Picos de Europa!!!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tigerswift, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
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    61
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    1st Day

    Any self-respecting rider who enjoys travelling has an almost mandatory list of places to visit! The Picos de Europa, in Spain are one of such places and we could not escape the calling.
    June of 2019, it was our turn to head to the north of Spain to see for ourselves whether the Picos deserve to be on this list (as they pass with distinction)!
    For those who do not know, the Picos de Europa are a mountain range in the Cantabrian mountain range in northern Spain, consisting of 3 massifs and extending over 3 Spanish communities, Cantabria, Asturias and Castile and León. Strongly marked by watercourses, are numerous and of different dimensions and compositions, offering a wide range of landscapes and recreational opportunities.
    In addition to being a motorcycling heaven, the region is also sought after by alpine and river sports lovers.
    The ride to the Picos was a smooth one. We had planned to stay one night in the Portuguese city of Coimbra to shorten the 800kms that awaited us and then we went straight on, with just the usual stops to replace fuel and stretch our legs. We crossed the border in Vilar Formoso (PT) and were always going north by motorway. Although we are already at the end of June, the time was more for the autumn, with the rain to be present for much of the route in the Portugal.
    Already in Spain, the temperatures were rising, to fall again near our destination, inversely proportional to the altitude. The last 100kms were made by national roads and somewhat painfully, given the low speed limits and the anxiety to get there. Nothing that wasn't quickly forgotten when we entered the Picos de Europa National Park.
    We entered by the community of Castile and León, and far away we began to see the silhouettes of the imposing mountains. We came under a gray sky threatening a storm and further dramatizing the spectacular landscape we were facing. Majestic mountain peaks towering over an incredible expanse of water. We stopped by the overpass over the artificial lake created by the La Remolina dam to absorb the scenery around us: we had reached the village of Riaño, one of the gateway to the Picos de Europa.
    Riaño is a small village nestled in the Leone Mountains and one of the few that survived or was reborn after the dam was created. Although the actual landscape created by this work is indeed magnificent, the truth is that the dam destroyed an entire ecosystem and submerged 9 villages.
    The original settlement of Riaño was also partially destroyed, but was rebuilt in the following years. After a long ride, there is no stamina left to do more than relax. So did we. Although our evening was elsewhere, we went to Camping de Riaño, highly recommended by many travellers and offering a privileged view over the village and the mountains.
    Two beers and many photographs later, we headed to Boca de Huergano, where our hotel was the Tierra de La Reina, an usual motorcycle stop. Although most of the people leave the motorcycle at the door, the hotel has a closed warehouse for those who do not like to leave the mounts to sleep on the street... the surrounding area is rural and ideal for those looking for a restful night. Just what we needed.
    We went to sleep tired but happy and very anxious about the route we had outlined for the next day. We were really going to start our adventure on the Picos de Europa!

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    If you want to watch this day's video:
    #1
    ullukk, Don T, Bonnie & Clyde and 9 others like this.
  2. It is on my list of places to go. Portugal and Spain are wonderful, I have been many times before and love going there.
    #2
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  3. JoséLuiz

    JoséLuiz www.alpesdemoto.com

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    São Paulo - Brasil
    It is in my list.
    I have plans fou a third trip to the Alps (French Alps now) and after this I would like to go to Picos da Europa.
    #3
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  4. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Excellent !! Thank you. Awaiting more.
    #4
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  5. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
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    61
    Location:
    Portugal
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    2nd Day

