A Motorcycling Tour in Spain, 2022

Spain by FJR1300AS

Document start date 11 June 2022    Last updated 9th July 2022

    The Protagonists
    Leaving home
    The Ferry, Plymouth to Santander
    Santander to Logrono
    Logrono to Cuenca
    Cuenca to Santa Elena
    Santa Elena to Granada
    A day in Granada
    Granada to Zahara de la Sierra
    Zahara de la Sierra to Jerez
    A day in Jerez
    Jerez to Pozoblanco
    Pozoblanco to Ávila (Sierra de Gredos)
    Ávila (Sierra de Gredos) to Viniegra de Abajo
    Viniegra de Abajo to Santander
    Return Ferry and Home


This trip to Spain had been planned for two years. Covid got in the way, so we've had to wait.

Pre-Covid, we've been touring in Spain (and other continental countries) for years, interspersed with going to Scotland.

It is almost certainly my last motorcycling trip abroad, age is catching up on me.

(I've only continued motorcycling this long because of my late wife's encouragement when we knew she was terminally ill back in 2017.)

The Protagonists

Ri ‑He comes from the island of Guernsey . He does all the planning and hotel bookings. Rides a BMW RT1250GS - more of that later.
JA ‑Ri's wife, rides pillion.
JH ‑She's from near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, F800GT.
Mi ‑He lives in the island of Jersey, rides a Triumph Trident.
Son ‑He lives in Derby. Took up motorcycling relatively recently, but is a natural. ZX1000.
Me ‑I'm the oldest, probably the least capable rider, certainly not the wisest. I also live in Derby. FJR1300AS.

Leaving home

My bike preparation: two new tyres, made sure their pressures were ok. Check oil and water? I forgot. In any case I rarely do between services, I can't ever remember having to add any.

The day before the ferry sailing, Son and I go to Somerset to overnight at my brother's and sister-in-law's. We've not seen them for ages (Covid), and their house is more or less on the way to Plymouth ferry port.

The trip down is uneventful and unremarkable, mostly main roads and motorways. The last 35 miles is on a single carriageway, no overtaking possible for almost the whole of it. I've been stuck behind slow traffic on previous trips, but this time it's not too bad.

(Click on any image a for larger view in a new window, or click on a route to open an interactive map)
The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 178.6mi  51.0mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 3:28hr  78.0mph 
Image wasn't very clear

They feed hedgehogs
Movie: They feed hedgehogs
A bird feeds on the debris

We get to see some of their local wildlife.

Having overnighted, son and I set off for the ferry terminal. Tomtom is programmed to take us there by the quickest route. A road closure requires a re-route to take us round the blockage, not too much time lost.

We get to the ferry terminal, where our little group is meeting up in a cafe.

The photo of Tomtom's screen shows it rained a little on this leg, the only time on the whole trip.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 93.2mi  43.0mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 2:09hr  76.0mph 
Image wasn't very clear


The Ferry, Plymouth to Santander

We queue up for check-in with tickets, passports and Covid vaccination certificates at the ready.

Waiting ... inching forwards ... repeat ... check-in.

Then queuing - waiting ... inching forwards ... repeat ... passport and security check.

Then queuing - waiting ... onto the ferry ... our group being split up as we are directed to various parts of the bike deck. Me? I'm directed to the worst possible position, right at the front of a tunnel beside a loading ramp, I'll probably be the last to get off. Such is life.

Stairs up to our cabin deck, find our cabin, a sort-out and a shower - very welcome, it gets very hot with all the waiting around in the warm sunshine, the loading, carrying luggage while wearing motorcycling kit up several flights of stairs. (Yes there is a lift, but I'm far too impatient to wait for it.)

Now in civvies, we go to Ri's and JA's cabin, large enough for a get-together. Bottles of wine and glasses are produced so we can celebrate the ferry departing Plymouth.

A bit later, we go to the better restaurant for dinner - JA has already booked us in. The food is well up to standard, very acceptable French cuisine

Then a nightcap and bed.

Spain, from Ri and JA's cabin

The ferry doesn't get to Santander in Spain until 2:00pm UK time, 3:00 pm Spanish time. (The ferry uses UK time, strange since it's French owned and run, and its destination is in the same time zone as France.)

So breakfast and a light lunch on the ferry.

