Friday, 28 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 14

Friday 28th June

Travelling deeper into Castilla-La Mancha to Cuenca. This is Don Quixote country, and like him I am trying to revive chivalry! Rach can be my Sancho Panza as she generally just takes the piss.

One of the famous windmills of the area, the vastness of these empty plains are hard to capture on camera

Our hotel is another old convent, but despite the amazing view from our room of the gorge, 

Really that's the view!
There is a bar but no pool! I'am reconsidering becoming a nun!
I thought all convent came with pools!
Cuenca is famous for its hanging houses or casa colgadas.
Unusually the cathedral was built on the site of a mosque, demolished in 1177 by Alphonso VIII when he re-conquered the area.

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 13

Thursday 27th June

We travelled trough the olive groves as we left Andalusia and crossed through the mountains into Castilla-La Mancha. The roads here are straight and cut through the countryside like and arrow with 5 miles or more between bends.

As we came through the mountains we passed a man on a motorbike going the other way waving, in what we thought was a slow down gesture, we slowed for a speed trap, but saw non, then as we rode toward what we thought was a heat haze on the road, it started to pi.. pour down! But the rain was refreshing, didn't last long and we soon dried out.
We reached Almagro, the jewel of the hot, dry central plains, and our hotel (the Parador) was an old Franciscan convent, our second convent of the trip (the first was in Evora).
Those nuns had it great we thought, as we sat round the pool at 6pm in 44 degree sun, before we went off to the bar. I think I could I be nun!

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 12

Wednesday 26th June

We packed up and dragged ourselves slowly though the spanish border and customs. Then blasted back to El Rubio via the toll roads, no stops, no coffee (149 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes), the only ones we will use on the trip.

A quick change and out to the municipal outdoor pools, these are cheap for the residents and only €3 for visitors!

Later we went to a local tapas bar, football was on and it was pointed out that the Spanish always laugh when England are playing, not for the obvious reason, but because the crowd chants 'championies!' Which in Spanish is mushrooms!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 11 extra

Tuesday 24th June

The levant, an easterly wind at the top of the rock.
As the weather is good it's sometimes called the levant blanc.

Portugal, Spain & France - Day 11

Tuesday 25th June

The other two bikes stayed at El Rubio while we travelled south through the Sierras past Marbella to Gibraltar 

We had to wait for a plane to cross before we could cross the runway into 'Gib'

We went on the cable cars up the rock to see the monkeys (Barbary macaques)

Close up just in case you weren't sure which were the monkeys!
The levante was blowing but not too bad (video to follow)
Our hotel (The Bristol) was better than it looked on the web, right on cathedral square, as we were getting ready about 7pm we could hear the nuns singing at mass.
We bought some duty free's and sat by the harbour eating a fantastic meal

Monday, 24 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 9 extra extra

Sunday 23rd June

Portugal, Spain & France - Day 10

Monday 24th June

Nobody wanted to leave the pool

Every day you can ride your bike is a good day, but when it's like this.....

We rode back into Spain and just near Seville the clocks went forward again, the heat is rising and we were sat in traffic in 40 degree sun!
We rode to Rachael's sisters house in El Rubio, the area is known as the frying pan of Spain, when you ride it's like riding into a hair dryer on full heat, you can't leave your visor up or your eyes dry out!

Portugal, Spain & France - Day 9 extra

Life on the road

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 9

Sunday 23rd June

First day off today and a lie in, then breakfast on the terrace in the 9am 30 degree heat. Lovely!
We have done,

8 days on the road,
1414 miles,
157 litres of fuel
14 stops on the road for fuel or coffee

We found another cow in Lagos, but alas no beer this time!

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 8

Saturday 22nd June

A fantastic ride in from Evora to the Algarve coast, we've had a new bike with us all day today and I hope it stays there!

We rode along the coat from Albufeira to Lagos, this is the bridge at Portimao,

We reached our apartments and straight in the pool


Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 7 extra

Friday 21st June

Rach tried milking this local cow with surprising results!

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 7

Friday 21st June

A lazy 10am start and a ride back inland through some small roads to Evora, these turned to single track looking for a petrol station, the cobbled streets of Evora are hard work and can be slippery.

We went to the Capela dos Ossos, the chapel of bones 3 naves lined with bones, meant to remind you of your own mortality.

Bodies left to rot, then be used in the Chapel, an honour

Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Stop … do not proceed;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among all the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.
by Fr. António da Ascenção (translation by Fr. Carlos A. Martins, CC)

Friday, 21 June 2013

Portugal, France & Spain 2013 - Day 6

Thursday 20th June

Rode down through Portugal under brilliant blue skies, small roads and lots of towns, we saw a few girls stood by the roadside looking like they were going out clubbing and needed a lift. But they didn't have a cardboard sign or their thumb out, so it would have took them ages to get one!

We rode into the seaside town of Nazare right down to the beach and stopped outside our hotel, as the manager was telling us to just put the bikes on the pavement, people were taking photos! Fame at last! No money though :-(

Our hotel is the Ribamar, 20 foot from the beach, double room, sea view, free wifi, breakfast €35!

