Thursday, 12 April 2018

Viva Espania

This last trip was thought out as we entered Winter in 2017, we have spent many an Easter freezing in the Scottish Highlands so we thought why not go to Spain, play in the Pyrenees at Easter, at least it'll be warm! Little did we know that this winter would just drag on and on, now reading this blog it may give an impression of a winter of carefree days in the Perthshire countryside but that's because in the main I've been lazy and only written after carefree days, not the week after week of freezing the gonads off me being bored. The forecast for leaving on the Wednesday afternoon before good Friday was for some snow, sleet and rain, perfect, just what all us motorcyclists like!
We set off after lunch for the easy 230 mile trip to Garstang where we had organised a room for the night, wet roads but dry to Stirling, then rain, daytime darkness, windy as we passed Glasgow, a bleak run down the M74 then the usual temperature drop at Abingdon and hailstones, what a laugh we were having!
Just before the border my front left indicator fell off and was wildly flapping about only supported by the wire, strange I though and took the opportunity to pull into the BP station before the border for a fuel up, cup of tea and repair job. First the tea and the Costa stirring sticks were then used as a splint for the indicator stem, judicious use of duct tape and all was well. Off we set again only to find the M6 had been blocked by an accident in both directions, not good so we turned off before the affected area to ride through Kendal on the old A6 which was where the whole M6 had in fact been directed, as you might imagine a motorway closed in both directions diverted through a small market town made for interesting conditions, thank God we were on the bikes at least where we took every opportunity to queue jump. We landed at our room probably and hour later than we thought which considering the conditions wasn't bad.
An earlyish start for day two for the run to Didcot to stay with friends Martin and Sue meant similar conditions but also busier and just as we were about to turn off the M40 to the A34 Fiona announced her front right indicator had fallen off, strange indeed, a quick stop in the service station revealed exactly the same breakage as mine, very weird, luckily I had some wooden stirrers spare and we were on our way after a quick repair, we arrived at Didcot very wet but glad we only had 80 odd miles to do the next day to the ferry, drunkeness ensued and just to make the hangovers feel better the Friday weather was torrential rain and terrible visibility as well as bank holiday traffic, very relieved to get to the ferry on the Friday.

Ready for the off
My indicator, strange
Fiona's indicator 300 miles later, very strange
The only good thing about Costa, indicator splints!
At rest at Martin and Sues
In the bowels of Brittany ferries boat
The sea was rough (in my opinion) and the boat wobbled a lot through the bay of Biscay which for me meant lots of throwing up and not being able to get out of my bed until an hour before we landed (it's a 24 hour crossing). We met a few motorcyclists on the boat and had good craic with them, David from Leeds on a Tiger doing part of the Picos and camping for the week, Andrea and Anna from Lisbon taking a bike home in front of their intended return later in the year (bikes are about a 1/3 of the price in the UK, used anyway, usual caveats apply)
Talking to everyone and looking at the weather reports it was becoming obvious that unless we wanted a week of crap weather we would have to abandon the Pyrenees route and come up with something else. Last off the ferry and only 2 passport officers checking off a full ship, it was almost 2 hours before we were free of the docks (just like Zebrugge last year, I'm sure its a ploy to punish the Brits for Brexit)
Into our Hotel in Santander for the night and some food that I could keep down and some serious trip re planning, by bedtime, checking the weather and maps Fi had come up with a route that would be interesting and more importantly dry and maybe even warm.
Sunday we rode down to Soria, a mix of small roads and some highways and an excellent campsite just to the South West of the town, well reccomended, nice people and reasonable prices plus a good cafe bar on site, our neighbours were mainly Storks which kept us amused, the campsite was quiet and we were the only ones in a tent.

Sunrise in Santander
Deviation to see this Gorge and a failed attempt at a cup of tea
Storks (noisy buggers sometimes)
In flight
Another gas stop
Trying to fix the MSR stove, sick of it , constantly lets us down in our hour of need! Pump gone again and its the lift pipe blocked of which no spare is supplied, expensive shite!
More Storks
I like their whisky measures and the price! Much cheaper than Scotland which shows how much we get ripped off!
The only disappointment was the MSR stove (again) it has let us down too often and I am going to look at a replacement (either that or carry 2 of them!) I like my tea even more than I like whisky, its a life essential and I'm not a happy Gino when I can't get some.
Monday was bit warmer but still not hot, we were travelling mainly at 3 - 4500 feet so that's probably why, great roads, twisty, interesting and brilliant condition, a shortish day of only 150 miles and we ended up in the small provincial capital of the Aragon region, Teruel. I found out from a local that this is the least populated region in Spain, it was excellent, we had a late lunch and then made the cal to stay there in a small Hotel next to where we'd  parked the bikes, very interesting town, cheap and well worth a visit. We also bought an electric Kettle (again) although slightly smaller than the one we'd bought in Chile. Sara and Dan had given us an electric water heater when they were lightening the load a couple of years ago in Italy and I was kicking myself for not bringing it!
Tuesday was warmer and we had a fantastic run through the deserted mountain roads to the resort town of Peniscola just North of Valencia and yes I did have to get Fi to spell it twice as I thought she was having a laugh the first time.
We spent a couple of days lounging around there almost being tourists but the downside we were paying tourist prices, interesting enough for a day walking along the beach and looking at the castle but two weeks vacation here would drive me nuts!

I was impressed by the number of these Moorish castles we passed, for me unexpected
Happy Fiona because its warm
Castle
Statue to bullfighting, don't understand myself but.....
Teruel bridge
nice Plaza
Government building Teruel
Double viaduct
Nice church
afternoon coffee
The mayors house in the old days
Enjoying the roads
pose for picture
Nice lunchstop
with good views of another castle
Sun = Happy Fiona
Peniscola beach and castle
The old town
again
Impressive sand art although they all look the same
In a bar toilet in Teruel, Frank, one of my hero's visiting the same toilet
stunning vistas
Interesting rock formations
Fi with the bikes on the left, you get the idea
Camping in Peniscola
Not sure what the weather was doing so we left Peniscola on the Thursday for a couple of nights in a hotel in Logrono, capital of Spain's wine region and on the pilgrimage route, again a stunning run across the mountains, plenty roadworks but temporary diversions were great fun, they were like a racetrack surface wise and empty. Logrono is a nice place to visit but it is a tourist town so is a bit more expensive than some of the places we visited. We got ripped off in a bar for drinks but we did eventually find a fantastic bar that's NOT on trip advisor or any of that other Bullshit, Moderno cafe, owned by the same family for four generations and very olde worlde, good food, good service, good prices and generous whisky measures. Saturday we headed back to the boat at Santander using the highways. Met up with David again, he'd had a lot of rain so not so good, also met a nice chap called Tommy who we quizzed about his solo trip through Africa, interesting indeed.
We got off the ferry on Sunday night in Portsmouth and headed up to the M40 for a room in a travelodge for the night, pissing rain and dark, welcome back to blighty indeed. The final leg home was ok, sunshine most of the way. It was a great week and I'd go back and do that trip again, even the BMW's behaved!

The tower in Logrono was part of a tobacco factory 
Nice town
Vintage coffee machine
Vintage bar inside
and outside
Church
And on the pilgrim route
Locals drinking
Nice road into Logrono. More castles
Tea stop
Logrono
Final tea stop
Waiting for the ferry
This guy had his son on the back of this doing part of the TET (enduro trail)