The ferry does make up for the hour-late departure, then it's time to tog up and go down to the bikes

I have to wait until most of the bikes are out because of my position, then I carefully foot my way backwards out of the tunnel, over cables, straps, deck mounting bumps, and other detritus, until I can join the stream of bikes going up the ramp and on to land.

Then queuing ... until we are through immigration, passports checked and stamped. We group up again and dress properly before riding on.


Santander to Logrono

We take the more-or-less direct route to our first hotel. Not much to comment on, except that when we arrive in the vicinity of the hotel it takes quite a while to locate it. The area consists of narrow roads and steep hills. Although we are within feet of it, it takes search parties on foot and a phone call to finally find it.

Parking isn't easy, the hotel has no proper car park. It does have spaces butting up to one wall, but this would mean parking on a steep slope with a very real risk of the bikes tipping over.

So, in the end, we park on an adjacent plaza, between bollards that are supposed to prevent parking. Mine is very close to a large rubbish bin. (Before we leave the next morning, a rubbish collection lorry stops nearby, extends a very long crane jib, and hoists the bin liner to empty it. Luckily I have already moved my bike away, or it could have been knocked about during the process.)

The usual shower and tidy-up

Local resident seeking lap ...
... but decides on a chair.

We wander around to find a cafe, for a drink and a meal. Being Spain, this is outdoors, the evening weather is perfect.

A very friendly local resident joins us.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 143.0mi  49.1mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 2:50hr  82.6mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Logrono to Cuenca
Parked near Masegosa
on the CM-2106
And at Villalba de la Sierra

As usual, Ri has planned routes that, as far as possible, stay off the motorways, always seeking interesting rather than fast roads. He is very good at that (always provided his Garmin behaves).

We stop occasionally, sometimes planned, sometimes as the fancy takes him. Other than that, there's not much to say, except we always seem to be going through mountain passes with the inevitable accompanying hairpins.

Going up the path
At the top

We stop at the Ventano del Diablo. Very good views over the countryside. Two of our party climb to the high point, Son always has to get to the top (he's the spec to the right of the tree in the fourth photo).

View from near the Parador
The walled city (sorry about the sun)
View from the walled city side
The footbridge lit up at night
Looking from the footbridge
The Parador Hotel

We arrive at the Parador Cuenca hotel. This is situated one side of a deep gorge. There is a footbridge over the gorge leading to the historic old (established in something like 714) walled city of Cuenca. Walking over the gorge does my acrophobia no good at all.

We spend the rest of the evening exploring the old city and admiring the views, eventually finding a restaurant for our evening meal.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 266.4mi  44.7mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:54hr  89.5mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Cuenca to Santa Elena

Son does a lot of running, including half- and occasional full- marathons. It was his 50th birthday this year, and to "celebrate", he, and some similarly aged friends, have decided they are going to do a 50km (31 mile) run next month, so he is trying to keep fit.

Early in the morning, he goes for a run. The route he chooses is one posted on the interweb by someone else who has run in Cuenca. Following the map on his (smart) watch, It apparently takes him along the top of a screed slope, but he should really be at the bottom of it. So he turns to go down the slope, slips, and comes a bit of a cropper.

That's torn it

He has a grazed and bruised arm and leg, but possibly most inconvenient is that he's ripped the skin on the knuckle of his thumb.

(He didn't take kindly to my observation that, had he been running in his motorcycle kit, he wouldn't have been hurt at all. Sympathy? No-one in our family gets sympathy for anything, and I'm not starting now.)

Fortunately for him, I'd packed a small first‑aid kit. I've had it for years, got it when I took foreign country travel rules seriously – you must take fluorescent jacket, red reflective triangle, spare pare of glasses (this one I do take seriously), two breathalyser kits (yes, really, France did require this, though no longer) and a first‑aid kit.

The kit was really useful, its contents included a self adhesive dressing, and scissors to cut it to size. So, for the rest of our trip, every morning before kitting up, I cut a strip of dressing to put over his thumb. Although it bled through for a couple of days, it did start to heal, and never got any infection. He, of course, didn't want to bother with the dressing, but I insisted, I can't imagine what the rubbing of his glove would have done to it, and more importantly, my daughter would never forgive me if I didn't do everything possible to help her brother heal.

For a few days he couldn't operate his indicators, had some problems pulling his clutch lever and some difficulty using his (bruised) leg to push the bike off the side-stand. But he managed ok.


