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Thread: Calum's Road - A Ride Of Two Halves

  1. #65
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    Oh yes with you on that one itching away
    old enough to know better, young enough not to care!

  2. #66
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    Right, ass into gear time......

    Apologies for the break but, well, this sitting down writing stuff doesn't come naturally and it'a amazing just how long it takes to get my jumbled up thoughts down onto the keyboard And, what with major building work going on all around me and, well, bikes to be ridden I've done feck all....................

    Any how, enough with the lame excuses I've just made meself a brew and 'Word' is open on me desk top..............laters

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



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  4. #68
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    7.43am 26/01/10

    "Just had a fab breakfast in the restaurant, all on me Todd. The sun is up, not a cloud in the sky and the wind looks like it’s dropped at last. Who knows, it may even be warm today…………………"

    So, here I was heading towards Rissari (just below Erfoud) and, again, the scenery had changed. Much drier, much sandier and (at last) much warmer.

    Once I got to Rissari the plan was to head south east and hit the dunes at Erg Chebbi.

    As I ever I was really enjoying the ride and the stunning scenery but it was also a bit of a strange day. It was one of those days when you’d probably be better off with other peeps as a distraction and is something I have inevitably experienced at some time or other when ever I’ve done long, solo rides.
    Normally very happy with my own company it was sinking home to me just how far away from home I was and how far away I was from friends and loved ones. I was, for what ever reason, starting to feel quite vulnerable out here and was really missing peeps.
    Up until now I’d not given much thought to the ride I was missing to the Gambia. I had made my decision not to go through Mauritania and stuck to it, bunging any thoughts of it to the back of my mind but, what with all the other shit going through my head I started to really miss the fact that I wasn’t continuing down to The Gambia. Mikey and Paintman had been txting me with their progress but even so I was worried about how the other guys were getting on………………

    I needed to shake myself out of this spiral of self indulgent thoughts and, as is often the way, something arrived out of the blue to do just that. After klicks and klicks of arid nothingness I could see in the distance some trees, then a few more and then a lot more and, as I approached, I came across this…………



    ……..a proper, bona fide oasis. It was beautiful and just what I needed to shake myself out of my mood.

    I parked the bike up and sat at the edge of the water watching small birds dart back and forth catching small insects and the like for their dinner.

    An hour later, my mood lifted and I was back on the road. The scenery was all proper school book desert and very picturesque with lots more mini oasis, often with small villages built on the edge and often with shallow river crossings.



    I’m guessing these crossings could be quite ‘fun’ after a storm and a wee bit of rain

    Mid afternoon and I hit Rissari having been on a road for the past hour or so. Turning right towards the dunes the road soon turns into a small (metalled) track which twists and turns in and out of lots of small walled ‘medieval’ like villages, palm trees everywhere and intertwined with what looked like drainage ditches. Very stunning and very beautiful but (sadly) I didn’t take any pictures.
    The thing is, I was lost……..really, really lost !!!!!! and I was concentrating on trying to keep heading in the right direction. Even using the GPS as a compass the track twisted and turned so much I completely lost my bearings. So much so that I found myself right back at the beginning of the track - by my reckoning I should have been only a couple of klicks from the dunes

    Sod it I thought and decided to find myself somewhere to stay for the night and head off to the dunes again the next day. Heading back up to Erfoud I passed a couple of likely looking places but was set on checking out a place listed in the Maroc Knowledge Base on this site. Described as a Spanish owned Kitsch interpretation of Maroc I thought it sounded a laugh Arriving in the car park there was line after line of ‘corporate’ looking 4x4’s and quads and stepping inside it all looked awfully posh – kitsch wasn’t the first word that came to mind, contrived yes, but not kitsch. Any hows I walked up to the lass in reception who immediately spoke to me in perfect English. “How much for a night” I asked? 150 Euros was her answer – I nearly choked………..”no sorry, far too expensive” I said……..”special price for you….90 Euros”. “No ta” says I and back on the road I go.

