Besides the awareness of an underwhelming league football team, my knowledge about the Spanish city of Zaragoza was rather minimal. Situated between Pamplona and Barcelona in the East of Spain it provided the perfect place for a pit stop midway on our drive through the country. Waking up by falling out of my hammock wasn’t the ideal start to the day, I had not yet mastered the art of the suspended slumber, but fortunately my hammock dangling skills were equally insufficient as it had sunk throughout the night making the drop a small one. The drive through the northern mountains was a beautiful as it was on the way up, with the winding road’s tight bends keeping me on my toes and waking up my arms due to the lack of power steering. The hilly, green landscape slowly descended into barren farm land and bare motorways which took the thrilling excitement out of our games of ‘I spy’, with ‘road’ and ‘car’ as well as well as the occasional ‘tree’ all there was to guess.
Three hours of repetitive childhood games flew by before we arrived in the city. The urban roads is where my navigator began to really struggle, sending me into underground car parks where we would not fit and the wrong way up one way systems, much to the annoyance of the native drivers. After several laps of the same roads on the hunt for camper sized parking spots my confidence in the directions from Bani began to wilt, If he was at the helm with Colombus they never would of made it out of the harbour, never mind discovered the Americas. Eventually we stumbled upon a good space and set off into the city centre to marvel at the Basilica, which was a good warm up to for the spectacle in Barcelona. After a quick culture tour of the town we decided to treat ourselves to a proper meal for the first time since we left the comfort of our parent’s cooking. Having refuelled and cooled down both ourselves and the van it was back on the tarmac (with no directional errors as we knew the Zaragozan road system quite well from our drawn out entrance) and headed for Barcelona. ‘I spy’ again provided little entertainment in the empty middle of Spain, and even 20 questions struggled to take the baton. Fortunately the road trip playlist was still fresh, the songs from 1979 that were likely being played to my van during its construction were especially good for a long drive and the toll gates started to pass a bit quicker.
Our first campsite was situated just a short bus ride from the city centre and caused no trouble to find, much to Bani’s delight. A delight which was enhanced by a proper shower and space to set up the gazebo and air beds for a proper lie down. The Catalonian sea was the perfect way to refresh after seven hours behind the wheel, and nearly received an extra dose of refreshment from what was in it. I love the sea and I love swimming but I don’t always love all the animals that dwell in the salty water. There’s something in me that decides to remember ‘Jaws’ whenever I get a certain distance out and even the rational thoughts of there being no sharks in that area and that I’m more likely to receive death by coconut doesn’t quell the faint worry, I’m just one of those people that would freak out when something touches me just to realise it was my own foot. On this occasion my paddle was disturbed by the realisation that I was surrounded by jellyfish and consequently had a minor panic at the idea of Bani insisting he pee on me to relieve the pain. So, I decided to quickly dash back to my towel and join my friend in catching the evening sun after a long day of travelling through the heart of Spain.