Today's route takes us on some main and some mountainous roads. We only stop for fuel and for Ri to coax his Garmin into telling him the way, it does give him a lot of trouble.

Tomtom's days statistics show a driving time of 5 hours 17 minutes. Its route recording shows we are on the road for well over 7 hours. By our standards a relatively long day.

No trouble finding the hotel, and we can park the bikes in a secure area behind it.

Safely parked
View from balcony

For some reason no-one wants to park near me. Maybe they want their bikes in the shade.

Sitting on the hotel's balcony (and supping a welcome drink), we get a good view of the countryside. We can also see another courtyard in which the hotel proprietor is playing with a number of homing pigeons. Obviously a pigeon fancier.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 254.5mi  47.2mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:17hr  96.3mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Santa Elena to Granada

Shortly after leaving the hotel we stop at a service station to fill up. Someone notices that Ri's rear drive pumpkin is covered in oil, which has also migrated onto his rear tyre. I won't say panic ensued, but after a discussion about catastrophic failures of BMW rear drives and the risks of oil on the tyre, Ri's bike couldn't be driven any further in this state.

We decide that Ri and JA will stay here and organise getting the bike taken to have it fixed, meanwhile the rest of us would continue; there was nothing we could do to help.

     More on Ri's bike later.

Ri outlines his planned route to MI, who writes notes on paper to put in a map pouch on his tank. Satnav? Phooey. Mi is old school. And very good at leading a group.

So we leave Ri and JA contacting the RAC, we head off.

After a few miles we wind up this hill with a couple of nasty steep hairpins. We come to a little village, El Centenillo. It's not obvious where we are going as we circle a statue in the middle of the town square, and come to a confused stop.

A local comes up, and, in perfect English, asks if he can help. We tell him what we are trying to do, he looks at our bikes, says that if we are to continue this route we would need to swap for adventure style bikes, the road through is many miles of rough gravel. He suggests we have a cup of coffee at one of the two cafes and plan an alternative route.

     Later, we discuss this with Ri, as it is his route. He tells us that the route planner he uses shows the roads as perfectly navigable, no indication they are unsuitable for normal traffic. I later checked on Google Maps, the street view shows that the Google drivers only went a few yards out the way we wanted to go.
Statue dedicated to English miners
Plaque on the statue

In homage to all the Miners
who left your health and your life
in these mines.
El Centenillo and its citizens
with your collaboration you want them
remember with this Monument
Mines of El Centenillo August 2008
Translation of Plaque
(by Google)

I ask the local how he speaks such good English. Apparently, this village was set up by English miners to work lead mines many years ago, and is very proud of its English heritage.

View of heavily cultivated hills (trees?)
Bikes parked (and a finger)

So, after some coffee and much pouring over real (paper) maps, an alternative route is decided upon. We retrace our path through the nasty hair‑pins - now down‑hill.

We continue generally south, on mostly quite interesting roads, stopping occasionally for the odd view.

Finally we get to the outskirts of Granada. Mi gets me to lead us to our hotel, I'd pre-programmed all our hotels into my Tomtom. Traffic isn't too bad, we find the hotel without a problem (except I make a mistake right at the end, I start towards a public car-park rather than the hotel's frontage. Nobody else is stupid enough to follow me. I have to ride over a curb to extract myself).

Overlooking Granada
Church of San Gil and Santa Ana

Our hotel is close to the Alhambra Palace (more of this tomorrow). It is on the top of a hill overlooking the city, and, after cleaning up, we walk down a steep path into the city for a meander round.

Granada is an old city, there are many examples of early architecture. One such is the Church of San Gil and Santa Ana, a nearby plaque reads:

Modern Age: 1537‑1548; 1561‑1563
Styles: Mudejar, Renaissance
Architects: Diego de Siloe, Alonso Hernandez de Tirado,
Juan de Castellar (tower)
This church is typical of the Mudejar art style found in Granada. It is
located where an ancient mosque once stood. The church consists
of a single nave with side chapels. Its wide front ‑with a pointed
arch‑ and the roof frames stand out. Its Renaissance façade,
with grotesques and Corinthian columns, was designed by
Sebastian de Alcantara, prominent artist of the city. The
tower, with glazed tiles, is one of the most beautiful examples
of Mudejar art in Granada.

