A Travellerspoint blog

Revisita España 2018

Day 1 - UK to Trujillo

Arrived at the hotel late last night. Just time to have dinner and then get to bed.

Up at 0645, just like a work day, to have full English breakfast.

Once sorted we arrived at the parking. The road works that held us up the night before look to be overnight only and we sped through.

By 0915 we were checked in. They decided the aircraft was pretty full and our small cases have gone in the hold for free. Bugger. And here we are in Starbucks having a coffee waiting for the flight to appear and the gate number pop up.

Gate 11. The long walk starts... And then the flight....

Arrived Madrid Terminal 4 quite promptly.

Despite half term not starting until this evening there were loads of kids.

Amazing that parents ignore the seat belts sign. Standing in the aisles and letting small children stand on the seats whilst we have seatbelt lights on. Sadly typical middle-class English who know better!!

Once out. Another long walk. Got luggage and exited the airport. Car hire minibus easy to find.... We were the only customers on the bus. After some faffing we picked up a 1.0 litre Polo. The TomTom is fitted and we are off. Mental note. Never hire from here again. The pickup is a hotel and it might be alongside the airport but the traffic is horrific!

An hour later we finally work our way to the non toll A5. Traffic quite horrendous. A warning for next Friday's return trip.

By 5.30pm I was needing a walk. We stopped for a coffee. On the way we had been caught in a few torrential downpours.

The rain in Spain

The rain in Spain

Traffic at a standstill occasionally as the wipers couldn't cope.

We arrived at the Parador in Trujillo about 7.30pm and checked in. Nice room.

Trujillo

Trujillo

Parador de Trujillo

Parador de Trujillo

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Trujillo

Trujillo

Following check-in. Get wifi code. Then get to the bar and have un cerveza or dos.

By the time we checked in and had that first beer it was dinner time.

We decided to eat in. The €30 menu seemed a little extravagant but what the hell. You only live once. And it was superb.

As Extremadura is renowned for its pigs and pork products, the menu was laden with pork.

For the vegetarians among you, don't worry about it. There many options based on local produce too.

This was washed down with another beer.

Once we had finished we had a short walk to check on the car. It was fine where we had left it in the street outside.

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

A note for any motorcyclists. Don't! The streets have possibly the most uneven cobbled surface I have ever seen. Difficult to walk on they are so uneven.

Then it was bed time. Claire had a bath and I finished my book on kindle.

Day 2 - Trujillo

Up late. I set my alarm for 8am but in the night the phone turned itself off.

Quick rush round washing and dressing then off to breakfast.

The noisy group that woke us at 2.30am were there and just as noisy and irritating. What is it about the "Lexus Set" that pisses me off?

Breakfast was very nice. Massive buffet and really nice coffee. For breakfast I like a 50/50 coffee milk ratio.

Took some pix of where the nuns of old could chill.

Nun chill zone

Nun chill zone

Although they might have had different tables and chairs.

Off to pound the cobbles....

After three hours pounding those cobbles in very hot conditions later... We had seen the main square and climbed up to the castle and viewed the Conquistadors palaces. Extremadura lived up to being the frying pan of Spain. HOT.

The main conquistador from here was Francisco Pizarro. See link on right.

Parador Courtyard, Trujillo

Parador Courtyard, Trujillo

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

Trujillo

Trujillo

Francisco Pizarro on horseback

Francisco Pizarro on horseback

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Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

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Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

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Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Trujillo

Not forgetting this area has thousands of storks. Their massive nest on top of buildings. Here they like them and many buildings have a support to help them build their nests.

Trujillo

Trujillo

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

Trujillo

Trujillo

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

Storks. Many tall buildings have storks nesting on them.

After the walking we stopped for lunch in Plaza Mayor. A beer for me and Diet Coke for Claire.

Then back to the room for a siesta.

After siesta we set off for the Plaza Mayor again. A sit in the sun to see what we would do. The restaurants were setting up the TV sets for the Champions League Final.

We are about 140 miles from Madrid and most of the locals were supporting one team and it wasn't Liverpool.

Over dinner we watched the first half. At Meson Hostal de Cadena. Superb food and the local red was easy to drink.

I usually avoid red wine. I do like it but it seems to upset my stomach and so I don't usually have any.

Trujillo drinks

Trujillo drinks

BTW. Real Madrid won 3-1.

Tomorrow we head for Mèrida but have a few stops on the way.

Day 3 - Trujillo to Mèrida

It's Sunday.

Up a little later. Washed. Dressed. Breakfast. Packing. Check out.

Now heading for the Roman world in Mèrida.

The idea was to head to Mèrida slowly and check in early enough to have some lunch and maybe a walk.

Then Claire saw a place en-route has a huge tomato on a pole. So we set TomTom for that area.

I used the My Drive app to get there and we had a tour around the town before giving up. Then as we headed back to the A5 we saw it right alongside the junction. At least we had seen the town!

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From there I dialled in the hotel in Mèrida. One good thing is that in the booking.com app clicking on "hotel location" gives a choice of Google Maps or My Drive. My Drive sends to the TomTom.

Once back on the A5 we saw a sign to Medellin and a Roman theatre. As we were in no hurry we followed the signs. It was worth the detour. Only €3 each including the guided tour. It was in Spanish but the info boards were in English as well.

Above the theatre is a medieval castle. We didn't see any directions or details about it though.

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On the church where we parked were the usual stork nests.

