Category Archives: Road trip, Journal

España Part 1

Salamanca to Lisbon (01/12/18)

 

 

 

I woke up late, slightly hangover, dry and with a headache, silly me!!!!… Thinking I had a 350 mile journey ahead almost turned that headache into a migraine. After a shower and a good reinforced breakfast at the hotel I was ready to get back on the road. Today I would arrive in Lisbon!!!

I left Ibis around 11 am, as usual, the weather was good in South Europe despite the season of the year… nice, warm and sunny.  I did not ride much as I wanted to see a bit of Salamanca before leaving. I parked the bike and walked for a while to the historic side of the city. Sunday morning, the streets where crowded with people, coffee shops were busy and there was even some street animations going on. Salamanca is a lively city day and night for sure.

Salamanca
Walking to the historical center

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
Salamanca on a Sunday morning.
Salamanca
Historical Salamanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
New Cathedral at the back , I had to have a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Cathedral is together with the Old Cathedral of Salamanca one of the two in the city. It was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries in a Gothic and and baroque styles. 

Salamanca
The Impressive New Cathedral
Salamanca
The Old Cathedral. I believe at the time I was passing people were exiting after the religious service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
The New Cathedral
Salamanca
One of the towers of the New Cathedral.

 

Salamanca
Salamanca old Salamanca
Salamanca
These pictures don´t make justice at all of how impressive the Cathedral is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental sculptures are carved along the facades of the Cathedral. In particular the figure of a modern astronaut and a gargoyle eating an ice cream on the facade of the north entrance of the Cathedral, unlike any other, attract dozens of tourists to the door just to photograph these unusual carvings.

 

New Cathedral of Salamanca
The North entrance of the Cathedral
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Note the amazing sculptures carved on the wall all along the entrance.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Challenge 1: Find the astronaut. Challenge 2: Find the dinosaur eating ice cream.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The famous intriguing Astronaut.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The dinosaur or Gargoyle eating ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How could anyone have carved such a clear picture of a modern astronaut in a cathedral built hundreds of years ago and long before such a character existed? 

Apparently this would have happened, in fact, very recently, when, in 1992, the cathedral was restored. The fact would have obeyed an old tradition, in which the restorers usually include some modern element.

Of course this is just a hypothesis, and many claim that the figure has been there since the original construction of the cathedral.

 

There is a lot more to see but I had to start making my way to Lisbon. It was getting late and I had to make a move. I was only 50 miles away from the Portuguese border and could have entered Portugal via Vilar Formoso (North Portugal), however you have to pay tolls on motorways and they are quite expensive together with high petrol prices. It was better to head South and enter Portugal in Badajoz (Spain)/ Elvas (Portugal) meaning that I would be still riding in Spain for another 200 miles or so, and then another 200 miles until I arrive in Lisbon.

The Map
My route from Santander. As usual, I am anti GPS so the route marked on the map together with notes works wonders.

The Spanish autovia A66 (E803) was quite pleasant to ride, nearly empty, in very good condition, and the best of it all, no tolls to pay. I stopped after Bejar to have a quick snack and to refill the petrol tank. Quite curvy and scenic this section and a great sigh seeing of the Autovia I was in. Had to stop for a couple pictures.

The A66
The motorway after Bejar, empty and going downhill towards…
A66 motorway
... towards this great curvy section and amazing scenery. Loved it all the way!!!
The Spanish soil
The places, the scenery, the odors, the bike, the road and the exhaust growling on my ears. All the problems, all the noise in my mind, gone!!! Nothing else matters besides what lies ahead!! That´s why I love long rides!

 

I passed Plasencia, then Caceres and then Badajoz. By 6pm I was about to enter Portugal, so I stopped again to refill my tank right before crossing the border as prices are insanely high.

I entered Portugal on the A6 in Elvas towards Pegoes and then the A2 motorway to Lisbon, in 200 miles I would be at my Portuguese home in family. I did not take any other pictures as I wanted to get home. By 8 Pm I was safe and sound in Lisbon,  although I did not feel safe at all on the Portuguese roads. 

