Deciding we were deep enough into Spain’s inlands, Granada and the Alhmbra were next on our road, and we set off with excitement to see this UNESCO site. While making our way there it started to rain and it didn’t seem to end, not a good sign! Slowly driving up the hill we took a ticket out of the machine and parked the van in the huge Alhambra parking lot. Made our way to the entrance with hundreds of other people just there for 1 thing, the Alhambra. Turned out, our casual and somewhat lazy approach to events like this stopped us from entering. It is highly advised to pre-order your tickets and make reservations, because of the risk that it might all be sold out. This was the case for us, so we just rolled down the hill again and got into Granada.
We parked in front of a huge El Corte Ingles and started to wander the streets, something that we got accustomed to do in the bigger cities. The smaller the streets the better, and the more local a bar looks the better the food seems to be. The tiniest coffee place was selling small cakes that were soaked in different syrups and topped of with some cream, cant really remember the name but it did not take more than 2 bites to eat it. Not being satisfied we passed by a small bar that had been there since forever and somehow this was the place to get some food. I really wanted to eat at at this bar , but sometimes the things I really want turn out to be not really what I want. And in most cases I get disappointed in the choice I made. Luckily this time it turned out to be one of the good times, I wanted to ordered a bocadilla. Having no idea which one I wanted I took the advise of the man behind the bar. Some kind of weird meat squeezed out of a sausage covered with a white sauce dripping from the bread. It was so good! After eating we strolled around Granada a bit more, but the weather was just not what you want the weather to be while visiting a city. After some time spent in Granada, we told ourselves we had seen the most of it so we left this rainy place and set off to Gibraltar!
As mentioned before, we do these things in a manner that might not be the best way to approach events or situations like this. Before leaving my family in France I managed to leave my Passport in their car, when my sister found out we were to far South to return. In my endless wisdom I made the gamble that there was not going to be need for a passport in this trip since we were not crossing any major borders, of course not thinking about Gibraltar being the UK. On the way to Gibraltar we started to wonder if this might be a problem, the border officer made it a 100% clear that this IS a problem! Not just a problem but a crime and i should be happy not to be trown in jail! What the hell am I thinking travelling Europe without a ID. The worst thing is that the good man was right, and i had nothing to say in my defense. We never set foot in the island of Gribraltar but we got close though!
As my mood dropped to a low point, another problem was growing on my mind, not only on my mind but also underneath the van. Having installed a new exhaust weeks before leaving, this should have been the least of my worries but it started to tear up at the mounting points and on the pipe leading to the silencer. This problem needed to be solved, not just because of technical reasons but mostly because of my brain acting up weird in this situation giving me stress I have not experienced before in my life. To get my mind leveled out we drove to the first spot we could find on the Golf of Cadiz. We settled a the mouth of a river by the town of Barbate, took some time to relax and watched a movie after darkness fell. In the morning we took the time to get the van cleaned out and to take a proper shower, one of the showers where you clean your hair and all. As we set of for Sevilla we promised that we would stop at the first garage to get the exhaust welded and to fix the problem why it cracked in the first place.
5 Minutes into the drive to Sevilla we pulled into a garage that was pointed out to us by a gas station worker that was pointed out to us by another garage. A stylish mechanic, small cigar in his mouth, spotless overalls, thick framed glasses and hair greased back took the time to talk to us. We explained the problem, and he made sure that it was a Monday so it was very busy and also he was supposed to lift the whole van to get to the exhaust this could take a while. After we made sure he knew we wanted to get the exhaust from under the car onto his desk he was very happy to help us out. It did not take me long to get the exhaust to his desk, and after some tapping and brushing he asked for 2 hours, and better be back before siesta because he was not going to be there after.
This whole conversation and situation was covered with my good willingness and lack of Spanish, but mostly by the flair and the harsh charm this mechanic had. I always loved dealing with people that work with their hands, and are capable of making, or creating something. There is a certain way of directness and know-how that appeals to me in these people, maybe because by heart I think I am, or want to be one of them.
Enjoying some local food and drinks the 2 hours passed faster than we wanted and sure enough the cracks in the exhaust were covered in not 1, 2 but 3 layers of welding drops. These little landscapes of welding were covered with some paint to protect it from the weather. I fixed the exhaust back in its place, with some padding cut out of a old rubber doormat in between the mounting points and the silencer to reduce the vibrations witch were most likely the cause of the cracks. The van all ready to go, we were almost taking off when the mechanic came driving by with his wife and kids to make sure we were okay. When I told him it was all good he said something to me in Spanish what I understood to be that he could see that I was a good mechanic, with that compliment in my pocket we set off to Sevilla.
Getting to Sevilla we did what we end up doing when we arrive in bigger cities. We park the van somewhere not too far from the center but still in spots that don’t need to be payed for. Somehow we manage to find spots in neighborhoods that seem okay, and not too many strange looking people hanging around the van. From there we take the bikes and get into the city, park the bike and get to know the city on foot, so we did in Sevilla. Wandering around new cities’ one of the best things, camping in nature is by far the best but somehow nature is always nature, and cities differ to one another a great deal. Sevilla did not disappoint at all, we walked the streets and ate the food as we end up doing in all the cities we get to. The walk is always interesting and somehow ham and cheese in 1 city tastes like a total different thing than the next city. Driving our bikes home we past a park that was pouring out a heavy drum roll. First we even thought it was fire works but when we got closer it surely was drums, not the one from a rock band but the drum of a parade. When we drove in the park to take a look, high pitched trumpet sounds started to play alongside the drums. Turned out it was for holy week, and this was all part of the preparations. Teenagers in FC Barcelona jumpsuits or in shorts with a tank top, casually standing around to talk and smoke and then in groups take part playing their trumpet in a coordinated spontaneous never ending play. We were a bit surprised to see these teenagers play with middle aged men, groups of girls playing 15 meters away. In total there were over a 100 people taking part in this, and it was a treat to see it all happen.
The next morning on our way to Portugal we stopped to visit the last South Spanish town we would see called Huelva. Travelling through the south of Spain was a blast, and we said goodbye in Huelva as we looked forward to arrive in Portugal later that day.