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Once the tour of the theatre was over we went back to the car and with My Drive set TomTom to take us to the hotel. I chose to avoid the A5 and instead we went along an almost deserted EX307 road instead.

TomTom brought us right to the Hostel Abadias. We were too early to check-in and headed back to the centre to get a drink. Spotting a cafe right next to part of the remains of the aquaduct. A coffee and Coke Zero later and we had a short walk.

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And then to check-in. Parking is a little tight in the basement garage.

Siesta then out to find dinner? There is a statue of some Roman dude nearby and a mèson also a short walk away.

Thunder and lightning forecast.

In the end the walk to see Marco Agrippa didn't happen as the rumble of thunder had us choosing to take the car.

We followed the signs into the city centre and then we parked in Plaza de Roma and near to the Puente Romane.

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Alongside it is the Moorish Alcazaba. We headed to the Plaza Mayor to get a coffee and maybe some tapas. Coffee yes but no food.

It started to pour down and we sat it out before heading to the car.

In Plaza de Roma there is a statue of Romulus and Remus like in Rome. But bigger!!!

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I took another couple of the garden by the Alcazaba.

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Once back in the car we had a curious drive around the city and needed to reprogram TomTom to get us back to the hotel.

Then it was dinner. Some kind of bbq meat that was either cheek of cow or pig.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully dry.

Day 4 - Roman Merida

After breakfast first stop Puente Romane. Got halfway but 14 °C too cold for man in shorts.

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Back to hotel to don jeans!

Once the shorts were exchanged for jeans we set off again for the Amphitheatre and Theatre.

Following the tourist signs. After three passes alongside and a failed parking attempt by the Mérida football stadium we parked opposite outside a school. The entrance to the site was on the other side though. We had a nice walk through a park.

Once we had paid the €15 entry, this covers all sites in Mérida, we were free to wander .

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From the amphitheatre we head right next door to the theatre.....

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We left the site and had a coffee and a think about where to go next.

Lunch. For lunch we returned to the Plaza de España and decided from there to "do" the Temple of Diana and the Alcazaba.

First up Diana and then the Alcazaba. Not much to look at inside but they are working still.

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Then back to the hotel as it was siesta time.

Post siesta. The last two sites.

Firstly, the Circus.

The site is massive. It was built around AD20 and before the amphitheatre and theatre.

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And then to the Casa del Mitreo. A Roman villa complex with mosaic floors and painted walls.

Excavations continue around the site and they have another huge field next door to expand the site if need be.

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It's hard not to be wowed by the different sites.

The sheer amount of work that they (slaves?) Put into everything...2000 years ago.

We headed back to Roma and parked near the Lusitania bridge and had our last dinner in Mérida.

This time a different restaurant.

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It was about 9.30pm when we left the square and headed to bed.

Parking the Polo in the garage we were joined by some bikes.

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I was a little jealous!!!

Day 5 - Merida to Badajoz

%5BUNSET%5D%5BUNSET%5DSpoke too soon about last meal in Mérida. Claire ill in the night. Usually that's my job.

Luckily I was able to add a night here tonight and cancel the Badajoz hotel.

A visit to the pharmacy along the road to get some pills was easy enough with Google Translate's assistance.

Was after lunch when we got out with Claire feeling better we set off for Badajoz.

In hindsight we might not have needed to cancel the hotel. Better safe than sorry.

Parked near Alcazaba and went in the tourist information centre. It started to drizzle as we walked the Alcazaba walls.

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From up here you can see across the rooftops to the river and down into the Plaza Alta.

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A stop for an in-car picnic before heading back to Mérida the longer prettier way.

Evening in. Claire tired after illness and lack of sleep and food.

Tomorrow we head up the road to Cáceres.

Day - Merida to Cáceres

Up and away about 9.30am. Cáceres is only about 40 miles away.

The A66 route is pretty boring but it looks like ordinary roads have been replaced by the autovia everywhere.

A stop for coffee on the way gave me my first Donut of the trip. As light and sugary as usual.

Although very early My Drive and TomTom combined to take us to the hotel parking.

We had the code already. The hotel is about 150m away in a pedestrian area. Checked in.

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And now it is time for lunch before we set off around another historic city.

Once checked in to the Don Carlos hotel we wanted to head out before everywhere closes at 2pm. First stop at the car to get my sunglasses.

Then a walk through the market stalls in the Plaza de España. Varied things from food to jewellery.

And then lunch at the Méson de Jamón. The set menu is €9.50. Pretty good for three courses and a drink.

If you don't like meat, then scroll past now. As the name suggests pig is prominent on the menu.

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Once again I tried the 1/4 litre of local red wine (tinto). It was very smooth and easily quaffable.

After our walk and lunch Claire was feeling tired and so we returned to the hotel for siesta. Although feeling better after her illness in Merida, she is not quite 100%.

At 5.30pm or so we set off to explore towards the old city. The hotel Don Carlos is right on the edge outside the old walls.

Firstly into the Plaza Duran with a statue some might find menacing due to the outfit being taken by another group of people.

Penitents

Penitents

Then through Plaza San Juan to Plaza Mayor.

A stop in the tourist information centre for a larger scale map of the old town.

We managed a small corner taking in Santa Maria and Sant Jorge squares. Tomorrow is a full day pounding the UNESCO World Heritage streets.

Photos? See link to Flickr -------------------->

The photos are all mixed up. Those taken on my phone are okay. The clock on my Samsung camera was six hours behind actual time. It looks as though I forgot to change it when we came back from Florida last October!! Once reset to CET from EST some are in the right place!!!

