Yes, that (Spain & Portugal) trip again.

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by LoweJinx, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    We 3 kings (James, Arthur & Richard) are planning a 3-week tour (rented GS’s) of Spain & Portugal this May and need your expertise.

    Our tentative route has us starting out in Barcelona and heading south (early May weather) towards Malaga, winding our way through Andalucía, up through Portugal across to Salamanca, Leon, San Sebastian & Bilbao, through the Pyrenees and back to Barcelona on or about the 2nd of June. Ambitious? You bet!

    Naturally we prefer the more scenic routes, but will have to use the major highways to make up for lost time hear and there. As of now, nothing is carved in stone. We plan don’t plan on camping so that’s not an issue.

    Even more important than the advice you give us on what TO see, is your advice on, “what to avoid”.

    We need tips on the following:

    • Hotels, Inns and Pensions
    • Your favorite scenic roads
    • Favorite Beaches
    • Favorite off road locales
    • Your favorite stops for food & wine

    Here's a link to a Google map I've started building.

    Thanks in advance.
    #1
  2. Avispao

    Avispao Hornet 900 Adventurer

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  3. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

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    Unless you are a total masochist, you are going to hate yourself for spending too much time riding along the Mediterranean coast.

    There is way too much traffic... way too many tourists. I was one of them in a cage this past December. There is NO WAY IN HELL I would ever want to ride the coast in the warmer months.

    We drove some great roads from Malaga to Ronda in the rental cage. I would like to go back and do it on a bike. I will try and make time to get you the route if you are interested.
    #3
  4. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    Avispao: Thanks for the map link. Looks pretty cool.

    Riteris: That's what I've heard about the east coast, but I glad to hear confirmation at the same time. We planned our trip in May to try to avoid some of the crush. We may start by heading down the coast, with a bail out plan if it becomes unbearable.

    That's exactly the kind of info I need, so keep it coming.

    Cheers
    #4
  5. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    That might be highway A-397 between Ronda and Marbella. As someone else said recently, if you don't like that road, sell your bike. I did it in my Z4 and it was kick-ass. I kept shouting 'This would be f**king great on the bike!!!!'

    Around Ronda is a tourist route of the White Towns (Pueblos Blancos) which is super riding.

    [​IMG]

    From Malaga, you can take the A7000 north toward Colmenar along the edge of the Montes de Malaga park. Not very far but entertaining.

    Yeah, the coast will drive you nuts. Much of the interior is dry and uninteresting but at least you can cover some ground. Michelin maps are the key because they highlight in green the scenic routes. Never known them to fail on that count.

    Picos de Europa between Santander and Gijon are a must go. Made for two wheels.

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    Beautiful Photos R, I'll put those roads on the map.
    I assume you all use maps as well as GPS. Right?
    #6
  7. fulviapaulo

    fulviapaulo Been here awhile

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    Hi!!

    If in need of something in northern Portugal just say it!

    From what I briefly saw in your map you're planning on visiting some cities (Coimbra, Porto, etc) but doing some pretty boring highways that are most of the time filled with cars and trucks. Depending on your schedule, I suppose I'd have to convince you to skip them and try other main and secondary roads.

    What do you want to see? (i.e. cities? historic places? sightseeing?) Going after scenic and twisty :evil roads? Or just plain eating miles (remember it's km in here) on highways?

    Cheers
    #7
  8. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    Hey Fulviapaulo,

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my map and for your reply. The roads I have drawn are just an outline at this point. What I need is for you to tell me what to see, where to ride, and what to avoid in Portugal or any other areas you're familiar with.

    The 3 of us are monster foodies. 1 chef, 1 ex-chef, and the 3rd well, let's just say he's un homme du bon vivant, so it's all about the food & wine. Naturally we would like to take in a bit of history & culture between meals... as long as we can get there by "taking the scenic and twisty".

    We most definitely want to stay off primary roads unless we need to get from point A to point B on the fly. For the most part we want to avoid major cities, but mid-sized cities w/ a bit of night life could be fun though. Would Salamanca be considered mid sized? I hear it's pretty fun. I spent some time down in the Algarve back in the dark ages. Is it as nice as I remember it being? I remember Porto being pretty cool too.

    Again Thanks, and cheers back at ya.

    ARLO
    #8
  9. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

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    It seems to me that if you want good food, you should head into the Spanish cities.

    My wife and I are into good food. Generally speaking, we felt like we ate better and less expensively in the cities throughout southern Spain than in any of our trips to France. We had some especially good meals in Ronda and Segovia. Both cities are easily accessible by bike, unlike some of the larger cities in the area.
    #9
  10. fulviapaulo

    fulviapaulo Been here awhile

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    Hello again

    So, all 'bout wine and food? :evil Seems fair enough for me :D

    Regarding main cities subject, it all depends on what mid-size stands for you:
    Porto
    The main event in May is the Queima das Fitas. Night life is vibrant and food also :wink:
    The wikipedia article seems pretty accurate.

    Braga My town! :freaky
    The above mentioned night life and food also applies, as some hundreds of km (or miles :lol3 ) of off-road tracks.

