Week 55 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 29th March 2009

The sea is as calm as a millpond and our cabin is big and comfortable. What a relief.

Monday 30th March 2009

We arrive in a cold wet traffic jam in Bilbao and cover 8 miles in the first hour. We spend the next 92 miles on the toll road but this costs 18 euros so we come off and slum it.

Amazingly, the free roads are even better than the toll road and we swoop towards Gibraltar on beautiful new empty motorways. The only problem is finding somewhere to eat - every cafe is full of staring, smoking lorry drivers.

At one point we slow down (a lot) to take a phone call and as we approach a motorway bridge we spot lots of police with speed cameras - not that we were exceeding the speed limit, of course.

After a 670 mile drive we arrive as fresh as daisies but hungry. We spend the night in our old flat as we have left the keys to our new flat in the UK.

Tuesday 31st March 2009

When we wake up there is an interesting cloud formation right outside our window - and everybody else's window I guess. Gibraltar seems to specialise in clever clouds. Something to to with the rock rising right out of the sea.

All we need now is to be able to get into our new flat. We get hold of a locksmith (Daniel, 00350 541 42000) who turns up within about ten minutes, gets the door open and fits a new high security lock with six very posh looking keys - all for 50 which seems very reasonable.

We spend the rest of the day moving stuff and getting organised.

Wednesday 1st April 2009

This is the tug Capable photographed from the balcony of our new flat.

Thursday 2nd April 2009

We set off for Tarifa. Driving very fast, we round a corner to find a couple of policemen by the side of the road who burst out laughing when I brake violently with a shriek from the tyres. The car attracts a lot of attention from police - so far all of it very friendly.

When we arrive we are about to buy two ice lollies when we realise we have no euros. The man says that we can pay him another time! Later we find we do have some money after all so we go back and pay him with lots of smiles and goodwill all round - a unique and very cheering encounter.

Friday 3rd April 2009

It is not a good idea to leave Gibraltar late on a Friday but we eventually get across the border. Going through La Linea my girlfriend sees an interesting ship, the Cristobal Colon which is evidently the Spanish version of Christopher Columbus. Well, you can see why he changed his name when he went to America. "Why ya'all named after an asshole?"

On driving away we find an an avenue of palm trees we have never seen before or maybe they are the quick growing variety?

Later we drive up to Ronda and across to Pizarra. The road is stunning in every sense - the scenery, the bends and the surface which is mostly newly laid despite there being no traffic. In places an irresponsible driver in a fast car could easily do over 100mph on a billiard table surface but later there is a stretch of a few miles where although new, the road laying machine has developed a fault and the road threatens to shake the car to pieces.

We emerge both shaken and stirred in the IKEA car park and all is well. Despite it now being 6.00pm it is busy but not crowded.

Saturday 4th April 2009

Yet again we go out in the car and as we set off my girlfriend photographs a powered parachute through the window of the car - how do they take off? Carefully, I imagine.

The novelty of dry, twisting empty roads is too great to resist. Surprisingly, my Porsche Turbo (very old - I have owned it forever), is not much quicker on the corners than the SEAT Leons that we used to hire. Where it wins out is in the incredible acceleration (upgraded to 450 bhp) and braking. This means that instead of having to wait behind the occasional straggle of cars you just floor the accelerator and are past in a blur.

Another advantage of a high performance car is that people expect to be overtaken when they see you coming up from behind and don't bunch up to stop you. The occasional car will speed up to stop you getting past but resistance is futile. To anybody brought up on English roads, this is paradise on wheels.


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