Day 8/9 - Caceres to Madrid and home!

Up, packed and breakfast had before we set off at around 10am for the 332km drive back to the airport hotel where Centaur have their rental office.

Unfortunately, I had a dickhead moment getting the car out of the parking space and bumped the rear into a concrete post. The underground garages are a forest of posts and some of them quite large to hold the building above up off the ground! I was just rolling back and "bang".

There was a minimum of damage, just a little paint chipped off the bumper. More my pride was hurt. It is lucky I opted for the "smart" all inclusive insurance. I hope.

The 1.0L Polo seemed very economical to run. Admittedly it is a little underpowered on the autovia but cruised at 110 to 120km/h okay.

It was supposed to be full when we left last week but this might have been the gauge rather than the actual level of fuel.

I filled up in Badajoz and it took 8.78 gals to the "click" and we had done 313.5 miles. That comes out at 35.7 mpg.

Remember the "click"? On the way back today the trip meter had 129kms on it before the gauge dropped from full!! It's calibrated in 8 "bars" between empty and full.

Having to return the car "full" looks like a bit of a con. I stopped a few kms before the check-in and it only took 5.18 gals for 283.5 miles or 54.72 miles per gallon.

Driving conditions pretty much the same. But a lesson learned. Leave the ignition on and watch the gauge creep to Full and stop there in future. The difference is too startling to be driving differently.

Anyway. The car was checked in and we arrived at the airport way before the flight appeared on the board to say what check in desks we needed. We had a McCafe con leche and a couple of the little "magdalena" cakes from the hotel breakfast to fill the lack of lunch hole in the belly.

The info boards suggested a good choice of desks,few of which were actually open. After about 20 mins of queuing at Iberia we were told to go to British Airways check-in as we had bought the ticket through them, even though the flight is operated by Iberia..... . Another 20 minutes and we are told to go back to Iberia as it is their flight and BA only has the flights they actually fly on their computer.

In the end we managed to check- in with a different staff member at Iberia who seemed bemused when Claire told her the tale.

Security checks took a little longer as I set it off when going through the scanner. I had my belt on but so did all the other men. After a thorough pat-down search I was released air-side. Claire often gets stopped due to her metal and ceramic hip!

And so to the gates shown only as HJ. with the best part of an hour and a half to wait we settled down on some seating. It's always annoying when there is minimal seating that people stretch out and lay across the seats taking up two or three to themselves.

Waiting for a gate we decided to have something to eat and drink. As there is no (free) food on the flight so we had a Starbucks coffee and a Iberico Jamon baguette. Very nice it was too.

Iberico baguette

Iberico baguette

On the way back from the loo I checked the board and it was showing our flight at gate H8. It was easily a fifteen minute walk down there and Iberia operate a "group" system on the boarding card. A lot of airlines load up by row. We were Group 3, the last group. I had already booked seats before we came out and so wasn't in any hurry. Our two small suitcases had gone in the hold, which was good as the overhead luggage bins were already full with similar sized (and some dubiously larger) cases so that I had just enough room to squeeze my laptop bag in, but no room for Claire's little backpack. We wanted that out anyway, so it could go in front under the seat.

Despite warnings about switching off electronic gear and setting phones to "flight mode" people around us were tapping away sending texts and emails even as we taxied to the runway. WTF?

In the end the flight left about 10 minutes after the rescheduled 1840 timing. It has been moved from 1805 to 1835 before we left UK, and we hadn't been told it was changed again.

But Iberia Express claim to be the most punctual budget airline and we landed at London Gatwick a good ten minutes before scheduled arrival.... Pretty decent going.

After another long walk we retrieved our bags and headed through the green channel "nothing to declare" in the customs hall. Despite not carrying anything elicit I always feel guilty!

Outside the bus to the car-park had just pulled up and we got straight on. Some ten minutes later we were back at the car and getting ready to leave for home. The ANPR worked this time and we were soon heading home.

Despite the at times chaotic driving in Spain especially around Madrid and the number of cars with little dings and knocks the M25 seemed far more dangerous! A stop at an almost deserted Tesco and by 9.30pm I had the pizza we bought in the oven and we could unwind.

Tomorrow we'll go and get Reggie back from his holiday in the kennels.

Day 9

Reggie collected from the kennels. We arrived at 11.29am just as they were going to close the door as they close at 11.30am and not Noon as I had thought.

He was really excited to see us and jumped up into my arms and couldn't wait to get out. He even jumped into the car without being asked!

Another holiday over. Better start planning the next one.... Norway cruise in August....

Posted by InvictaMoto 13:13 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Revisita España 2014

Day One

For this trip we were going to go on my 2013 Triumph Explorer 1200. The plan was to take the long ferry operated by Brittany Ferries from Poole across to Santander. As I left it a little late to book, the Brittany sailings were all booked up but luckily LD Lines still had space on their more budget oriented ship. So I booked that. After some discussion with my wife, Claire, I booked a return crossing as well. In effect two singles.

We were up early for the ride to Poole to get the LD Ferry to Santander on the morning of Day 1. We only had one cat at the time and she was to be looked after by our kind neighbour. Connie liked to go in and sit with Hilly and as we had a cat-flap in the back door she was able to get out when she wanted. The cat not Connie the neighbour!

Packing was done the night before. The Touratech bag to go in the larger pannier, waterproofs and spare gloves in the smaller and the rest in the Givi bag in the new box. The TT bag fitted pretty well into the body of the pannier leaving the lid free for another smaller bag, that is home to the sponge bag and the chargers bag!