    I was quite shocked by that, having spent several days in the middle of pretty much nowhere I was suddenly back on the ‘well trodden route’ and it was looking like a killing was to be, and is, being made.

    So, I found a cheap and cheerful joint just south of Erfoud and, just in time, the heavens opened. The storm I’d been out-running had finally caught up with me.

    Smalls washed and drying in front of the air con I head into the dinning room to be greeted by a huge buffet, enough for 50 people. For once I wasn’t the only guest, this time there was a French couple also staying there…………very surreal having all this food laid out, waiters everywhere and just the three of us eating

    Off to bed feeling dead excited, tomorrow no fecking about. I’d found a piste that headed east out of erfoud and then down to the dunes. This was as far south and east as I was gonna go. Once I hit the dunes I would be turning back and so would begin the ride home………………………………..

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  5. #69
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    By my reckoning there should still be another ten or eleven days' worth of your trip to go.

    I'm still enjoying it.

  6. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeloader View Post
    By my reckoning there should still be another ten or eleven days' worth of your trip to go.

    I'm still enjoying it.
    Amanda's just told me the word count is higher than her dissertation.......

    Just having some snap and then back to my keyboard

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  7. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outtomunch View Post
    Amanda's just told me the word count is higher than her dissertation.......
    If you don't finish it you'll get the third degree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Outtomunch
    Just having some snap and then back to my keyboard

    Andres
    Don't forget the crackle and pop. Odd time of day to be eating Rice Krispies though.

  8. #72
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    Up bright and early and the skies are low and grey. Puddles of water everywhere, it’s been raining all night and looks like it will again any minute now.

    Heading back off into Erfoud I head off due east and once out of the market I’m immediately faced with one of those road/river crossings. This one was just a bit more fierce than the one in the photo above and it felt like it wanted to wash the bike sideways as I crossed over. There was quite a crowd gathered and I think they enjoyed watching me cross as I did crossing it

    Then it started to rain, the first rain I’d ridden in since Granada so I wasn’t too pissed off. Very soon the road ran out and I was on a wide, open Piste. It was actually quite hard to work out what was Piste and what wasn’t so I followed some wheel tracks that were heading in the right direction.

    This was some of the hardest riding I’d yet done on this trip, the sand was very wet and more akin to riding in Derbyshire mud with the bike moving around quite a bit. Nothing too bad but enough to keep me on my toes.

    In places the sand was so water-logged that when I stopped for a breather it would ‘suck’ the bike in up to the rims. Carrying on I saw a small village in the distance and decided I’d stop there and get my bearings. Crossing a couple of small gullies to get there I nearly dropped the bike a few times and was considering turning back. On the outskirts of the village a very charming lad came across to me on his Mobylette and asked where I was heading off to. When I told him he reckoned the Piste got a lot worse further on and that it was only suitable for 4x4’s. When he then told me about how his cousin had a 4x4 and would take me to the dunes I’m there thinking “yeah right” and almost rode off there and then. However, as it transpired, there was no hard sell and we actually ended up chatting for quite a while (he spoke pretty good Spanish).

    I decided to believe him about the state of the Piste and so turned around and headed back to Erfoud.

    Scroll back to the beginning of the trip and I was explaining to another member of the team the principle of riding in sand on a dirt bike. That it’s usually best to keep the power on in order to ‘push’ the front through the sand. That the front end ‘will’ move around a lot, but that you have to overcome your instincts and NOT suddenly shut off when it feels like the front is gonna wash but keep the power on.

    The irony was not, then, lost on me when I felt the front go all wibbly wobbly and I shut off the throttle. Of course, the inevitable happened




    Try as I might, I could not lift the bike. Even unpacked a combination of my dodgy hip and sand that my slip slidded away under my boots meant that I had to sit there and wait, hopefully, for somebody to come along and help.

