I will eventually get all our old trips on here
Since I switched from a sports bike to a BMW GS and Rach was going on the back more and more we, (mostly me), had been talking about doing a bigger trip for a while. Up till till then we had only done days out. Then we did a test run up to Seton Sands (about 160 miles away) and that was it, we wre hooked, the only thing we were going to change was from soft luggage to hard luggage, mainly for security, being able to leave the bike and not worry.
Northern & Southern Ireland 2009
A not too early start to get to the ferry port at Stranraer, there was 3 bikes this time us on the GS, Averil & Bryan on the CBR 1000, and Clare & Kev on a Pan European.
We came off at Belfast and had soon reached Larne and the causeway coastal route a brilliant road that follows the coast round to our first stop at Port Stewart.We leave out through Derry and onto Enniskillen the to to find the small village of Monea where Rach & Ave's father grew up. We found the village church but Cullen cottages where his home was was gone and new houses built there. Through Sligo and on to Galway where we arrive at the hotel about 6pm.
No riding the next day, we walk up the river and explore Galway in the sun, eating, listening to the live music and sample a few Guinness.
A lazy start the next day and a short hop to the cliffs of Moher, via the coastal route
40 miles further on to the little Shannon ferry which takes about 20 minutes, then down into Dingle harbour via the Conner pass, a single lane road up and over the hills.
No riding the next day for us the other 4 went off to do the ring of Kerry, we've do it before so decided as the sun was shining, to wander Dingle, eat and sample more Guinness.
We set off in the wrong direction (west not east) to visit Slea Head and Dunmore head (the most westerly point in mainland Europe) with it's stunning views of the Blasket islands.
Northern & Southern Ireland 2008
An early start to catch the ferry from Fleetwood to Larne, we were on last (normally bikes first) as it was a more commercial ferry, but this meant free food and drink! As soon as we left the ferry we were onto the causeway coastal route with it's twists and turns and stunning views all the way to Ballycastle.
We were stopping at camp site arranged through the sun holidays deal but the accommodation turned out to be a 2 floor brick chalet, we had the lower floor with the bike right outside, not bad for £40 for 3 nights!
The location of the campsite made easy access to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge which was just about to be closed due to the high winds, luckily we got across, and back!
A short hop to the beach at White Park bay a fantastic wild and unspoiled bit of coastline with amazing blue green sea.
Back on the bike to the giants causeway and while the rock formations are amazing I found it a bit underwhelming and touristy. On the way back we stopped at Dunluce castle which was having a summer fayre, complete with knights and all.
We moved on travelling through Derry (formally Londonderry) to Enniskillen as Rach's father was born nearby. Enniskillen is actually and island in the middle of a river. Then on to Galway and the Harbour hotel.
France & Spain June 2007
We set off at midnight (me and Rachael on our BMW GS 1150 Adventure and Bryan and Averil on a Honda CBR 1000), to do the long slog down to Dover in the typically English constant rain! Only stopping on the way to empty water from my sleeves and get coffee and fuel. We got the ferry to France and did about 100 miles to our first stop in France, Abbeville, completing our biggest 1-day mileage of 450 miles.
After that we settled into a normal day of about 200 miles, stopping every 50 miles or so and completely avoiding using toll roads. We met steadily improving weather as progress was made south through France, breezing through the beautiful little villages of the Loire valley and the Dordogne, the sun shining, the roads good and quiet.
After 3 days the scenery started to get more dramatic as we got near the Pyrenees stopping at Pau,
to view a 100 km 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 crossed into Spain through a 5 mile long tunnel and stopped in Jaca in the Spanish Pyrenees. The mountain roads were in fantastic condition and the weather was amazing, liners had long since been taken out of the jackets and trousers and all thoughts of rain were forgotten.
We passed though small villages stopping for coffee and tapas and found very few English-speaking people in these out of the way places. We had to speak Spanish or gesture or starve! The people were so helpful and friendly in broken English/hand signals asking where we were going/have come from, when we explained we always got the same reply as they shook their heads, ‘Loco! English loco!’
We traveled across Spain to the south coast, enjoying the beautiful roads and fantastic hospitality, stopping to spend a night at a cave hotel Al Jatib in Baza, that was so remote even the locals didn't know where it was!
But, they are amazing and well worth the hunt. We continued to a small village near Seville where we have family and had a few days rest before setting off to Bilbao and the ferry home.
The second last night in Spain we stopped at Avila a fairytale walled city with 88 turrets, our hotel was 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 struggled to get to the hotel as the medieval cobbled streets were so small a 1 way system was in place, we could see the hotel but not get there! the sat nav was no help, so we ended up riding through a shopping center to get there, people just looked, shrugged, moved and got on with what ever they were doing. No hassle, relaxed, this sums up riding in Europe.
Into Bilbao for the night then to Santurzi and onto the ferry to PortsmouthThere were so many highlights on this trip that you forget them till you are talking about it in the pub or looking at photos. Touring like this just can’t be matched by ANY package holiday, even the wife enjoyed it! Bigger and better trips are planned.
where we saw the news for the first time in days. While we were riding in the sun, we had missed one of the wettest Junes ever! We rode all the way home (in the dry) and arrived at midnight exactly 14 days and around 3000 miles later, no tolls paid, not one! 5000 foot mountain passes. The sat nav was indispensable (if for no other reason it reminds you the right way round the roundabout).