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We were away at about 0935 for the 160 mile ride to Poole. I hadn't filled the tank after last weekend's ride to Colchester, so the first stop was Tesco at Ashford to fill up. Pay at the pump wasn't working again. Grrrrr.

Once away, the M20 and M26 were free flowing until the M25 but even the eastern end wasn't too bad. Then it all clagged up before Cobham Services. We pulled off for ten minutes to give Claire's hip a rest. TomTom saying we had 108 miles to go. It had taken an hour from Tesco.

Then it all went downhill! Rejoining into four lanes of crawling traffic it stopped a few times and we made the M3.

Traffic was heavy basically all the way to the turn off from the A31 for Poole. Many times stationary. Most cars were in the middle of their lanes to give space for bikes to filter, some moved aside, and some of them a little dramatically it has to be said. and of course there were those that narrowed the gap once they saw the headlights. Why?

We stopped for a comfort break at Winchester Service; again pretty packed. In the end we had a BK Chicken Royal for lunch. Once again rejoining almost solid traffic!

We had a mad session before Poole when the road cleared and it we got up to 70mph! Yes, that fast!!

We had decided that we'd buy some snacks and drinks to take on board, and there is an Asda not far from the harbour. It was 1420 as we turned in.

Some chicken fajitas, drinks and some chocolate fingers and we were off again in about 10 minutes following the TomTom as road signs are a little iffy.

Once at the port we joined the single line to the check-in. All in it took about twenty minutes to get to the desk and we boarded about 1520. Bikes went on first and we were at information getting the cabin key very soon after.

The cabin this time is a four berth with two bunk beds but as there are only two of us only the two lower bunks are made up.

A window and bathroom make the crossing into a mini cruise.

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And then to dinner. We decided to splurge tonight and had the pork and veggies and a very nice bottle of Spanish White to wash it down.

And then? Boing. Time for bed!

Day 2

At sea.

The ship seems quite noisy. Not just the neighbours but the engine sounds and the vibration through the decks and fittings.

So far just a gentle swell as we awoke at 7am or maybe 8am. We haven't a clue whether the ship is on UK or Spanish time.

The view from the window in the cabin. Sea and sky.

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We went and had a look at breakfast in the self-service. A choice of full English or continental. We went for the less belly busting continental. With coffee. The coffee on the ship is pretty decent.

Then sunned ourselves for a while followed by a siesta before we went to have a lunch of soup and a roll.

I managed to get TomTom to find the satellites so we could see where we were. So far very few announcements from the crew of where we are.

At 1430 still no sign of land but TomTom showing us about 100 miles off Santander.

The downside to this long crossing in August is that the boat is overrun with kids. A lot of them being looked after pretty responsibly, but a big but. It does seem that "out of sight, out of mind" is the order of the day. The girls in the cabin next to ours make so much noise in the room and in the corridor, the corridor with loads of water everywhere, and not from the sea! The parents/guardians? Sitting on their arses in the bar playing cards. Cheers t*users.

Tick-tock.

Another two hours passed and now about 24 hours since we left Poole. Spain looks to be a faint smudge on the horizon. Still over two and a half hours to the scheduled arrival time.

And then.....

Arrived in Santander at around 1815. Then bobbing about waiting to get on the berth. Lovely and sunny. The beaches full of people enjoying the weather and the sea.

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LD Lines have been pretty good. Food okay but a little pricey. Bar good. Cabin good.

We were off pretty sharply at about 1850 and into the streets of Santander.

TomTom took us along the road parallel with the port. Apparently we had to turn left at a roundabout that didn't actually exist as they have built a huge shopping mall and bunged in an underpass. TomTom maps not updated. Pretty poor, especially as we seem to be subsidising the latest generation owners, who get free maps for life. I wonder if they have this problem.

Eventually we found our way to the hotel. The bar is open for a beer and healthy crisps. The hotel San Millán has a fitness centre. Cue loads of Mr Muscles everywhere, and strangely loads of smokers...

The car park of the main road is a curious dirt hairpin. Not pleasant fully loaded.

We parked and checked in. Then found another car park. So I moved the bike there.

Parking outside the gate where this little lady wouldn't move..

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Had our first beer. A tiny 20cl Mahou. I suppose that fits in with the laughingly tab smoking fitness plans....

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We found that restaurants weren't that plentiful up this hill and we were directed to one about a mile away. A local style of place with a great meal.

Day 3

We didn't get up too early but still we wanted to be a way before 9.30am. After a leisurely breakfast for €3 each. There was no meat but loads of pastries and even the famed Spanish 'Donuts'!

I have a strange attraction to the "Donut", especially the chocolate coated variety. Sadly, the only had the plain sugared ones.

Then we packed, paid the bill and set off.

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Getting out of Santander was much easier than locating the hotel! We had gone a few yards when the Scala headset stopped working. A quick stop and restart and reconnect and it was okay for the rest of the day.

The plan today was to get to Avila and our overnight hotel. I programmed TomTom to go via Burgos and thereby increase the mileage a bit but at least keep us off the autovias that are replacing the N roads everywhere.

The N623 takes you from Santander to Burgos through villages and on the Michelin map it is mostly a green lined or scenic route.

It also takes you through the Cantabrian Cordillera. A range of mountains at about 1200 to 1500 metres. Gentle grades and a few hairpins to keep you on your toes. There are three main "puertos" and all are about the 1000m mark. We stopped at the first, the Puerto de El Escudo at 1011m.

