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Driving a Tacoma around the world

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by Round the world, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Jan 5, 2023 at 12:48 PM
    #1401
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Andy
    Home's our Tacoma
    Vehicle:
    2019 Tacoma AC LB TRD Sport MT
    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    I hear ya! We installed Scheel Mann Vario X seats and the installer custom built the seat bases, a lower one for me (I’m 6’ 5”) and a higher one for my 5’ 6” wife. Heres a write up i did about these seats and installation. https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/driving-a-tacoma-around-the-world.585792/page-36
     
    RustyGreen likes this.
  2. Jan 9, 2023 at 1:14 AM
    #1402
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Home's our Tacoma
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    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    France - (Central and South)

    After leaving the beautiful Italian alps we headed west to the Chamonix/Mt Blanc area of eastern France
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    First night in France - woke up to snow on the ground! Love the soft sound of it hitting the roof

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    Chamonix - classic mountain town. Someday we will return to ski. Mt Blanc in the background

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    We were losing our sun

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    And then it peeped out during our walk

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    After soul enriching mountain time, we were ready to dive into another city. Surprisingly, we really liked Lyon (maybe we got our energy back in the mountains?), it was gritty in places, but full of character. It seemed both old and possessed with a modern sensibility. Fascinating architecture yet down to earth at the same time.

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    Dawn’s favorite - the narrow cobbled street with cafes shot

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    View of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière on the hill of Lyon. We made our way up there to explore (many steps) but skipped the fake Eiffel Tower, now owned by a TV station.

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    Famous Lyon Fresco building - paintings of famous Lyon residents

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    Walked up the hill to visit impressive Roman ruins

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    Nice river side wild camping spot

    Heading south (warming up, no more snow!) we found ourselves fascinated with and entranced by the old stone hill top villages in France. People definitely had no feer of steepness - safety and easily defensible the priority over an easy building site.

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    First mountainside village - Moustiers-Sainte-Marie - repeatedly listed as the most beautiful village in France and we could see why

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    Climbing to the stone chapel above the village

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    River runs through the steep canyon in the middle of the village

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    Really appreciating being in a highly visited tourist village post season with no other tourists. It gave us the chance to soak up the scenery and it didn’t matter to us that most of the stores and cafes were closed.

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    Fascinating use of the local topography

    Following the coast, we had to stop off in Monaco so that we could check off another country (36 at this point, including Liechtenstein which we had spent the night in earlier). It was a really difficult city to drive, would hated doing in a full-size pickup, luckily we found a spot to park and walked the famous gambling and shopping streets.

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    Beautiful sunset view of Monaco

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    Found a wild camping spot in the hills above the city (it had become a pattern, crazy switchback roads up above a glamorous city to find a remote camping spot, first Lake Como, now Monaco)

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    Then the next morning we were joined by 4 vans full of professional dog walkers. And dogs. All friendly, all good.

    The next day we made our way to Nice.

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    We consoled ourselves with pastries on the beach boardwalk in Nice

    Our next stop was Saint-Tropez. Just the name evoked glamour, charm, and high end fashion and food.

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    Saint-Tropez - another place where the town was shut down post season but somehow that made it more alluring for us

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    The town felt like it had seen it’s glory days but we appreciated its setting

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    Gordes - our next stone hilltop village - wow!

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    Camped on a hill above Gordes and the next morning we were desperately trying to diagnose an obnoxious squeak. This meant Dawn accelerating at full speed toward Andy while he stood in the middle of the road and listening. A little nerve wracking (for Dawn, not Andy) TBC, a full can of WD-40 later, we are still working on the squeak.

    Our final historic and scenic village, Les Baux-de-Provence was another feast for the eyes.

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    Main pedestrian entrance to Les Baux-de-Provence


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    So many features to explore

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    Andy’s favorite is always the doors

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    Built into and around the hilltop rocks

    Then our final stop! An incredible Roman aqueduct.

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    Catching the setting sun on Pont-du-Gard

    Phew! Thank you for sticking with us on this crazy journey from Slovenia to Spain. It was a little haphazard. We are looking forward to providing some more fulsome country by country blogs and information when we get to Africa. Stay tuned and thank you for reading
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2023
  3. Jan 16, 2023 at 2:26 AM
    #1403
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Home's our Tacoma
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    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    The little country of Andorra

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    Central square of Andorra La Vella, Andorra’s capital

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    Wild camping spot at trailheads high above the capital

    Wild camping was simple throughout the region, with a multitude of remote spots available. We felt that we had definitely found a theme though. Our best Park4Night spots often seemed to be up corkscrew winding roads taking us slowly and painstakingly away and above urban centers (this was true at Lake Como, Monaco and in Andorra).

