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With the three of us… We couldn’t trust Keith to write this one on his own!

It’s interesting – when the three of us circulated our notes prior to writing this chapter, none of us could remember anything of the trip between Le Mans and Biarritz, and then only the glitzy lights as we drove straight through without stopping. And that includes the Bordeaux wine region – such impetuous young men! So much wine, so little time…

We were headed for the sun…

Away from the North European winter. We crossed the Spanish border at San Sebastian, turned left at Bilbao, through Burgos – and the first stop was… Madrid. We found the sun there. Wonderful rich old architecture, carved doors, and we sat in the sun on stone steps, still dressed in sweaters and greatcoats, for hours.

Election posters everywhere

Urging people to vote, “Vota Si.” Franco was still in power and was holding a referendum on his presidency (his was the only name on the ballot) – but the advertising was powerful!

It was approaching sunset when we drove around a steep escarpment and saw the old, Mediaeval City of Toledo below us.  We camped on that escarpment.  Between us, we’ve seen a few sunsets – in a huge bunch of countries – but the three of us remember that one!  We spent the next day amongst the steel works and old buildings.  Keith still has his sword on his basement wall – but somehow John wound up with two clay water pots, which he carried around the world for years.  Giant pain in the jars!

South again – we had sun – we needed warmth.  Down through Castilla La Mancha (we’ll get back to that!) – Granada and the Sierra Nevadas – to Malaga and the Costa del Sol.  Sun, warmth and cheap red wine – we had arrived!

Torremolinos – too many Poms (but David liked it).  We found a camp-site in Fuengirola – and for the next couple of weeks we partied.  Not like we might party these days – we were 20(ish) – it was the 60s – and we PARTIED!  So you will understand a little difficulty in total recall (not ‘selective’ – just difficult.)  There was something about a lonely, wealthy Norwegian lady – and one of us disappeared for three days – but no one can remember who that was!

There were moments of lucidity however – meeting up with David’s friends and Peter’s cousin Jane. Riding in the hills on horses that were a touch over-energetic – they had not been ridden since the previous summer. Peter was on a donkey – looking like Sancho Panza (The Man from La… forget it). David was on a very ‘spirited’ horse. He made the fatal mistake of sticking his heels in,  and went off like a rocket – yelling for the guide. “Hey Senor – Hey Senor” – arms and legs flailing the air!

We went to our first bull fight…

in the small mountain village of Mijas. The only square bull ring in Spain – and yes – the bull lost! But it made some sort of sense when the bulls were cut up and the meat sent to the local orphanage.

We didn’t know it at the time (no one did) but the Matador on that day was billed as ‘El Cordobes’ – now acknowledged as the greatest bullfighter ever.

Keith found a Canadian athlete who was training for the Mexico Olympics – because the altitude was similar to Mijas.
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The night before we left Spain…

for North Africa, we moved the old blue truck (it didn’t have capital letters then) into Torremolinos and parked near the beach.  Three of us went into town for a last Malaga red and left John to guard our stuff.  It was dark on that patch of the beach – and someone came knocking – loud knocking. John, not knowing the Spanish for “Please go away,” used the English vernacular… The back door flew open and a VERY animated Guardia Civilia climbed in – with his torch and his rifle…

The Sahara beckoned…

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There are several chapters in this section…

Links to each chapter are below – and also drop down from the navigation bar at top of page.

1.  London to Le Mans, France: by Keith – because he speaks French, we hoped to contact old friends in Le Mans before trip 2.
2. Le Mans to Torremolinos, Spain: by the three of us – because we couldn’t rely on any one of us to tell the whole story…
3. Torremolinos to Tunis, Tunisia: By the three of us – for the last time.  And a very funny episode in a Turkish Bath…
4. Tunis to Cairo, Egypt: By the two of us – some embarrassment for John. Serious reflections for all. Peter left in Cairo.
5. Cairo to Istanbul, Turkey: David and John go it alone.  David falls in love – and John spends a week in a family of women.
The Syrian Tank Corps causes us some concern and we blow the engine in Ankara.
6. Istanbul to London: David and John bring the Old Blue Truck home – but not without trauma.
A drug search entering Greece – brake failure on the hills at Skala – a military coup in Athens.
A casino win in Monte Carlo. Visits to all the iconic tourist sites of Europe.

 

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