    Eventually I spied a little black dot on the horizon getting bigger and bigger. As it came into focus I recognise it as Hammed, my mate on the Mobylette

    After taking the piss out of me and me offering to swap bikes he helped me lift the bike and rode with me for the next few clicks to the road to make sure I was ok – what a star

    My hero



    Back on the road I decided to give up on the dunes and start to head back north. It’d give me a valid excuse to come back here, hopefully soon and, I decided, with Amanda as I reckoned she’d absolutely love this part of Maroc I even started to formulate plans to drive down here...............

    And, so began the trek back north, heading out of desert/scrub land Maroc and once again into the Atlas........

    01.43pm 27/01/10

    “Well, where shall I start.....yesterday.......on my way to Erfoud, still passing through the most amazing scenery. Eventually got to the fork in the road – right is the dunes and left, not far away, is Erfoud. Decided to find the dunes – plethora of little tracks, irrigation trenches and small medieval walled villages. Thought I’d worked out a route but ended up going around and around in circles – dead cool, lots of people about, stopping, chatting......could see the dunes in the distance.......never did make it though.......... ok hotel (Palm Club), weird and bizarre evening.....once again the staff outnumbered the guests......woke up this morning, still raining. Found another route and off I went. One minute it was tarmac and one minute it was dirt. Not concentrating and thought I was off, hung on and stayed on!
    All sand, very wet, like sinky sliddy mud. After about 5 miles or so I was thinking this was a bit silly as I had at least another 10 miles to go and it was only a matter of time before I drop it. Saw a little village, guy on a moped told me not to go on so, turned around, got a mile or so..........and did that thing.....lost my nerve in some slippy stuff, weighted the front and went down. Couldn’t lift the bike, feck my hip hurt. Hammed turns up on his Moby laughing his head off. Helps me up and rides with me to the road. Got his number – if I come this way again will defo look him up.

    Now stopped for a bite in Al Rchida (spelling?) to try and dry out and warm up a bit before heading into the Atlas again and into Mident.
    Just seen a lorry coming towards me with the front covered in snow! Looks like it could be a bit of a grim ride so I’ve just unpacked all my gear, heated jacket back on along with all the waterproof gear – never thought I’d have to get all this kit on again in Maroc! Ready to hit the snow in the mountains, again, oh bugger...............

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  9. #73
    Excellent stuff Andres

    Like the picture of the oasis, must have been good coming across that.
    Gert

  10. #74
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    The vague plan was to now ride to Ar-Rachidia, towards Midelt and sort of due north from there. Still raining and with the temps quite low I soon got quite cold and by the time I hit Ar-Rachidia I had got to that ‘cold to yer bone’ stage and decided to pull up for some snap and hot drinks. Four large milky coffees and a huge quantity of toast later and I was all warmed up and ready to go again. The sun was (vaguely) out again and my spirits were lifted

    As I approached the edge of town I noticed a lorry coming the other way and it had a small amount of snow on it’s front bumper. It looked quite incongruous to say the least.

    Now, normally, once I’m up and running on the bike the last thing I will do is stop again to put on water proofs, take off layers ‘cos I’m too hot or what ever, I always just want to keep going, but, for once, I was sensible. I pulled up at a petrol station, emptied my four large milky coffees and proceeded to unpack all my cold weather gear and put it on. A small crowd of onlookers gathered to watch this strange Twat suited biker turn into a camo’d Michelin man.

    Waddling back onto the bike, already sweating bucket loads, I was soon off again winding myself higher and higher up the Gorges Du Ziz and very picturesque it was too and in the distance I spied the snow line up in the mountains, way above me though so no worries…………………however, I kept climbing and climbing and very soon I started to come across patches of snow on the road. Nothing too hairy (after all, I was now a motorcycling snow expert ) but worrying all the same.

    Opening up onto a large, flat plain I could see another range of mountains on the other side and they were white, very white. Here we go again……………

    Starting to climb again I come across an accident, a coach on it’s side and a lorry across the road. No way round for the cars but the police helpfully clear a path for me and I’m off again.