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    Ran into a group of the biggest vultures we had ever seen

    After leaving Andorra with our 38th country sticker and two cases of duty free alcohol in preparation for a family Christmas (yup, we’re a bit behind in our writeups) in Morocco, we made our way into the mountains of Spain. Our first stop was the picturesque village of Benasque in the heart of the Pyrenees.

    Northeastern Spain

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    Pyranees day hike outside of Benasque, Spain

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    Learning the Spanish rhythms - everything closed in the afternoon, time for a rest

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    Another high camping spot, sleeting rain, no problem with our warm duvet.

    Continuing in the Pyrenees, our next destination was re-visiting a place which held enormous romantic magic for us. Thirty-four years ago, with stars in our eyes we embarked on our first trip together (before we were married). We stopped briefly in a town called Torla and said to each other that some day we would come back and actuallty spend some time there.

    The time had come and we were nervous. Sometimes you should leave those enchanted places of the past in the past. We were not sure it would be the same gorgeous stone village with a mountainous backdrop that we remembered. Luckily, Torla held up to the test of time and we spent a welcome rest evening in a cozy hotel with an excellent chef. Our first meal out in weeks was well worth it (even though we had to wait until 8pm after our hike, because, Spanish dining schedule . . )

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    Torla, Spain

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    Once again, glad we are not in a full size, squeezing down the streets of Torla

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    View from our hotel room

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    Beautiful mountain hike in the nearby national park

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    And then squeezing our way back out of town. Another 8” wider we would have been forced to back out of town. (Thinking of you F150!)

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    Approaching Valle de Hecho

    Feeling like we were racing against winter, we continued our exploration of the Pyrenees, heading to Valles de Hecho and Anso for more spectacular views and hiking.

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    Trailhead at Valle de Hecho

    As it continued to get colder, we eventually made our way down in elevation, back to exploring history and architecture. We stopped off at Olite to see the “fairytale” castle. Impressive from a distance, we quickly realized it was more restored than original so after walking around the town and the castle, we declined to pay the entrance fee.

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    View of Olite Castle coming into town

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    Taking the “free exterior self guided walking tour”

    Then for a more urban experience, we stopped off in Pamplona. A city with a blend of contemporary architecture and a historic feel, we couldn’t help but imagine the bulls running down the old cobbled streets.

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    Pamplona, one of the streets the bulls run down

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    Citadel of Pamplona, military fortress built in the 16th and 17th centuries, now a huge city park

    There is something about the mystery of an island with an access path that only appears at low tide that always pulls us in. Lekeitio ‘s offshore island was equally enthralling as Holy Island in England or Parque Nacional Marino Ballena in Costa Rica.

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    Low tide path rises out of the ocean providing a walking path to Lekeitio’s offshore preserve

    We found Spain and Portugal to be particularly fun grocery shopping places. It helped that excellent wine is $2 a bottle, bread is always fresh and cheap and meats, cheeses and vegetables flavorful with a dizzying array of varieties.

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    The olive oil aisle in a Spanish supermarket

    We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering Bilbao, the capital of the Basque region. Although it is an industrial port city covered in skyscrapers, we still found a few architectural gems

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    Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

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    And then back to the mountains! We meandered our way visiting scenic villages, hiking the Cares trail, visiting an epic cathedral in Burgos and then landed in Madrid.

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    Found this awesome wild camping area outside of Bilbao

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    Beautiful village of Santillana del Mar

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    Santillana del Mar

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    We liked this little guy hiding in his hole watching the people go by

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    Gorgeous hiking trail, our favorite in Spain, “The Cares” along a scenic river gorge

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    Dawn is the tiny blue spot

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    Burgos Cathedral

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    Internet has really deteriorated after Christmas. Secret note, we’re actually in the country of Mauritania where there’s been little cell service until now, even with having three different cell plans.
     
  4. Jan 20, 2023 at 12:18 PM
    #1404
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Home's our Tacoma
    Vehicle:
    2019 Tacoma AC LB TRD Sport MT
    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    Central & Southwestern Spain

    In Madrid we found our favorite city solution, a campground at the end of a subway line. We used Camping Osuna as a base for a few days, making day trips into the city. Our favorite feature of European campgrounds is, hands down, the ability to order daily fresh bread for breakfast.

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    First stop in Madrid - deep fried churros dipped in chocolate - the cafe also a great place to escape from the torrential rain

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    Madrid’s central Plaza Mayor

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    Every kind of empanada you can imagine

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    Tapas - we are in food heaven

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    Madrid’s old central market - filled with tapas

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    Stately, beautiful architecture everywhere

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    We found our favorite tapas dish - patatas bravas

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    Wine cheaper than soda and beer in a wine glass - so civilized

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    Standing in line at The Prado for free evening admission, fascinating museum, it felt like a cultural history tour provided through art

    Using Madrid as a base, we set out to explore three of Spains’s most iconic historic centers: Segovia, Avila and Toledo. They were a visual feast.