    We left Tierra de La Reina ready for adventure and expecting what we would find along the way. The miles passed and the landscape adjusted, sometimes with more valleys, sometimes with abrupt peaks. The vegetation was also changing becoming denser and the water always marking its presence. Rivers, streams, streams everywhere. Everything seems shaped by the will of this force, in its most varied forms.
    Like our Portuguese Serra da Estrela mountains, the Peaks have a glacial origin, which translates, among others, into the deep valleys that can be found there. The first part of our route was exactly through one of these valleys and perhaps one of the most sought after places by lovers of mountaineering and walking routes. We were in the heart of the Picos de Europa, still in the Castilla y Leon community, and the roads were narrower and winding. Also the great limestone formations were disguising themselves in the path with leafy vegetation dressing the slopes.
    The scenery was beautiful and the multiple viewpoints on the way call us to a stop. Hard to resist... The desire to see, capture and record everything makes us stop several times along the way. We come across numerous motorcycles, but 4-wheeled vehicles and caravans are also frequent. After we were a hand-breadth from the sky, we entered the Valdéon Valley and the town of Posada de Valdeón, heading for Caín, the starting point for one of the most famous Picos hiking/trekking trails, the Ruta del Cares. it crosses the canyon carved by this river, one of the largest in this region. Caín is tiny but full of grace, with its typical little houses and balconies adorned with colorful flowers, a feature that we found throughout the region.

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    After a break here, we got back on the road. There was still much to see... The road was changing. Although we got good sections, with attractive curves and decent tarmac, we also came across less friendly roads. In some places, given the rocky constitution and the steep altitude, there is a tendency to collapse stones, which pose a great risk to drivers. Caution is never too much and one must always be attentive to the road.


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    We were over 1500m high in San Glorio on a mountain pass when we entered Cantabria. It was also here that we made a small detour, leaving the main road to climb to the Collado de Lesba, starting point for another trail and a tribute to one of the Park's iconic animals: the Brown Bear. The Brown Bear viewpoint or Oso Pardo, is one of the places not to be missed and offers one of the best views of the central and eastern massifs. The landscape is overwhelming. Words are not enough to describe the grandeur of the image around us. The range of our eyes is magnificent. Mountains of different colors and shapes, some still with snow on their summits and around us, dozens of cows grazing in the strangest places... a movie set ... we almost heard the von Trapp family songs :) and so we would go on.

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    Back on the road and perhaps one of the best road sections of the trip ... wide roads, good tarmac, good proportion of turns. Shortly after, we stopped at another mandatory viewpoint, the Corzo (Deer) viewpoint, another of the native animals of this region. At this point it was starting to drip, but nothing that made us wear our rain suits. St. Peter has been good to us! Photos taken, and off we went, navigating the rolling roads, heading for a new challenge for those afraid of heights.

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    We were heading to Fuente Dé, right in the heart of the Picos and from where the cable car to the "Verónica Refuge", a balcony in the sky! The cable car takes us to over 1800m in altitude, at a height of 753m. Yes, it's very, very inclined. Giddy! The trip takes less than 4 minutes and runs 1450 meters by cable. We got into the cabin, which carries about 20 people, and started to feel a chill in the belly ... the climb begins and the vehicles and kitties down there get smaller and smaller. Interestingly, the climbing was not that difficult, because the cabin has an impressive stability and did not shake anything. Gee...! Upstairs we were once again amazed at the sight. Breathtaking. Well worth the 17€ we paid for each lift ticket.

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    The day was coming to an end, but before we made our way under our night shelter, there was still time for one more visit and we were delighted once again. This time, the destination was Potes, a town in the district of Liébana, known for its bridges and towers. Crossed by the Deva River, the village is absolutely delightful and although obviously aimed at tourism, with its numerous little shops and terraces, brimming with charm and authenticity, with its typical houses and cobbled alleys, in a clearly medieval register. We strolled its streets, drank a beer in one of its terraces and took a deep breath, almost inspiring the hundreds of years of history of that land. Unfortunately for us, we had no opportunity to explore it further, yet Potes definitely marked us.


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    The sky was quickly dressed in black and the rain was threatening again. It was time for us to head to El Caserio, the hostal where we had booked a room for the night in Camaleño, a few miles from Potes. Although it does not have a garage, it did allow private parking for the motorcycle and although exposed to the weather, was very close to us and protected from the eyes of others. The hostal, a traditional house transformed into tourist accommodation, also seemed to have come out of a fairy tale. Very well-kept houses, surrounded by leafy vegetation and always with the geraniums adorning the windows. A charm. The day ended at the hostal's restaurant, where we were finally able to taste the typical cider and delight in the wonderful delicacies of the local cuisine. A busy day, full of emotions and sensations. Fuel for the soul!

