Pyrenees and northern Spain tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by viatormundi, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

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    Location:
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    I left Pamplona and driving to north to San Sebastian. The city is behind a high mountain range and now I am coming to a pass, the higher I drive the more foggy it gets. Time to take a leg stretching pause in a gas station. There are signs with Basque language, a very interesting language. I can't associate with any language I know. There are many unproven theories about this unique language. One fact seems to be accepted that basque people have been in this lands for really long time. Some scientists claim that the language came from Caucasian region, some other claim that some celtic tribes moved to this area in stone age.

    I continue driving, now I drive downhill and start to see San Sebastian below. The city is at Atlantic and there is a small island in front of the city which is very close. I didn't reserve a place to stay as usual, I think "I am alone, there should be always a place for one person". The rain gets stronger. No surprise that it rains so much here, clouds from Atlantic hit these high hills and drop rain on San Sebastian.

    Now, I am in town, stressed to find a place to stay. I check all the hostel options in Lonely Planet but all of them are full. Then I decide to accept a higher place and check some decent hotels around but no success. The whole town is packed with tourists. I have no other choice and start to drive away from centre. I have my bike and can come to town easily. After driving about 10-15 kms I find a luxury hotel but give a shot, maybe they have special prices for worn out motorcyklers:D They have a room for 40 Eur. Well, I can skip lunch tomorrow, I need to rest and take the room eventually. It was a nice room with a view to garden.

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    If you plan to go to San Sebastian, you better book living in advance. There were many tourists from UK and USA. Well, I understood that there are many British since with a ferry over Atlantic they can easily reach San Sebastian but I did not know San Sebastian is a popular place among American college crowd. I assume they came for Pamplona event. When I see the street full of bars and american youth, it reminds me my university days in college town of Cornell, Ithaca:1drink

    It was definitely worth the rain and pain to find a place to stay, San Sebastian is an impressive city. I first take a look at the cathedral.

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    I enjoy my cafe cortado in the town square and read about tomorrow's destination area

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    I am super hungry. San Sebastian is very famous with its tapas or as it is called here pantxos. Small pieces of delicious meat and fish dishes on piece of bread. With one glass of cold beer they taste amazing and let me forget about my tiredness. I spent significant time and money in this tapas bar but I would do it again if I had a chance:D

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    After this energy boost, I take a walk towards the marina. Many nice boats are in the marina. Confused from thinking how one can buy a 30mt boat with a decent job, I come to the end of the harbour and see people wave riding, cool:clap
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    There is a river reaching the sea in the city. I notice some nice buildings across the river.

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    It is getting darker, I am hungry again:D I make a stop at the tapas bar and then drive back to my hotel. Some night views from town. Unfortunately, I did not have a tripod with me so bad quality little.

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    Time to sleep. Tomorrow, I will drive towards Bilbao. I heard that the modern museum is worth to see.
    #21
  2. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

    Joined:
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    Thx, I'll mention your nice compliment to my parents when I see them next time. 10 degrees below zero, are you also in Sweden?

    .................

    I see, you commented in bike.se as well, thx.
    #22
  3. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

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    I leave San Sebastian early in the morning, I could easily stay one more day in town (actually in the tapas bar:evil ). But I am a traveller and roads are waiting for me. I decide to make a stop in Bilbao to check the modern museum and drive further to Picos de Europa area. My route is as follows and I will drive about 400kms today.

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    The air smells rain again. It can start raining anytime. This atlantic coastline reminds me Norway or Black Sea region of Turkey. I personally prefer little cold weather to hot weather on bike. When it is cold or wet, one can put some clothes on but when it is really hot, then we can't take off all our clothes can we. (Well, when I was driving in Croatia in 2003, I actually met a sportsbike driver, I think it was an R6, and he had only a speedo style swimming shirts on, that's it, not even helmet or shoes. He looked at me with a smile (I on the contrary had all my gear on under 30 degrees C, like an astronaut) and he left the gas station with a wheelie!)

    I drive now in some small roads, really nice but I got lost:huh I have maps and compass, no GPS. It is quite efficient technique as long as you have good maps but I am lost again. No problems, experience tells me that I've seen many nice places when I got lost my way:D And scenes like this

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    After driving a while inland, I reach Atlantic.

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    I am used to turquoise waters of Mediterranean or Aegian sea but I somehow like this grayish Atlantic. It makes you understand somehow that it is an ocean, maybe because of its big waves or aggressive weather. Simply impressive.

