From the bottom to the top.


It’s finally here, I have travelled from the top to the bottom of Europe and in a few hours I’ll be crossing the straight and reset the trip by getting to the top of Africa only to head towards the bottom of it..

I started the day as every day should start, coffe, cake, spare parts sorted and 2 miles of descent. I have to acknowledge the chap at Bicicletas Francisco. He was really helpful, he supplied me with the tubes I needed and even gave me a tyre repair kit as a gift.

Route 2,860,216 – powered by

I started inland but it was not long till I got to the sea. There I first caught a glimpse of land across on the other side. I could not quite believe it was Africa, but I checked the compass and the direction was right.

Can you see it?

It is quite unbelievable that a whole different continent can be so close across the sea you can almost touch it.

Can you see it now?
Can you see it now?

the one thing I have to say is that there is quite a lot of sea traffic in the straight. It made me wonder about the safety of the 30 minutes I’ll be spending on the water in the morning.

These sightings were just past Barbate and the other thing I saw was this chap below. I had seen these contraptions before but never in the flesh, so to speak. It looks like a rather cool mean of transport as if you run out of fuel the worst that can happen is that you parachute down to heart.

Seriously thinking of doing one of the legs of the journey with this.

Anyways, the road turned inland after Zahara and I got to see the last of the Spanish countryside including, for good measure a whole lot of wind turbines. The whole day ride was a mere 38 miles so I barely got broken in. It also explains the large number of pictures you’ll see.

Last Bull of the trip.
Last Bull of the trip.

It also gave me an opportunity to think about some small things I have learned that I’d like to share. I have discovered that the Spanish do something different from all other europeans I’m familiar with. In the UK people shorten “good morning” with “morning”, In France the shorten “bonjour” with “jour”, in Italy “buongiorno” becomes “giorno”, but in Spain “buenos dias”, seems to become “buenos”. Now, remember that my language skills are what they are, and therefore I might be completely wrong, but isn’t it odd?

In less than an hour I was in Tarifa and I decided to go touring around with the bike before I found some accommodation for the night. So I went to the bottommost place in Europe.

It was very windy and even the flag got in a knot.

The picture at the top was also taken on this pass from the seafront, isn’t it great when you get your point across with humour.

The border and marine heritage of the place is always in clear view, the Castillo de Santa Catalina, while really being just a weather station has WWII bunkers at the four bottom corners.

I’d like to live there but what must the wind be like.

Also the wonder of modern photography allowed me to fulfil my ubiquity aspiration.

As you can see, Atlantic Alex is way rougher than Mediterranean Alex

After these few shots I decided it was time to find a place to stay and after a couple of enquiries I ended up choosing a €20 place not too far from the port.

€52, dearer than the channel ferry.
€52, dearer than the channel ferry.

All unpacked, I went out and got myself ticked for the ferry. They are flexible so if I don’t get the 9:00 ride that I’m booked for, I can get the one at 11:00. I think I’ll stick with the 9:00 as it will give me time to get to Tangiers, change some money, get a SIM card and get out of town with some meaningful pedalling time ahead.

It was a funny afternoon, not cold but extraordinarily windy and with thick black clouds coming over threatening to rain down on me. I decided nonetheless to go for a walk on the beach. I had been attracted earlier by, and failed miserably to capture, the large number of kite surfer on the beach.

I got to the beach just as it was starting to spit with rain but I did not desist and I walked along on the Atlantic side of the cape. while I was getting closer to the surfers the rain subsided leaving behind only a rather impressive apocalyptic skyline. The rather worrying fact is that it looked like there was quite a large amount of cloud on Morocco too and this does not bear well for the morning.

On the way to kite surfers paradise I saw a dead dolphin on the beach, I thought about taking a picture, but then I realised that my description would have probably sufficed and you would have not rather seen a picture of an half eaten mammal.

I have been told that I will see quite a lot of dead animals as I move south, even as big as camels in the Sahara. I might take some pictures of those on a slow picture day.

What I trained my camera on now was the surfers an even if the sun was in a less than helpful mood, I think I got a couple of decent shots.

this gives you an idea of the volume.
This gives you an idea of the numbers.
Does it not just look so much fun?
Out there in the sun

I ended up the walk back at the bottom of the walkway to Isla de la Palomas just to record my utter disappointment in the lack of the sea signs.

When I read JB’s post on Tarifa I saw the pictures he took with the signs pointing at the two seas. I wanted to do the same. All got was the posts, they must have been taken away for the season.

I am posting the pictures of the posts here as a sign of protest.

Think Mediterranean Sea
Think Mediterranean Sea
And now think Atlantic Ocean
And now think Atlantic Ocean

I have to say Tarifa is not exactly stunning but I guess if you’re a wind or kite surfer it’s paradise. It’s great if you like wind and the night life appears to be a riot. I’ll only be passing like in so many other places.

Me at the bottom, tomorrow it's back at the top.
Me at the bottom, tomorrow it’s back at the top.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew Clowes says:

    Ditch the bike, those powered parachute contraptions are the future…no need for inner tubes, it even comes with its own seat!!!

  2. Shirley Harrison says:

    Excited about Africa! Safe crossing tomorrow. X

  3. Cathy says:

    Great photos! Have a good crossing. cx

  4. David Bills says:

    Safe passage, Alex. Looking forward to your next stage. Take care, my friend.

  5. Emilio says:

    Alex, sono stato a tarifa in una splendida vacanza con due miei cari amici nel 1998… Ho fatto la stessa identica foto ‘esta materia organica ma aqui non sierve….’ Che spettacolo!!! Anche noi prendemmo il traghetto x ceuta e passammo una giornata at the top of Africa!!! In bocca al lupo!!!!

  6. Raimondo says:

    evidentemente il primo scatto ha colpito molto.
    Anche noi abbiamo quella spiritosa foto

  7. Peter Davies says:

    Alex – well done for getting down to the bottom of Spain. Don’t get caught up in any drug running across the straits – last time I was there, a large speed boat was deliberately set on fire by a rival gang. Mind you there’s only so much you can pack in those panniers of yours! All the best for the next stage. Peter

  8. julca says:

    Io ci sono stata nel 91. Di quel murales non ho ricordi, solo un paio di notti calienti e gran bagordi in compagnia dei serfisti di allora…quelli con il triangolino che scompariva all’orizzonte!

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