I like the way they say "Modern Age: 1537-1548; 1561-1563"

Smoke from a nearby wildfire
Not an empty sky, there's ...
... a helicopter overlooking the fire

We do notice smoke billowing from a wild‑fire not far from the city, the locals seem totally unconcerned.

The rest of the evening we spent chilling out and a drink at a bar. Eventually we go to a restaurant only a couple of minutes from the hotel that we'd passed when walking earlier. It was Italian, and was very good. Had he been with us, I'm sure Ri would have found a suitable Spanish one, but we found it difficult when they don't open until 8:00 or later, and we were getting hungry.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 172.4mi  36.0mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 4:40hr  82.6mph 
Stats in Imperial units


A day in Granada

Today is a non-riding day. We are pre‑booked to visit the Alhambra Palace. This is an Islamic palace and fortress complex, building started around 1238.

View over Granada
View of the Abencerrajes Palace

We have pre‑booked tickets that include a visit to the Alcazaba, which is the main, and oldest, part of the Alhambra palace. We do have to get timed entrance passes from a ticket office.

Because Ri isn't with us, he'd emailed the tickets to me in the form of one long pdf document. Being on my phone, it is quite tricky getting to the right part of each individual ticket which the officials need to see and scan. They also photograph the appropriate person's passport. Took a little while, but eventually we got the passes.

Before our allotted hour there is plenty of time to have a cheese and ham roll from a stall, and to browse around the various parts of the complex. There are very good views over Granada - probably why this was built here in the first place..

Movie: Helicopter dropping water

There was also a view of helicopters dropping water. Not much smoke today, I think they were damping down rather than fire‑fighting.)

When the time gets near we join a queue waiting to go in, and can finally enter. I had feared that it might be very crowded, but not too bad. Quite busy, but you could still see everything there was to see. I suspect Covid protocols were limiting the number of visitors.

     I took many photos inside, to see more click on one of the thumbnails, use the "prev", "next" or "more" links

An ornate ceiling
Intricate wall relief plasterwork
Alcove, ceiling is many mini-alcoves
Modern water feature
Restoration work in progress
                        A hall                        
          Broken ceiling reveals          

Flamenco venue

In the evening we are booked to go to a place that has a flamenco dance show.

We are picked up from our hotel and driven there. The place is built into the side of the hill, the inside looks like a cellar. I suppose it is a cellar since, although at the level of the entrance, it's well underground inside this steep hillside.

We are served a somewhat hurried and very average meal, then we are given a display of flamenco dancing. While I can admire the skill of the dancers, this isn't my cup of tea at all. I am glad when it's over and we are bussed back to the hotel.


Granada to Zahara de la Sierra

Having extricated ourselves from the hotel's (not very) secure parking area, we head off on what is one of the best motorcycling legs.

Bikes parked in the shade
View downstream from the dam
Amazing water colour
              Plenty of fish in it              

Once again, Mi is leading with his paper instructions. The route takes us through very hilly, some would say mountainous, countryside, the road seemingly never straight.

We stop just after crossing a dam to admire the views.

Another stop for ...
... another view

And another stop.

Approaching our destination, I take over the lead, my Tomtom knows where the hotel is.

All goes well until, only about 500 yards from the hotel, the road is different from Tomtom's map. Where there were two T‑junctions there is an obviously very new roundabout. Tomtom is confused, I am confused. So now we are going up the wrong road, cobbled, steeply uphill, and one direction controlled by traffic-lights.

(In my defence, although I've been to this hotel before, I've never approached it from this direction. In Tomtom's defence, as I write this several weeks later, not even Google Maps has an updated street plan.)

No possibility of turning round until we get to the top, where there is a carpark. So we turn round and proceed back to wait for ages for the traffic lights to allow us back down again.

As we finally arrive at the hotel we find Ri stood outside. He directs us to parking spots - there's no car park, just a feeder road running past the hotel.

Ri had driven here from Jaén in a hire car. Over a drink, Ri tells us what's happening with his bike.


In summary:

With extreme difficulty, they contact their recovery company, the RAC, in England. Previous contact phone numbers don't work, the contact mechanism seems to be that you have to go on line to their web site, they then send a message containing a case reference number and a phone number that you have to call. This procedure has to be gone through several times while things are sorted.