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    If you want to watch this day's video:
    #5
    ullukk, Don T, Teabar and 6 others like this.
  6. Coffeeman

    Coffeeman Coffeeman

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    257
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Brilliant thread, thanks for sharing.

    Three times I have attempted to go to the Picos, twice thwarted by bad weather and the third this year by the virus. Anyhow I have a tour voucher from Magellan tours after the cancellation and will use in in the next 2 years to go there. Inspired by you.

    Nice choice of wheels by the way. I am going in the direction of unsuitable touring machines lately, a Triumph Speed Twin now. It doesn't seem to make a lot difference without a passenger.
    #6
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  7. Great adventure, beautiful. Thank you.
    #7
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  8. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Nairobi, Kenya
    Nice place, Asturias. Go there most summers to see the in-laws, apart from this one. I'm missing it. Normally I take my little red Vespa out from Oviedo to Llanes via the backroads, sliding up near the Picos and back to the beach. Can't be beat!

    Enjoy!
    #8
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  9. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Great ride, report, and photos! :clap
    #9
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  10. BoiseBrrrap

    BoiseBrrrap Adventurer

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    Dec 27, 2014
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    Boise
    Nice, was in most of those places last summer (but not on a bike). Thanks for the reunion trip!
    #10
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  11. dickosaurus

    dickosaurus Geezer Coalition Supporter

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    Beautiful photos and movie. Loving your most interesting and enjoyable ride report.
    #11
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  12. Essbee

    Essbee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    236
    Location:
    Durban, South Africa
    What a stunningly beautiful area. Thanks for sharing!
    #12
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  13. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    61
    Location:
    Portugal
    I'm glad you're enjoying it and thank you all for your kind comments. :)

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    3rd Day

    After a night of heavy rain, we woke up somewhat afraid of what we would expect, but to our satisfaction, when we left El Caserio, the sun was already breaking through the clouds. Still, we knew the weather forecasts included showers, the usual for those parts.

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    A few kilometers after we left we had a planned stop at the Santa Maria de Lebeña Church. The temple, dating from the 10th century, is one of the most emblematic examples of pre-Romanesque architecture and with strong arabic influences. The different symbols found in and around the church are representative of the diverse cultures and peoples that have lived here for over 1000 years. An example of this are the two iconic trees at the northern and southern ends: a yew tree, symbol of life and death and the sacred tree of the Druids, and an ancient olive tree, symbol of peace and Christianity. Legend has it that the roots of the two trees intertwine, reflecting the peaceful coexistence of different religions. Unfortunately we could not enter. A visit was taking place and would take longer than we wanted to wait ... despite that, the outside view made up for the stop.

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    We returned to the road to start a route surrounded by cliffs, rocky peaks carved almost vertically. We entered the famous canyoon La Hermida, the largest in Spain. Here we are accompanied by the Deva River, winding through the mountains and offering a thermal spa thanks to its sources that emanate at over 40 ° temperature. Fishing is also a popular activity here. Along the way we can see several fishermen trying to attract the trout and salmon that swim there. It was time for a coffee break, this time in the Principality of Asturias in Panes. Like several other localities of this region, Panes, is strongly marked by the rivers, enjoying them at its full. Nearby, Deva meets Cares and water sports are kings.

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    After a short stretch farther from the mountain range, we plunged back into the altitudes. The destination was Sotres, one of the highest settlements in Asturias, 1050m above sea level. But before we got there, we passed Cabrales, the village that gives its name to a famous cheese and the Bulnes funicular, which takes passengers to this secluded village without access to motor vehicles. Rain, curves and moving obstacles (aka, cows), were marking the way. But also a leafy vegetation, streams and waterfalls. The route requires caution, but also rewards the travelers.

