Gibraltar. We took the bus to La Línea and walked across the border. A number 3 bus took us to the Botanical Gardens (twinned with Kew Gardens in London). There Mini stayed to view the gardens and Anne and Neil set off to walk round Gibraltar. The tunnel on the east side of the rock was unsafe and closed so we didn't see this side of the rock. Walking across the RAF Gibraltar runway was an unusual and interesting experience.
9.00 We make our approach to the frontier. On our left is a MacDonald’s. One of our route criteria is that we shall not pass a MacDonald’s.
Mini has come with us and wants to see the Botanic Garden, we get the Number 3 bus. At the gardens, we arrange a rendez-vous for later. Neil and I then head away west to order to get as close to the sea as possible and then south towards the tip of Gibraltar.. We pass some fennel in flower and a huge waterfall. Our route takes us through a series of tunnels which have not yet collapsed. Our route today has been modified because the tunnels on the far side have collapsed killing a driver in his car. We shall have to do the best we can.
10.45 We have just walked round Europa Point and seen the faro (lighthouse). This run by Trinity Lighthouse which is interesting and there’s ramshackle shop which looks as if it could be in Lowestoft (the most easterly town in England) saying last shop in Europe. The air stinks because Gibraltar lets out its shit at this point as does Lowestoft. There is, however, no gasometer in Gibraltar – replaced by bombona (gas) ships off shore.
We can see Estepona round the corner. It’s about 4 days walk.
We’ve now reached a back entrance to the Botanic Garden to see if we can find Mini and have lunch together. We are successful and find a nice seat to have lunch. Then Neil and I carry on to do the rest of Gibraltar. We head back towards the crossing. When we reach the airport (the access road to the rock crosses the runway), there is a British Airways plane about to take off. The level crossing gates are lowered and we have to wait for the plane to go. Bearing in mind the rigid security at other airports and the sensitivity of Gibraltar, the openness is superficially amazing. Closer inspection shows a stinger across the access road and land rovers with machine gun equipped guards. Anyone trying to terrorise the airport would not get far. Neil fails to take a photograph of the plane taking off as his batteries go flat at the critical moment. Once the barrier is raised, we cross the runway and walk to border finding the number 3 bus stop where we will go with Mini later on. In This way we have completed the circuit in its entirety.
We now cross over the road and go back across the runway to return to the Botanic Garden. As our route down to the runaway had been somewhat circuitous, we decide not to head right over the reclaimed land as we already covered this on our way out. Instead we head straight back to the Botanic Garden. We think the runway may not be in the correct place on the GPS (Has there been a deliberate distortion to prevent enemies knowing where it is?)
We go along Winston Churchill Way.
13.55 We get back to the Botanic Garden and our circuit is complete.
We are now going to do a rondvart (tour). This will save us from having to look for a number 3 bus stop in the other direction and will give Mini a chance to go through the tunnels and see Europa point. Mini and I get senior tickets in Gibraltar which is a bonus. A further bonus was that the bus waits for 10 minutes at Europa point so we could get out and have a look round before getting back in to return to the border. We bought return tickets so we could do the whole circuit.
There are some interesting things about Gibraltar which I wondered about before. They drive on the right. They use UK currency but the coins are minted with Gibraltar markings. They have local features on them like The Great Siege Gate. They have got their very own MacDonald’s. Our bus drops us at the border.
2.40 We return through the customs to the Spanish side and go back to the La Linea bus station where there is a Seville bus waiting which will take us all the way back to Tarifa. Great. I shan’t have to ring up Andrea because we might miss her 6pm appointment to return the deposit and one set of keys prior to our departure.
The journey from Norwich to Malaga was straightforward except that there was someone on the plane whose seatbelt wouldn't fasten
Our goal is to walk from the south-western tip of Europe in Portugal to the south-eastern tip in Turkey.
On day one, we caught the "Eva" bus from our accommodation in Lagos (Algarve) to the start of the walk. The south western tip of Europe is at Cabo São Vicente or Cape Saint Vincent near Sagres.
At the present rate of progress the walk will take around 60 years. On completion, Neil will be aged about 110, Anne about 120 and Margaret about 140.