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    Finally, I arrive to Bilbao. It is a big town and I don't like spending much time in big towns because too many people and too much traffic is always a problem, experience talks. No difference here, I make two harsh breakings because some blind spanish drivers can't see a 200kg bike in front of them. Then a car scratches my left side bag while driving backwards in a one lane traffic. What can I say, you don't wanna go in trouble, don't stop in big towns or drive through them 6am on Sunday morning:puke1

    Finally, I see the museum and pass by it and whhaattt the fffff, I passed it and could not stop or make a turn, the road turned into a tunnel and I am in some sort of a highway passing through suburbs of Bilbao. I would not recommend the suburbs of this town. After couple of kilometers I make a turn and drive back to the museum.

    Was it worth all these problems? Yes it was actually. A very impressive architecture! If I remember right, the architect is from USA. The outside structure of the building looks like a fish's skin.

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    The exhibition inside was ok but I spend more time to watch the museum itself.

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    What can I say, one of the cutest dogs I've seen is guarding the museum:D

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    I am done here, looking forward to leave this stressful town and driving towards Picos de Europa...
    #23
  4. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    The name Picos de Europa (peaks of Europe) might sound little confusing since these peaks are not the highest in Europe (they are around 2800mts). The name is given by old sailmen who were sailing to America and on the way back to Spain, when they came to the bay of Biscay, these peaks welcome them to Europe. Most of the area is a protected natural park and very popular for hiking, trekking and rafting type of activities among local tourists. I was very impressed by the nature here, I liked Alps a lot too but somehow this area looked more natural to me maybe because it was less exploited and developed, I mean infrastructure wise.

    The landscape becomes bigger and impressive as I drive

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    I took this picture at least 2kms away from those rock walls. I can imagine that they are at least 100mt high. I read in Lonely Planet that this area is popular among rock climbers. I also see some big birds in the sky, can be eagles but not sure. Bird watching is not my strong side:huh

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    I come across a small town again

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    I find a small town to stay. Unfortunately the Parador is fully booked. These Paradors are old mansions, villas or castles renovated and used as country hotels. They are usually expensive but sometimes a good deal can be found. I take a afterbike beer on the terrass of the Parador looking at nice view and then find a cheaper hotel to stay.

    Next day, I continue my ride towards Fuente de, the peak at 2600mt and then to Cangas de Onis.

    I drive about 250 kms

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    I start to see slowly Picos de Europa

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    Time to take a memory picture with self timer from Picos de Europa

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    Now some commercial time. I can talk little about my equipment:D Side cases are original Yamaha, I was very happy with them, big enough and watertight. The tankbag is from Oxford (www.oxprod.com). It becomes a backbag or shoulder bag if needed. Very good quality and waterproof.

    I installed a touring windshield and it was worth it. Since last year, the only modification I had on my TDM 900 was new exhausts, an Italian brand called GPR, they were ok and loud enough:D

    My helmet is a Shoei and fits my head shape (I have one of those egg formed heads, round head owners are recommended to try Arai models)

    And my lovely TDM. Not a single problem in both trips I did. (8000kms in Alps and 6000kms in Spain trip) Super quality, fantastic brakes (2006 model has even ABS). It has 85 hp and weighs around 180 kg. Unfortunately, it was not suitable for difficult gravel roads and that's why I changed it to GS but otherwise I was very happy with it. If you drive 90% on asphalt then I can recommend this bike to you.

    Enough with commercials, time to continue the journey. It is still kind of misty and can rain anytime. I got some rain in this trip which felt like I was doing the trip in Scandinavia:D

    I enter into a narrow valley on a curvey road.

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    After the valley, I drive uphill again and face this view.

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    I wish I had my tent with me, perfect place to camp.

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    I can just stay here and watch the landscape the whole afternoon but time is precious, need to drive.

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    I want to see the top called Fuente de reachable with a cable car. I arrive to civilization again

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    And take the cable car to 2600mts

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    View from the cable car

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    After leaving the cable car, you feel like you are on another planet or something

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    A picture of myself at the top.