    Thinking the snow was as bad as it would get I stop to take a picture



    A bit further on and I’m starting to get a bit worried as it starts to snow



    What then followed was, in all honesty one of the most unpleasant and plain scarey rides I have ever had.

    I stopped to take the next picture, it was the last I took for a while. See that grey cloud in the distance below, that turned out to be a blizzard that did….



    The road twisted and climbed and fell and the weather moved in. The snow was a good 3 or 4 inches deep on the road and the light was failing. I would go several klicks without seeing a soul and then a great big tanker would come up behind me and I’d try to pull over to let it past – even in these conditions the truckers were giving no lee way.

    I was in a right predicament. I just knew it was only a matter of time before I dropped the bike and even if I didn’t hurt myself in the process I knew I’d be unable to pick the bike up and with the piss poor visibility I dreaded to think what might happen.

    I was really scared. I was all on my own, miles from anywhere, on a ¼ tonne motorbike in conditions that were not safe for four wheels let alone two. It was only too obvious what a minor accident here could mean……………….

    I very nearly pulled over with a view to finding some shelter in amongst the trees and waiting for the next car/truck to come along to cadge a lift to the next town. However, it suddenly dawned on me I’d not seen any other traffic for the last 15 mins or so………….now I was really scared

    I’ve rewritten the above a few times to try and explain how scarey it was but can’t really get it across – the fear I experienced though, is still palpable, even as I sit here typing this.

    After what seemed like an eternity I saw some buildings and one very large one in particular. It turned out to be one of the most lovely hotels I have ever stayed in (on the outskirts of Midelt). The bike was parked in the courtyard and as I was sat in front of a roaring fire my bike was unpacked for me and copious glasses of hot sweet mint tea were brought to me.

    The owner told me the road was closed in both directions and that it was one of the worse storms they had had for years………….he didn’t know when it was likely to reopen?

    The view from my bedroom window as kids play on the now closed main road through town



    Reception in the fab hotel



    Bike parked up and snow on the palm trees



    And that was the end of another eventful day…….to say the least! Had another lovely meal, huge hotel and as ever just myself and a young Spanish family being attended to by three times as many staff.

    As I sat there drinking a glass of foul Maroc wine I was genuinely surprised that I had made it here ……………………

    6.20pm 27/01/10

    “Well, here I am. Sat in a lovely, lovely, lovely hotel. Looks really old, big old fountain in the central hall and a young Spanish couple have just booked in. Other than that I am yet again on my own in a huge big hotel. The reason I’m in Midelt is I have just ridden through the most horrendous snow across the Atlas mountains. It really was very hairy – approaching the mountains I could see the snow line. Bit of sleety snow, came up to a plateau and more and more vehicles coming the other way had snow on them. For the last 15 to 20 miles it was just horrendous. First slush on the roads but with clear wheel tracks, then snow on the road. Luckily came up to a Tranny van for a while which was going slower than me so I snuck in behind and rode in his wheel tracks….until he pulled over. Lorries coming past spraying me with slush and snow, it really was quite terrifying. Finally (how?) made it to Midlet and found this lovely hotel. So friendly, even sweeping a path in front of me as I walked to the door – didn’t have the heart to say that it made the path even more slippery for me…..been here an hour or so now and it’s still snowing heavily, must be about 6” now. God know what the roads must be like but I’ve been told that the road gets higher still as I head north and that the weather there is horrendous…………….”

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  11. #75
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    WoW this is great and nicely put together keep it coming
    Dont Bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me

  12. #76
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    Sounds like you had blast on your own only spoilt buy these behemoth BMW's that we ride I could not stop myself smiling when riding in The Gambia on soft sand, all of us were dropping our bikes left right and center, but the local guys on their mopeds had no such problems, I even rode alongside with one guy who was only using one hand as he was smoking !

