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Making it home for christmas – no, wait. Making it to Madrid for New Years!

The evening before (December 30.) we had decided to make it to Madrid for New years eve which meant we had to catch an “early” 11am ferry from Tangier. On a sunny day, around 10:55, three sweaty white guys graciously boarded the ferry across the Mediterranean to Tarifa – we just barely made it! Except we were in Africa and the ferry was on african time. 45 minutes delayed on a 45 minute sail meant that a little over 1½ hours later + 1 hour because of time zone differences we were  reunited with our car in Spain.

Driving all day since the drive was a little longer than anticipated, we arrived at Sungate One Hostel right in the middle of Madrid around 9pm. Immediately we were offered free food and the smiles of about 30 other people celebrating new years eve. We dropped our stuff, took a shower and immediately joined. The evening went as New Years evenings do although one peculiar thing is worth mentioning. In Spain, apparently, they all eat 12 grapes – one for each month of the year. When the clock strikes midnight and for every strike after, you eat a grape. That’s 12 grapes in 12 seconds. Interesting tradition and nobody seemed to be able to do it – the strikes were too fast and there were too many people to even hear them.

New years eve in Madrid
My friend Uran is wearing his suit and Fes (the hat) aswell as holding the grapes

We decided to stay in Madrid all of January the 1st to do some quick sightseeing and start our journey home well rested the 2nd. We saw the egyptian Temple of Debod which was given as a gift from the Egyptians as gratitude for the help Spain had given in providing the preservation of other Egyptian temples such as the Abu Simbel Temple. Personally, I don’t understand how you can just “move” a temple. If it’s built again then, that’s kind of cheating isn’t it? Is it just the same rocks put together using modern cranes etc, or do they actually build it the same way? In either case I’ve never understood the concept of moving old buildings like that even if I’ve seen it numerous times before. And that’s even before mentioning the practicalities of it all – even with modern tools it’s quite the puzzle to make all the bricks go together the right way and would probably be impossible without some kind of mending to them.

Temple of Debod
Temple of Debod

We also saw the Royal Palace of Madrid. It is an astonishing piece of work and very visually pleasing. As a fun fact, it’s 135000 m^2. That’s right. That’s 3,418 rooms!!! The palace was built and extended over several hundred years . It’s so large that the current royal family doesn’t live in it. They live in the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela.

Royal palace of Madrid seen from away
Royal palace of Madrid seen from away
Royal palace of Madrid seen from the front
Royal palace of Madrid seen from the front

The morning of January 2nd we started driving home non-stop and around 14:00 (2pm) the next day we made it home.

  • We took the backroads in Spain to avoid road tolls and to enjoy the amazing landscape.
  • We rushed over France and the shitty french drivers who don’t know how to keep right. Although one thing to notice is that we passed through Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower while driving by!
  • Belgium was as empty as on the way out. No cars. Long straight very lit roads with a ghoulish yellow light. Easy to drive but it’s not an interesting trip
  • When we hit Holland the lights of Belgium stopped. It was pitchblack and the street signs vanished. Roadworks and poor signing made Holland very hard to drive in, if only for 100km.
  • Back in Germany and the autobahn it was smooth sailing if only at slower speeds due to night, snow, hail and rain.

The total trip was 6666km’s. It’s the most intense road tripping I’ve done so far and I’ve driven from Troy, New York to Las vegas and back over thanksgiving.

The night of the 2nd I slept for 13 hours. I was tired. It was a good trip.

First leg on the road trip – from Copenhagen to Alicante

We started directly from after our respective Christmas lunches with our families. Said goodbye to our parents and to all the people that told us this was a bad idea and why didn’t we just fly?

At 20:30 (8.30pm) we had made it across the ferry to Germany. I took the first leg and before we knew it, going 180km/t on the German autobahn, we had made it to Liege, Belgium. The gas mileage dropped from 18km/L to about 12km/l but the average speed was above 150km/t according to the car computer.

Belgium had some of the most empty roads I’ve ever seen. Not a car going the opposite direction for up towards 10 mins and lots of empty parking lots. Didn’t see a rest stop or a gas station either for several 100 kms but luckily we had enough gas. At 04:30 (am) we hit Luxembourg and had a local waffle and beer (Bofferding beer) and I went to bed on the back seat.

They were delicious
Waffles and Beer at a rest stop in Luxembourg

When I woke up about 9 hours later we were on the border to spain. We had passed France while I slept and from the sporadic conversations I had heard from the front seat, French drivers are really bad drivers. Mileage was now up to 18km/l due to the more moderate average speed of 120km/t

I took over driving again and 8 hours later at 22:00 (10pm) we checked in to a hostel in Alicante, Spain.

In Alicante, we had the most awesome tapas and beer and Sangria. All tapas was 90 eurocents and all beers were 30 cents. The waiters were running around with beer and tapas of various kinds, chicken, squid, anchovies, ham, sausages etc. and whenever you wanted some you just grabbed it from the plate. In the end they counted the empty glasses and the empty plates to get the final bill. Such a simply concept and such brilliant food for so little money. Why can’t we have this in Denmark!?

To sum up : in about 24 hours we had driven 2800km non-stop across 6 countries and had made it from the north of Europe to the Mediterranean Sea. Only about 6 hours driving and a ferry from Tarifa to Tangier and we are in Africa!

At a rest stop in France
In France they are very zealous about signs. I think I understand that this is the wrong way