The great European roadtrip: Everything’s ahead of you
On the other side of the world I went on another kind of roadie; one so epic, so jam-packed with festivals and good times that it almost topped the great Australian road trip.
Aussie roadies traditionally consist of a beaten up old ute, sheep dog in the back, a few surfboards, mattresses and a carton of beer.
They entail long drives, bonfires, canned spaghetti, sunshine and waves. Sounds pretty bloody good, doesn’t it? And it is. The roadie is a bittersweet journey, anticipating the next leg of the trip and waving goodbye to the good times had at the last destination.
Aussies aren’t the only ones who like a good cross-country adventure. On the other side of the world I went on another kind of roadie; one so epic, so jam-packed with festivals and good times that it almost topped the great Australian road trip. It was in Spain and Portugal, the passengers were from all corners of the globe and the alcohol was unlimited. Need I say more?
It began in Barcelona – a city known for its whacky architecture, sangria and sleazy men. We piled onto a bus — a pack of wild, adventure-hunting beasts, drooling for the taste of the road. We were ready to embark on an expedition for which no binge-drinking backpacker’s liver could ever be prepared.
Travelling is not always sunshine and roses… although there was a lot of sunshine; like the time we met a wealthy gentleman in a bar in Portugal and scored a limo ride, classy cocktails and expensive shots all evening in exchange for an innocent lip lock. Or the time we smoked a fat jay and lay in a field of daisies on the outskirts of Granada, imagining our lives in ten years’ time and being all intro- and retro- spective, irrespective of our respective perspectives, expectant only of our prospective glee. Maybe even the time one of us jumped off a 50-foot bridge in Porto into river traffic to retrieve a Frisbee.
Yet sometimes life (alcohol) gets the better of you. In San Sebastian we went to a horror-themed pub crawl, shocking our guide with our pre-drinking. He bet us that we wouldn’t make it to all five bars. I took this as a personal challenge….and remember clearly the first two. He was quite the graceful winner and managed to carry me back to the hostel after number five, where I took matters into my own hands. I passed out fully dressed on the wrong level, outside the wrong door, which I clearly failed to get into. I impressively lined my shoes up perfectly at my feet and following the theme, had vampire teeth in my mouth and fake blood dripping down my face. The bus journey following this great performance was….rough.
Another (ahem) highlight of this trip involves messing my pants from food poisoning in Valencia on a busy pedestrian crossing. And the time when a roadie buddy partied in Lagos with an infected, bleeding eye and still managed to pick up. You lose some, you win some.
The rest of the trip blurred together into a colourful kaleidoscope of crowds, festivals and happy summer dayz. We got wet and wild at waterparks, were nearly trampled by bulls in Pamplona, we chilled in the green room in San Sebastian, we got out of our minds at festivals, dancing like Pagans on summer solstice at BBK, Benicassim and Sumol Reggae Festival. We gazed at fireworks at Semana Grande, kayaked in grottos in Lagos and attempted to dance flamenco in Granada.
If you’re looking for the taste of freedom of travelling from place to place, the sense of adventure and spontaneity, and a trip that will top travel tales at bars around the world, this is a pretty sure bet. As the roadie legend himself, Jack Kerouac, puts it,“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
By Grace Burns, a new member of the Stoke Travel crew. To find out more about following in Grace’s footsteps on your own great Euro roadie from Pamps to Portugal, visit StokeTravel.com