It's tipping it down with rain. Our original intention had been to take the slow bus from outside the Inter-Marché supermarket and go to Sagres to have another look at the site of theSchool of Henry the Navigator and listen to the blow holes which would have been spectacular in the high wind. As it was, we decided to wait until the expressbus was due to depart and hope that the rain had abated by then. This meant going into town to the bus stop because we were not sure if that bus would stop here. It also meant getting tickets in advance at the kiosk in the bus station. A kind lady let me go in front of her because our bus was due to leave any minute.
We had taken a long time getting ready as it was our first day and we were not used to setting up our mustangs (back-packs). In the event, we had plenty of time and had a quick ride to Cabo do São Vicente passing through Sagres which has become gentrified since we were last there.
There seemed to be more going on at the cape too but this could be because of the time of year. Last time we were there it was Christmas, and I recall huddling in all my clothes behind a wall to have lunch. This time, it was bright, and after taking one another's photographs for the record, we set off at 11.50. We head back along the road towards Sagres and after ten minutes we pass the first kilometre stone. Only another 9999 odd to go!
The cistus are in full flower and the fragrance of the gum is a delight. We turn left along a track but decide it is too soon and go back. Later we realise we could probably have carried on along this route as we arrive at Vale Santo on a different axis from the one expected. We actually turn off, north, just after the 3 kilometre stone (1 hour). The very slow time even for us is because of the plethora of flowers to be photographed. We keep going now until we get to a farmstead (Vale Santo)(1 hour 30 minutes) and then bear right heading north east.
This track goes all the way to Vila do Bispo. On the way, Neil photographs 80 different flowers. He had said there would only be four or five different ones so it wouldn't take long but it did because there were lots. Along this stretch it starts to rain in earnest. We had been promised aguaceries (scattered showers) but decided to ignore these as you usually dry off after them very quickly. Not this time. We got to Vila do Bispo absolutely soaked (3 hours 45 minutes). Every time it stopped for a minute, it came down again soon after with greater vengeance.
Neil handed out mini Mars bars to keep us going. We didn't have to wait long for bus and returned to Quinta do Santo Phunurius where we stripped off and hung our clothes on the plug-in radiators to dry. My emergency jumper that I was keeping to change into had been stuffed in the bottom of my mustang and was now the wettest thing I had! I improvised some clothes for the evening. For supper we had duck à l'orange Inter-Marché style. The gravy was good but the duck was indifferent. We recall how when we once had a package holiday in Sagres, the spit of land leading to cape St Vincent was referred to by our representative as a pronomontary not worth looking at as there was nothing there. She also called our hotel (Baleeira) the Bally-are.
Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) Data
We hope to provide GPS tracks for our walks. On this leg (Portugal 2003) we did not have the receiver and software. The cost was just too high. The Portugal 2004 leg should be better documented including dead ends and aborted routes! GPS receiver and software prices came down greatly between 2003 and 2004. We will be using a "Garmin eTrex Vista" receiver with PC MapSource software using the "Roads and Recreation (Europe)" CD ROM. The Portugal data on this CD is not very detailed. We have used the MapSource software to document the Portugal 2003 walks by re-constructing from the maps. This is better than nothing but not at all accurate. More recently we have re-estimated the distances with much better accuracy using Google Earth and the measuring tool. We have also provided reconstructions of our tracks. Most of these are quite accurate. Out route was well documented and we could remember where we had walked. The middle part of the Odiáxere to Portimão route is the least certain.and we had to wait while initially one man, and subsequently two men, repaired it. This caused 30 minutes delay. Hiatus 2 came at Malaga when we were meeting up with David. Neil seemed to think we had to ring him and it was at this point that I realised that I had not brought the contract telephone. Luckily the pay as you go one worked – it used not to in the early days - so we got our instructions.- quite complicated but met up easily. In the car it was difficult to find points of connection with David. Our holiday routine is so different from most people’s, and even suggesting places to eat was problematic. Then he took us all round Estepona to see where things were but all we really wanted to do was go to our beds. In any case, it was pitch dark and we couldn't really see anything. Still, it was nice of him. We are the surly ones at fault.
The flat is nice and very handy for the bus station and shops. We have yet to locate the Mercadona which David told us was very near. This is a challenge.
We had a day finding the tourist information office and generally getting our bearings. David had said they were not helpful, but although the woman in there was not all over us, we found her quite OK. She gave us an excellent bus timetable and a good map of Estepona.
In the evening we had dinner at a restaurant near the port. We had chicken and steak. The restaurant was called La Gondola.