Here is a warning:  If you are planning to ride a motorbike in Portugal, I advise you to do so only if you are an experienced biker, otherwise chances are that you might end up having a serious accident. Portuguese drivers are mad and bad, speed limits are there but nobody respects them at all, most drive dangerously, unconsciously and very aggressively. Also tolls are very expensive, I paid 16.60 Eur for some miserable 120 miles on the motorway,  please be aware of these facts.

 My holidays were just starting…                    

  … Keep an eye for future posts, more to come!!!

 

 

The Crossing

Portsmouth to Santander by Ferry (30/11/18)

 

CBR600f4
My F4 all ready and loaded about to depart to the Ferry in Portsmouth!

 

24 Hours with Brittany Ferries. What a great experience!!!

The Cap Finistère
Riding on the sea!!!

I was due to sail on the 30 st of November by 5 pm from Portsmouth port, however there was a delay of an hour and a half due to someone passing away during the previous trip, unknown to my person the facts of how it happened.

 

Finally around 6.15 pm I was directed to the boarding area. It was a slow process, first the lorries and trailers were allocated  in the ferry garages,  then cars and motorbikes (only 3 counting with mine) and at the end,  caravans and vans. I parked the bike in the designated area and the staff secured it with straps so it would not fall during the trip. Then I was sent to the 7th floor to find my cabin. It was a 4 person berth but the ferry was quite empty so I ended up having it all only for myself, lucky me!!

The ferry garages
Level one garage for cars and motorbikes at the lower deck.
The ferry garages
“Sophia” strapped and secured for a 24 hour sailing on the Atlantic ocean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Cap Finistere” is a 10 year old  ferry cruise ship serving on “Brittany Ferries” sailing from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao in Spain and vice-versa with a capacity for 700 cars and 1600 passengers. It features 2 bars, 2 restaurants, a spa, a mini market, cinema, a swimming pool and a heliport on the top deck in between other facilities. The decoration is good and modern, and there´s Wi-Fi available for free as well (although it´s not the fastest) . Quite impressive  once I was inside I must say!

Cap finistere
Indoor Atrium. One of many.     
Cap Finistere
Floor 7, staircase and lifts.

 

 

 

 

 

Cap Finistere
Simple, modern and warm decoration all round.

 

It was a pleasant trip, as we were leaving Portsmouth I decided to present myself with a  nice dinner and a bottle of wine in order to celebrate my solo journey, followed by a visit to the main bar where there was live music.  I wanted to start writing this post but ended up talking with other passengers and crew as everyone was friendly and warm, great atmosphere.  After a couple pints the ferry was wobbling badly and I was afraid to feel seasick, I supposed we were on high seas already. Around 1 am there was no one around so I went to my cabin and tried to get some sleep. It was a good feeling to be out of the U.K.

 

 

 

I found out the next morning that the crossing was delayed by two hours as someone had an heart attack and an helicopter had to come to pick up the patient. It was a tough landing as the ocean was quite rough. Unfortunately I did not record that event as I was sleeping while it happened. I ended up meeting L. (a very nice lady who told me all about it). She was traveling to Santander to do a car road trip to the Pyrenees and then across France. We exchanged a couple smiles the previous day, ended up meeting and talking a lot. L. was my companion for most of the day as she was a lovely, fun and chatty person. At a point we were told to stay inside due to weather conditions,  and stabilizers had to be deployed as the ocean was quite rough, slowing us down a bit more and balancing the ferry hard.

In open seas.
View from the 6th Deck, Saturday morning around 7.30 am
on the open sea
Later on, same day, being caught in bad weather.
Rough sea
Caught in bad weather!

We docked in Santander by 7.30pm on the 1 st of December, two hours later than predicted (26 hours in total), it was time to wish L. safe travels and to part ways.  Unfortunately it was dark already and I could not see much beside the road, I headed straight towards Torrelavega on the A67 motorway, going up the Cantabrian mountain.   I stopped at a service area next to Reinosa to fill up my tank, also to have dinner as it was nearly  9 pm and I was getting hungry. I was around 1500 meters above the sea level and I could feel the cold, so it was time to swap my summer gloves for my winter ones. From there it was non stop until Salamanca where I booked a night at an Ibis hotel. The Spanish motorway was quite nice, empty and in good condition. I passed the cities of Palencia, Valadolid and finally arrived in Salamanca by midnight, 250 miles later and 4 hours after I left Santander Port. It was time to park the bike and call it a day.

