An educative journey to Spain and Portugal, partly offroad

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by FlameDance, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. ata

    ata expat in the jungle

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
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    2,296
    Location:
    Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
    hey, hey, hey
    i´m lost

    what´s that?
    brand new washing machine?
    :lol3
    #21
  2. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    95
    Location:
    Germany
    #22
  3. ata

    ata expat in the jungle

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
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    Location:
    Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
    #23
  4. horsti

    horsti Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
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    18
    Location:
    Germany Cologne/Bonn Area
    Hello !
    The road You are searching for is the Gorges de Galamus, see here: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorges_de_Galamus
    This is an extreme nice and pitoresk area with silent roads, great offroad tracks, old villages and the Katharer Castles, see here: http://www.catharcastles.info/queribus.php?key=queribus and http://www.catharcastles.info/peyrepertuse.php?key=peyrepertuse.
    I love to travel in this area.
    C U on the road !
    horsti
    #24
  5. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

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    566
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    Berowra, Australia
    Danke Horsti!

    I will make sure I visit that area next time I am in Spain (hopefully in May), it looks beautiful and it is just a 250 km ride from Barcelona.
    #25
  6. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

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    Don't think you'll get away with that after the very first picture you put on the RR:rofl
    #26
  7. Sylvia Stuurman

    Sylvia Stuurman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Mheer, the Netherlands
    What a great ride report!
    The photos, the writing, and especially the way of traveling: the roads you choose, the way you look at people: I like it very much.
    Please go on!
    #27
  8. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Germany
    Thus ended the first part of my journey in a small room in Salamancas university district, ending a cold and mainly eventless birthday. Though I was tired a little walk through the surrounding roads was obligatory, rebuilding my mental map of the area where ten years before I've been for the same purpose. Salamanca competes with a couple of other towns for the title of oldest university of the world. Strolling through the university district, among big and old buildings with walls that look as if they'd fit a fort ... this area breathes old intellectuality, impressing me whenever I visit the town. Love it.

    Thus began the second part of my journey on the next morning. Remember I said educative? So I went to the inscription bureau of http://cursosinternacionales.usal.es/, underwent a couple of formalities including paying money at the nearest bank and absolving an extensive language test. Heavy rain welcomed us new students.

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    The aftermath, as seen on front of the theological seminar:
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    During the following week classes absorbed me. They have excellent teachers, various kinds of courses, ranging from grammar over conversation to spanish culture, arts and history. Strong recommendation, if you consider learning spanish in Spain. As they have many students, they can afford to individually tailor classes to your specific needs: Weak on grammar but good in talking? You get low level grammar and high spirited conversation classes. Other way round? You'll get courses adjusted to your needs as well. Another treat is that the people in the streets and bars speak the same academic castellano (one of the four official spanish languages and the one that is commonly referred to as "Spanish") as is spoken in the classes. Surely taking spanish courses in e.g. Granada is attractive too but you'll have to put up with a strong dialect outside classes.

    Side activities included organizing a date for inspections and tire change at the local KTM dealer. Surprise, ordering and obtaining a tire took them ten days, but in the end I can't complain about the quality of works done and they're friendly too.

    Ten years earlier I'd been in Salamanca for the first time, so I knew the town pretty well. Several changes, of course, but nothing substantial. Back then together with another student I had lived with a spanish family, so I could practice the language all day. Very interesting people, at least the mother of the family. She had panic attacks whenever she left her house, except when accompanied by her husband. They felt a lack of ... well ... input from the world. Their solution to this dilemma was taking in students from all over the world, by talking to them, by helping them with their language classes, by actually living with people from all continents. Instead of traveling they called the world into their house. Rarely have I met people in Spain with more international flair than this family, amazing. I wished they'd still host and work with the university but all the university told me was: They don't. I was sent to another family, and to my regrets I have to say, this time it didn't work that well. Different schedules, different eating times, always TV while eating instead of conversation, nothing in common to talk about ... let's rest it at knowing I was disappointed and eventually left them during the last days, even though I had payed for the full duration.
    #28
  9. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    95
    Location:
    Germany
    Even though I love Salamanca, for the weekend I had other ideas than staying in town. Portugal is just 100km to the west and I've never before been to this westernmost continental european country, reason enough to pack the bike with tent, some learning materials and a little food. Sifting through the pictures of this weekend I really wonder which to show here and which not ... expect a little flood.

    Westwards on the Autovia until the boarder. As soon as I crossed the border I hit smaller roads northwards, sparing the south for another weekend. It didn't take me long to find more offroad trails to follow.

