So we arrived back in Tarifa and disembarked and made our way into the Spanish streets and began to retrace our tyre tracks back east to Alhaurin el Grande. We had arranged to stay in the same hotel we had stopped in on the way down. Terry rode onto Hana's to get his road tyres fitted, he was planning an early start the following morning in the hope of catching an earlier ferry to get home to be with his family.
We all ate and drank once he returned, then retired for the night as we were all going to be up early the next day.
We wished Terry a safe journey and told him to take it steady.
Then he was off into the morning darkness.
After breakfast we all packed up and made our way to Hana's to get our tyres swapped back over. Rob fired straight in for the jack again!
He thought it was funny............................. Again!
I used Jack as a jack........................ Again!
We thanked Hana and Patrick and then we were off.
After a couple of dead ends and wrong turns thanks to our satnavs we started making progress as we weaved our way north, the scenery was pretty good as we motored along with the sun on our backs. We pulled into a town just on the outskirts of Cordoba, we ate tapa's and drank cokes as we checked the map.
Jack not so sure?
While we ate we decided to call it a day and we'd stay in the town we were in, there was a hotel just down the road, but after checking it out decided against it as there was no secure parking for the bikes. We chatted with the young guy who'd brought our drinks and food and it turned out his father owned a motel, so we followed him in his car as he led us through the streets onto his dads place.
While we ate that evening we all decided that we would all benefit from some time on the road on our own so we all agreed to go our own way the next day and meet up at the ferry port.
We had all had a lot of early morning starts on the trip so Jack and I decided we wouldn't set the alarm for the next day.
We got up when we woke up and found that we were the last ones to leave. We headed further north and stumbled upon the medieval city called Avila just north west of Madrid. It had a great wall surrounding it and is famed for the association of Saint Teresa.
Jack and I found a hotel within the walls, once we'd parked the bike we were showered and changed and we then went for a wander round the city.
I bet the stonework on this took an age!
I love food!!
We called into a local bar, it was fantastic, not a TV in sight showing shitty soaps or Sky Sports screening football from back home. There were Tapas being advertised, but it was all local produce. I've come to loathe the "comercial" bars which we used to go in when the family were younger on our annual holidays abroad. This was the real deal, and not one of the locals could speak English, we got by though on my broken Spanish. The bar was busy and all the gents in the place were all playing a type of card game with great passion and gusto. Shouting and cursing as the cards were being thrown down on the table, it was great to watch.
As we drank our beers the young lady behind the bar brought us some fresh bread and cured ham which was hanging above the bar. As we made conversation there was some kind of offer where you bought four beers and you got a couple of tapas free, so we ordered more beers and more ham!
The ham just melted in the mouth, it was gorgeous. I spoke to Rob on the phone and it turned out he was in the same city as us, we invited him over for something to eat, but he'd already decided to eat at the hotel he was staying in.
I'd called Pete, but no answer so I left a message and Terry had made it to a Bilbao and was getting an early ferry that day. I was happy in the knowledge that he'd made it ok and wished him a safe crossing. Pete called me back later and said he'd put a mammoth day in the saddle and had ridden up to Caen in France a grand total of around 1200 miles, he was getting a ferry the next morning. Again I wished him a safe crossing and a safe ride home.
Jack and I went for another walk around the city.
Saint Teresa statue.
The following day we packed up and as we made our way out of the city we could tell straight away that the temperature had dropped quite considerably, there was a definate chill in the air. As we made our way further north the wind picked up and violently tried shaking us off our trusty Katoom. I don't mind riding in any weather, but I really hate riding in strong wind. I can't tell you how many times I thought the bike was going to whipped away from underneath us. We stopped after a couple of hours to grab a coffee and to give me a break from fighting the wind.
Jack and I decided to get onto the motorway and get some mileage under us. We arrived in Bilbao mid afternoon just as the rain started to come down. We checked a couple of hotels, but they were either extortionately expensive or they didn't have any rooms or they only had reservations for one night. We kept riding round the huge city weaving our way through the busy streets, fighting the one way systems, toll roads and motorways and all the while the rain getting heavier and heavier. We'd had a long day and we were both getting tired and frustrated, so I pulled over and punched in a town not far from the port into the satnav and made our way out of the metropolis of Bilbao.
We finally got a hotel in the Basque Country city of Bermeo.
Jack checked her phone.
We had a couple of days off before we had to make our way to the port and we had a leisurely walk round the city.
Loads of fish in the harbour!
The city had a few statues dotted around looking out towards the sea. I'm guessing it was a thriving fishing community at one time and some of the statues were quite poignant.
There was this plaque on the statue above, I've tried to decipher it, but had no joy, if anyone knows what it says I'd love to know.
A worried wife awaiting her fishermans' husband safe return.
Jack playing hide and seek!
A few randoms.
Time for a beer!
We'd had a good day looking round the city, had a few beers and we retired once again. The next day the skies were grey once again and the rain had started. An hour or so later we were at the port waiting in the small lounge area, we had a few hours to kill before we could get on the boat. Rob soon arrived not long after us. I'd heard from Pete and Terry who both had made it home safely.
The crossing was pleasant, we played cards, listened to music and slept a bit. Jack found time to have a manicure and
have her nails painted!
Lighthouse in the distance.
Last minute retail therapy.
We disembarked in the wet dark evening, Rob had kindly offered to put us up for the night if we didn't fancy making the long journey in the wet. We thanked him, but decided to press on and get home.
We stopped a couple of times at the services to take on some hot coffee and to get ourselves warm. As we neared home I was full of emotions once again as I reflected back on the trip. Jack gave me a hug as she guessed what was going through my mind. We finally made it back home safe and sound around 2.00 am. After I parked the bike in the garage I had a couple of moments before I closed and locked the garage door. Our trusty steed had carried us both loaded up to the hilt almost 4500 miles, only one hitch being the fuel pump. In all those miles we'd fallen off the bike two times; once in a slow speed spill and once we'd got stuck between the bike and the armco barrier as we'd stopped to look at a map after a wrong turn.
We were all back in one piece, no major dramas, a truly great time, fantastic memories and a wonderful country to boot.
I just want to say a big thanks to Rob, Pete and Terry for the companionship and thanks for letting me use some of their photographs which I have included in this ride report.
I'd also like you to meet a dear friend of mine, who has the job of keeping us safe while we're on our travels. You see this gent knows someone in a high place...... Very high in fact. Meet Steve. Steve's a vicar
and he's the chap who carried out the service when Jack and I got married way back. Every time Jack and I go away on a trip I always call Steve prior to us setting off and he has "a word" with the big man upstairs and asks him to look out for us. Now I'm not a very religious person and I'm sure Steve won't mind me saying so, but we have had a few scrapes and near misses on the road, some which could have been very serious. Thanks to Steve and his prayers to date we've always made it home safe and sound, so here's a thanks to Steve the vicar.
And finally to my partner in crime, Jack, to the greatest pillion ever!