Hotel Ibis
One night in Salamanca

Instead of going to sleep as I should I decided to go for a beer. I ended up staying out until late night. I found out that people from Salamanca are true party animals, I went from bar to bar, from beer to beer trying to find a spot where I could sit down, enjoy some music and a drink but it was nearly impossible, it was crowded everywhere and the streets packed with locals enjoying themselves. The Spanish are loud and talkative, so I met a few people along the way sharing a few laughs. 

 

I went back to the hotel around 4.30 am, tipsy, exhausted and nearly forgetting I had 350 miles waiting for me next day… 

U.K/ Portugal Dec 2018

 

This road trip came up quite unplanned and unexpected… Personal reasons led me to embrace on this adventure. I was supposed to fly home and get back in early January, however my traveling bug on two wheels was stronger. After a brief chat with a friend I decided to book a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain and from there ride to Lisbon in Portugal.
This is a solo trip, time for myself, the road, the bike and I. My plan is to ride straight from Santander to Lisbon depending of weather conditions, or maybe I will book a night at an hotel half way so I can enjoy the scenery (which I am not expecting to be that amazing). The way back will be by the 10th of January 2019 via Bilbao to Portsmouth.
I will sail for the first time on the 30st of November from Portsmouth at 5pm being the arrival time in Spain next day around 5.30pm. It is going to be a tough and a lone trip, but I will try to update with pictures and posts in real time as I progress instead of writing it down later like the previous trips.
As usual, I did my usual research and prepared all the essentials in order to avoid surprises whilst on the road. While routing the trip I didn´t look at any scenic routes as usual, this time I will be mainly doing the boring motorway until I arrive at my Portuguese home.
I might end up taking you on a discovery trip about Portugal and its beauty on my future posts. It will also be my first time in Portugal by motorbike since I left to the U.K making this trip more exciting. 
Honda CBR 600F4 2001
My “Sophia”!!!

 

Stage 1: From Portsmouth, 30 of November 2018 at 5pm. 24 hours by Ferry to Santander. ETA 1st of December 2018 by 5.30pm

 

Stage 2:   Santander to Lisbon, 1st of December 2018 being the ETA in Lisbon unknown… I guess I will play it by ear.

 

                                                                                                                               To be continued…

Day 12

Trets CassisTrets  08/08/17 (9am/7pm)

 

It felt weird to wake up in an unknown house however, we slept quite comfortably… as opposed to our infltable camping mattresses. Our aim today was to visit Cassis. As suggested by E. (Marie´s friend) there are great walking paths and beaches on the “Calanques de Cassis“, and it is a good way to spend the day. A quick shower and breakfast, beach towels and in no time we were on the road road again!!!
Another day on holidays, another summer day, another hot day!!!
Trets
Mountain view near Trets. Beautiful!!
Our road ride got us a little lost for a while. I didn´t take my tank bag where I kept my maps so we were riding by GPS… Conclusion,  we got lost and we spent most of the morning trying to find Cassis. I  did the mistake of entering the A8 and we were riding  back and forwards confused, to end up in Marseille accidently. I didn´t take any pictures as we didn´t want to lose time however I found Marseille ugly, dirty and  a bit of a dodgy city, people also drive madly (like in most cities I guess). We were pretty much lost in the city centre, not knowing where to turn or where to go, until finally and after asking a few people, a local guy on a scooter (250cc at least) was kind enough to show us the right way. ( He also was mad on the road making it difficult for us to follow him). Uff, once out of chaotic Marseille  we were back to the nice and scenic country side roads. We arrived in Cassis around 12pm, later than we wanted… of course, before anything, we were hungry already, so meal first.
Cassis is situated in the Mediterranean Coast, East of Marseille in the Cote-de-Azur department. It is a very picturesque town by the sea, famous for the outstanding “Calanques de Cassis” (Cassis cliffs), port and beaches making it a very touristic town.
This is Cassis
The port, the fortress and the cliff
This is Cassis
Cassis and the beautiful sea front.
This is Cassis
The fortress of Cassis (which we didn´t visit) and the port where you can do boat trips

 

We walked a bit near the port just admiring the town and taking pictures here and there when we found a company that offer boat trips around the famous “Calanques”. Instead of walking as suggested by E. we decided to book a boat trip as it could be interesting and maybe we would have time to enjoy the beach after.

