Posts Tagged With: La Turbie

LAST DAY: From a Gas Station near La Turbie to Barcelona.

La Turbie-Barcelona

La Turbie-Barcelona

Following the tradition of me lonely travelling period I woke up very early, however, there were already a lot of things going on in the huge gas station. I realized that I really was too close to the entrance because with the daylight absolutely everybody entering in the area could notice my tent. Anyway, If nobody had told me nothing by then everything was OK. When I finished packing my things I entered the main building, located just next to the gas station in itself, with a cafeteria and a souvenir shop. I went straight to the bathroom. Because it was a stop for truckers I was sure that they were going to have showers. Indeed, there were two cabins but unfortunately both occupied and with three guys ahead of me. I paid for my turn and I waited outside drinking a coffee and evaluating the situation.

During this time I saw at least two Spanish trucks, I was starting to be confident. After a long while I could enter to the shower,consisting in a single space no much bigger than a square meter of surface. That was enough for a truck driver that could enter only with a towel keeping all the other things in his truck. But In my case, I was carrying all my belongings, including a big backpack, a guitar and a cat. Finally, all this things (and animals) took the shower at the same time as me. It took me at least twenty minutes and I remember than the guy who was waiting to enter after me was not very happy, what a pity.

Most of my things were completely wet and I had to hang my towel in one of my backpack’s hitches but I was feeling very well. The sensation of taking a shower after many days without doing it is one of the life’s great pleasures. It seemed to me that I was lighter. There was no doubt that my possibilities of getting a ride were going to increase with my new good-smelling style.

I decided to change my technique of simply going the exit and try to do traditional hitchhiking, since I speak French and I was clean. I wanted to enjoy myself, so I leaned my items against a wall of the building and I started to talk with the people that was filling their tanks. The gas station was so big that I had no time to notice every car, but there were two special lines for trucks on the left side moving slower. Two trucks were getting filled and another two were waiting behind. I talked with all of the drivers but none agreed to drive me. I continued asking among the cars while waiting for new trucks.

At one point I saw a Spanish truck entering so I immediately approached. I tried to be extremely polite because I really wanted to start as soon as possible. I knew that it was almost impossible but I was dreaming to arrive in Barcelona that very day. The trucker was also very polite but refused to drive me alluding the laws and so on. Anyway I asked how many kilometers I had from there to Spain and one or two more irrelevant questions just to start a small talk and get along with him. Then I left, thanking him for the information. I knew that the guy was going to be there for a while since he had at least two other truck in front of him waiting for fill the tank.

Meanwhile, I continued with my strategy rotating between car drivers and new trucks arriving. In some point several Spanish trucks from the same company arrived but my experience told me that truckers travelling together don’t pick up hitchhikers. I asked the first one and I avoided the others.

I had been trying to get a ride for at least 1 hour but the general impression was good. At least three persons apologized to me for not having space in their car. I was also going regularly to check how Pulguita was, walking around with her cage hanging on my shoulder from time to time. A little bit later, when I had already forgotten about the Spanish truck driver I had been talking with, I saw him entering to the building. In this moment he looked at me and from his glance I had the feeling that he was finally going to let me in. Indeed, he did it. Ten minutes later I was sitting in his cabin.

He spent the first half an hour apologizing for not having picked me up at the beginning, referring to all the dangerous things happening on the road. He was probably right and I understood his point. It was a good guy, the kind of person you can guess what is he thinking from his face. When I asked him where was he going he was not clear, like trying to be defensive once again so I decided just to be sympathetic with him and lengthen the ride as much as possible. We didn’t stop talking for a single moment. It turned out that he was also from the north of Spain like me which allowed us to switch to new topics of conversation. We talked about food, other countries, cars and many other subjects.

Somehow, when I checked the signals on the road we had already passed Marseilles and we were approaching Montpelier. It was necessary to make another stop. By this time, the driver had already agreed to drive me to Spain but he was still waiting for the confirmation of his way depending on many factors. The following conversation was about this topic and I found it actually very interesting. He was going from Italy to Lisbon, but the headquarters of his company were in Madrid. He was constantly talking with the controller by the radio taking into consideration the traffic, the weather, the price of the fuel and the places to sleep in order to determinate, not only his itinerary, but also the one of the younger colleagues in the road at the same time. I really enjoyed being part of the discussions and even giving my own point of view.

I was also making my calculations and, if he was going to cross the French-Spanish border by Catalonia I could be in Barcelona that night. I called Aleksandra with the good news and she offered herself to pick me up anywhere between the border and Barcelona. To go further would not have made any sense. If I understood correctly the guy had three options, to go by the south of France, crossing Toulouse and entering in Spain through the Basque Country border; to go by Catalonia turning west in Girona toward Zaragoza and then Madrid; or to follow south through Barcelona until Valencia and then turning west toward Portugal.

He had to do the first choice in Narbonne, where he continue south avoiding the French way. At this point I could finally confirm that I was arriving to Spain this very day. I immediately called Aleksandra that was prepared to do her way to the north by car. I told her to wait. The trucker was still thinking what to do, this time including me in the equation. He told me that by the height of the border he was going to decide, so I could call Aleksandra from my Spanish number and tell her exactly where she could pick me up if necessary.

After many conversations with his colleagues and a very stressful time (even if thinking about it with perspective it was not so important but I really wanted to see Aleksandra again now that the situation was turning real) he decided to take the middle way, turning west near Girona. He told me exactly in which gas station he was going to stop, being careful in choosing one close to an exit where it was possible to change the sense, taking into consideration that Aleksandra was coming in the opposite direction. I called her again, still from France, and few minutes later she was in the car heading north. We were closer to that place but going slower, so according to our calculation we were going to arrive more or less at the same time.