    John.

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    Up bright and early the next morning I stuck my head out the window and whilst it had snowed any more it was still looking like a no go. There was no traffic on the main road.

    I could hear voices, lots of voices and going down stairs for breakfast the place was rammed. A huge party had just arrived. A huge party of Hassidic Jews To say they looked incongruous in such a situation and in a Muslim country would be an understatement. Chatting to one of them they explained they had come over from Israel on a pilgrimage to a sacred site, not far from where we were. Having flown into Marrakech they had spent the night in their coach, snowed in on the mountain road and had just had a precarious drive down into Midelt where they had come across the hotel and decided to see if they could get food there.

    Soon after breakfast some traffic started moving again so I decided to make a break for it. The road remained reasonable until it started climbing again through forests around Timahdite where the roads were still covered in snow.
    Another hairy ride was had

    From here on to Azrou was beautiful and so unexpected. It was Alpine in appearance, there is no other way of describing it. Buildings with pitched roofs, and covered in snow. Herds of cattle in the fields (not something I’d seen before in Maroc) and the roads were in really good nick. I really wish I’d taken some piccies, they probably would have been some of the most picturesque of the trip but I was in a ‘admire the view and ride fast’ sort of groove and didn’t want to stop. The road here was very fast and devoid of much traffic.

    The ‘Alpineness’ of the region was further reinforced as I dropped down through a beautiful forest and into Azrou. Azrou itself is very affluent and almost European in its appearance and is the gateway to the fertile plains across to Meknes. When I next come down to Maroc I fully intend spending some time exploring this region, it looks to be well worth spending some time in.

    I couldn’t believe the contrast in the weather either, once again it was warm and sunny and so all he cold weather gear was, once again shed

    This was to be my penultimate day in Maroc and I decide to head for Larache on the north east coast. Formally a Spanish enclave I had stayed here before with Amanda the first time I came to Maroc. Arriving there through some heavily flooded roads I found the same hotel we had stayed in, the Hotel Espana on the main square. The hotel is gloriously tatty around the edges and is an old Spanish colonial building. The same ‘guardian’ came to look after my bike and I even managed to get the same room overlooking the square



    The next morning I was off to Sebta and the ferry back to Spain. I made it through customs all on my own, efficiently and quickly, which gave me a great sense of achievement

    Once on the ferry for the quick 30 minute crossing I had a chance to reflect on my journey back through Maroc.

    My experience had, this time around, been so different to my first visit to Maroc. I think I have started ‘get’ the place. I felt so much more relaxed. I met some truly lovely people and had had, for me, a real, ‘proper’ adventure. I felt quite emotional about the whole thing really, very soon I’d be back in good ol’ familiar Europe and although I still had a way to go it felt, almost, that the trip was over.
    I’ll readily admit to shedding a wee tear over leaving Maroc !!!!!

    I have fallen in love with the place !!!!!! and am already plotting ways of returning there.

    8.15am 28/01/10

    Got up and down to breakfast. Can’t tell if the snow’s cleared, it’s proper foggy so I guess the cloud has moved in. I’ll have a talk to a few peeps after some grub and see what gives. Last night I was virtually the only person and now there are loads of Israeli Jews here having breakfast on their way south on a pilgrimage. What’s that all about? Very bizarre? Weird as well ‘cos everybody in Maroc has been so friendly and polite. I’ve grown so used to going up to people, shaking hands and doing all the ‘Slam’ stuff..........I’ve tried saying hello/good morning to a few of these peeps and they’ve just ignored me and turned their back on me?

