Posted by Nicky Smith Sat, April 07, 2018 08:03:29
The clear blue cloudless sky's lasted for the whole trip. I don't mean just to Portsmouth but the entire trip from the UK to Southern Spain. The Sun other than having to disappear each day as it has always done with the perpetual motion of the earth kept me company from the moment I began this crazy venture for the second time. No, come hell and high water I cannot say that things could not of got worse on the adventure thrown at me on this trip. It could have rained.
The trip to catch the ferry on it's second attempt was uneventful. It was filled with me being a bit of a nervous wreck keeping an eye on literally each and every new noise the mini made as we settled into each others company again. A squeak from behind had me thinking the wheels were going to fall off, then a slight knock from the front had me convinced the engine mountings were about to sheer. But he just purred along though at a steady 60mph not missing a beat on the three hour drive through some of the most stunning countryside the Cotswold's had to offer.
The fresh paintwork reflected the strong rays of sunshine and people were turning to smile, stare and wave at the little car as they overtook us on the motorways then as we passed through small towns and villages. This was the beginning of what would become the normal sort of attention the plucky little fella would get throughout the entire trip.
Soon enough I arrived at the port and once the usual ticket and vehicle checks were made we were driving up what seemed like a really steep ramp compared to the size of the mini onto the parking deck of the ship. The loader fella had a big grin on his face as he directed me into the correct position so the car could be strapped down.
“Don't see many of these making the trip across the water these days” he said still with that crazy big grin on his face.
“Probably not the best type of grand tourer!” I replied with a smile.
And there I left it in it's new parking spot for a couple of days. I didn't need to worry about it breaking down for a bit as we were going to be pushed along under someone else's steam for a while so there was nothing else to do other than dump my bag in my cabin and go and find myself a beer from somewhere.
Have you ever been on boat to Spain before? It's got some really varied and interesting people and groups on it. You have the bikers who want to go for a blast in a country where they will actually be dry and warm for a change. The truck drivers who mostly keep to themselves whilst being forced away from the vehicle they normally live in and maintaining the very solitary nature of their existence. Then there's the groups of lads and ladies, I mean ladies in the furthest extremity of the definition of the word here, who are using the crossing as a booze cruise spending all of a few hours on the Spanish mainland after docking before returning back onboard to start the whole boozy return process all over again.
There is always a presence of those taking their camper vans over or returning to their new homes in the sun. There always seems to be a presence of happiness and planning with these people who quietly plan what they will be doing and where they will be going.
Then there were a few folk like me. Not mad buggers who thought driving a classic mini to Spain was a good idea but those that were travelling by themselves for one reason or another. We are a rare breed who seem to recognise the happiness in travelling alone. It's not lonely you just have to be happy with your own company and enjoy passing the time in any way you see fit.
The boat though has limited things to do onboard. The main time passer seems to be drinking but even though I enjoy a beer I'm not a fan of getting drunk for no reason at all nor even if there really is one. So I spent the time bobbing up and down the waves just relaxing. I wandered the ship from bow to stern and back again taking in all of the floors and taking a deliciously long amount of time deciding what meals I should be eating when.
What I would recommend to anyone sailing on any type of ship though is this. Book a cabin with a window in it! The inside cabins with no windows leave you not knowing what time of day or night it is and that is really rather disorientating.
Soon enough the days passed and I could see the Spanish mainland appearing on the horizon and a couple of hours later we were docked in Bilbao and I found myself sat in the mini, engine running, waiting for the car in from to drive off.
As it did the ships exit ramp appeared with a very Spanish view in front of me and there was once again that nervous exciting need to poo yourself a little bit type of feeling in my belly. I selected first gear released the handbrake and bounced down the ramp off of the ship into the Spanish heat and sunshine to try and get this really old little car from one corner of Spain down to the other.
There was only 800 or so miles left to go...