The boat trip and the “Calanques de Cassis”!!!!

Cassis
This is the Calanques de Cassis
Quite affordable and a great experience that´s what I can say; there are several boats operating in Cassis so the waiting time isn´t long even if it is a quite popular attraction there. The trip lasts for about an hour  and a half  but it is well worth it. There´s a touring guide that also comments on the Calanques all the time. ( If you understand french you might find it amusing too). We took loads of pictures and it was hard to decide which ones to upload but here are a few:
NOTE: Click on the pictures for a better viewing, it is really worth!!!

 

 

Leaving Cassis by boat:

 

 

 

The Calanques de Cassis:

 

 

Little bays and beaches in the Calanques:

 

 

 

 

 

Way back to Cassis:

 

 

I could have uploaded a few more but I believe the pictures above give a pretty good idea about the “Calanques”. It is an amazing spot and much better in person. There are many little bays with little beaches and ports. It is all populated with people on the water swimming, bathing and doing all sorts of activities, either on the water or simply sunbathing in their boats, however it isn´t crowded, which is good. Definitely Cassis is a good place for holidays… maybe someday in the future!!!
It was still early so we had time for a sunbath and a swim on the beach. The sea in Cassis was a bit more wavy and not as hot as in Saint-Maxime, but with 22 degrees in the water it is still awesome.
Cassis beach
It was hot and there was I somewhere in the water… swimming, diving or just relaxing and floating…
By 6pm we were leaving Cassis to get back in Trets ( this time we didn´t get lost). My other half wanted to get back to catch up with her friend. We had dinner and a few drinks at E. and bedtime was calling us. (P.S. if you read this, many thanks for the hospitality E.). The following morning we would be leaving Trets to get back to Saint-Andre-Les Alpes and enjoy our last two days on holidays before the road ride back to London.
Cassis… What an amazing place!!!

Day 11

Saint Andre Les Alps Saint MaximeTrets 07/08-17 (9 am 7 pm)

 

It was early, hot and sticky as we emerged from the tent and our neighbor, a nice 80 year  old man from Germany who did not speak a word in English, simply approached us smiling with a kettle saying “cafe? Cafe?”. He was the sweetest guy we met. Using smoke signs and lost words here and there to communicate we understood he was spending a couple weeks in Saint Andre just to do paragliding  ( very famous activity in the area). Also the couple staying in front of us ( which we had met on our previous stay) invited us for a barbecue event they were planning at the camp site. Very nice the community at Les Isles, however we politely declined as we had different plans…
We planned a nice day on the famous beaches around Saint Tropez and a visit to an old friend of Marie that happened to be living close to Marseille, in Trets. After having coffee with our friendly German neighbor, we took a shower and jumped on the bikes towards Saint Tropez. this time the camping site Les isles would be our base, so we did not have to lose time with the tent and to set up the luggage on and off the bikes.
Saint Andre les Alpes
The bridge on the N202  exiting St. Andre Les Alps and the outstanding Lake Castilon.
We rode southbound on the nice N202 and then by Saint Julien en Verdon we turned right, into the D955 along the lake and passing the EDF power station to Castellane again. ( At this stage, I was already pretty familiar with this route)… We passed a few towns along the curvy, scenic and extremely well maintained mountain roads. We were going down the Alps to the Mediterranean sea. 
Somewhere
On the road to the Mediterranean sea
road to St. Maxime
The terrain is a bit more sandy and less dense in vegetation
Unfortunately it was possible to see signs of devastation. There had been some bad wild fires in the south region a couple weeks before our trip, we passed really scorched areas where the fire passed by burning everything around leaving that burnt wood odor in the air, not a very pleasant scenario to see.
Wild fire 2017
Devastation after the wild fires in South France 2017
As I rely more on  maps over the bike tank than GPS systems it was very easy to reach the coast, took us about two hours to arrive in Saint Maxime. I wanted to go to Saint Troppez which is not far but the horrendous traffic plus the heat beat us, so we decided to stay at Saint Maxime. There are series of beaches along the coast. On the billboards was saying the water temperature (26 degrees) which was perfect and also a notice warning that medusas populate the sea. After speaking with a life guard he said that it is normal and they be a bit dangerous because some people may develop allergies, luckily on that day there were no reports of medusas on this part of the sea.
We were hungry so we had a nice salad and sandwich at a beach snack bar. It´s understandable why this area is so famous and busy during the summer. It is hot, very pretty, the clean sandy beaches very inviting and the Mediterranean sea simply great and warm… could not wait to jump into the water.
Saint-Maxime
 St. Maxime beach
It felt great, I spent ages diving, swimming or simply floating on the sea feeling that light waving on my body and just letting myself relax… at that stage I thought that life could not be better so I made sure I really enjoyed it.
Selfie
At Saint Maxime beach

