The Journey to Ayamonte
As I said in my previous post, I decided to drive from my family home in England to Ayamonte, a distance of just over 1,500 miles. This was without a doubt the longest journey I’ve ever driven by myself and, although I was a little apprehensive to begin with, I was very excited for the adventure. One of my friends from University joined me on the trip down to give me some company while also acting as an invaluable map-reader. Before leaving home, I’d planned my route on big foldout maps so we had a vague of idea of where we should be going. In the worst case scenario, if we kept heading South we were bound to eventually find the southern Spanish coast?!
With my appointment with the estate agents on the Wednesday and us setting off on our travels early Sunday morning, we allowed just over 3 days for the road trip. We hadn’t set ourselves a target for our first night’s stop off; I would continue to drive until I’d had enough for the day. The route consisted of taking the Eurotunnel between Folkestone and Calais, France – a crossing of about 25 minutes – and following the western French coast South towards Bordeaux. Our first obstacle arose when we realised we were heading in the direction of Paris and would before long hit the outer ring road. The only way of returning to our original route was to go cross-country. So after a small detour through the middle of nowhere, we eventually found ourselves back on track. We spent our first evening in a motorway hotel by a small town about an hour north of Bordeaux.
The following day was the highlight of the trip for me as we crossed the French/Spanish border in the middle of the Pyrenees. By diverting into the Pyrenees National Park we probably added a couple of hours onto our journey but it was definitely worth the slightly longer day. It was a beautiful drive with breathtaking views of the valleys and lakes. We stopped for a picnic lunch by one of the reservoirs and the cool air reminded us of the altitude we were at. At one point during the drive we were stopped in our tracks because there were a couple of wild horses stood in the middle of the road.
The border crossing took place at ‘El Portalet’, where there is a tiny mountaintop village made from log cabins. It was interesting to see during the summer the various ski resorts and ski lifts without any snow. Once into Spain, we wound our way back onto the autopista and continued our adventure southbound. The second night was spent on the outskirts of Valladolid. That evening we took a look at our route and we were pretty sure that the following day would be the shortest of the journeys as we had made good progress with the prior driving days. Therefore, we left a little later than previously and arrived comfortably in Ayamonte around 4pm. This gave us some free time to get our bearings of the area and take a look around.
That evening was the final night of several days of public holiday. As a result, the town was alive with music and celebrations. After dinner we watched a traditional parade where hundreds of Ayamontinos take part in a musical and religious procession throughout the town. It was the perfect welcome for the first night in my new hometown.