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    For those of you, wondering why I have a weird jacket with a cable sticking out, I can present you my airbag jacket. It is a japanese product, produced by www.hit-air.com. The cable is attached to a gas cartridge inside and the other end is attached to a cable on the bike. When the driver leaves the bike in an accident situation, the jacket inflates in 0.3 seconds as in the picture below.
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    So you turn into a michelin guy. I haven't had to test the jacket in real accident situation but read in some forums that some people had these on in an accident situation and they were very happy for that. The company claims that Japanese police is using that.
    Well I made so much advertisement for them, I hope I get some stocks from their company as a present:D

    I drive towards Cangas de Onis now, passing a river along and swinging my bike on curvey roads. If I had time, I would drive back and forth on this road until my tires would wear out. But I have to be in Zaragoza tomorrow.

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    I love driving in places like this, it relaxes me and helps me to think about things that I don't have time to think about when I am busy with daily life issues.

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    Oooppss, enough with thinking. Curvey road ahead. Back to MotoGP mode. Switch to lower gear, turn the gas, 6000rpm, lean into the curve and enjoy. I am sure my smile can be seen through my visor:rofl

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    Small villages suddenly pop up on my way again

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    I arrive to Cangas de Onis. This town was established by King Pelayo in 722 and was the capital of Asturian Kingdom for 70 years. It is a very popular place among tourists and lovely town. I really liked this old bridge.

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    I realized that it will be difficult to find a place to stay in this busy town so I drive further couple of kilometers and find a decent room in this cosy hotel.

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    I am tired now but satisfied. Tomorrow, I will start my journey eastwards to Zaragoza.

    to be continued...
    #24
  5. White Knuckles

    White Knuckles Insufficient memory

    Joined:
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    Frank O. Gehry.
    #25
  6. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Mallorca-Spain
    I leave early Cangas de Onis and drive southwest towards the city Burgos on small roads, then I will take the highway unfortunately to arrive to Zarogaza on time. I don't like driving on highways, really boring but sometimes it is necessary. After staying in Zaragoza one night, I will drive to Barcelona and take the ferry to Mallorca.

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    It rained last night again. It was a rainy week when I was there, not really what you would expect from a trip in Spain but these area is high up and rain is common. Actually, just before reaching Cangas de Onis yesterday, it snowed in combination with rain:huh Not a big problem for me since we are quite used to drive on rainy roads in Scandinavia and I was satisfied with my Metzeler Z3 tires' grip on wet asphalt.

    I am back on curvey roads and sometimes nice surprises welcomes you after these tight curves.

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    I pass through a small cute village again

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    Now it flattened and I face big plantation fields ahead of me. I guess I drove about an hour just straight through these fields changing color from tones of green to brown. It was around 4 pm and all colors were in pastel tones. One gets a little melancholic in such a setup but peaceful at the same time. You know, when you are happy or very relaxed, nice memories or scenes go through your thoughts, this moment is one of them for me. Kind of the definition of freedom on motorcycle.

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    I arrive to Burgos and continue my ride on the highway. I arrive to Zaragoza around 6pm and meet my friend Anna who lived a while in Stockholm.

    After civilization phase (shower, shave, change clothes etc:D ) She takes me to the centre of town.

    Anna on a nice street of Zaragoza, convincing her boyfriend on the phone that I am not a typical cazanova motorcycle guy:rofl

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    A view from the cathedral

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    Me in civilized version

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    When I mention to Anna that tapas in San Sebastian were delicious, she gets jealous and takes me to multiple tapas restaurants. I can't complain:1drink
    I saw Zaragoza only night time so I can't comment much. It is famous with its super warm wind in the summer and beautiful cathedral.

    Next day, I say bye to my friends her friendly parents and continue my ride to Barcelona. I follow the old highway road, which is parallel to new one.

    Suddenly I see a BIG bull on the hill ahead of me. Can it be, can a bull be so big. Wait a second, doesn't this bull look like all those stickers I saw on the back of cars. Now I understand, it is a huge advertisement panel on the hill.

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    Apparently, these panels have been placed next to highways for a commercial but Spanish people liked them so much they carry that bull as a sticker on their cars.