 

 

No doubt it is a wealthy region, judging by the villas on the road side and cars around, and especially by the numerous massive yachts around the coast( probably belonging to famous people and possibly corrupt politicians).
Mediterranean Sea
St. Tropez view from St. Maxime.
We left Saint Maxime around 5 pm to meet Marie´s friend in the little village of Trets which was about an hour and a half away from us, close to Marseille. We did a bit of mountain road and motorway until we arrived, however my other half´s friend house was not easy to reach as it is in the mountain and the access not the best… very tiny road, steep, full of gravel and dusty, not a good environment for two sport bikes, however, we arrived without issues. She lived in a big old  house with massive bedrooms, two floors, swimming pool and a big garden. We ended up having dinner outside, talking and listening to Marie´s friend suggestions for the following day over a bottle of wine.
Trets
View from Marie´s friend house while having a great dinner at the end of the day
South France is great!!!! Life is good!!!!

 

 

 

Peak District, U.K. 2018

A little peek in the Peak District

 

It´s been a while since I went out on a little trip. The fact I am working most of the time together with the British weather doesn´t leave much room to enjoy the pleasure of the country in two wheels until late March, mid April. A little escape was on my mind…
My other half´s birthday was coming soon, so I planned meticulously  a road trip to the Peak district without disclosing it to her. Luckily is was sunny and warm.  I did my usual research such as  finding scenic routes and activities in the area. Also had to book a hotel room which wasn´t easy, most were fully booked but after a few calls I found a room in Buxton town at the Buckingham Hotel.

