Barcelona Express – day 5

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Last night after we had finished the hitchhiking we had a lot of spare time, as we had arrived first. We were hanging around a bit, setting up our tent, finding good places to charge our electrical etc. At 18:30 we were served a magnificent dish of Paela with chicken, shrimp and mussels. It was really delicious.

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Avignon Crusade

Then at 21:00 we participated in a city challenge game which involved solving 3 crossword puzzles. Each crossword solution would be a place in the city of Avignon were we had to go to collect a ‘number’. All 3 numbers would be the solution to a treasure chest located at the Palais des Papes.

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Charlotte and me tried to solve the puzzles as efficient as we could. Sadly they only had the puzzles in Dutch and were often asking for synonyms of another Dutch word so obviously that was a struggle for Charlotte. We divided the tasks as well as we could and in decent time we figured out the 3 sites in the city we had to visit to collect the number combination.

Part of me wanted to just go to the square straight away and just brute force the combination… But we weren’t sure if we would only get one shot. We decided to split up to make up for some of the time we lost translating but sadly when we had the full code and I wanted to hand it in the organization refused to accept our submission because Charlotte wasn’t there. No where in the rules had they stated we had to be together when handing it in… But okay.

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So a bit later than planned we also handed in our code and it was correct but the treasure chest had already been cracked a while before so all we had was 15 minute time deduction like everyone else who had 3 correct.

We had a great time running through the city. Charlotte said it felt like Mazerunner. We were flying through crowds. Because Avignon at night is still incredibly busy. Packed even. That’s really something typical for French cities at night. So many people still outside, eating and enjoying live music…. So we were running through that like the Tasmanian Devil haha.

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We finished the night with a view over the city from the Palais des Papes and then walked back to the camp grounds.

If you keep wondering where you have heard about ‘Avignon’ before it could quite be because of the song…

Sur le Pont d'Avignon
On y danse, On y danse
Sur le Pont d'Avignon
On y danse tous en rond

Breakfast and start day 5!

This morning we woke up at 7 AM. Charlotte and me really have mastered our morning ritual and way before breakfast was served we were ready.

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We were still unsure if we had “won” yesterday’s stage and learned just before the start that we had for now a shared first place. Later today, in the evening, there will be a team challenge to win some Snapchat glasses that Charlotte and me both not understand.

As we had a shared 1st place, we won the blue t-shirts. The system with that is a bit similar to the Tour De France. The people 1st in the general ranking have yellow t-shirts, the people who earned most bonus points have green t-shirts, the people who had the strangest thing happen to them have white with polka dots and… In our case the day winners blue ones. And to be honest with you… The blue ones are the prettiest :p

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At the start we learned that we had to reach Girona today. The hitchhike stage is also called the Queen stage and considered one of the most difficult.

Ride 1: Avignon – Avignon

We had spotted a gas station on the map not too far from our camping called ‘Olivier’. Given that anything called Olivier had been good to us so far we decided to hike towards it whilst trying to grab a ride asap. Annnd we got a ride fairly quickly from a local guy called Francois.

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The ride took us from the camping to a big gas station just before the highway the Nimes.

Ride 2: Avignon – Lunes

After roughly 20 minutes or so we found Jean who was happy to take us just south of Nimes. From there we would be right on the A9, the road to Girona.

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Jean his English wasn’t very good but it was still a lot better than our French. In general I’ve to say I’m quite pleased with the way communication is going with the French. I really feared it would be quite hard but I’d say 60% of the French we approached responded in English. Perhaps not fluently, but good enough to understand. The other 40% of the conversations were horribly awkward that often ended with merci merci au revoir…

Ride 3: Lunes – Montpellier

Every day we’re given a chance to earn some minute deductions. Today a few of the tasks didn’t seem to ridiculous.
Previously the organization came up with illegal tasks, which Charlotte and me refused to participate in. Like steal a traffic sign, drive a big truck, jump in a private pool and…. Wait for it… Sit on sheep… What the ….?!?

I’m all happy for extra assignments as you guys saw the first day but I don’t approve of the assignments written above.

Anyways. Ride 3. One of the extra tasks was to catch a ride with a really expensive car… So…

Ride 4 Montpellier – La Palme/Perpignan

Now it started to become quite a challenge to find a ride. At the gas station were a lot of other teams trying to catch a ride and you could really see drivers not knowing what to do with all these people running around approaching them.

After 1,5 hour of flagging down over a 100 cars we finally found a ride. A French gentleman called Florian picked us up. It was nice that Florian spoke fluent English as we could have a conversation in the car. He was on his way to a wedding near Perpignan (close to the Spanish border) and he could drop us off again on a gas station on the A9. We were really hoping that at this gas station we would find a car into Spain… Preferably Girona.

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Ride 5 Perpignan – Girona

We managed to score a ride within like 40 minutes of being dropped off at Perpignan. By this time we knew several teams had already finished in Girona and that we pretty much just didn’t make enough time today to qualify for top 3 tomorrow, thus have a shot at the world ticket. And even though that’s sad in a way it was also a relief.

Hitchhiking is in my humble opinion like 70% luck and 30% skill. I do believe that Charlotte and me do everything right that we can do right. We have a good way of approaching people, we play fair, we do not commit crimes…. People in the cars enjoy our company… And tomorrow we’re going to reach Barcelona!!!

Salid and his friend who was driving were happy to drop us off right at the meeting point and they were okay with waiting at the meeting point till we had checked in our time to then bring us to the camp ground. What genius thought it was sensible to expect people to hike 5km in the burning sun after a day like this aye?

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But we made it and managed to skip the hike! Now we’re just relaxing… We’re in Spain!! We hitchhiked to Spain! Result.

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