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Zaragoza and the Fun and Games – Day 22
Monday 3rd August 2009 – Spain
I had a much better night sleep last night, partly because I was drained, although it was still very warm. Most nights I end up sleeping on my sleeping bag, rarely do I sleep inside it. Never, yet, have I slept in it for the whole night. There is a bad smell that wafts over the campsite from time to time, coming from the fruit factory next to us. When it gets in the tent, it takes a while to go. Not particularly nice.
It wasn’t a great day today. It didn’t start very well when I used the shower in the morning and discovered the state of the facilities. They are less than acceptable, even for this level of campsite.
I had little money left for some fuel to get me to Zaragoza today. In Zaragoza I had hoped to go to one of 2 information places that I had on my sat nav. I also wanted to find an Internet cafe, and retrieve the money that mum had sent to me, this time via Western Union.
The journey was around 2 hours to get to Zaragoza, and it took me through some dramatic mountain scenery, although very brown and dusty, almost desert-like. At one point, the high roads reached a point where the mountains parted and revealed a wide open expanse of land, all pretty flat, but so brown and barren. It looked like nothing was growing anywhere. There were many wind farms along the way, some boasting hundreds of spinning turbines, covering a huge area of land. In other places, much of the dead land was occupied by rows and rows of solar panels.
When entering Zaragoza, I was immediately aware of the fact I was on a busy road consisting of many lanes, and to my delight, all the roads into the city were newly built. My sat nav couldn’t understand where I was. What made the situation even better was the realisation of how many road closures and roadworks there were throughout the entire city. With newly introduced one way systems to top it all off, my sat nav went into melt down and couldn’t cope. I was basically driving blind through an unknown busy city, with other drivers constantly beeping their horns at me. I ended up jumping a couple of red lights through focusing too hard on road signs that gave me no clues. Eventually I found one info place, but the sign told me the car park was full, so I headed for the second. To my joy it wasn’t there any more. My only hope was to go back to the first one and just try my luck with parking.
I was surprised, although perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but the car park was relatively empty. There were plenty of spaces. I parked up and made my way to ground level where I had a chance to admire the grand buildings and monuments. Went to the info placed which was closed, then followed signs to a small mobile office used as the temporary info place. Needless to say it was much smaller. The friendly girl was able to inform me of the post office directions, and it took me 20 minutes to follow the route and enter the building. Unfortunately it was very busy and I wasn’t seen until 1 hour later. The lady behind the counter didn’t speak any English, but understood the words ‘Western Union’, so handed me a form which I was to fill out. I stood aside as the next customer moved in. this elderly lady proceeded to take around 50 pieces of paper out from her bag, one by one, very slowly, handed them to the lady who walked off and returned 20 minutes later. My form was filled out long before this point, and I continued to wait. Finally I was seen again to complete the transaction, and headed back to the car park with my money.
I was very conscious of how much it might be costing me to park in the underground multi-storey car park, so couldn’t afford any more sightseeing time. I was unable to find a machine to pay for the car park, even searching the whole level I was on. I searched the other levels and didn’t find a single machine, so I got in my car and drove to the exit, not really sure what was going to happen. As it was, the machine didn’t accept my ticket, and it wasn’t long before I had created a queue of cars behind me. The guy from the car behind tried to help me, but the security officer appeared shortly on his golf buggy, tried the ticket, and then told me to go to the office. He backed all the cars up in the queue I had made, and enabled me to reverse and drive to the offices. Inside the office was a couple of machines, which the whole car park was using by the look of it, and I did what was necessary to leave this place.
It took me a further hour to battle my way out of this city without the sat nav, and was anxious to reply to a text from mum, as it was important. I was finally out and on my way, but by now it was too late to reply, mum and my sister had sorted it out between them, clever girls. There was a query with the address I had given for the campsite. But all was OK and I was relieved to hear my card was on its way via FedEx. I had another day or 2 to spend in Calatayud, but it would be worth it in the end. I had already put my family through it enough, and I am extremely grateful for all they have done.
I had a brief chat with Susannah, the lady in the campsite, and spent the evening chilling after buying some much needed food.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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