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    Segovia, Spain

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    Alcázar de Segovia, despite being highly renovated we thought it was well worth the visit, magnificent views down the valley

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    The ceilings, wow!

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    View from the Alcázar (Spanish palace or fortress) de Segovia

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    Streets of Segovia, still busy with tourists in early winter

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    Roman aqueduct in Segovia

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    Medieval walls of Avila

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    Pedestrian entrance gate for Avila

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    Cathedral door in Avila

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    Avila shopping street, ready for the holidays

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    Pedestrian entrance gate for Toledo

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    Central plaza in Toledo

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    We loved the unique cement and stone work common in the region

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    View from Toledo city walls

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    View down on Toledo from hill across the river

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    Our wet and wild camping spot - set up along the river, another quiet night. This late in the year, most other campers seem to have gone home.

    Next stop in our historic villages of Spain, Trujillo.

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    Central square, Trujillo

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    Trujillo castle at the stop of the hill

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    Trujillo Castle, built in the 13th century on the site of an old Arab fort built in the 10th century. Always re-using and re-cycling.

    Somehow Spain brought back our prior interest in ancient architecture and our fatigue from blasting through five European countries in the previous blog faded away (we had been saturated with Habsburg empire buildings). We can always tell when we are excited about a place as we cannot stop taking pictures. Mérida, founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC was one of those places.

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    Ruins of Roman theatre in Mérida

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    And then leaving town we got to drive through a Roman aqueduct

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    Exploring the town square of Cáceres with its 12th century Moorish architecture

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    Cáceres, quiet and atmospheric

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    Driving over the Alcántara Roman Bridge

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    Spacious wild camping site outside of Alcántara


    Finally, our tour took us back into Spain to visit three iconic southern cities: Seville, Córdoba and Grenada. Seville was our favorite city of the three. It was incredibly lively and vibrant. That being said, parking was literally impossible and Andy ended up having to take the truck to a Park4Night camping spot to find a spot - it is not an easy vehicle to park in a historic city, especially when most of the parking is underground and height limited.

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    December 17th at 10pm, it is almost impossible to walk the streets of Seville. That didn’t stop the marching bands from doing their best to play through the crowds.

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    Plaza de Espana, Seville

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    The Giralda, Seville. Bell tower built with ramps so that the bell ringer could ride his donkey to the top.

    The architecture in Southern Spain beautifully reflects the Moorish aesthetic, the attention to artistic detail is amazing and it is fascinating to see the blend of Islam and Christian traditions. For us, the most notable example of this was the Córdoba Mosque-Cathedral, literally named after the fact that it flipped back and forth over time between being a Mosque and a Cathedral, but with significant respect of each tradition for the artisans who came before.

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    Old bridge across the river in Córdoba

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    Entrance to old town Córdoba

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    Inner courtyard of the Córdoba Mosque -Cathedral

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    Inside Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral

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    Walking the old streets of Córdoba

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    The sun goes down in Córdoba

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    And back to the realities of preparing for Africa. Balcony of our Airbnb with all our bedding hanging to dry. Last full washing machine wash for a while!

    Our final visit in Spain was the incredible Alhambra in Grenada. Built over time by a series of sultans starting in the 13th centures, the complex now lays claim to being one of the best preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world. Of course, it also features Christian and renaissance add ons by subsequent rulers, including Ferdinand and Isabella. It is enormous to visit, with buildings from each age and style telling the story of its human occupants.

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    Some of the original fortifications

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    Nasrid Palace, so much artistic detail

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    Palace of the Nasrid Sultans

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    An other incredible ceiling

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    Early morning departure from the Grenada Airbnb - Morocco ferry time!

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    At the Algeciras port, ready to board the ferry for Tanger-Med in Morocco

    We are equal parts apprehensive and excited about the phase of our journey - heading down the West Coast of Africa where we don’t speak any of the languages and know some of the infrastructure we are used to will be missing. Definitely, adventures ahead. As always, thank you for reading
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
  5. Jan 20, 2023 at 12:46 PM
    #1405
    Steves104x4

    Steves104x4 Well-Known Member

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    Buffalo NY
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    BUCKLE UP! It makes it harder for Aliens to pull you out of your Truck.
    Fantastique and thank you for sharing. It is the next best thing to being right behind you 14EE123E-DE92-43DE-A2C4-A5493AF9641F.jpg Edit: what are we having for dinner?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
    Round the world[OP] likes this.
  6. Jan 20, 2023 at 6:06 PM
    #1406
    Roody

    Roody Well-Known Member

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    Ross
    SW CT
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    Hey Andy, loved following along thus far. You've probably done more research for the Africa adventure than anyone can imagine, but if you have any questions about the upcoming travels it might be worth reaching out to Dan Grec of The Road Chose Me:

    https://www.youtube.com/@TheRoadChoseMe
    https://www.instagram.com/theroadchoseme/

    He's a personal friend of mine and circumnavigated Africa a few years back. May or may not be able to help, but a genuinely nice dude who could be a good resource.
     