The meeting point was a big gas station 30 km north of Girona just after Figueres and around 130 km away from Barcelona. When we arrived the driver went straight to the gas station crossing an area with a big restaurant. From the truck cabin I tried to notice a small green Toyota Yaris but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to call Aleksandra as not to disturb her while driving, but when we were reaching the dispensing area I received a call from her. She was in the restaurant. I told her that we were just arriving and she appeared few minutes later.

We embraced each other and she helped me to carrying Pulguita. I also introduced her the truck driver and we give him together our sticker. The last one for a driver but we still keep some of them. I thanked again and say goodbye to him. Then, we were feeding and playing with Pulguita on the grass for a while and we drank a coffee in the restaurant. Aleksandra let me drive back because after one month being driven I missed so much the feeling of being the one controlling the car. Around 10 PM, we were already at home in Barcelona.



Categories: City, Gas station, Hitchhiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From a gas station near Verona to another gas station near La Turbie

Verona-La Turbie

Verona-La Turbie

I woke up early, when it was dawning. I had a good feeling, I was finally on the highway, on my correct way and in very nice gas station to hitchhike. With this good energy it didn’t took me to long to get a ride. I don’t even remember having my coffee so it should have been in the early morning. I can’t remember the driver neither, just that it was very similar as the one from the last day, also an Italian middle-age guy working in sales. In my mind even the car was almost the same, a dark comfortable premium one. In my memories I mix both cars and drivers, so what I have written in last post can be applied for this one too.

Gas station near Verona

Gas station near Verona

Anyway, we were supposed to go together until Milan, but he explained me that the net of roads around this city is really huge and I could get easily lost. Instead of that, he advised me to try to go by another highway that started at the height of Brescia and was going to the south-west. It was a complicated decision. In the one hand I had the possibility to do many kilometers and be in Milan early, from where I could expect many cars and trucks going to France; on the other, do a few kilometers with this guy and put all of my eggs into one basket trying to find a long-distance truck going to the south. I thought that in any case it was better to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, but in the correct highway that in a big city as Milan. So I told him to stop me some kilometers before Brescia. As he knew well the route he left me in the last gas station just before the detour to the south.

It was a very big area with a huge Autogrill restaurant. I remember it well because I spent many hours there. However, at this point I was still quite confident about my day. It was definitely not more than 11 am, because I remember having my breakfast when I arrived. I even found a Moroccan family with a french plate in their car who apologized to not have a place for me. After the break, I went to the exit of the gas station, just in front of the restaurant and I started again.

Gas station near Brescia

Gas station near Brescia

At the beginning I thought that it was just a question of bad luck and soon or later some one was going to pick me up. Well, it was later than sooner. It started to get hot but not as in the previous days. I ate something quick in the other side of the bushes where I was standing. I also went at least twice to buy a coffee in a plastic glass. As the hours were passing I was getting more and more pessimistic. It was not a bad place to sleep, but I was very far even from France and It seemed to me that I was going to be in Italy forever (I was thinking to buy a pair if sunglasses to be more integrated into their culture). Every time a trucker was entering to the bar I was trying to convince him to take me with him (this sounds weird). In the afternoon the area was full, at one moment something like ten small Romanian vans carrying people and goods in long semi-trailers arrived. Also other people with french plates and a couple of Spanish truckers, but none took me.

Then, around 4 pm, I saw a big red truck coming and parking just in front of me. I checked the plate and it was french. Suddenly the door opened and I saw a guy without shirt coming down. He was not specially tall but definitely well-built and with an impressive tattoo covering all his upper-body. Sincerely he looked like a psycho-killer. Anyway I couldn’t let any opportunity slip so I addressed to him in French. It turned out that he was Spanish and, despite his look, he was a very nice person. A little bit crazy to tell the truth but a really interesting guy. He accepted me in the truck without any hesitation but first he invited me to another coffee and a cigarette.

Once in the truck I started telling him my story but I understood that, as a good trucker, he also liked to speak, even more than me. He was going to France, specifically to Nice. It was perfect, I had a stroke of luck. During this 5 hours together we smoked a lot and he explained me most of his life. Including his two previous accidents with a truck. He try to reassure me telling that both accident were due to the tiredness and now, with someone to talk with, he was feeling very awake. We drank another coffee in our way and it started to get dark when we were approaching the border. We were passing by a very beautiful area with the sea on the left and the mountains on the right. I really wanted to reach France this day but he explained me that he was going to leave the road just after the border taking a secondary road toward Nice.

He stopped me in the latest gas station in Italy. It was a very small area surrounded by small hills. I couldn’t see much more but the lights of the seaside were just in front of me. For a moment I had the crazy idea of going down to the beach and have my last adventure. But as I was very close to France and I knew that is one of the easiest countries to hitchhike in western Europe so I decided to have a try even being so late. Somehow knowing the language and being familiar with the country encouraged me. I started to ask to every person in a french car and after two or three attempts a young guy agreed to drive me for some kilometers, to first gas station in France. I didn’t want to go further because I was very tired and it’s more probable to find a long-distance ride in the morning.

After less than 20 minutes in his car he let me in a huge area for trucks. It was probably the biggest gas station I had seen in my whole trip, full of wide pieces of grass and a lot of parking for cars and trucks. It was close to La Turbie (one hour away walking to Montecarlo according to Google Maps. I didn’t know it). I had a big dinner with all my leftovers, I drank some beers and I went to sleep. For the first time I was able to choose where to put my tent. I could hide myself but it seemed safer to me to be close to the entrance. After so many days sleeping with the sounds of the cars in the background it would have been strange to be in almost complete silence.

Categories: Beach, Gas station, Hitchhiking, Mountains, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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