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    Arriving in Sotres, we immediately fell in love. It corresponds fully to the imagery of mountain villages. And in winter, despite the difficulties of access, should look even more beautiful. In addition to serving as a base for many lovers of nature and alpine sports, it offers a considerable range of other attractions, one of which is gastronomy. After a walk to explore the corners of the village, where we were caught by a heavy rain, we decided to test that slope and went to lunch at Casa Cipriano. We tried an "Asturian fabada", a typical dish of the region, made not with fava beans, but with white beans. Chorizo, black pudding and bacon joined the party to enrich this blast of calories. Delicious! For dessert, "arroz con leche". Food that warms the body and the heart.

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    With well-composed stomachs, we decided to make our way to Tresviso. The end of the line. Where the road that continues after Sotres ends. We were aware that we would most likely encounter such a thick fog that we might have to go back, but we risked it anyway. It was so! A few miles and many dozens of cows later, it was as if they had closed a curtain. Visibility was almost nil. The adrenaline was rising, because the little we saw showed the brutal slope of the mountain. Also the tarmac wasn't that good and the road very narrow. With a galloping heart, we reached Tresviso, one of the smallest and least populated villages in Cantabria, with only 85 inhabitants. A toy village.

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    We turned back along the same road, the only one possible and through the same ghostly fog. Challenge exceeded! As we approached Sotres again, the sun gained strength and the landscape became cinematic. Authentic postcards! We were now going the other way, down the mountain and this time without rain, which allowed us to better enjoy the trip, enjoying both the curves and the surrounding landscape.

    Our next destination was in the border area of the Picos de Europa Park and as the miles went by, the roads widened and the geography softened. We arrived at our destination, one of the Picos gateway and base for many of its visitors in the middle of the afternoon. The streets were crowded, in what was the largest city we passed and the ancient capital of the kingdom of Asturias. We were in Cangas de Onís, another of the must see places in the region. In addition to a strong commercial side, with a notorious focus on regional products such as cheese, sausages or cider, Cangas de Onís offers a relaxed atmosphere, with a great diversity of hotels, monuments and once again sports tourism. Bathed by the Sella River, which is in turn crossed by the city's ex-libris, the Roman bridge, which curiously dates back to medieval times. It was by the bridge that we stopped to relax. On the terrace where we sat, we could observe the buzz surrounding us. Tourists and locals alike strolled and enjoyed the surroundings. Laughter, conversation, and the sound of cider pouring from above framed the picture. The last scene before the grand finale, in the rural comfort of the Les Piperes Apartments in Corao, which would be our home for the next two nights.

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    If you want to watch this day's video:
    #13
    Teabar, ullukk, Don T and 7 others like this.
  14. Speedtrap

    Speedtrap Adventurer

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    Wow, just found this. If this COVID things gets sorted out a little better, I'll be there with IMTBIKE next June. Thanks for taking all the time to put this together. You have quite a way with a camera too!
    #14
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  15. orcocop

    orcocop Doesn't mind what you ride, mind where you go. Supporter

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    Great report! You put a smile on my face cause I was born in Asturias. Nice memories.
    My father lives in Gijón.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!
    #15
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  16. Don T

    Don T Roaming Viking

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    Thank you for sharing.

    Picos de Europa is at the top of my list. Should have visited in the spring this year but then something happened...
    I really hope to be able to go next year!
    #16
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  17. malloy

    malloy Long timer Super Supporter

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    Delightful . . . thank you for sharing this wonderful corner of your world.
    #17
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  18. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    Portugal added to the bucket list!

    thank you for doing the RR....great job.
    #18
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  19. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Firts of all, happy new year!
    Secound... lets continue with this report! :)


    4rd Day

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    We loved Les Piperes, the local lodging we chose to spend the last two nights in Picos. Close enough to Cangas de Onís, but immersed in the quietness of the countryside, which so well does to us after the riding intense emotions. Once again, the rain did the honors during the night and when we left early in the morning, clouds still predominated in the sky, although weather forecasts pointed to a hot day.