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It was quite chilly up there. Further along we came to the River Ebro. Even up here it is a proper river and it runs in the valley of cliffs around 200ft high. The sandstone (?) cut through by the river of many many years.

We stopped to watch some large birds circulating across the valley, riding the thermals. I had no idea what they were but thought they maybe condor type birds?

And then onto Burgos. The last few miles on an autovia that replaced the N road.

And then for petrol. Rather than risk long distances I pulled into a Carrefour where the pay at the pump gobbled my MasterCard and then wouldn't work. Luckily we could see it and Claire removed it with tweezers......? I pushed Döra around to a manual pump and filled up!

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We then headed into Burgos to park and get a drink. After some one way streets we found other bikes parked up under some trees so we joined them. We were just around the corner from the Cathedral.

First it was coffee time, plus a side order of churros. Then we had a walk around the cathedral square.

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So far we had only done about a third of the journey to Avila, and we ended up on the autovia to Vallodolid. It was so hot going along that it felt like a very efficient hair dryer blowing into your helmet and through the jackets.

The temp gauge on the onboard computer showed 34.5 °C at about 70mph. I wonder how hot it was stationary?

We had a few stops to have a drink of water and to get some life back in our arses.

Since leaving the boat on Sunday we have seen only two other British plated bikes and a few cars. It seems this area is not really on the "must see" list for our countrymen and women.

Reading the "adventure bike" magazines it seems that the British biker is attracted to the Picos D'Europa like flies around the proverbial....

We finally arrived at the Parador in Avila at about 6pm. We opted to park in the garage at €14 rather than leave Döra in the street.

Once showered and in civvies we walked up to the main square for a beer or two and ended up staying in the same place for dinner. The two course €12 menu included wine. Excellent value that the French might like to consider!

Tomorrow we better check out the medieval walls!

Day 4

Is it Day 4 already?

Check-out is noon at the Parador and that gives plenty of time to walk outside the walls to take a look at them from the outside.

The Parador is not all that much different in price to other hotels in the area, more expensive inside the walls than outside it had to be said.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walls_of_Ávila

It is very impressive. The city is surrounded by a huge plain and the "new" City is built outside the walls.

Even though the wall goes right by the Parador garden there is no access, up or down here. After a walk around the inside we found a pay desk near the cathedral. As we were due to leave for Toledo we gave that a miss.

We had breakfast in another cafe in the same square as last nights dinner. Now packing the bags for the get-away.

Tyre claimed today we have only 78 miles to ride. TomTom turns the numbers around to 87!

We'll see.

Avila Outside the Walls

Avila Outside the Walls

Avila Parador

Avila Parador

Avila Walls

Avila Walls

Avila Fuelling Dora

Avila Fuelling Dora

From Ávila the route was curiously north instead of south-East as I looked as though we were being taken to an autovia. I stopped by a "mirador" overlooking the walled city but the sun was directly facing us making the camera useless. Maybe in the afternoon with the more golden tones would be perfect?

I changed TomTom and we turned 180 degrees and the ignored the signs to Toledo and headed off into the mountains to the east and then south again along AV900. The scenery was as bare as the previous day. We passed fields on black bulls with large horns and a few Fincas with the names including "toro".

We went over the Puerto de Navalmoral at 1534m but not convenient to stop for the photo opportunity!

Once back on the main road to Toledo we encountered a few trucks but they were easy to pass and we had lots of empty road ahead. Over the river Alberche that is lucky enough to be dammed twice in a few miles.

On the lake were lots of pleasure boats and the hillsides dotted with holiday homes.

It was about lunchtime and we looked for a stop. Finally in Escalona at a roadside restaurant. A coca-light and a tapas of what looked like black pudding and sausage was given with the drinks.

All too soon the scenic N403 becomes the autovia A40 and any semblance of scenic was over.

Toledo came into view. The Alcazar standing high above the old town as the Moors that built it wanted. To over power the surrounding area.

TomTom seemed to be taking us away from the city. The reason became evident as we descended across a bridge over the river Tajo and under the nose of the Alcazar to wind our way up a series of streets barely seemingly wide enough for Döra with her panniers. In fact, it was wide enough for most cars, although one section was narrow enough for a Vectra to squeeze through with only an inch or so clearance.

We parked in a slightly wider bit near the hotel and we went to check in. The guy on reception then showed us to the garage. I had to take the panniers off to squeeze into a small space next to a (badly parked) French 4wd.

The Hotel Santa Isabel is very centrally located. It has wifi and of course, the garage!

Toledo Santa Isabel

Toledo Santa Isabel

Toledo View from room

Toledo View from room

Once showered. It is bloody hot. We set off for a walk to get a beer and check out somewhere to have dinner later.

We were out for a few hours. Walking and more walking, all around scoping places for a full day of touristing.

After siesta we dressed for dinner. Most places are informal and shorts for men is okay. Good job as it is too warm for my one pair of summer chinos!!

We ate at a local middle eastern restaurant that Tripadvisor had as the 2nd best in the city. And very good it was. We started with falafel with humous and then onto ground beef with a sesame cream. Both excellent. This was crowned off with homemade date ice cream. As a digestive we had green tea. All for €29 with drinks. They don't serve alcohol at Alqahira, but the hibiscus drink instead of coke was excellent. Another example that France is becoming over priced.