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    No action pics as I traveled alone, sorry to the eager audience. My bike will always be parked during this RR. Usually upright but sometimes sleeping too, as seen before.

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    To the mid-european eye it is quite unusual to see vast stretches of landscape without any sign of recent agricultural activity ...

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    ... and ...

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    ... though apparently there has been farming using waterlines which look fragile and sturdy at the same time.

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    Portugese economy, though the country strives to be an industry nation, seems to be stuck in the past century, at least in remote areas:

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    Which not surprisingly leads to abandoned farms ...

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    ... and old machinery picturescly loitering the landscape.

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    Honestly, which of these pictures would you omit? I'm so fond of them, I just include them all.

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    Slowly following gravel roads for hours, always on the lookout for beauty and more stunning pictures, I had an encounter of the cute kind. Experiencing this donkey foals shy curiosity still warms my heart.

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    In the next village I found local musicians rehearsing for a local festival: Feira das Artes e da Cultura - I found posters tacked to many trees in the region and I wondered if I should return for it on the next weekend. For now I loitered for a while, taking in the villages atmosphere.

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    Heading towards gravel again I found rock formations that sparked my phantasy ... an Earth Giants foot?

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    The rocks structure was extremely grip-proof, so I fooled around a bit ...

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    ... before heading on.

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    Clouds and incoming evening led me to believe it'd be a good idea to look for a bed for the night.

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    Turned out to be a long search, much longer than expected, but in the end I found a tourists hotel with a remarkable dessert buffet.

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    #29
  10. Grumpy old Man

    Grumpy old Man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    295
    Location:
    Interlaken, Switzerland
    A man of many talents! Fantastic photographs! It's a privilege to know you (In person) Top marks. Keep it coming...
    #30
  11. BSTT

    BSTT Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Braunschweig, Germany
    Very nice, please carry on. I followed you to Salamanca tonight and I want to see and read the whole story! :clap
    Wonderful photos, interesting story telling.

    Ciao Gero
    #31
  12. inbred

    inbred Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Weedsport, NY
    You're an inspiration, even if you don't have an hourglass figure. Sat here in Upstate New York following your journey with the hope that some day soon I'll be treading that ground. You have a gift for taking gorgeous pictures.
    #32
  13. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Germany
    Thanks for the high praise, everyone (even if one of the compliments seems a tad poisoned).

    Hey Grumpy, let's ride together again. I enjoyed our trip last summer, lots. Just be aware that taking all these pictures require a lot of patience from my co-riders. It's one of the reasons to travel alone at times.

    Back to Portugal for now, the weekend ain't over yet.

    Sundays first sighting was a small chapel, very basic, somewhere deep in the woods:

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    A river in northern Portugal is the source of one of the most famous wines, though usually most people only know an afterproduct: The Port Wine. Often it is very sweet, I know many people that dislike Port because they believe there are only sweet variants ... definitely a misapprehension. A river coming from Spain ("El Duero") meanders through northern Portugal ("Douro") until it reaches the Atlantic at Porto. To me, a guy who has lived in one of germanies best wine regions for many years, the landscape amazingly resembled the Mosel and its wineyards. Quite a surprise, to encounter such similar views two thousand km southwest of my former home.

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    Ok, slight differences ...you wouldn't find such a boat at the Mosel. Last year I ordered an image printing company to print a 200 parts puzzle from the next image: XMas present for my small nieces. They love it. Not only is it a great picture, even more: Uncle Stephan created it especially for them, a unique puzzle that nobody else has. Exists only once in the whole world. Veery special.

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    #33
  14. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Germany
    Up here I found another gravel path (which doesn't look steep on this image but I actually needed two attempts to get up, almost whacking the windshield into my own face on the first attempt) ...

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    ... to enjoy the scenery from above:

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    At the center of this part of the wine region I found this beautiful house (apparently creating (port) wine is a business that creates nice income) ...

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    ... and further on a gate and a road behind it. Unfortunately the gate was closed and locked.

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    Backtracking a bit and looking for another exit I found several more such gates, leading to the conclusion that I was on private property, not open to the public. After almost an hour of erratically cruising around the very same entry point as in the beginning appeared to be the only way out:

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    I guess they just hadn't expected someone would drive up this ramp and thus skipped to close it like all the other entry points.

