The Gallivanting Four are off again

In discussion with Andy and Ali (aka Fenwick Tours) we managed to identify a window of one week when we could all manage to go on another bike trip. It was restricted to one week as both Sara and Ali had to be back for their second Covid jabs, and Andy also has singing gigs booked.

Fenwick Tours wanted us to see some areas of Spain where they had been before, and had therefore planned the whole route, and made all the necessary accommodation bookings which was very much appreciated by Sara and I – thanks guys!

14th & 15th June 2021

On Monday the 14th June we delayed the set off as Andy had been singing the previous evening.

We met up at 10.30 in Teulda and headed off for our first stop of the trip, where we are staying for two nights Complejo Rural Ibipozo near Pozo Alcon (Jaen).

The ride down was pretty straightforward with lovely scenery, and when we arrived at the complex we were delighted to find that we had a complete spacious house with two en suite bedrooms, and parking for the bikes right next to the house. This place was great for us, and is ideally suited for families as it has a swimming pool and also has a restaurant next door.

The added bonus was that we arrived in time to catch most of the Scotland v Czech republic game in the European Championship

and whilst the score was disappointing Scotland did play well, and enjoyed the “support” from the MP Diane Abbot.

With Sara and Ali being animal lovers, they had already tried to help a baby hedgehog by giving it food and water (it did recover) but there were lots of oo’s and aahh’s to be heard when they found a litter of kittens just behind the pool. They also fussed and feted some adult cats, one was a big tom, that I don’t believe was ever named. Then there was “Tufty”

and finally a poor wee soul that obviously had broken a leg only for it to mend in a crooked position, so it hobbled about on three legs. The girls were sure this was the mother of the kittens and initially named her “mouse” as she made a sound more like a mouse than a cat. This led to lots of discussions on the suitability of the name and it was finally decided by the girls to call it “silver” as in Long John!

As we now had a veritable menagerie around the house, the girls grabbed the kitty (no pun intended) and headed off to spend a sizeable proportion on cat food and treats. To save wakening up in the morning with squeaky high pitched voices ourselves, Andy and I refrained from making any comment!

We pretty much lazed in and around the pool for the rest of the afternoon, and this was most welcome given the high temperature.

As we couldn’t be bothered getting back on the bikes and riding into town to find somewhere to eat, we decided to have our evening meal at the restaurant immediately next door. This proved to be a good decision as we had a good old laugh with the waitress who it turns out was from Mexico. Not only did she have a good sense of humour, she also spoke pretty good English and had come to Spain with her Spanish boyfriend, who is a bit of a “rapper”. After he introduced himself, he proceeded to show us video clips of himself on Youtube. Lets just say that his voice and backing music would be an acquired taste.

It was a real fun evening, and because we were staying in the complex we enjoyed a three course meal at the “menu del dia” rate of 10 euros a head !! Super value……albeit Sara allegedly ordered turkey, but it didn’t look like any turkey dish any of us had ever seen before…..however it did taste lovely, and perhaps it was a case of something being lost in translation while ordering.

Next morning we were off to visit the town of Castril and walk through the gorge. But first I cleaned the bikes as they were filthy from a small shower of rain that had deposited sand over the bikes……life is all about priorities!

The road to Castril was fairly short but absolutely beautiful. On one bridge we had to wait until a herd of goats crossed the road. Just outside Castril we pulled into the side of the road to look back at the dam that provides hydro power for the area. The face of the dam (from our side) had been lined with rocks. Best described as a dry stone wall all the way to the top of the curved dam wall; and we spent a while discussing not only how they managed to do this, but also why they would do it. Best we could come up with was that it softened the look of the dam for the villagers……..if anyone actually knows, please leave a comment as we are stumped.

If you click on the above photo you will see the wall of the dam clearer and understand our puzzlement.

Elfin Safety Notice: I didn’t ride the bike to here wearing these clothes. I changed in the carpark before riding the final few hundred yards into Castril

Biker Babes Selfie

We stopped at a cafe/bar and had a coffee and “tostada con tomate” before heading off through the town to get to the entrance to the tourist information and tickets for the castle.

Andy and Ali at the cafe….

FYI both the Tourist Information Office and access to Castle/Statue are closed on Monday & Tuesdays, this photo shows Andy at the door of the Tourist Information Office

This is where we intended walking to.

We then headed off to find the path down into the gorge, which is quite short but absolutely gorgeous (excuse the pun) as can be seen in the following photos.

At the end of the gorge walk we came across this doorway with the a plaque at the side that we couldn’t quite translate, but it was saying something about light…..

As we were trying to figure it out the two workmen who had been repairing some parts of the fencing arrived and explained that this was the original location of the hydro turbine for the generation of lighting in the town.

They invited us in, and whilst the original equipment has been removed its still fascinating to see the original inlet pipes etc and the guys explained all about this location – lovely people .