  7. Jan 21, 2023 at 2:41 AM
    #1407
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Gender:
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    Home's our Tacoma
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    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    Last night was leftover rice noodles with chicken and veggies accompanied by a local beer. Dessert was dark chocolate. Weathers been a bit toasty lately hitting 99, morning lows of 70.
     
  8. Jan 21, 2023 at 2:57 AM
    #1408
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Home's our Tacoma
    Vehicle:
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    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    Thanks Ross!

    Dan Grec is definitely an inspiration! I was lucky enough to meet and chat with him at a pre-covid Overland Expo. Basically it was he who convinced us that a drive down the east coast and up the west coast of Africa was achievable. During our research we’ve found that an Facebook group called Overlanding West Africa and Morocco gives excellent realtime advice. We also are in a Whatsapp subgroup of active overlanders who are currently in West Africa. Dan is a part of these groups and is active at at advice. We’re finding that situations at border crossings changes almost every week. Dans advice (smile, ask how they are, shake their hand, no sunglasses, tell them that we love their country, etc) of how to deal with the police & customs people asking for has worked great so far - haven’t given a bribe yet
     
  9. Jan 21, 2023 at 4:31 AM
    #1409
    Roody

    Roody Well-Known Member

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    That's great to hear! & yes, absolutely, people do tend to reflect the expressions of a person they're meeting the first time. Positivity echoes positivity.
     
  10. Jan 25, 2023 at 12:19 AM
    #1410
    Round the world

    Round the world [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Home's our Tacoma
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    flatbed with 4WC Fleet with extensive mods
    PORTUGAL

    We actually did a quick visit to Portugal while visiting Spain. Thought I’d throw that in before posting our Morocco adventure.

    Our first stop in Portugal delighted us and once again we could not stop taking photos. Monsanto was a charming village, built into and around huge boulders and topped by a castle that you could scramble around at will.

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    Cobbled main street of Monsanto, weaving around the landscape of the mountain and the enormous boulders throughout the village.

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    Random colorful little doors along the way, a little short for Andy

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    [​IMG]Our favorite stop in Portugal
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    With views out on the valley below

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    Castle at the top of the hill in Monsanto

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    Intriguing architecture incorporating the natural granite features

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    No idea what the door goes to, definitely Hobbit-like

    Re-finding our interest in Roman ruins after Merida, our next stop was Conimbriga and the ruins of a Roman town.

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    Beautifully preserved mosaics

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    Walking the old Roman road

    Next, on to the coast and then to Lisbon where we would pick up our daughter, Claire, the first of the family group of eight who would join us for Christmas in Morocco.

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    Nazare, home of the Big Wave, no surfing while we were there

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    Found a great spot to camp behind the dunes

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    But not before we accidentally drove into the deep sand and got stuck. No worries, aired down and made our way out. Stayed aired down until we hit the pavement, notice the smushed tire

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    Looming big for us, prepping for Africa. Topping off the propane tanks while we can.

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    Re-united with Claire in Lisbon!

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    Adventures with the Truck

    Now for another technical aside. One of our CV boots had come loose, despite being attached at a Toyota dealer 500 miles previously. We queried the Overlanding Europe site for an overlanding mechanic in Lisbon and were given the name Tuff Tracks. Rafael was super! He took care of the CV Boot and a whole host of other minor issues (cut off some stripped bolts on the flatbed so we could replace them, diagnosed an annoying squeak, cleaned the injectors from bad gas), everything we needed fixing before we set off for Africa.

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    Excellent mechanics at Tuff Tracks in Lisbon

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    Cromeleque dos Almendres - mythical rocks

    So from here a temporary departure from living in the truck as we didn’t want to horrify our tall, adult daughter by making her sleep on our dinette a full 2 feet from her parents. The pleasure of her company was well worth the investment in a few Airbnb’s. Although it also brought home for us how much easier it truly is to live and travel out of our vehicle as opposed to moving in and out of city apartments and hotels.

    So we hit the road to see a bit more of Portugal before dipping back into southern Spain.

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    Activating the third seat - shortest person in the back (normally we have lightweight plywood shelves here to help keep our stuff organized - shoes, daypacks etc.)

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    Beautiful village of Evora

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    Street where our Airbnb was, distinctive yellow and white color scheme throughout the town

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    Our first morning bakery run for breakfast in Evora

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    Clambering around the cliffs at Algar Seco

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    Tiny coastal village of Cacela Velha

    Next up Africa!!
     

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