Our next stop is in Granada, where there is a BMW dealer. Can the bike be taken there? No, there's a dealer in Jaén, which is nearer, so that's where it will be taken. That's the rules

Can Ri and JA travel with the bike? No, not allowed. They are told to take a taxi.

To say the general service was poor is a gross understatement. Helping the client didn't come into it. With the roaming charges for phone data used for web site accesses and phone calls, the phone bill is expected to be several hundred pounds.

The only good thing is that this was noticed at a service station, not on the open road. The heat was quite intense, but at least there was shade from the sun and some refreshments available.

So, eventually the bike is taken to the dealer in Jaén, Ri and JA somehow get there.

Of course, this is a Sunday, so nothing can be done today. They find a hotel for the night - it turns out it's for two nights by the time the bike is fixed.

When the mechanic looks at it, he, as we all had done, assumes an oil seal has failed, so he orders one overnight, plus the special oil that is required in the drive.


     More on Ri's bike later.

View from the hotel (2015)

We've been to this hotel before. It has a great view over the Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir, but this time it is very low. I didn't even take a picture of it, so I show one taken in 2015.

After eating, we are treated to a nice sunset.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 196.1mi  36.0mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:21hr  85.1mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Zahara de la Sierra to Jerez

Today we head for Tarifa which is the most southerly tip of Europe. Once again Mi is leading us, Ri has driven off back to Jaén.

Admiring ...
... the view

So we go there via the usual wiggly roads (and a couple of wrong turns, but that's not a bad thing, there's plenty of time and we get to see more).

We stop occasionally, the pictures here are at the Mirador del Guadiaro.

We get to Tarifa, park up (illegally, but little option if we want to stop), find a cafe and have a coffee.

We continue north‑west. Roads a bit less interesting, but pleasant enough.

Onto the beach, and ...
... two venture to the water

A diversion to Trafalgar, where we park up to have a wander on the beach, seemingly miles of sand.

As we approach Jerez, I take to the front so that Tomtom can guide us to our hotel, where, once again, Ri is there to greet us and tell us how to find the hotel's parking place, which is at the back of the hotel, access via a pedestrian precinct. Lo and behold, his bike is there!

We clean up, then gather for a drink, Ri tells us the rest of the saga.


Nothing but praise for the dealer.

The oil and seal arrive, he takes the rear wheel off, to find the oil is actually coming from the oil filler plug, which wasn't tight. He checks the oil level, tightens the plug, bike is fixed!

On the invoice, loosely translated from the Spanish, he writes "Bad workmanship", referring to the bike's previous service.

When they pick up the bike, they find that the dealer has washed it, which is good. And the charge for the work? Nothing. That is good service.

Could we have found and fixed this ourselves? We do have some mechanical knowledge and some tools between us. The answer is no, apparently you can't get to the plug without removing the rear wheel. I hope that's true, I'd feel very guilty if we could have fixed it with the turn of a spanner.


The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 228.4mi  37.9mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:46hr  87.0mph 
Stats in Imperial units


A day in Jerez

This is another non-motorcycling day.

Ri has booked us in for two events. The first is for the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, apparently world-renowned for its horse training, the second is for a sherry tasting at the Sandeman distillery.

They about a 15 minute walk from the hotel (one of the reasons for choosing this hotel), and next door to each other (albeit a 10 minute walk).

Riders in a complex dance
Two long strings interplay
Movie: "Dressage"
Movie: "On the spot"

I can't say I am enamoured with the horse show. It was well presented, the horses were trained to a high degree, the displays were impressive.

Maybe I would rather see horses behaving in a more natural way, or doing useful tasks without the forced actions.

The "on the spot" horse looked decidedly uncomfortable, particularly towards the end of his stint - it went on for a while both before and after my video.

Tractor being readied for its performance
Racing round the periphery

During the half-time interval we were treated to a tractor drawing an attachment to smooth the arena surface, he also got applauded.

After the horse show, we walk round to the Sandemans distillery.

Row upon row of maturing sherry
Motley crew waiting for a taste
No, he didn't drink them all

We were given a tour of the whole area with a guide who both knows her stuff and soeaks very good English - just as well, I only know about two words of Spanish.

The history of Sandemans, the grapes, the barrels used, fermenting times, temperature of the storage area,product sampling, the differences between the various sherries, all are talked about, questions asked and answered.

This is followed by a tasting, we are in the de-lux group, six different sherries and port to try, most there only get four. Ri never organises things by halves, particularly if alcohol is involved.