    6.33pm 28/01/10

    In Larache now. Got out of Midelt this morning, still snowy and slushy and cold. Dropped down about 1000ft onto a big plain where it was getting warmer and then it sodding started to climb again. At least the road was mostly clear but bleedin’ ‘eck they’d had some heavy snow there! Made it through and as I climbed down it all changed dramatically, very Alpine, Cedar trees and into Azrou – crazy, like an Alpine town and what was really bizarre was seeing pitched roofs for the first time in Maroc. Made it all seem strangely familiar – I guess they must have a lot of rain/snow in these parts? Very well off, the most I’ve been through. Onto the verdant plains of Meknes, very agricultural, affluent. Lovely warm sunny day. Gonna try and make Sevilla for Saturday night which should be a good chance for some much needed R&R! Lots of flooded roads and now in Larache in the same hotel and room Amanda and I stayed in. Had a look at the sea and the sun go down and now waiting for pizza, only my second of the whole holiday! If all goes to plan will be crossing to Spain tomorrow, haven’t decided where to cross from/to – will decide over breakfast. Stop somewhere en route to Sevilla and then, weather permitting think I’ll head up through Portugal; not been there before, should be fun........

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  14. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outtomunch View Post
    that night phoned the long-suffering Lovely Amanda and asked her to marry me……………she said yes
    I've dipped into this thread for the first time; what a cracking trip and a fantastic report! For you and Amanda, congratulations

    And if you EVER need a riding partner, call me. You float along in the way I dream of.

  15. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidHale View Post
    I've dipped into this thread for the first time; what a cracking trip and a fantastic report! For you and Amanda, congratulations

    And if you EVER need a riding partner, call me. You float along in the way I dream of.
    Thank you David and yeah, I reckon we'd have a ball - you're on

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  16. #80
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    So, here I was, back in Algeciras, back in Europe.

    Ferry booked from Bilbao for the 7th and any which way to get there. No plans in particular but Sevilla seemed like a plan for a Saturday night and I fancied taking in Portugal and the Picos De Europa, both places I’d never been to before.

    It was a lovely, relaxing, not in any particular hurry, sort of ride. Always having the time to stop whenever I fancied.

    Highlights and jumbled thoughts follow................

    First night in Spain and I’m in Jerez. Via the wonders of the internet I find a veggie restaurant. Spain is probably one of the most difficult places in Europe to get veggie food so to find a veggie restaurant in the heart of Andalucía was a bonus to say the least.

    Popping into a bar opposite for a pre dinner Manzanilla I got chatting to the woman behind the bar. She spoke a bit of English and we made a pact that I’d only speak Spanish and she’d only speak English........got a bit confusing that did

    Leaving to go for grub she made me promise to come back after for a drink; some mates would be popping over later for a sing song. To be honest, I was shattered and would rather have gone straight back to the hotel and didn’t really have any intention of going back for a drink.

    The meal was fab, the restaurant was run by a Spanish and Welsh guy and although busy they were struggling I ended up staying back and talking shop with them (I used to have a veggie restaurant) and suitably fortified, tottered back over the road to the bar with the intention of just one night cap
    What transpired was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments that will live with me for a long time. Some mates had indeed turned up for a sing song and were playing guitars and singing flamenco. This was the real thing, washed down with copious Manzanilla and Ducados and interspersed with laughter and shouting.

    It was also the first time I’ve been involved in a lock-in in Spain! Turns out the owner and his wife were bikers (he owned a Capnord) and as I asked, for the last time, to be let out the sun was rising and they refused to let me pay for any drinks

    What an evening and the next day was a bit of a write off

    It’s funny how unexpected and unplanned things like that can be so good, so spontaneous and yet the next night in Sevilla with its expectations of a proper nights R&R never materialised – the nearest I got was being accosted by and extremely drunk Irish guy who decided to latch onto me and not let go..........you know the sort

    Heading off into Portugal I was immediately struck by how different both the country and people were to Spain. I also realised I spoke not one word of Portuguese – not something I felt comfortable with.

    Highlights of Portugal – staying in a sleepy fishing village on the Algarve and finding a lone ‘English bar’ full of the sort of pissed up English that make you (well me, anyway) embarrassed to be English and then off to an Indian restaurant for one of the best Indian meals I’ve ever had.

