Spain and Portugal 2003.
May and June 2003 !
On the "The Beast", BMW K1200RS / Mandarin / 2000mod.
(referrals to pictures in text)
This trip started as usual in Oslo-Norway, and the first part is done by ferry from Oslo to Kiel-Germany. But arriving in Germany I am to do it a bit different from earlier trips down Europe and by this gaining some kilometers "the easy way". I will use the German "Autozug", from Hamburg through Germany and France to the French Mediterranean town of Narbonne, situated just off the Spanish-border. This would let me start the main-trip, relaxed and hopefully in good spirit, after a nights sleep on the Train. It leaves Hamburg at 2 AM and arrives in Narbonne 1030 PM the next day.
The loading of the bikes starts at 1 AM and is done by "The Autozug-crew" a whole bunch of them, with a "head-man" of the Preusian-type and the bikes where tied down properly enough to arrive Narbonne without any scratches at all, a real professional way. "The damage" of it all is: Hamburg-Narbonne with a sleeper-cabin : 240 Euro. And you gain appr. 1900kilometers of Autobahn with the results of square-tires and at least two nights hotel stay.
The Train-trip was uneventful, though some nice sights through Germany before night set in and it is time "to hit the sack" Awaking in the morning, the heat is there and it is an hour from our destination, Narbonne. The Mediterranean looks great, nothing to stir it ...not a breeze... nothing, just "plain heat". Wahoo, this looks nice..........
From Narbonne I am heading North to Toulouse to visit some friends of mine who lives there. And I use the easy way,... the Highway ... it is too hot to take the small roads at least today.... It is good to be back in Southern Europe and feel the warmth of the late spring.... it has been a long winter in Norway..and this is good for the "soul"... One month of spare time, off work, off worries, just to relax and have a nice time.
And the "Mighty K" is as ever.... just "purring"...."purring"....and runs as expected.... when at last it could get "free"... of those speed limits in Norway. It is loaded more or less to the 'brink'.. maybe I this time took some more luggage then needed, but it is just started.. so let us see.
I stayed in Toulouse for two days and as I have been here on business before, several times, I knew the town and was satisfied with that. My goal lay further south of the border. I had a week to pass before I was to be in the Spanish coastal-town, Santander. Here I would meet up with my fellow-drivers who would arrive from Plymouth-England and we all would do this trip together.
So I headed for the tiny state of Andorra, pressed in between France and Spain.
As you could see this State of Andorra is situated high in the mountains and it is "real" snow on the pictures.
Andorra is a "free-port" ???? In the mountains ???? You may ask...but there is no tax on goods to buy, and by this it is a popular place to go for both the French and the Spaniards. It is also a winter-sports place for down-hill skiing. And one of the only border-crossings left in Europe with a thorough check-up.
After visiting Andorra I set the pace south and stopped in the little village of Artesa de Segre - Spain, for the night. Found a decent hostel with a nice kitchen.
Next day started as the one gone.... sun drenched scenery ... hot .... , even hotter then yesterday and the route went through Belaguer ( 7) , Monzon, Hueska and up in the Pyrenees again to the town Sabinanigo ( 8) a nice town at the foot of the Pyrenees in a tiny valley.
The following day went trough the town of Jaca and here I made a detour off the normal roads and by this was met by the most stunning scenery. The road was bad, pot-holes throughout but nature was great. Ended up behind two buses and could not pass so I stopped and took some pic's.
Headed out on the plains to Eija de los Caballeros(12) and the scenery widens-out and the farmland takes over after the wild mountains.
This evening I stop in the town Agreda and the next stretch is through Soria , Salas de los Infantes to end up in Santo Domingo de la Calzada (17).
The weather is perfect and "The Beast" is doing it's thing.... bringing me all over this beautiful landscape.
When traveling in hot climate I have experienced that bottled water is my best companion as soda's tend to make you more thirsty so mine and the bike's fill-up always is : a full tank of petrol and three bottles of water .
Passed through Burgos on my way North .....North ?? Have you forgotten, I am supposedly to be in Santander on June 10th to meet my fellow-bikers as they arrive from Plymouth-England in the morning. So I am one day too early to meet-up and I decide to make a stay-over in Aguilar de Campo(19) and the pic to the right is from the town center.