Stork flying from its nest
Stork's nest, Spain, 2nd Apr 2012

As we leave, someone spots a stork's nest on top of the building, I manage to photograph a parent flying off.

I am reminded of a previous Spanish trip, back in 2012, when we saw a stork's nest, coincidently the same day that my late wife delivered our granddaughter when our daughter decided to give birth, at home, with almost no notice.


Jerez to Pozoblanco

Today we turn north. Ri once again leading, his route avoids all large towns and uses minor roads, though little of the mountainous roads we've had earlier. But they are not straight and boring, mostly single carriageway winding through hills and valleys.

Parked for view and sculpture
Imitation is the best form of flattery

We stop at the Puerto Calatraveño. It's a mountain pass 748 metres, 2454 feet elevation. Views over the countryside, but (in my opinion) not very interesting.

A sculpture by Aurelio Teno graces the parking area, obviously son has to emulate it.

A relaxing evening and we eat in the hotel.

The day's route

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 231.3mi  46.4mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 4:59hr  85.9mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Pozoblanco to Ávila (Sierra de Gredos)

Castle Mombeltrán
Parked for the views
The roads today are more mountainous, forever winding round hills, large elevation changes, very good riding.

We stop to look over at the Castillo de Mombeltrán, built around 1462 in its present form.

View from Puerto del Pico
I guess this was once a tower
Parked for the views

A bit later on, we reach the Puerto del Pico, a pass at an altitude of 1,395 metres, 4577 feet. We stop for the views, inevitably the pictures can't do justice.

A sort ...
... of ...
... panorama
Son has to get to the very top

After another hour or so of riding, we stop again just off the road. This is the Peña Negra Pass, 4110 metres, 13484 feet.

Now what do I do?
Remains of roast beef

We find the hotel, this one in the middle of nowhere.

The restaurant doesn't open until 8:30 (this is real Spain), but there's no option but to eat here.

The meal was mediocre, size doesn't necessarily mean good.

Son messages his sister about his disappointment in his meal, both its extravagant size and indifferent quality. She messages that she's just finished her roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner that she'd cooked for her family, just to make him even more upset.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 253.8mi  42.3mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:41hr  111.8mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Ávila (Sierra de Gredos) to Viniegra de Abajo

Today's ride takes us through more picturesque country.


We stop at the Mirador de la Galiana. This overlooks a valley where vultures can be seen spiralling up in the thermals.

We spend some time just watching them. There are many here. It's sometimes possible to make them out when they are right at the bottom, then follow them until they are way above the hills.

Unfortunately my phone isn't ideal is rubbish for this sort of photography.

Waiting patiently

We carry on, and come across a new mirador on the Quintanar Pass. It's obviously still under construction, just a car park and some fencing.

But the view is hardly spectacular, we can't see why they're putting it here.

Mansilla reservoir
Waiting patiently

Another forty minutes riding brings us to a much nicer view over the Mansilla reservoir.

We arrive at our hotel. Nothing particularly wrong with it, but it does have an issue, at least for me. The accommodation is in one building, the bar and restaurant is adjacent. One man seems to run the lot. The accommodation block has a locked door that can only be unlocked from the bar.

So, there I am without a single (useful) word of Spanish, trying to ask the barman, who speaks not a word of English, to let me in. But we survived.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 231.3mi  42.3mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 5:14hr  93.8mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Viniegra de Abajo to Santander
Raptor near centre of picture
Centre of previous image

Today we go to the ferry, so to be sure we aren't late we only stop when necessary, for fuel or comfort. The roads are still good for riding, we are keeping off the main roads for most of this leg.

On one stop there are some raptors (no way of identifing them) circling high up, barely visible in my picture. This is also our first overcast period in Spain, though by the time we reach the ferry port in Santander it is back to wall‑to‑wall sunshine.

The day's route
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 181.0mi  42.3mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 4:06hr  89.5mph 
Stats in Imperial units


Return Ferry and Home

We arrive at the port in very good time. We book in and park the bikes in one of the queues, then find refreshments in the port cafe.

After a while, the queues are sent, a few vehicles at a time, to the security/passport control booths where our passports are given an exit stamp. Necessary if you are going to Spain again, it gets very complicated if your passport says you've never left.

