Fridge stocked, gear packed and secured, water filled and Spotify playlists were preloaded on my phone. I double-checked it all, and everything was ready.
I had scheduled to leave before 10AM, hoping to be somewhere around Le Mans, France at dusk. From there, I planned to snake my way through to the south on the meandering roads of the 'route national', avoiding any and all tolls.
Flash forward to 12.15 PM and I was still taking my sweet time drinking coffee, procrastinating and having a last meal of sorts, with my mom at the table enjoying our last moments and my dad in the background getting his panties in a twist because I was already behind schedule. What he apparently failed to grasp was that this was my trip and that I refused to be stressed about being behind schedule. Not that he wasn't right thought, I never got within 200km of Le Mans that day anyway. Turns out we can both learn a bit from each other after all.
It was time to say goodbye to the coziness of my parents' home, where I'd set up base to build my camper after returning home from Asia. From my parents' attic to living in a van at age thirty, sounds like a man going places.
Honestly, even I don't know where this is all headed to, but I'm strangely content with that. Because I know, at least for now, where I'm not headed towards: corporate boredom. My 10-year-old self, unbridled with creativity and not yet perverted by dogmatic societal ideals like 'having a career' and being 'a responsible citizen' would highly approve of my actions.
That's good enough for me.
France turned out to be too cold, in more ways than one. After a cold and rainy night spent in an empty parking lot of a rich suburb in Normandy, and a frustrating day wrestling the van over small country roads and through tiny villages, I turned a blind eye towards any budgetary concerns and used the toll roads as a expedited throughway to the south of Europe.
Almost running out of petrol after Google Maps 'Googled Mapped' me by sending me to the middle of nowhere when I was running on fumes was the most remarkable moment of that leg. That, and almost being driven off the road on two separate occasions by finger-wagging frenchies.
Up yours too, friendo.
Finally, after a solid 2 days of driving, I saw mountains up ahead. Spain was beckoning. For the past few years I've been having a simmering love affair with Spain. Not sure why. It has a rich history, rugged landscapes, tremendous beaches, sprawling metropoles, splendid cuisine and a relaxed culture (sign me up for 2 hours lunches any day) intertwined with a mild climate.
Hm.. maybe that's why.
Originally the plan was to stop at San Sebastian to explore the city, cuisine and perhaps the surf. Alas, the camper stop was full and it was only 2.30PM so I booked it straight to Portugal, overnighting at a truck stop near Salamanca. “I’ll come back when it’s summer.”
Driving through the heartland of Spain turned out to be a great experience and I wish I'd taken more photos along the way. I have some on 35mm film, but they've not yet been developed. They're probably out of focus as well, since I shot them while driving.
This all feels like ages ago, but it's barely been a week.
They say life goes by quicker as you get older. I disagree, life goes by plenty slow if you add some new experiences to the mix.