In the North West of Spain is an autonomous community called Galicia. Near the middle of Galicia is a city called Ourense. Near Ourense is a town called Monforte (de Lemos). A 20 minute drive from Monforte and you’re in a village called Ferreira. Half an hour walk from Ferreira is a farm house called Tanquian. About 300m from Tanquian is a caravan, which is where I lived for 2 weeks.

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Barcelona – San Sebastian – Madrid

From Barcelona we hired a car and drove 6 hours North to San Sebastian, or Donostia in the local Basque language. The first couple of hours was really quite boring, with not much other than desert to see. Approaching a typical Spanish fortified town, compressed upon a hilltop for safety against the invader in a vast open space, made a welcome change. We passed through Salinas in about 2 seconds, ok, maybe slightly longer, but it was very short – no surprises there Marz. We called in at Huesca, about halfway, for lunch. It was a nice town and super quiet due to the national public holiday. We were lucky to find a place open, which had excellent tapas, much better than anything we found in Barcelona. Also, people in the cafe didn’t speak much English, but lucky enough the waitress turned out to be Ukrainian, speaking perfect Russian. The second half of the drive, particularly Huesca to Pamplona, was much nicer and should be added to any driving holiday itinerary. We drove along a gorgeous gorge and passed by some beautiful cliffs, over 100m high, which took me back to my rock climbing days. Shortly after we passed by a massive lake with scenic flat rock surrounding hills. The colour of the water looked pure and fresh. I was very tempted to stop at the campsite for an evening, but chose to stick to the plan.

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Spain, Barcelona

Another bloody ryan air flight and we arrived in Girona, Spain. It was getting a bit late, about 21.00, so we decided to catch the first bus, either Girona city, or Barcelona. We arrived in Barcelona station and jumped on the internet in search of a hostel. On the metro in to town one guy tried to pick pocket me as I was getting out. 20 minutes later as we were searching for our hostel in a dimly lit and mostly unpopulated area another friendly local was eager to greet us. I very politely told him to F-off to which he seemed well accustomed. Our first 2 nights in this hostel were very comfortable, but we soon learned, surprise surprise, that there was the biggest festival of the year approaching next weekend. Of course this meant availability was low and prices were high. Still, we managed to find 2 more hostels. To complete our stay, we spent the last night 30km outside of Barcelona with our couch surfing friends that we hosted in Melbourne Alan and Marta. Was fantastic to stay with them, really felt like catching up with old mates. Also caught up with Manuel, another great guy we hosted, who was conveniently working in a bar as part of the festival.

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My fourth Oktoberfest… from what I can remember. And all of the photos from inside the beer tents look very similar to those of every other time. I’m sure most of you know the general idea, thousands of people crammed into big beer tents, drinking 1L beers, dancing on bench seats singing along with the live music. So I’m just going to mention what was specific to this years festival. This year was the 200th anniversary of the festival! So that means even more people than usual want to attend. The busiest days are of course the first weekend, which is when we were there. So to ensure that we would be able to get into a tent, we got up at 5.30, left home by 6.00, got to the festival by 6.30, to join the queue which got massive, rowdy and pushy as time went on, to be let into the tent running to claim a table at 9.00, to wait for the keg to be tapped at 12.00 and then still have to wait another hour before finally getting our first beer. But after that, all the stress and impatience disappeared and the good times were on. Big Jimmy had worked up a big thirst and necked his first litre in about 5 minutes.

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Natural Croatia- Plitvice

Saturday, 8.30am, 4.5 hour bus ride, 150 km and Curly and Dasha arrived to Plitvice. We arrived with no accommodation booked. Speaking to people this could be an expensive problem. We walked up to the first hotel we saw with the intention of asking for directions to the tourist information, but instead accepted the very last room they had available at a very reasonable price.

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