Had a lazy-morning, with a breakfast at the local bakery. Nice fresh goodies and some cups of coffee just outside the shop on the sidewalk. Funny how relaxing it could be , just to sit and watch the world go by.
Santander, June 10th. Stayed at Hotel Bahia just at the quay.
Arrival of the rest, to make "The gang of 2003" complete, and for the record, lets make "a list of participants":
Phil Metcalfe, York-England, V-Max
Steve Ellis, York-England, Aprilia Futura
David Ellis, York-England, Honda CBR600
John White, York-England, YamahaFjR1300
Clive Wakefield, York-England, R1150RT
Dave Williams, York-England, Honda 600...
Kjell Idsal, Oslo - Norway, BMW K1200RS
Today's goal is Santiago de la Compostella and we will drive along the northern-coast of Spain along the Bay of Biscay. See also the map underneath and as before number in brackets are related to map.
The ferry from Plymouth arrived in Santander at time and we headed west after some handshake's and 'howdy's'...."long time no see".
Weather is good now, but actually the day started with a heavy down-pour in the morning hours. But it is here once again, the SUN as we depart Santander. First stop was made as we saw a lovely beach and we tried to find it off the main-road .
A bit hazy, but not overcast and warm. The first stop did only hold for 'a sig' and a bone-stretch and we decided to make a coffee break later .
The road was marvelous and 'new' over stretches. (I drove the same stretch in 99 and then it was a mud-hole in the rain).
Coming up to the bridge over the river Navia, Clive spotted a nice place down by the water and we had our lunch-stop in sight.
The trip along the coast went more or less uneventful and we arrived in Santiago de Compostella in the afternoon. Clive was "leader of the pack" and found us a descent Hotel in middle of town.
The Landlord even moved his car to get us parking space, we filled it up easily and went out to seek some dinner.
Checking out of the Hotel in Santiago, we where headed for Portugal and the town Porto or Oporto as the Portuguese says. The traffic was ok and we did a good mileage 'kilometer-wise'. Had to stop in between though as Spain has it's toll-roads, at one of these Toll-boots we met "a real-nice-woman" just ask Clive. I think he had to re-arrange his bike at least three times before she was satisfied and let him pay his due.
Maybe she had a bad day... but she acted like a clown if you ask me.
After this we had to have a stop just to discuss, what was the 'problem' or was there any at all.....
"The Beast" has gotten it's Logo, (can you spot The Beast?) and are having a rest in Portugal.
Arriving in the out-skirts of Porto, we found out that this was going to be a lot of hassle, just to find our way downtown, as it was in the most busy traffic at the afternoon. And the heat was bad, Clive's RT did even over-heat.
So we had to make a stop and try to find some shelter for the sun. It was decided that I was to lead us downtown relaying on the Garmin StreetPilot III,solely, and it did what we wanted, getting us down to the river of Duro in the middle of town.
However this was not the place to look for a Hotel and Clive did get a Police-Officer to guide us to a decent Hotel. He took through town ones again, but this time with Police as escort, no problems with traffic at all. He simply stopped it, to let us all by. And left us at a nice Hotel, not the cheapest one though, but ok, it even did have a down-stairs 'locked-garage'.
After check-in at the hotel we went down town to grab some dinner and ended up more or less the same place as before, down by the river Duro. A lot of small restaurants all over. After having a nice dinner, our way was up-hill all the way to the hotel. And as you see, we had to start up-hill in the street which is in the middle of the picture.
John, Phil and Dave was the back-troops and just before leaving the Quay we saw an enormous Seagull eating a fish at the street. There where some suggestions how it could swallow the fish, but it did, and off we went.
Some minutes later there was an outcry from "the back-troop" and some bad language shouting and yelling. Us in the front did wonder what had happened and we only had to turn around to realize what. The mentioned Seagull was evently not happy with "those comments of it's capability to eat"..... and had "dropped" all it's content over "The back-troops"...... or was it it's cousin ? Anyhow "The back-troops" where 'stained' and smelled badly............
