I’m back in Spain after a month away, a 3,000 km odyssey via France (where I managed to get totally offline for 2 weeks for the first time in … years), two wonderful family weeks in the UK, and finally the ferry home from Portsmouth to Santander (Thanks Colin for putting us on to the joy of Brittany Ferries!)
A note on the ferry: we dreaded spending 24 hours on a boat, but enjoyed it immensely. Yes, the normally rough Bay of Biscay was calm as a lake, but the boat was huge, our cabin was big enough, and a nice lady from whale charity ORCA gave us a talk on the evening we departed about wildlife we might see, and the following day helped us spot dolphins and whales from the heliport deck.
Apart from common and bottlenose dolphins, we saw two fin whales, the second largest animal on the planet (after the blue whale). Others spotted sperm whales and pilot whales. Either we are very lucky, or the Bay of Biscay is teeming with life!
Here are some of my first impressions of Spain (from the drive home from the Santander ferry to Madrid):
1. There are a ridiculous amount of brothels along the highway around Valladolid – part of the route we took home. These are known as ‘clubs’ and are identified by the garish coloured neon strip lights around the edge of the buildings. Libido must be wild in Castilla y Leon, these things are everywhere!
Sadly they are full of girls from Eastern European countries and beyond who have been conned, abused, and forced into working there.
2. People walk into bars here to smoke, instead of walking out to smoke. Much as I hate smoking in bars and restaurants, there is something great about seeing the Spanish casually do something much of the rest of Europe has renounced so fiercely. No one tells Spain how to behave!
3. Highway driving here = appalling. You’re in the fast, overtaking lane, about to pass a lorry, when an SUV undertakes you at crazy speeds, and squeezes into the tiny gap between you and the lorry, just so he can get past it before you do. Scary. Unnecessary. Seen less in the UK.
4. It’s still bloody hot (compared to the UK!)
5. More soon. Suffice is to say that it’s great to be back. But it was wonderful to be away.