    Once again, we left early, not only to make the most of the day, but also to avoid the floods of tourists visiting the most sacred place of Asturias: the sanctuary of Covadonga. This religious complex is an important place of worship and pilgrimage for the Asturians and Spaniards in general. Story says that here was fought the battle of Covadonga, where King Pelagio won an important victory against the Moors. In addition to the imposing neo-Romanesque basilica built in the 19th century, the Sanctuary houses other points of interest, such as the Santa Cova, the original site of the cult dating back to the 8th century. It is a cave, excavated in the rock, from which a waterfall springs and where is an altar dedicated to the Virgin, "La Santina". Also the tombs of kings Pelagius and Alfonso I rest there.
    After a short ride, along which we went back into a magnificent green, we came to the Sanctuary. The view is superb for those looking down to the basilica, as well as those looking around the shrine. Fortunately we achieved our goal and although there were already many tourists there, it was still practicable and it was possible to visit the sanctuary as it should, in peace and without large crowds.

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    We left the spiritual register and returned to earth, to the road, but soon we would be again in the heights, very close to the sky. The Peaks are rich in natural beauty and the viewpoints are more than many. In addition to those we had visited in the previous days, we had planned a passage through one of the most important of the Spanish north coast: the El Fitu viewpoint, located in the Sierra El Sueve at an altitude of 1100m above sea level and about 1 km away from the Cantabrian Sea. It offers a brutal panoramic view, covering both the mountainous region and the sea. Once again we were overwhelmed by the beauty and extent of the scenery. However, we could not see the sea. Although at that time the sun was already shining in the sky and the visibility was incredible to the interior, from the coast emerged a layer of clouds as thick as a wall. But if the sea was hidden, we would look for it and so we left El Fitu and riding down the mountains, we started our quest towards the coast. Along the way, in addition to frequent motorcyclists, we met several other travelers on foot. This is because the paths of Santiago cross this places and the pilgrims share the road with vehicles. Therefore, eyes wide open!

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    We finally reached the coast and Ribadesella welcomed us! Here, the river comes to join the sea and the activities related to them are more than many, but perhaps the most cherished is canoeing. Here ends Les Piragües, the descent of the river Sella, queen event of this sport, which takes place every year on the 1st Saturday of August, with over 1000 canoes and athletes from around the world.

    But Ribadesella offers more than water sports. Here you will find important remains of rock art as well as upper Jurassic formations where dinosaur footprints can be found. And if this isn't reason enough, let us say that the laid back charm of the bathing landscape is certainly worth a visit to Ribadesella. We strolled along the marina and its colorful streets, peered at the market stalls and their regional products, and relaxed on a terrace where we gave asturian cider another chance ... but one thing was missing. The sea was missing and so we went, looking for the great blue, which was nearby. By this time the clouds had fled before the force of the star king. The heat was tight and although the temperature of the Cantabrian Sea was not the most sympathetic, its intense color cast the bait. And there we fell. A dive that washed the soul and will rest in our memory.

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    The rest of the day was dedicated to that area, where we took the opportunity to visit other beaches such as Cuevas del Mar, San Antolín or Gulpiyuri beach. The latter was declared a natural monument in 2001 given its uniqueness. It is a sea beach, but located inland and formed by the action of the sea that tunneled the rock, allowing the water to enter and form a small beach at high tide. We had bad luck. It was low tide and we could only see wet sand...

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    And so it was, intoxicated by the sea air, we returned to the interior, where the last night at the Picos de Europa awaited us.

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    If you want to watch this day's video:


    #19
    ullukk, Teabar, jasiu and 2 others like this.
  20. Don T

    Don T Roaming Viking

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,209
    Location:
    ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ - Scandinavia.
    Good to have you back :-)
    I have subscribed to your Youtube channel and will watch all your videos when I get the time.
    Checking out your videos it looks like the Tracer have been replaced with a T12 - if so - welcome to the club :ricky

    I really hope that the Corona situation will allow me to do the trip to Portugal and the Picos, that I missed last year!
    I've now recieved the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, so I'm doing what I can to be able to travel again.
    #20
    Tigerswift likes this.