On the way up the street you can't miss the illuminated Cathedral.

Toledo Cathedral evening

Toledo Cathedral evening

Toledo Cathedral evening again

Toledo Cathedral evening again

From there we had a walk looking for the Alcazar by night. And found it.

Toledo Alcazar

Toledo Alcazar

Then we went into a bar for a beer and realised we had no money, just change...

Could we find a bank? Walking for ages we found a Santander on a corner. From no banks to four in as many yards!!

We returned to the bar and no one seemed to have noticed. Big Mahou for me and diet Coke for Claire.

Big Mahou

Big Mahou

And another days comes to a close. A short walk through the streets of the old town to the hotel.

Day 5

If it's day 5 it must be Toledo! And sure enough it is.

Opening the shutters reveals another sunny day has begun. Scorchio!

Breakfast was soon consigned to the past. We opted for the €5 version. Tomorrow I'll go €3 instead. That should be quite enough.

We weren't particularly early but made straight for the Cathedral. Incredibly only a few minutes to get a ticket, at €8 per person including audio headset.

And into the cool quiet interior.

The place is massive, begun in the middle of the 13th century it took them 267 years to complete! Better be forewarned if you want a Spanish builder! (P.S. That's a joke ;) )

There is simply too much to tell about here, so go and Google it. Wherever you turn there is some art most likely by El Greco, or a statue or some golden ornament.

Some highlights:

Toledo Cathedral Inside 1

Toledo Cathedral Inside 1

As the inner apse has no natural light the solved it with this window and a special "window" in the wall behind. Among the decoration you can see it.

Toledo El_Transparente

Toledo El_Transparente

Here, I did it for you - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Transparente

The main altar is a magnificent piece in gold.

Toledo Altar

Toledo Altar

El Transparente still providing light along with El Electrico. More from the interior...

Toledo El Greco

Toledo El Greco

Toledo Monstance Top

Toledo Monstance Top

Toledo Monstance Bottom

Toledo Monstance Bottom

It's a small room and getting a picture of it is very difficult as the independent tour guides stand in the way gassing!! Maybe their clients get an uninterrupted view?

From the cathedral we followed the signs to the west of the Cathedral to what was the Jewish Quarter.

A stop for a cake and drink fortified us for another 34 degree assault. Up and down the often steep hills.

Down to the El Greco museum and a viewpoint over the Tajo gorge.

Old Bridge

Old Bridge

34 degrees

34 degrees

El Greco

El Greco

We bought a bocadillo of jamon iberico and got told off as we served ourselves, not realising the large shop only had one person working there and lots of people milling about..... "I'd prefer you didn't do that" she said. "I won't again" replied Claire. Not bad for €3. Might have sold two had she not been so rude about it!

We bought another at a second shop and returned to the hotel to eat in our little seating area in the room. In the end we went up to the rooftop terrace to eat and look at the wonderful view.

I thoroughly recommend this hotel!

From the rooftop terrace

From the rooftop terrace

From the rooftop terrace

From the rooftop terrace

From the rooftop terrace

From the rooftop terrace

A little siesta and then out to look for dinner. Ended walking miles, had a beer and tapas then more walking and eventually dinner near St Tomé.

Tomorrow we are off to Madrid. So time for some packing and bed.

One last visit to the roof to find none of the buildings lit up, so no more photos today.

Day 6

Time to leave Toledo and head firstly to Aranjuez and then to Madrid.

Or rather firstly, we would pack the bike and ride out of the old town via the steep streets. The streets are not simply cobbled but the surface is flint stones embedded in concrete. Not that easy on a large bike with luggage and two adults! The way down from the hotel is almost as bad as coming up and making tight turns. The problem being that on some tight corners the road is narrow, two-way and also to put a foot down you need a 40" inside leg!

We made it and then ignored TomTom telling us to take the main road, instead we headed down the south bank of the Tajo to a couple of viewing spots across the from the city.

Roman Bridge - Toledo

Roman Bridge - Toledo

Alcazar Toledo

Alcazar Toledo

View of Old Town

View of Old Town

Dora and Claire

Dora and Claire

The run to Aranjuez was on another autovia and it was only signposted just before the junction with Ocaña and Cuenca seemingly more important.

We topped up with fuel at the first station. At €1.369 per litre the cheapest so far.

The onboard temp gauge showed an air temp of 34.5 °C. Who knows what it was when stopped.

We had lunch at a café right by the old Royal Palace. It was open but simply too hot to go across.

Royal Palace Aranjuez

Royal Palace Aranjuez

Royal Palace Aranjuez

Royal Palace Aranjuez

Once on the road again we entered the burned wilderness that makes up much of central Spain. The highlight being road works in the middle of nowhere and oddly near a large prison!

Arriving in Madrid is by autovia. Through suburbs until suddenly you are alongside Atocha station.

The hotel was easy to find. Not bad but the area is quite seedy with loads of "community drinkers" and rough sleepers. No doubt attracted by 1 litre bottles of San Miguel on sale at €1 a pop in the Carrefour Mini across the road. Not only that they make a racket all night.

Once again I was glad the hotel had private parking. In this part of the city there is very little on-road parking anyway.

After we had checked in and changed we headed out to get a drink and something to eat. The hotel is near the Prado gallery and Plaza del Sol is a short walk. We headed up Calle des Huertas and had a beer. At least it is all downhill on the way back.

Dinner was in a Murcian restaurant called El Caldero. Mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, but we had a good meal of Murcian black pudding and then paella. Maybe a bottle of red was a bit over ambitious. Pogged we went back to the hotel to go to bed!

