Writing from home feels surreal. The trip is over. The new one has begun. 5 months of travels. Now 5 months of pause. Here’s the final instalment of my European adventures before the conclusion, coming it’s way to you in the coming days.
I took a long route home. Driving 1582km, then flying the rest. Adventuring with a friend I met workawaying in France and testing out van life. I love being a passenger. I wish I could say we drove like crazy but it was Owen who drove like a champ, clocking 13 hours on the longest day, and between 7 and 9 on the others.
I chose this option of transport for a multitude of reasons; the cost of flying from Portugal was hefty, I thought it would be a fun adventure, and I wasn’t ready, quite yet, to be “home”. It was the best choice I made. Almost three days of views like this, chill music, the rush of air through the open windows and time. Time to just get used to the idea of what would be next.
I got picked up from Madalena as to avoid the traffic of Porto on a Friday afternoon, and it was perfect. It meant I got to spend my final few hours staring at the sea, soaking up the sun, listening to music and podcasts and reading.
From there, we drove through Porto towards San Sebastian, through Spain towards France, through France pausing just shy of Limoges, then on to Dreux, from where I took a train to Paris (forgetting to validate my ticket GAH!), and a bus from Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport. I love van life. I thought this when I was in France and we had two guys in campers, and the idea only got reinforced in Portugal where I met a quad of guys who lived the van life. Taking your home with you wherever you go is awesome, especially when it’s dry and you can sleep with all doors open. It’s definitely on the cards for me one day. Maybe during the Canadian adventures…
The road trip was three days and two nights long. We slept by the side of a road in a cool Spanish town where beer was fantastically cheap and I left some moisturiser on a table in my beer-with-no-dinner state, and we slept in a camper stop by the side of the road in France where the beer wasn’t as cheap but there was a sink big enough to wash my hair in. It felt wonderful. We ate croissants for breakfast in a bar-cum-betting shop and ate our sandwiches in the shelter of a truck in a service stop where I took this beautiful photo of Owen opening a packet of ham with his teeth.
I realised that as much as I love driving, I love being a passenger. Living the long term van life in a pair must be perfect. It was meditative having the windows open and the air booming, the world streaming by. From the barren oranges and beiges of Northern Spain where cars drive through fields and kick up plumes of dust, to the lush fields in France where I think we both felt in a way to be [coming home]. I love France. I’m so pleased and so surprised to say this after planning the trip and deciding I didn’t fancy it. [My month there was superb.]
This long journey home saw me navigating Charles de Gaulle for the second time in my life. I still think getting a train between gates is incredible. It also let me glimpse the Eiffel Tower, now I’ve seen more of Eiffel’s work in Porto. This long journey home gave me time to think about how this whole trip has changed my life. In every way. It’s been undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’m so grateful for it, and all the people who made it what it was. Onto some pics of the journey home (in reverse/totally mixed up because WordPress loves to play).