We are then ushered to another holding area. At least this is under a cover, the sun is quite hot.

Finally we board. This time I am placed nose up against a bulkhead, the good news is that it's adjacent to the exit ramp, I will only need to back a bike length. At least, that's the theory, more of this later.

The usual routine follows - cabin, shower, meet in Ri's cabin for the departure, somehow wine and nibbles get produced. Later dinner in the restaurant, then nightcap and bed.

We don't arrive until the afternoon, so a very leisurely breakfast and a snack lunch.

Time to return to the bikes. It's another "hurry up and wait". Bike de-strapped and packed, satnav fitted. It's hot waiting.

Finally the ventilation fans turn on, this is the sign to don jackets and helmets. Bikes start to detach from the mob and go up the exit ramp. Can I move? Not really, the bike behind is still strapped down, no sign of its rider.

So I have to manoeuvre the bike back and forth in the six inches of space until I can turn sideways enough to join the exiting train of bikes, up the ramp and off the boat ...

... and yet more queuing to go through immigration. This takes ages. No real complaints, nobody is being obstructive or overly bureaucratic, but there are probably 2400 passengers (the ferry's capacity, and I think it was pretty full) with about six immigration booths. After that we are queuing again to go through customs.

Finally I can leave the port itself, but stop in a carpark just outside to wait for JH, we are going to travel northwards together, she's going further than me and will stop at mine for cup of tea.

Son, meanwhile, is going up on his own. He has been asked to lead a group of runners from his running club in the evening. So, he wants to make progress; on his own he's bound to be quicker than with us. (With his being in nearly the last position to leave the boat and all the queuing, what was going to be a marginal arrival time became impossible, even though he did pass us on the motorway with a considerable speed differential.)

Traffic is about as light as I've known it on this route. My warnings to JH that I might do some strange lane changes or filtering were totally unnecessary, there are no holdups, not even any slow traffic. Most unusual.

Once home, I give JH a cup of tea and a quick snack (cheese on toast), then she's on her way, another 80 miles.

The route home
Tomtom's stats for the day

 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 250.7mi  56.0mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 4:26hr  76.0mph 
Image wasn't very clear



Overall, a very enjoyable trip.

Bike issues: None apart from Ri's oil leak. Of course various people spent a little time lubricating their chains - I naturally stood around making facetious comments about chains and shaft drives.

Trip statistics (legal note, I don't believe any of the top speeds shown):

Whole of spain
 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 2158.2mi  43.3mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 49:48hr  111.8mph 
Statistics while in Spain
 Distance travelled  Average speed 
 2680.7mi  44.8mph 
 Driving time  Maximum speed 
 59:85hr  111.8mph 
Statistics for the whole trip

The weather was pretty much perfect the whole time, apart from a little drizzle in England on the leg to Plymouth. Temperatures ranged from moderate to fairly hot, but at no time unbearably so.

The food was generally excellent, just a couple of disappointments, though breakfast in most of the hotels was typically continental. Usually a selection from toast, croissants, ham, cheese and sweet cakes of one sort or another, often fruit. For me it's merely adequate rather than enjoyable. We usually didn't eat much mid-day, we'd stop for a coffee and some sort of tapas. We always ate well in the evenings, usually quite late - the Spanish typically don't eat before about 8:00 pm at the earliest. (I always carry some shortbread biscuits on trips. I am prone to feeling a bit faint between meals; a hit from one of these fixes it.)

Concerning Ri's RT1250GS. He absolutely hates it. Not because of its oil leak, but because of its handling and lack of performance. He made the comment "This is the first bike that's made me want to give up motorcycling."

He's had several bikes before, the last were two FJR1300s then a Multistrada. He got the RT because the Multistrada had too many things go wrong, also, with its luggage, it was exceptionally wide, made filtering difficult.

He'd go back to the FJR only they've stopped supplying them, and, living where he does, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to source a second‑hand one from mainland UK.

He's thinking about a BMW X1000SR. It has a chain which he'd rather it didn't, but he can't find another bike that he thinks will suit.

We shall see.

Personal note: As I mentioned at the beginning, this is almost certainly my last trip abroad. As I write this, I am a month off 80, I am losing physical strength and confidence in my control of the bike, particularly at low speed. I also have some health issues which aren't helping, but I am still legally fit to drive.

We are planning a Scottish trip later in the year, I do hope to go on that one.