Day 7

Today we had a full day of sightseeing. It is not as hot as Toledo but still in the high 20's.

Breakfast. We had a walk up Huertas again to the top and chose a cafe on the square. Croissant for Claire and porros for me. Porros are huge fat churros! I managed two of the four. To say they are filling is an understatement. Luckily Claire was on hand to lend a hand finishing them off.

Madrid Breakfast

Madrid Breakfast

Our sightseeing included El Corte Ingles, Museo de Jamon, Plaza Mayor, the market then down to the Royal Palace. Somehow we were out for six hours.

We adopted the tapa style of eating and in the market, more a food place now than a real market, we had some small fish tapa at €1 each. They all came on small pieces of toast. The "pulpo" was quite hard to eat, but the cod meat in a sauce was superb.

Market

Market

Market

Market

Royal Palace

Royal Palace

On the way back to the hotel we called in the Carrefour. Fanta is €1 as well. Maybe the San Miguel is better value?

After a siesta, we dressed, my chinos got their first outing! We had walked so far in the day we wanted somewhere local. In the end we had a great meal at a Cuban restaurant on Huertas called Colonial.

Menu at Colonial

Menu at Colonial

Claires Choice

Claires Choice

Mine

Mine


After a short walk to walk off some of the food we went back to the hotel.

There was a lot of street noise and it turned out the Madrid teams, Real and Athletico, were playing each other in the Spanish Super Cup. I watched the second half on the tiny TV in the room. Athletico won 1-0 on the night and 2-1 overall. As we were in the Atletico area the singing and rejoicing was loud for hours.

Tomorrow we are off north again for our last night in Spain.

Day 8

Only one more night left in Spain but the best part of two days.

We didn't get up too early. The alarm was 0800 but as check out was 1200 and no breakfast in the hotel, thought we'd lie in and then pack and go.

The first stop was the Bernabeu Stadium. Of course I went into the car park the wrong way, had to off road across some pavements to set Döra up for a photo session.

Dora at the Bernebeu

Dora at the Bernebeu

Bernebeu

Bernebeu

We still hadn't had breakfast, so after a few pix we set off again. TomTom took us around the entire stadium and through the car-park of a shopping complex and we saw a Musee del Jamón. Parked and a ham croissant and coffee later we were off to the second stop at Segovia.

The route I planned took us over the Puerto de Navacerrado. It's over 1800 metres and progress was deadly. To cover today's long distance I opted to take the autovias. The built-up area leaving Madrid seems never ending.

Once off the autovia it was solid traffic for about 25kms. The going-up from the South is long sweeping bends but car drivers make a pretty poor fist of it. Once at the pass we stopped for the obligatory picture or two and then a coffee.

Puerto de Navacerrado

Puerto de Navacerrado

Puerto de Navacerrado

Puerto de Navacerrado

The down-side (for us) going north starts off okay and then becomes a mini-Stelvio of hairpins. We had a few cars in front all seemingly stuck behind Mr Cautious in a Mondeo. Over braking into the turns and slow out was a nightmare.

In the end a few miles short of Segovia they all turned off together!

Bliss. Apart from the Portuguese in the Audi 4WD that had accelerated to stop us joining the traffic line at the pass, was now up our arse tail-gating us. He flew past in the 50kph zone as we entered Segovia itself.

I had set the waypoint on the TomTom route to take us to the car-park right under the aquaduct itself. When my brother went last year he said that it had been closed off. Shame as you can get a decent picture of bike and Roman wonder.

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

From Segovia we still had around 225kms to the Parador. Much to my chagrin I opted for the autovia. Boring.

We had a strange detour at Valodollid when we came off the autovia and after a loop via Michelin's tyre factory we were back on it.

One more fuel stop near Palencia and we slogged along one almost empty autovia after another before turning off for Cervera. Once again the roads were almost deserted as we headed some 35kms into the mountains to the Parador.

The hotel is very well situated. Our room sadly overlooks the front rather than the mountains and the lake. A pattern with Paradors and us?

View from our room

View from our room


Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga

Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga


Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga

Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga

Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga

Parador at Cervera de Pisuerga

Some postings on TripAdvisor said it was old and a bit worn, and that is a bit extreme, although there are things in our room that need attending to. We have a nice seating area with French windows to a balcony. One of the rustic style chairs is broken, the second looks as though it has been repaired in the past. The problem looks to be the same weak point!

Apart from the noisy kids in the dining room; the parents sit smiling or laughing at their antics, as they disturb the rest of us, the hotel is well situated.

Dinner was the Menu del Parador and €29 for three courses. This is going to be our most expensive overnight stay in a long time.

We had a little walk to check on Döra before bed. There are other bikes up here including a Spanish couple with a Gold Wing registered in Elche near Alicante.

Dora bedded down for the night

Dora bedded down for the night


Tomorrow we will not hurry as we have about 10 hours to get to Santander to catch the boat and it is about 80 miles away!!!

The scenic route up through the mountains is about 100 miles and TomTom had plotted to take us along the coast once we run out of Spain going north!

Question. Whether to fill the tank again. Spanish unleaded 95 is about 12p a litre cheaper than at home..... Mmmmmm.

Day 9

Not a bad night once the screaming brat closed down for the night. To think that only the British get a bad press for poor parenting when abroad!