When we got back to our accommodation we decided that for tonight’s meal we would walk the kilometre along the the road to the other close restaurant called Kilometre 6 which is located on the 6km marker, so not a long time was spent on naming the restaurant! We duly arrived, only to discover that we were in actual fact one hour or so too early. The owner who must live above the restaurant came down and allowed us to have drink and a look at the menu. Now none of us are skinflints, but the prices seemed a bit higher than we were willing to pay. I have no doubt the quality is really good, but not for us tonight. So I returned the glasses, thanked the owner for his kindness, and told him of our decision.

So it was a kilometre walk back to the restaurant next to the accommodation where we had another lovely meal and no food choices this time that left us puzzled. ????

We had been checking the weather forecast for tomorrow and it’s fair to say that it looked like we were going to get wet tomorrow no matter what time we set off, and whatever route we decided to take. Ideally we wanted to ride over the the Sierra Nevada’s, but this might be a bit dodgy in the rain. The alternative was to ride on the main two lane roads. We decided that we would make a final decision in the morning. The good news was that we didn’t need to check out until midday, so we had a bit of wriggle room.

16th June

Morning arrived and – yep you’ve guessed correctly – it was raining !!

We were considering staying another night, but after a few hours the skies were showing patches of blue in the direction we were heading, so we loaded up and headed off to ride over the Sierra Nevada’s and into the Alpujarras.

On the way to our first stop in La Calahorra there was a most peculiar looking castle, which raised a bit of discussion as to whether it was old or new made to look old. however here is a link that explains the castle and you will see from the photo why we were puzzled.

Our stop for breakfast was also in the town of La Calahorra, where we had the most amazing, huge and light croissants at the Cafeteria Pasteria Morillas before heading over the A337 and arriving in the village of Cherin.

Coming over this mountain road provided us with stunning views and vistas that simply cannot be captured on camera, and as the rain had disappeared we were riding this road under a blue sky and bone dry roads. It is one of those roads that has to be experienced and cannot be explained…….fantastic.

When we dropped down the other side, there was nowhere we fancied stopping in the village of Cherin, so we continued on to Ugijar. Now if you wonder how this is pronounced you are in for a lesson, because here is a clip where the nuances and correct inflections of the towns name can be clearly picked out.

From here it was along the A348 which is one of my personal favourite motorbike roads in Spain. Runway smooth road surface, lovely sweeping bends, and simply astounding massive scenery which at times makes one feel almost microscopic

Andy & Gerry

Happy Bunnies

Sitting Bull….Standing Up

We carried on along this road, through the town of Orgiva (where Sara and I have stayed previously) and on to the town of Lanjaron where we were booked into the Hotel Lanjaron (Grenada) There was a bit of a faff trying to get both bikes parked outside the hotel as it was a tight one way street, and the hotel had no off road parking. Once this was all resolved we got showered changed and headed out to explore the town.

As none of us had stayed in the town before we were all looking forward to exploring the town together, and it proved to be exactly what it is, a small town at one end of the Alpujarras, and given the number of hotels in the town it is obviously popular for tourists visiting this area.

We had a wander around the town which was interesting as it still retains lots of its original character. As it was so hot, Ali nipped into a small shop and bought us all a Mivvi style ice lolly which we enjoyed in a shaded corner……lovely!

We decided on the walk back towards our hotel that we would have an earlier than usual meal, and had decided that pizza was favourite. We had passed a pizza restaurant earlier (which wasn’t open, and had no signage stating its opening times) and hoped it would be open when we got back to it, however this was not the case. The restaurant is below a block of flats, and as one of the residents was heading for the entry we asked him what time the restaurant opened. There was a bit of mumbling and basically he was saying he didn’t know! How can you live above a pizza joint and not know the approximate time it opens?

We then decided that we would go back to the hotel, freshen up and try again around 1930. This we did and it was indeed open, much to our relief as we were all pretty hungry by this point. We picked two different pizzas but were struggling to decide on the topping for the second, so when the waiter came to take the order we asked him. It was a bit of a surprise when he said honey and courgette and to our ears it sounded peculiar, but as he suggested it – we ordered it πŸ™‚
It has to be said that the quality of the pizza’s was super, lovely thin base and flavoursome toppings. The waiters recommendation was delightful, and all plates were duly cleared of food. Whilst having our meal we all discussed the beauty of todays ride and agreed that no photo’s can do justice to the magnificent natural scenery.

17th June

Andy had spent some time planning todays route as he wanted us to take in a couple of reservoirs/lakes on our way to our next stop, and we were all delighted he did as some of the views today were outstanding. One in particular, where we had been twisting our way up and down hills, we turned a corner and in front of us was a beautiful turquoise reservoir, which kind off took your breath away for a moment given the sudden burst of colour.

We stopped and parked up on the dam wall (a wee bit naughty) and it turns out this is Los Bermejales reservoir.

Now, there are times in life where one becomes completely stumped, because when we looked over the dam wall and down to the water we were blown away completely because there were numerous large shark shaped creatures that we estimated were somewhere between six to eight feet long………..

