After two weeks in Morocco, we were happy to be going back to Europe, and we had about two weeks left to make it back from Southern Spain to Paris to catch our flights. Now I know two weeks is much longer than the usual vacation most of you take once a year, but we are used to traveling for six months at a time, and two weeks seems really short. On the other hand, we were afraid the weather would already be pretty bad in France, so we wanted to cross the country as fast as possible. We had already visited extensively at the beginning of the trip and the previous summer, so we decided to focus on Spain. The itinerary looked like this, then we crossed straight through France.
Good thing we did stay longer in Spain, because it was fabulous. We stayed for a few nights along the coast of Andalucía, scoring great deals at hotels one or two blocks from the beach, now deserted by the summer crowds, and simply enjoying long walks and people watching from the terrace of a bar. We also went shopping for clothes!
If you followed that trip from the start, you know we were forced to pack light so all our things would fit on the motorcycle. But once again, it was “just” a 7 weeks trip, not 6 months, so we had a bit of spare room, that we filled with nice clothes. What a luxury to get new clothes when you have been wearing the same for weeks, sometimes a bit longer to avoid wasting hours at the laundromat!
BF almost forced me to go shopping, I hate shops (do most online or forego the purchase) but I am glad he did, and he bought me a green pair of pants that I would never have bought myself but look really nice, a nice white top with floral motifs, a black top that looks like a normal tank but is actually a bit dressed up, and one of the most comfortable t-shirts ever.
At the Southern tip of Spain, is a small piece of the United Kingdom called Gibraltar. We were both curious and excited to visit it, after so many cities looking a lot alike (central park, cathedral, old town, rinse, repeat), Gibraltar was really unique. First, where else can you fit a WHOLE COUNTRY in a picture??
There you go, that’s Gibraltar, aka the Rock, picture taken from Spain. We thought we would be in and out quickly, but why on Earth aren’t those guys part of Schengen (people inside the EU can travel freely, there are no ID checks at borders… except in the UK and a few more countries). We had to queue for about half an hour to get in, and that was the fast lane for motorcycles and bicycles. Cars must have been waiting easily for a couple of hours. In Gibraltar, people drive on the right, not on the left like in the UK, but many things look the same: street signs, police cars… they use the Pound Sterling as a currency, but most places take Euros.
For once, we decided to take a tourist pass that takes you around the Rock, which is a natural reserve once you go up and out of the small town that is really Gibraltar. The $15 entrance fee is totally worth it as you can visit several places inside the rock, that were used strategically to protect its population from foreign assaults. Miles and miles of tunnels were excavated, wholes dug to place defensive canons and see people coming from the distance.
We visited some caves that were used as a military hospital during WWII.
Another strange thing about Gibraltar, there are monkeys everywhere. You have to watch your belongings and your food or they will take your bag and eat it!
It was really a fun day, and a special place, where you stand in the UK but you can see Spain and Morocco from the top of the rock.
(a d-bag in Sevilla thought it would be funny to steal our tankbag’s harness so we had to carry the tankbag on top of the topcase in the back, which was not very convenient but kept us going at least. They also stole BF’s air cushion seat so his cheeks were hurting! and you can’t do anything with either of those so the thief really wanted to mess with us, which is the most annoying.)
It took another half hour to get out of Gibraltar, again due to the UK customs, the Spanish couldn’t care less and didn’t even check our passports.
Then we went inland and arrived in Granada, home of the world renown Alhambra palace and much more.
Granada is a wonderful city, and we stayed there for a few days, exploring the old town and watching the sunsets over the Alhambra. It is also famous for its tapas, most restaurants charge a bit more than usual for a drink but give you free tapas to go with it.
We didn’t do our homework online and some places were much better than other, although we spent both lunch and dinner munching on tapas all the time we were there.
Granada is famous for its nightlife, the small bars where gypsies play music all night long and women dance until their feet hurt… well, we didn’t find those. We went to a couple of places that were promoting “live music” and looked like tourist traps, a band would play for one hour for people fresh off the pullman bus and then you would get an overpriced dinner and go home. No, thanks. We were a bit disappointed not to find the real thing, but again, for lack of homework, we missed it.
We got back to the Mediterranean coast, the next big stop was Valencia. It has a cool futuristic complex that hosts an Aquarium, a few museums, concert hall… and the old town is also worth a visit. The specialty of Valencia is paella, but not the usual seafood one, it is rice with rabbit and chicken. Not a fan, but I tried a delicious bean and chorizo stew.
Before Barcelona, we decided to camp on the beach. It was deserted and beautiful.
We pitched the tent between pine trees, and not half an hour later, the police got there, saying we couldn’t camp because the dunes were protected. But in between words, they said we could move the tent 10 meters and sleep there, as long as we left the place clean.
So I went for food and we spent our last day at the beach.
Barcelona was another walk down memory lane, I lived there in 2007 for a year. We went all around town on the bike, from the Ramblas and incredible Boquería market all the way up to Tibidabo hill.
That is where I lived, my house was hidden in that green hill overlooking the city, it was a good year 🙂
Our last stop in Spain was Girona, often forgotten by the travelers, it has a lovely city center, and was the last opportunity to enjoy Spanish food and wine.
As soon as we crossed the Pyrenean mountains back to France, the weather got bad. Thankfully, it was just for a day and we slept next to the border so we didn’t get to ride too much in the cold. It even rained a little, which is really unpleasant on a bike.
We crossed France in a couple of days, via Millau, the highest bridge in the world, like I did back in May on a solo trip.
Our last stop was Bourges, known for its medieval cathedral, and cheap hotels before Paris haha.
Back in Paris, BF had his flight two days later, and I was flying 24 hours after him.
I booked a hotel in Paris for the first night, and really proud of myself, used my Iberia miles to book a free night by the airport the following day, as his flight was leaving at 7am.
We spent the last day shopping, he bought me some cool running shoes, shirt and pants,and got some shorts and t-shirts for himself. I had left the running back in Morocco so the new awesome gear is a nice incentive to get back to it once I get back home.
As we were shopping, BF asked “where did you book the hotel?”
“why, near the airport!”
“aren’t there two airports in Paris?”
“Yes, I booked it near the airport you arrived at.”
“Well, looks like I am leaving from the other one”
Oh crap. The past few days had been exhausting, driving long hours and taking care of too many things at once, I forgot to triple check his departure airport, and I had a hotel booked at the other airport, 20 miles away. So much for sleeping close to the early flight. We had to drive in the dark, at 6am, with me in the back yelling the directions, and holding BF’s suitcase, as we had packed the night before and tied it to the rack of the bike. We made it in the end, and I spent my last day alone visiting family and friends.
As the disorganized person that I am, I set to track all expenses during the trip and gave up after a few day, that was too tedious and that trip was meant to be enjoyed. I will do a full cost recap back home with the bank receipts, but I don’t think we went much over 100 euros a day for the two of us, without shopping and souvenirs.
If you follow my blog income reports over at Make Money Your Way, you will be glad to learn that this trip was entirely covered by my online income (BF paid for last year’s trip to Europe so I treated him this time, although he felt bad and bought me clothes 🙂 ). So thank you, dear readers, for making it possible, by reading this blog and making it popular and attractive for advertisers, as well as using the few affiliate links of this site.
You are also sending me to Belize for New Year and Miami in February 🙂
I did a few posts with travel tips like France, Italy or Morocco, let me know if you need more for your next holiday!
This post was featured on the Money Bulldog, thank you!