The big day finally arrived. Marie still had no idea where were we going and thought I was pranking her with a ride around the M25. We left by 5.30pm Friday, stopping quickly by the motorcycle school where I work just to stretch Marie´s chain as it was a bit loose. We then went northbound on the M1. The usual boring motorway ride… long and uninteresting, good to get my tyres squared.
 Along the M1 there were some road works and road closure warning signs on routes I planned, so I had to find an alternative. The Donington service area seemed to be a good place for a little break and to check maps. There, I met the best traffic officers ever, who helped me out and searched the best routes to take as several accesses were closed. Marie was still in the dark, clueless about our destination.
Donington services
The best traffic officers I could ever find. I am really thankful to both!
We left the service area towards Derby and after Ashbourne the road became more interesting… more twisted and very hilly, adding to the fact that it was night and there was no street lights, just my headlight showing the road ahead… It wasn´t even cold at 10pm… just perfect!!! Anyway, we arrived in Buxton safe and sound.
  Our first impression about Buckingham Hotel on entry was that it was a little worn out, old fashioned and big. There was no one at the reception so I simply entered following the noise of people talking which took me to the hotel bar. As I spoke with the man behind the bar everyone around started laughing at me ( a bit odd). The barman (wearing an old T-shirt totally ripped off) then took me to the reception area and gave me the room key, number 15.  There is no lift, so it was quite a hike up to the 2nd floor. The heat hit us around the first floor, together with a smell of old furniture mixed with mold. Definitely this hotel had seen better days as it was possible to see that it needs restoration work. Our room was no exception, the walls  are covered with some garish wallpaper and the carpet is really old, decoration wise, pictures of Nicole Kidman were hanging all around the walls ( how weird). At least the bedsheets were clean and the bedroom fairly clean, comfortable and spacious. Well, it was just for a night really,  and for the price it wasn´t that bad!
Buxton
Buckingham Hotel
Before going to bed we decided to go to the town center to eat something. Buxton is small, but appears to have a good night life, lots of bars and night clubs and everyone around seemed to be happilly drunk ( or on magic mushrooms as Marie described). Anyway, we just wanted a snack and to go back to the hotel.
I had planned a full Saturday… A ride out thorough the famous Snake and Winnats passes and cavern visits in the town of Castleton. We left the hotel around 9.30 am to find a place to eat a proper breakfast. We went to Buxton town and ate at the “Eat @No. 5”. Staff was very friendly and warm, also the food was good too.
Buxton
Buxton town centre at 10am on a Saturday
Snake Pass;
It´s a road (A57) between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. Its name derives from a local Inn (Snake Inn) but also matches  the road as it has several bends. It is quite steep before it sinks in the Ladybower forest, however I don’t believe it is considered a U.K. dangerous road, a few blind bends but that is it. Snake Pass is quite popular among cyclists and bikers, specially when the weather is good. The summits are at about 520mts above the sea level. Piece of cake for the CBR´s.

 

 

We passed Banford, Hope and arrived at Castleton town. It is definitely a very scenic and a pretty route for a bike ride, also quite pleasant and fun. There are loads of points of interest in this region; Caverns, castles, and it´s a great area to hike and enjoy the sight seeings in between many other activities. We were there only for a day so I had planned caving. There are three major caverns: speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern (also known as the Devil´s arse), Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Unfortunately we didn´t have time to check out all of them.
Castleton
Welcome to Castleton!!!
The Speedwell Cavern;
Speedwell Cavern
The long straight white line shows the distance we covered by boat underneath the ground.
The only access you have is by boat… the entrance is quite interesting, you have to go down a long staircase to then jump on a little metal boat pulled by a small electric engine that takes you under the ground trough a narrow tunnel. The guide was very young,  pretty cool and fun and we had to use our hands on the rock to maneuvre the boat at a stage. That long small tunnel leads to a big limestone cavern. It´s an interesting experience and also its story such as the “bottomless pit”. Of course to explore it all in depth you must book a different guide and use appropriate equipment, such as torches, helmets and ropes. 
Note: I took way more pictures in the caverns, but they aren´t good at all to share with my little audience. These may give you a little idea of the places.

 

 

The Peak Cavern or the Devil´s arse;
Devil´s Arse entrance
Welcome to the Devil´s Arse!!!! ( A.K.A Peak Cavern)
It´s a natural cavern with an interesting story… apparently the cavern used to get flooded and when it sarted draining the water, loud sounds echoing similar to farts used to the heard in town, therefore it´s called the Devil´s Arse cavern. It´s a big cave that splits into 3 big caverns (open to the public), some points are so low that even children need to bend in order to pass. Its stories are interesting as well, such as how guided visits used to be in older times and also the Queen (Elisabeth the first) visited it twice.

 

 

 

There´s loads to do and see but time was running fast and we didn´t have time to visit other places, next time definitely I want to go caving with a guide. There are 13 mile long caves in the area, not all are open to the public but it is possible to explore them with a professional guide and appropriate equipment.
We were getting hungry and it was time to find a nice restaurant in town for a good meal. The town is busy and picturesque, crowded with visitors like us going on cavern tours or hiking… it´s a good atmosphere.
Castleton:

 

 

 

After we ate it was time to start thinking to get back to the old London, but, not forgetting to ride trough Winnats Pass, it´s not longer than a couple miles but it´s beauty and shape is unique. 
Winnats Pass
WINNATS PASS!!! View from the top. We didn´t resist and went up and down the road twice!!!