    I am in Barcelona now, I know the town and it is not difficult to find where the ferry leaves. It is really warm, need to change clothes immediately. Do my regular striptease show on the parking lot, that many of us had to do sometime. Some old german ladies sitting in a parked car next to me seem to be happy with the view:D

    After roughly 4 hours of trip, I am in Mallorca. The biggest island of Balearic Islands east of Barcelona. My girlfriend is waiting for me there:clap
    Mallorca is the largest of Balearic islands (other two are Menorca and party island Ibiza:1drink ) I really like Mallorca because it offers many things. Its topology is varied. South and east sides of the island are nice long beaches whereas west and northwest section is high up (around 1500mt) with high cliffs, forests and more milder climate in the summer. The island is suitable for every budget segment from charter resorts to super exklusive areas with large yachts etc. Besides beaching, hiking, bicycling, golfing and cross motorcycling are some activities one can do on the island.

    I look forward to drive on the west side of island with my TDM but it is really warm so I do it only for couple of days then give up and wash my bike with my girlfriend's expensive shampoo instead:evil She didn't appreciate that as you can imagine:puke1

    As I said, it is a very beatiful island

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    with crystal clear water

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    The northwest side is my favorite

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    It is too warm so I decide to try other sports then motorcycling

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    and I slowly fall asleep after so many kilometers, nice memories and curves while watching this view

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    So that's the end of another motorcycle trip. The trip back home is as usual fast and simple without pictures etc.
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    Ferry to Barcelona, drive to Avignon, load the bike to autozug again, next day I am in Hamburg and then drive through Danmark to Sweden, overnight in lovely university town of Lund in south of Sweden, drive eastwards to the island called Öland, join my Rapido club members in the Svinträff (mean piggathering or pigfestival or pigmeeting, don't ask me why, the club organizing the gathering has a name with pigs to do:D )
    but welcoming committee had nothing to do with pigs to do:evil
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    finally I drive back home with some Rapido members.

    I hope you enjoyed my report. If you have any questions about routes, tips etc. just send me a pm.

    Next report? It will be a Norway trip report and I can hear that some of you say, another Norway report? But trust me, this is different, if you liked pictures in this and the Alp report then you will love pictures from the Norway report and you will witness how 25 southern Swedes (as we call them skåningar) are invading Norway and having great fun:freaky

    Take care and drive safely.
    #26
  7. NoHeat

    NoHeat nØØb

    Joined:
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    Iowa City
    Terrific report and photos, both this trip to Spain and your previous trip to Alps. Thanks for sharing! :1drink
    #27
  8. AGIRABI

    AGIRABI The World Is Mine

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    How come i didn't see this pic. before ? :evil

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    Once again another great report and pics. congratulations mate great job :thumb
    #28
  9. Thumpercrazee

    Thumpercrazee Long timer

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    :thumb WOW!!!! Really great ride report. :lurk The photos are awe-inspiring!!! Looking forward to more! THANKS FOR SHARING.

    TC:D
    #29
  10. Red Stripe

    Red Stripe Church of the High Desert

    Joined:
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    So what happens when you get off the bike in a parking lot and forget to unhook the cable? :eek1 Great pics, by the way.
    #30
  11. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

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    Good question, it requires about 20kgs of force to trigger the system, so you just unhook it. The only downside I can think of is if one is using it on a moped, maybe might tilt the moped over but not a bike.
    #31
  12. viatormundi

    viatormundi Citizen of the world

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    Because I found this picture later, I should update agirabiler site too
    #32
  13. DiasDePlaya

    DiasDePlaya Been here awhile

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    Very good report! Thank you very much!:clap :clap
    #33
  14. Svendura

    Svendura KTM 640 Adventure

    Joined:
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    Kiel, Germany
    I saw this one on the intarnet and guess it's a rather cruel joke.

    But.... it's funny :-)

    disclaimer:
    I don't want to hurt anybody. We've got our share of fat people here in
    Germany as well. Got this from an US website, though.



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    #34
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Fantastic report :thumb
    #35
  16. CosmoSquig

    CosmoSquig Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Kraków, Poland
    Great pics and report!

    My work involves flying to San Sebastian quite often. Although going there on a plane and spending just 1 or 2 days is not as fun a TDM.... :cry
    #36
  17. Fast_Boy_Slim

    Fast_Boy_Slim Don't call me Wighty

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    I am off for a similar trip in September. This has really whetted my appetiite.

    take care

    FBS
    #37
  18. CBejbl

    CBejbl Long timer

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    Great pics and very well written. Thanks for an awesome report.
    #38
  19. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    I want to ride in Spain. :cry
    #39
  20. Fluteman

    Fluteman Ride um like you stole um

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    Nice report!!! Loved your Pictures, more please!!!!:clap
    #40