After two of the three S's were accomplished we went down to desayuno. It's included in the room rate. As we are both old we qualify for the "golden age" rate at the Parador that gives us a discount on the room rate of about 10%. It was actually cheaper here to use this offer than simply booking through booking.com.

Breakfast was a buffet. Plenty for everyone without the pushing and shoving.

View from the terrace

View from the terrace

Sorting what goes in what bag not so simple! To save carrying loads with us, DXeciding what we need for the duration of the boat crossing and the hotel stop in Poole we needed one bag. Once sorted we loaded Döra and then checked out.

We reported the broken chair and I left a note and took pictures!!

14941162279_e5322ce045.jpg14941305998_cb88c4ec58.jpg

The first planned stop was Potes on the edge of the Picos. From the Parador we headed north on the CL-627. Today there was only one mountain pass, Puerto de Piedroluengas at 1355m. It is on the border between Palencia and Cantabria. The descent on the northern side is a series of bends and hairpins. Luckily there were few cars to hassle us. Once we cross into Cantabria the road becomes the CA-184.

In the end we stopped for the first time just outside Pesaguero at a road side restaurant for a coffee. The scenery is much better here than further south.

Then into Potes where we bought rolls, ham and cheese and some drinks in the supermarket to have a picnic lunch. From Potes we join the scenic N-621.

Once into the Hermide gorge of the River Deva it looked unlikely we'd find anywhere until a mirador popped up.

Mirador Hermide

Mirador Hermide

The gorge is steep sided and goes on for about 8 or 9kms. The mirador was not all that nice as the refuge building was used as a toilet and stunk. I can't imagine having to use it in the winter as a refuge from the weather. Maybe the local authorities need to clean it out every so often?

We then entered a flatter land and then to the coast at San Vicente de la Barquera. Here we simply wanted a drink, but despite my near perfect annunciation the waiter gave us a menu. One crème caramel and a rice pudding later we returned to Döra, still in the shade where we left her.

This is a popular seaside resort with a long sandy beach across from the town accessible by a road and footbridge across the mouth of the river joining the sea. If only I had got the camera out to show how nice the place is.

Claire was anxious to get to the port pronto to check in and so we headed mostly off the autovia, stopping at Treceño to fill the tank with €1.40 a litre unleaded. LD don't check fuel so arriving with only 35 miles out of a full tank isn't a problem. At a saving of 12p a litre over UK prices it is well worth a top up!

We finally arrived about 5.30pm to find two other bikes in the LD Lines queue and a lot more queuing for Brittany Ferries.

Dora Day Nine

Dora Day Nine

When we checked in we were given a ticket to operate the gate so we could go into town. Great idea and we went to a shop for some vittles and a drink in a cafe.

It was just after 8pm that the trucks started loading and then the bikes. I remembered to put the alarm on ferry mode. Unlike some of the cars on the upper deck.

So now 25 hours at sea...

We sat on deck chatting to a couple as we sailed out of the harbour. The sea wasn't the mill pond of the way out and the boat tossed about a bit. We were in bed anyway.....

Our cabin for the crossing

Our cabin for the crossing

Day 10/11

Ten

At sea. One disappointing aspect was this was the last ever crossing this ship and indeed, the line, was going to make. The new pollution regulations had decreed that the ship's engines were no longer fit for purpose and LD was closing the route and the ship was off to the scrap yard. This is a shame as the crossing was very good and the "budget" fares meant that it was better value than Brittany.

Before the 3G signal faded I checked the hotel booking in Poole. Actually the most expensive hotel of the entire holiday. A Holiday Inn in Poole. More expensive than both the Paradors!!

Still, it is very convenient for the harbour late at night and has breakfast included and free wifi. We expected to dock around 1030pm.

The new day started with Biscay playing to its famed bumpy self. The ship rolling in a decent swell. We got up late and set off for the restaurant for breakfast. Both of us are usually good sailors, but not now. At least Claire made it to breakfast! I returned to the cabin to lie down.

After a few hours the good weather arrived and stayed with us for ten or eleven hours until we were only a few hours out of Poole.

Oh yes. After a whole holiday in the dry, it was drizzling....

Then bad news. An announcement that due to traffic in the harbour, we would be late docking by over an hour. Instead it wasn't that bad and we eventually arrived about half an hour later. Disembarking took a long time though.

We had some chat with the other bikers, a fourth had appeared after we loaded. A guy on a Tiger 955.

The hotel was only a mile and a half away, but the drizzle, that had now turned to rain, made the roads very slippery. It was about 0030 when we arrived. The hotel has a canopy and I stopped just short.

The guys that checked us in gave us an early breakfast and then time for bed. No one minded us

Eleven

After the late night we didn't get up too early. We had hardly unpacked and so we ended up back in the restaurant for another breakfast on the same bill as the half we'd had when we arrived.

From there the weather had looked up a bit and we headed off with TomTom leading us along the coast through Bournemouth before we were free of the built up area.

Along this section it seemed the main income stream would be from the speed cameras dotted all over the place. The ridiculously low speed limits are designed to make sure that the income is high.

The ride home was far less eventful than the ride down the week before. The motorways not too busy, no more than a normal working day.

We were home in good time and parked up at home in the early afternoon.

Once again Döra had been the perfect bike. Comfortable two-up. Powerful enough and economical enough when needed. With the larger Kappa topcase and the OEM panniers there was enough luggage space for this length of trip.

I hope this won't be the last bike trip we go on.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:02 Archived in Spain Tagged spain motorcycling Comments (0)

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