    Afterwards I was in need of some refreshments and a drink. On the terrace of a bar next to the river two british BMW riders were reclining, for a while we traded travel stories. I'm pretty sure afterwards they shook their heads about my enthusiasm for the KTM ... after all we all know that the Beemer is the best bike in the world, don't we? :evil Anyway, they gave me ideas for my next visit to Portugal, to which I'll come back later on.
    #34
  15. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Germany
    Sunday afternoon it was, so I decided to follow the Douro upstream until it'd become El Duero and then head home to Salamanca. Taking a couple of excursions left and right, just to be sure to see as much as possible.

    Here we start leaving the wine region:

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    Unfortunately this turned out to be railway only, with little hopes of riding the Adventure through it ... even more so as the occasional train could have posed an ugly surprise should I get stuck.

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    Eventually through ...

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    ... I found a road ...

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    ... until I got stuck again:

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    Next time I'll try with serious knobblies, betcha!

    The way home was really nice while I was in Portugal ...

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    ... but back on the spanish highlands thunderstorms accompanied me (should I, for effect, write: "attacked me"?), soaking me entirely. At home I realized that I hadn't given much attention to my learning materials but my mind had cleared and become free for another week of classes.
    #35
  16. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Berowra, Australia
    I can't get enough of your RR, the pictures keep getting better the writing is great. I truly feel being there with you.
    Thanks for sharing.
    #36
  17. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    95
    Location:
    Germany
    Another week of learning ensued.

    On monday our communications teacher asked us to prepare a 10 minutes lecture about traveling and our preferred traveling style.

    To my surprise the majority of students, mostly women in their early twenties, considered visiting towns as traveling, in fact as the only traveling style that occured to their mind. Later, in 2010, when I lived in Berlin and hosted travelers through Couchsurfing I found an even stricter approach to traveling: Hopping from capital to capital (e.g. Prague, Berlin, Paris and Rome in one week) young people from other continents believed they could experience Europe. I was baffled: How stupid intelligent people can be! No doubt those are interesting towns but how much can you see in one or two days per town? And how much does seeing a capital really tell you about a whole country?

    In preparation of my own speech I had a photo shop print about 30 images from my current journey, roughly an excerpt of the pictures posted above. While showing them around I talked about Adventure Traveling as my style, explaining how I am convinced it is the most interesting and exciting way of traveling. To my surprise only the teacher and a woman in her 50s agreed, while to the others it seemed so alien as if I had talked about my experiences in outer space.

    Several modes of Adventure Traveling I proposed:

    • The sportive challenge:
      Be it biking or free climbing or whatever ... in our case riding trails that are hard or almost impossible to ride,
    • Navigation and Path Finding:
      Somehow finding a way from here to there ... just knowing I am here and want to reach the other side of these mountains, using nothing but the sun and my own orientation sense, or using road books, or whatever tools are available.
    • Finding:
      Finding beauty while searching for the way. I have kind of a sixth sense to find the most beautiful places, full of energy, where I can let the mind roam. Some of the best spots I found have an almost erotic quality - but I only find those when I am alone and nobody is pushing me.
    • Relaxing:
      Just be. Let the mind roam, unwind, drift without target. Be open to what happens next.
    • Meeting:
      Meeting people or animals ... other travelers, climbing girls, cute donkeys, festive locals, ...
    • Roaming:
      Sleep somewhere else each night, preferably wild camping somewhere remote, hidden between rocks and vegetations, listening to the nights sounds ...
    • and and and ...

    ... and the best of all is being able to switch between these modes whenever I feel like it.

    Contrary to all the others in the course I avoid towns ... too many people, too much traffic. The same goes for tourist attractions: Too many tourists, too much stuff made up, too much pretending... but well, I love tourist attractions because they keep other tourists away from where I roam. Imagine all these masses that clutter the beaches and towns were out in the wild like we do. Ha!
    #37
  18. slowpoke69

    slowpoke69 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    600
    Location:
    So. Jersey
    I too, am in, I love to travel, especially vicariously, it costs sooo much less!:lol3:lol3
    #38
  19. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,480
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    Very neat pictures of some beautiful country. Thanks for the time and work to share. :clap:clap:clap
    #39
  20. FlameDance

    FlameDance Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    95
    Location:
    Germany
    Something I haven't told yet and skipped the respective images ... I like taking pictures of anything that's blossoming.
    A small selection from this trip, sometimes including guesses about their name:


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    Wild rose:
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    Might be Lavender:
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    Apple:
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    Grasses:
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    Additional wisdom from kind readers will be appreciated.
    #40