    Guimarães
    Well worth a visit despite being Braga's biggest rival - we call them Spaniards :D (although no-one has ever explained why) and they in turn call us Moroccans. Weird as the distance between both cities is just 10 miles or so:lol3

    There are other beautiful smaller towns in the north but all depends on your time availability.

    You can see two previous posts of mine (sorry, but too lazy to insert the links again! too many):
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8921353&postcount=19

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8923453&postcount=21

    If you allow me to propose a route, I guess I'd choose to enter from Salamanca (really worth the visit) past the border heading to Guarda - also worth a visit - or instead heading to Almeida and the other historical villages I talk about on the 1st link. Then, all the way northwards till Vila Nova de Foz Côa and then turn west heading to Porto following the Douro river and all its vineyards. Next, Braga and Guimarães and heading east to Spain via Bragança.

    Consider this as a broad general idea of route. On time schedule, I'd consider at least some 5 or 6 days or else you'll be with little time to spare on touristic affairs :freaky (the more the merrier :D :1drink )
    1st day: border to Foz Coa
    2nd day: Foz Coa to Porto
    3rd day: Porto
    4th day: Porto to Braga/Guimarães (probably getting some off-road :evil )
    5th day: Braga to Peneda-Gerês National Park to somewhere
    6th day: somewhere to Bragança and then Spain

    In Spain I strongly recommend the areas highlighted by a fellow rider - TodayAdventure who has travelled to Asturias, Scotland and Morocco on a 50cc Honda scooter :knary http://todayadventure.blogspot.com/
    [​IMG]

    After having settled the route we can start working on food and wine !!

    Hope this helps for now...

    Cheers

    PS: links on city names and pic - just in case...
    #10
  11. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    Hey Rit,

    We'll surely end up in a couple of fairly size-able (+-250,000) cities from time to time, and will certainly find our share restaurants of the hi-brow type there. But we also really like the little mom & pop's, and rustic gems ones more apt to find in the more more rural areas.

    Ronda's already on the map and I'll look into Segovia.

    As for you Fulviapaulo,

    That's incredibly generous of you to take the time to layout some highlights for us.

    Sounds like Salamanca is a must as does Braga and Guimarães. Probably skip Lisbon in favor of Porto for our Portugal "big city" stop. Right or wrong?

    As for Queima das Fitas, I google it and the festival appears to be the 1st week of May and we're nit in country 'ti the 2nd week. So maybe next time.

    I think your route sounds pretty good. Wee may arrive in Portugal from the south and then maybe exit VIA Porto & Braga, out through Guarda and on into Spain and Salamanca.

    I mos def want to know about the off road, roads you know of.

    I'll get to the links tomorrow and get back to you after that.

    Cheers,

    Arlo
    #11
  12. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Arlo,

    At the top you asked for hotels/lodgings and then later that you guys are foodies. We have been in Spain a few times and unless we have specific other places to sleep, we stay in the Paradores, (Paradores.es). The one in Ronda has a gob-smacking location and the restaurant seems to be the best table in town.

    [​IMG]

    If you see this sign, can great riding be far ahead?:D

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. fulviapaulo

    fulviapaulo Been here awhile

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    Hi guys!

    I couldn't agree more with Paul! Spanish Paradores are great and absolutely recommended :clap Portuguese counterpart are the Pousadas http://www.pousadas.pt/historicalhotels/EN/ and are also a great choice either in terms of accommodation and also food-wise. Double rooms stand around 100€ to 200€ per night so, not the cheapest choice but it's your wallet :D When route is somewhat more planned I can try and get you a list of hotels and pousadas around it.

    As long as big cities are concerned, I can't honestly say to choose Lisbon from Porto or other way around! They are two different cities. Lisbon is a true european city, for what it means in favour and against it. Porto appears to be much smaller than it is, mentalities are completely the opposite but each one has its own beauties and beasts. I'd choose clearly Porto nonetheless but I work there and also spend at least two days a week in Lisbon so... confused??

    Don't worry with thanks! Glad to be of some assistance and hopefully get some time to show you some routes or restaurants :evil

    Cheers
    Paulo
    #13
  14. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Did somebody say Los Ancares?? (Center left circle)

    Os Ancares is my favorite playground, just a few km from my place, some pics of it to help you decide:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You should bear in mind though that Os Ancares is a Natural Park so you are not allowed to ride off-road, (but in practice only a few hiker trails are really closed to traffic).

    Being so close to my place I have ridden all of the places pointed out by Paulo on his map, Montesinho Park
    (just north of Bragança) is simply awesome for off road riding .

    @fulviapaulo
    Oi Paulo! tem que me dizer quando gostaria andar de moto ao norte do Minho, convido a umas cervejas! (desculpe pelo meu português)
    :freaky
    #14
  15. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    Beautiful photos Navel. Can't begin to describe how much fun I'm having just planning the trip.

    I most definitely heard someone say "Los Ancares", loud and clear. It's now on the maP.

    Paradores, & Pousades are in our sights too.