 

 

From there we passed some great country lanes, hilly, curvy and quite scenic until we crossed Chesterfield… and then back to the boring M1 again… We arrived home around 11 pm quite tired, not sure if because the ride or the amount of miles we spent walking, but, definitely it was a good little road ride.
Happy Birthday Marie!!!!!
Note:  For detailed routes about this post please click here !!!

Day 8,9 & 10

 

 

Toulouse 4th and 5th of Aug ( Resting days, no riding)

 

After 20 hours riding we just wanted to sleep and rest, I wasn´t that tired physically but the stress from the previous day/night worn me out.  I am not going to detail these two days much as we were in family. So apart from resting, eating and sleeping we didn´t do much. It was also when I found out that my GoPro camera had a faulty memory card and some of my recordings were simply gone.
On the second day in Toulouse we went to the  city centre on public transports, eating and drinking out. Coffee shops and restaurants  were busy with locals and tourists like us but we eventually found a nice crepperie for a nice snack and dessert. Not much to say here apart from that it was a nice time in family.
Day off in Toulouse
            Pretty but busy Toulouse
Day off in Toulouse
Toulouse Place du Capitole (Town Hall)
I had planned the Pyrenees mountains for the next stage but after checking the weather app, we decided to change the trip plan as it was going to be rainy and a sudden temperature drop was eminent for the upcoming days… how annoying!!! I had so carefully planned this trip including unique roads and places. Due to the bad weather we had to change our plans otherwise risking unpleasant travel conditions! After discussing about it with my other half we came up to a decision.
Plan B…
We would go back to the French Alps being Saint Andre Les Alpes our base to then explore a bit further for the next upcoming days, meaning another 300 mile motorway run… at least we were now rested, and most importantly, we had no arrangements with anyone!!! And we were talking!

Day 10

Toulouse- Saint Andre Les Alpes 06/08/17  (motorway/ mountain)

We woke up early, fully energized and we knew what was coming up… A long stretch on the motoway back to Saint Andre. We had a breakfast with Marie`s family but it was time so say goodbye and load the bikes again. As usual, it was sunny and hot as we left Toulouse ( around 10am) for a 6 hour ride on the motorway. Not much to say on this one, we were happy and not tired so it was easy. 300 motorway miles riding in between 80 mph and “censored” mph, two full tanks (not bad) with a few stops for refreshements and stretching the legs.
As we left the motorway we joined the famous N85 route de Napoleon ( quite known in between bikers due to its curvy shape and scenery) we went straight to the camping site we stayed previously in an attempt to enjoy a bit of sunshine and to go for a swim. We arrived by 5.30/6 pm, mounted the tent on time for a dive and a bit of sun on the swimming pool. We were back to the amazing village of Saint Andre Les Alpes and the camping site “Les Isles” would be our base until the end of our trip!!
I had previously routed a specific road in this region, the dangerous Gorges du Cians . As it was still early, we had a snack and we decided to head on towards this amazing gorges. After riding for nearly two hours we ended up in a small village on the a mountain called Rigault… nothing special,  although we passed some really nice roads with the occasional hairpin here and there but we didn´t find the Gorges du Cians. My other half was getting tired so we decided to head back to the camping site and have a snack somewhere.
On the N202 ( close to the roche percee) there is a little village with a snack bar area. and at around 11pm it was the only place we found open. We had some sausages with fries and salad. No wonder it was busy… it was delicious, an immaculate hospitality and also priced very reasonably. I ended up chatting with the owner ( I am a chatterbox by nature anyway). Mom and daughter own the place and on the other side of the road they manage the local hotel together, although we didn´t stay there. They were so friendly that we decided to stop there every time we would go for a meal. Really recommend it but can´t recall the name of the place.
That was it, 400 miles later and with the tent calling us our day was complete. The next day would take us to the very upmarket town of Saint Maxime  and to the outstanding Mediterranean sea… We were back to the Alps and loving it!!!!