The next day we did a tour of our own in Porto, and as it was a warm day it was 'some heavy walking' I would say. The town of Porto is a hilly one up and down all over. We walked over the Old bridge and could see the town from this side, Up-town looking down at the Duro and the Old Bridge, we went down the hill in foreground and wandered down and over the Old-one. Arriving at " the opposite side" of the River, we found some great labels.
After a steep hill-climb we finally found the Cellars of "Osborne's",the one with the labels of "The Fighting Bull", and it's contents we did get a good taste of.
After a nice stay in Porto, we headed east and up the Duro-valley. The road-surface differed from nice asphalt-road to gravel and cobble-stones. But as you see, the nature and landscape did out with all the bad roads. And as we came further up-valley, the landscape broadened and as we where thirsty and warm we stopped at a little Bar roadside. Here we became "the event of the week" as the old men outside wanted to give us their chairs, so that we could all sit down and enjoy our drinks. Great people.
Finally we did find a hotel and what a place..... We had decided to stop further down in the valley, but the place we had thought of did not suit us, and when finding this one we where "pleased over the top"
We where heading for "The Pico's de Europe" and by this we had to drive east north-east from the Duro-valley.
Arriving in Mombuey, we decided to make it a day and found a little hostel. Thay did make dinner, but in the morning there was no one present , so we made our pay and locked it in Clive's room. Just before departure the Lady from the joint, did appear, embarrassed. We where on our way still with the "Pico's the Europe" as a goal.
The town of Riano is a new town, it is build higher then the old one , this due to filing -up of the valley. For purpose of Hydro-electric dam.
This was our last day together and the English-friends are supposedly leaving with the Ferry for Plymouth-England at mid-day.
So I am leaving you here and will make a wave along the road reaching Santander, as I do not want to go into town.
Good by and thank you all for some nice days.
And I am heading back to France, for my trip home to Norway. though this time I will drive all the way. Please take a look at the map added beneath.
The home through France is as above and I did some miles a day and stopped in the French town Le Montat. From here I travelled via Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon before heading more or less north to reach Metz and the German border. The "Mighty K" as said before just went like a dream through those warm nice French roads. As I was just some few kilometers south of Metz I felt the bike or the road some funny. Actually I though the road was hiding some long-going groves, because the bike felt a bit "shaking" it's tail. The speed was in around 150 kmph and I could not see any grooves in the road and the tail-shaking just added up. Something must be wrong, a service-area sign came up and I headed to this. Stopping here was funny, because I then realized that my back-tire had lost it's air totally, and "the tail" wagged like of a dog's. Well that's for not checking the tire pressure, these past days, you idiot I thought, and started to add air in the tire. I could not get it over 2 bars and thought I heard a sizzling sound as well, could not feel any objects stuck in the tire though. I then took a thorough check-up and found the rupture, some 2,5 inches long, clean cut right through. Was able to 'mend it' by dividing-up the supplied BMW- Tire patch in three and using all the glue. I then let it tend itself for an hour before adding air....... And it did hold the air fine. This is my first High-speed tire rupture and I would not recommend it.
Traveled into Metz at a slow speed, and found a hotel in the center. The day after I moved real slow further to the German town Trier, here I found the local BMW Dealer and they replaced the tire with a new one. Great service as the shop was filled-up with work, more or less the day was gone when I could start for Klotten in the Mosel-valley.
Arriving Klotten and the nice Hotel zur Post, Klaus was home and he could rent me a room. But I was lucky because they had "their day-off"(the German 'ruhe-tag'). The temperature arriving down in the valley was 37 degrees Celsius and a beer at the Terrace was wonderful. The day after I started off early and stopped just some kilometers south of Kiel.The ferry for Oslo-Norway leaves Kiel at mid day and it is ok to arrive at the dock some hours before to get a ticket. Leaving at 2PM I am supposed to be in Oslo at 10 AM the next day.
The "Mighty K" behaved as suspected.... not a problem (not including the tire rupture) at all. I more or less took bike right from a service at the dealers, the oil-level was at the mark from start to finish even at the high temperature this year . The Garmin StreetPilot 3 did what expected, a marvelous gadget. The Archos MP3 20GB's stood for the music and The Autocom ProM1 was the central of it all, letting audio go to my helmet, even took care of the bike-mounted Cell-phone .
THE ULTIMATE CONTINENT TOURER