View from our room

From the prom


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 5

Wednesday 19th June

Crossed The border into Portugal and weirdly we went back 1 hour to UK time, we must be riding down a line of latitude, so that'll be fun, constantly changing time zones!

Prices for fuel are higher than Spain but luckily beer is still cheap!
There is a festival on in Braga, something to do with a boy and a goat? Any ideas?

And the sun is getting hotter

Saw this cool trike, for a nun I think

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 4

Tuesday 18th June

Finally sun shone down on us as we travelled the fast flowing and almost empty roads in the foothills to Santiago de Compostella. As we got near on the N550 we passed increasing numbers of walkers (we'd seen them since we set off from Leon) and we later realised they were walking the Camino de Santiago. A pilgrimage to the cathedral supposedly built on the grave of St James. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 3

Monday 17th June

After another 100 mile shower, the weather cleared as we rode across the Cambrian mountains and we rolled into Leon about 5.15 pm. We were soon freshened up and sampling the great free tapas in the local bars!

The drinking continued, but only to get more tapas!

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 3 extra

Monday 17th June

After the English weather it was great to ride off the ferry into the Spanish sunshine.

No es bueno!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 2

Sunday 16th June

Arrived at Bromsgrove after typical English summer weather (a 10 minute monsoon that soaked us the skin!) but the next day was sunny and we set off for good ride on the A38 for the ferry in Plymouth. On the ferry (the Pont-Aven) we presented Averil & Bry with the t shirts we'd had made for the trip, for Bry's retirement.

Left to right: Rach, Alan, Cheryl, Ave, Steve, Bry

Ferry crossing a little rough, Ave fitted in well as everyone had a stagger on! For once food and drink was reasonable priced, well done Brittany ferries.
Blog you later!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Portugal, Spain & France 2013 - Day 1

Saturday 15th June 2013

Off to Bromsgrove, not that glam but the ferry doesn't leave Plymouth till Sunday so we may as well half the mileage down there.

The worst bit of these trips is the motorway blast to get to the ferry port.

Route planned,
Hotels booked,
Packing done,
New tyres on,
Packing re-done,
Bike serviced,
Parking places checked,
Sat nav. programmed,
Packing re-done (again)
Ready to go..........
I'll just check that packing list again!

As the quote goes...
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~ Susan Heller
So only 200 miles of motorway to go, the music is set on the iPod so off we go.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

France & Spain 2007

June 2007

We set off at midnight on our BMW GS 1150 Adventure and Bryan and Averil on a Honda CBR 1000, to do the long slog to down to Dover in the typically English constant rain! We get the ferry from Dover to Calais and do about 100 miles to our first stop in France, Abbeville, completing our biggest 1-day mileage of 465 miles.
After that we settle in to a normal day of about 200 miles a day meeting steadily improving weather as progress is made south through France, breezing through the beautiful little villages of the Loire valley and the Dordogne, the sun shining, the roads are good, and quiet.
After 3 days the scenery starts to get more dramatic as we get near the Pyrenees stopping at Pau to view a 100km panorama of 80 peaks from the Boulevard Des Pyrenees. Riding here is fantastic and just when you think it can’t get any better it does!
We cross into Spain through a 5 mile long tunnel and stop at Jaca in the Spanish Pyrenees.

The mountain roads are in fantastic condition and the weather is amazing, liners have long since been taken out of the jackets and trousers and all thoughts of rain are forgotten. We pass though small villages stopping for coffee and tapas and finding very few English-speaking people in these out of the way places. You pick up some Spanish quickly, or starve. The people are so helpful and friendly in broken English/hand signals asking where we are going/have come from, when we explain we always get the same reply as they shake their heads, ‘Loco Ingles!’
We travel across Spain to the south coast, enjoying the beautiful roads and fantastic hospitality. Stopping to spend a night at a cave hotel in Baza that is so remote even the locals didn’t know where it was! But, they are amazing and well worth the hunt. 

We continue to a small village near Seville, El Rubio, where Rachael's sister lives, and have a few days rest before setting of to Bilbao and the ferry home.
The second last night in Spain we stop at Avila a fairy tale walled city with 88 turrets, our hotel is very reasonably priced and situated in the square next to the oldest Gothic cathedral in Spain and across the square from some of the best T-bones steaks in Spain.
We struggle to get to the hotel as the medieval cobbled streets are so small a 1 way system is in place, so we end up riding through a shopping center to get there, people just look, shrug, move and get on with what they’re doing. No hassle, relaxed, this sums up riding in Europe.
Into Bilbao and the ferry to Portsmouth where we see the news for the first time in days. While we were riding in the sun, we have missed one of the wettest Junes ever!  We ride all the way home (in the dry) and arrive at midnight exactly 14 days and 2881 miles later, no tolls paid, not one! 5000-foot mountain passes. Sat nav indispensable (if for no other reason it reminds you the right way round the roundabout).
There were so many highlights on this trip, it really was an eye openner. Touring like this just can’t be matched by ANY package holiday, everyone enjoyed it! Bigger and better trips are planned.