktoberfest too!).

From Lyon in France, I drove all the way to about 200km out of Madrid in one hit! I guess I had set my self the smaller mission of getting my Spanish, Portuguese and Andorran national flags. A bonus would be seeing, if only very quickly, some lovely places I had always read about.

Madrid is lovely despite being in the middle of nowhere! I parked at the airport and caught the train into town and Iím very glad I did so as the traffic down town was chock-a-block!

Getting the old national flag was no drama here - no thanks to my rubbish Spanish of course! I then wandered the city as I have done countless times before. I canít say the place was any better or worse that any where else, but I donít know if I can be bothered going back again.

The architecture is tops of course as are the fountains and the ever so lovely girls wandering the streets Ė hummmmm, perhaps I will go back after all? Any way, after a good feed, I hit the road in the direction of Portugal and the number one stop on my list in this part of the world, Porto!

I slept the night in the car just over the border into Portugal and arrived in Porto mid morning. I found a nice cheap and cherry hotel and then hit the streets to taste as much Port as I could!

Most of the Port dealers are all within a small area next to the river, so its easy to hit most of them in a day. Some offer tasting for free and some charge a nominal fee of a few Euros. The photo to the right is what a couple of Euros got me! I was actually hoping the girl would stop pouring it was so much!

Of course the danger you face, or at least the problem I hit, is there is a point where your taste spuds just canít tell the difference any more from one Port to another. Then again, at that same point you find your self smiling too!

Any way, I made my purchases and headed back to the Hotel to sleep it off. I look forward to going there again some day!

From Porto, I headed south in the direction of Lisbon. I ended up arriving so late that I just decided to sleep in the car one more. My map was only average and I was not quite sure where I exactly was. I did know the flag shop I had looked up was near. Once it was light, I discovered the shop was in fact 20 meters away from where I had slept in the car! Nice and handyÖ

As it was early and the shop was not open, I headed into the city to check the place out and grab a bite to eat. Itís quite an impressive city for mine. I think I can say I preferred it to Madrid.

Having wandered around for a number of hours, I decided to head south to Faro and see some of the coast and get a very needed shower and bed in a hostel. I spent the evening in Faro doing post cards watching the sunset in this lovely little place. In the end I decided to only stay one evening as I decided that it would be easer to find a pub that would be showing the Rugby (Australia Vs Wales) on the Rock of Gibraltar.

I scoped out the one hostel in Gibraltar, but annoyingly it was shut. I guess they had gone to Cardiff for the rugby or something, so I ended up sleeping in the car for a couple of nights at the base of the Rock.

I was reminded by my dad that this was in fact the second time I had been here when I rang home. But hey, I was only 4 years old or so last time. Does that count? Iím guessing the main settlement has changed its look some what since then, but up on the Rock its self, I suspect that our family photos from the 70ís would look similar Ė excluding flared pants and mullet haircuts that is!

Click here for the video from the Rock of Gibraltar.

If youíre in Europe, you can get cheap flights direct to Gibraltar and its worth a visit. Itís a much easer way to get there and driving as I did, but then again the main road into this small part of Britain (they donít seam to know that the empire is over by the way) is also part of the run way, so I guess I can say Iíve been to the airport!

From Gibraltar I started the big drive back around the coast to Barcelona. When I was about 200km south I got a call from my mate Kirsten who was holidaying on Ibiza, one of the islands off the coast where I was! That was perfect break I needed, so I parked the car and got a ferry out to the islands. I spent a couple of days chilling with Kir and it was lovely to just be on holidays.

I got the ferry back after a couple of days and drove the remaining miles up to Barcelona sleeping on the side on the road that night as I was just to tired to make it all the way. Annoyingly I spent about 150km longing for Burger King, but game up as I was just to pooped. That said, what was 1km up the road from where I slept that night?!?!?! Yep a big BK!

I parked my car at the airport and headed into town to hang out with my mate Kirsten who came over from Ibiza. We found a nice place to stay and hit the streets to check things out. Itís an amazing place to check out if you ever get the chance. From the rather strange Antonio Gaudi buildings to the Iconic Cathedral, there is lots and lots to see.

From Barcelona, I had another holiday. Where? Well Munich for Oktoberfest of course! So back off to my mate Beataís place on the jet I headed and I enjoyed a week of drinking in the tents for Big Daddyís Bucks Party Weekend. It was my fourth Oktoberfest and as usual it did not disappoint. I love Munich!

Click here for the Oktoberfest Video.

Eventually I sobered up and got the jet back to Barcelona and my car. I did not muck around and I headed in the direction of Andorra. Itís not a massive drive and I arrived in town mid morning. As luck would have it the day I was in town was International Tourism Day! So what I thought was a ad hoc border check was in fact a bunch of teenagers giving away free stuff including maps to all cars driving into the country! Cool!

I headed directly to the tourist information office and got my day planed including a full free bus tour of just about the whole country! Of course I also maned to get my national flag too.

If ever I live back here I will endeavor to make it here in the winter as the valleys where everyone live look wonderful and I suspect the skiing is fantastic!

Any way, that was that for Andorra, so over the mountains into France I headed late in the evening after a full day of exploring in the Direction of more Rugby World Cup Action.





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