    Booking into a ‘cheap’ hotel in Lisbon. The receptionist was gorgeous and very delicately explained to me that the rooms were normally booked ‘by the hour’, ho hum !!!!! I then booked into a dead posh designer hotel with my very own silver leather arm chair in my room, well, I was impressed

    I loved the south of the country, travelling inland from the Algarve and spent hours exploring the tracks that criss crossed the mountains there. To be honest, I have never seen so many (good surfaced) tracks in one place and would love to go back and explore the area properly.



    The Duro (spelling?) valley was pretty impressive, the roads climbing very high and one particular memory is of seeing the valleys below a thin horizontal line of smoke where there had been no wind to disturb the smoke rising from hundreds of small bonfires I guess the smoke hit a temperature change in the air and couldn’t rise any more – looked way cool

    Despite all the nice bits of Portugal I have to admit I didn’t really warm to the place though.

    Driving standards were, I thought, pretty appalling (the worst I think I have experienced on any of my travels) and the roads often surprisingly busy. And to say that Portugal is part of the Iberian peninsula the people could not be more different to the Spanish if they tried (this was a genuine surprise to me). I found them to be mostly surly, nay miserable and with none of the passion and enthusiasm that the Spaniards seem to have in spades. They even look, to my eyes, very different to the Spanish; shorter, paler and nowhere near as handsome (men and women).

    So, heading up into Galicia, I have to say I was quite relieved to be back in Spain again.

    I bimbled around the north coast and on my penultimate night stayed in a small town just west of the Picos. I was really excited to be travelling up into the mountains as this would be my first visit. Getting up early I headed up into the mountains and could see snow capped peaks in the distance, very pretty but thought nothing of it



    The scenery was beautiful, the roads empty and the bars I stopped at for coffee friendly and proper, middle of nowhere, local

    As I climbed higher and higher I started to see signs of snow ahead and before long hit a snow line of sorts so thought I’d take a piccie for ‘old time sake’



    Ha, how I laughed when I came over the next rise and saw the mountains ahead covered in snow...................

    I carried on as I didn’t really have much choice. There aren’t many other roads to choose from in the mountains after all. The only option would to be to back track many klicks and back to the coast so, I carried on.

    The same old story unfolded......the odd patch of ice then snow would be lying on shaded areas of road...then after a few more klicks the road was mostly snow. Even with my Heidi ‘snow tyres’ the bike was moving around more than I felt comfortable with. This time it was melted and refrozen snow which was much less predictable than fresh snow and thoughts of falling and doing myself a mischief when nearly at the end of my journey were never far from my mind

    Eventually, after a few close shaves and within only a couple of klicks of the top of the pass I came up against a bit of a traffic jam.



    If you look at the top of the of the queue there is a yellow truck. This was a snow plough and a car coming the other way had skidded, hit the plough and buried itself in the Armco

    As I turned around and started heading back the way I came the police and ambulance passed me on their way up.

    Stopping in the next village I asked if there were any other routes through the mountains rather than having to retrace all my steps. A amp was drawn on a scrap of paper and the rest of the day was spent riding a fantastic track linking small isolated villages, partly tarmac but mostly gravel and sometimes full on deeply rutted mud. What a way to spend my penultimate day of the trip, on yet another mini-adventure

    I spent two nights in Bilbao, spending nearly a whole day at the Guggenheim. I love the place and never bore of it



    It’s always a great place to meet and chat to peeps and indeed I did, spending a very pleasant lunch with a couple of Danish students that were travelling down to Portugal and back through Spain.

    And that was it, up early the next morning and onto the ferry. Hooked up with a Kiwi who had pretty much travelled the world and was very good company.

    Getting off at Portsmouth it was just as Id left our fair isle; below freezing and snowing.

    Synchronicity.

    Four hours later and I was home, Amanda was there to greet me with grub and bubbly and I slept very, very well.

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



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