    So I guess no thanks are in order, right?
    #15
  16. Avispao

    Avispao Hornet 900 Adventurer

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    Near to Salamanca is Peña de Francia, and the village of La Alberca. Outstanding and pictoresques views, and good road too.

    If you like old romanic churches and walls, you should make a walk inside Zamora. And in Leon you can't lose its cathedral and the "Húmedo" (its the zone near the cathedral where you ask for a wine or beer and the give you a big tapa for free). If you want a good meal, go to the village of Valdemimbre, south of Leon. There are some subterranean restaurants in caves with very good meat.

    Once in Leon, the best thing is to go to Riaño and then to Puerto de Pontón to Cangas de Onís. Then east through Cabrales to Santander. There's a lot to see, do, eat and ride here, but you would need a month or two in Asturias to see as it deserves (i'm from Asturias, :evil)
    #16
  17. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    #17
  18. fulviapaulo

    fulviapaulo Been here awhile

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    Hi!

    Quite a collection of POIs :evil

    During the weekend I'll take a look and figure out some thoughts and ideas. Nevertheless feel free to ask anything and count on my help for the northern part of the country! (May will be a b**chy month but we'll see)

    Talk to you soon.

    Cheers
    #18
  19. LoweJinx

    LoweJinx New Minglewood

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    I look forward to your continued input. You must be one of only a handful of ADV member with information around the area. I assumed that the Spanish community was a bit larger.

    Are there any motorsports events that you know of around my planned viit? I know that MotoGp is elsewhere as is World SBK. Anything at Estoril or Cataluna? Wishful thinking , Huh?.

    "May will be a B**chy month". What does that mean? I know what it means to my wife, but...

    Saluto. See, I'm brushing up on mi Espanol.
    #19
  20. WIBO

    WIBO Will it buff out?

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    You'll find any number of twisties etc here....



    Also try www.viamichelin.com and click on Driving Directions to find an accurate estimation of distances and especially drive times. Here you'll also find links to hotels and eating places.
    As stated Michelin maps (and website maps)have all scenic routes highlighted in Green.

    The route you've chosen from the likes of Biarritz and to the mountains is a great ride although not immediately mountainous,but with splendid mountain views as you skirt along by them...you WILL NOT be disappointed with that one...Stop in Oloron Sainte Marie for lunch(if your timings let you leave the Biarritz area in the morning)

    Your map route too is spot on for going past my neck of the woods.The part of route going from Louvie Juzon to Laruns (start to climb after Laruns )to Gabas via Col du Pourtalet and the drop into Spain is a brilliant ride.Again you WILL NOT be disappointed.

    Weather here will usually be good...usually about 20-25 C. Fixed speed cameras are sign posted well in advance...for info there's a BMW dealer in Pau if you need anything. Bearn Moto is their name. If you need basic gear/kit on your travels in France and Spain there's a franchise of camping/walking/running and general sports stuff called Decathlon...you see blue signs for these in most big towns ...a good place to get eg t shirts socks etc etc Their own 'Blue Product' lines are good value. www.decathlon.fr or see what they do in English at www.decathlon.co.uk

    www.pagesjaunes.fr is also the French yellow pages website...you can get it in English and of course can find anything you'll need in there.

    If you see hotel signs for a company called Campanile (it most big towns)be mindful too that they usually have a separate place beside the main hotels for food...you can get a good meal there for about €10 each... also Formule 1 hotels are a chain of cheap hotels that cater for travellers ...usually sighted close to autoroute junctions www.hotelformule1.com These should be in any GPS also.

    Also there's a chain of supermarkets here called Auchan...there's usually a company called Flunch attached to these(and other supermarkets too)here you get a great meal with a meat dish for a set price (€5-€8)and a buffet carousel for the vegetables...eat as much as you want of these!!

    Think too to use any bank card during banks hours so that if the machine eats it you can enter the bank and ask to get it back out. On that,banks open on Saturday morning until 1200hrs here but are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Most local places here take lunch from 1200-1400hrs so factor this in to any shopping you need to do. As always the bigger supermarkets etc will open through out lunch,as will any Decathlon store.
    Most places will be closed on a Sunday here so fuel up on a Saturday...and only some supermarkets(to buy fuel and in bigger towns) will only be open on a Sunday morning until 1200hrs.....

    People here work to live and not live to work so things will be slower to arrive and will be more relaxed and pleasant without any fuss..

    For info too...car drivers are very kind to motorbikes....they'll see you coming and usually veer over slightly to let you pass...it's not uncommon to have a row of 20 or so cars all veer over to allow you to pass!!...just put your right foot out as you pass any car to say thanks is order of the day




    By the by the road to Ronda is indeed a good one....take a lunch there and be mindfull of the short bridge that you pass over in the town centre,is Roman,(you could miss knowing about it easily)and was where they used to toss prisoners and slaves over....a feat of engineering and a great viewpoint...

    Tarragona(south of Barcelona) has a Roman amphitheatre for info


    Any beach at Tarifa is good for a picnic lunch a quick swim and to watch the numerous kite surfers,for info


    These guys do a great ride out if interested, www.redtread.com for info


    Enjoy your time here

    :)
    #20