I know that the Ebro river has monster catfish BUT these were not catfish in shape. (I’m jumping ahead a little but when we arrived at the hotel later and asked the receptionist he said they would be Carp or Black Bass – absolutely no way) Therefore if anyone can shed any light onto what these may have been please let me know. The one thing I do know is that if you were swimming in the reservoir and any of these creatures swam near you, then you would, without doubt discover religion very quickly !!

Totally puzzled we head off again enjoying riding our motorbikes through the amazing country side.

Now while I extol the virtues of Fenwick Tours, their trips sometimes include an unexpected section of “off road” and today was no different as Andy and Ali cut off a lovely perfectly serviced tarmac road (whilst stating confidently “its down here”) and led us onto, and lets be kind with the description, a gravelly track. After a wee while we had to turn these bikes around and head back to the lovely tarmac road we had previously abandoned…..and I am saying no more on the matter πŸ™‚

The scenery en route was spectacular, however we had a bit of an issue in that no sat nag nor google maps could provide the exact location on the accommodation. Undeterred, when we reached the next coffee stop, Fenwick Tours found the Lat and Long for the hotel via web site and successfully programmed the coordinates into their sat nag; and off we went again with Fenwick Tours having fully redeemed themselves, and kept their 5 star rating πŸ˜‰

This was an exciting ride for everyone today as we were heading to our next accommodation to allow us to walk the Caminito Del Rey which had been booked by Ali on line. Exciting for Sara and I as we love new experiences, and perhaps a little more exciting for Ali and Andy who had tried to do this walk two years ago, but sadly there had been no tickets available at that time, and then along came Covid and all the associated restrictions. So it was great that we could all share the experience together.

Therefore to avoid disappointment we would suggest that it’s best book tickets before travelling to do the walk.

We duly arrived at our accommodation Hotel La Posada Del Conde (Ardales Malaga) their web site via this link has some neat photos of the walk, and simply parked the bikes in a triangular space right outside the hotel, with the receptionist saying that it was fine.

This hotel is in a perfect location for those doing the walk, or indeed just exploring the area.

We all know about Covid and the various rules and regulation in different areas and locations. Well we hit this problem at the hotel as the restaurant and bar were both closed in the evening – with the restaurant only being open for breakfast! The only explanation I can come up with is that all guests checking in have their temperature taken and rooms have all been sanitised, therefore the logic must be the guests are relatively safe, BUT if others came into the hotel without being checked it might create an issue.

The chap at reception could not have been more helpful and cheery, and not only did he explained where we could walk to get a meal at a couple of places, he also explained that the start of the Caminito Del Rey has two entrances near these restaurants and it might be worth us checking them out.

Nearest to the hotel is Restaurante El Kiosko and one of the tunnels that leads to the start of the Caminito Del Rey is right next to the restaurant. From memory its about 2.5 km to the start of the walk from this tunnel.

The other is called the Restaurante El Mirador and on the way up to this restaurant you pass the second tunnel from which it is about 1.5 km to the start of the walk. This tunnel is located between both restaurants and is not as dark as it looks, there are lights all the way through, and its only about 100 – 150 yards long, with 6 foot plus headroom.

As friends of Andy and Ali had recommended the Mirador Restaurante we walked up towards it passing the second tunnel on the way and stopped at this viewpoint.

When we arrived at the Mirador we found it to be open and decided to have our evening meal then, rather than walk back to the hotel and come back later.

The views from the Mirador are super and the food was pretty good with certain people (no names mentioned) ordering huge meals.

It was also at this time that the previous Ugihar clip was recorded, and as you can imagine created a lot of laughter at the time…….and still does πŸ™‚

When we got back to the hotel we asked the receptionist if we could (even though we were checking out in the morning) leave our bikes outside the hotel until we returned from the walk the next afternoon. They were so courteous and helpful, saying we could also leave our crash helmets and anything else behind the reception desk.

18th June

Next morning after breakfast we loaded up the bikes, left helmets etc and headed off for our reserved time slot. We had assumed that if we arrived at the start earlier we would simply have a coffee or juice. However when we arrived there was nowhere to get a coffee and the only juice available was via a vending machine. We presented our booking slip to the security guard who said we were too early and to wait in the shade. Fair enough we thought, but the only shade was beside the toilets which we declined. Whilst waiting though there were a fair number of people arriving without bookings and they were politely refused.

Ali had booked us onto the walk with a guide, but in discussions with the security guard, she asked if we could forget about waiting on the guide and just do the walk on our own. After a few minutes of checking this was OK’d and it suited us better as we would be saving a bit of time and would get back to the bikes and onto our next stop that bit quicker.

We were all issued with our hard hats and liners for hair, then we were given a quick explanation of the walk along with a safety briefing, following which the gate was opened and off we went in a group of about 15-20 people which quickly thinned out.

This route is not all on elevated walkways, some of it is along lovely paths and low level walkways through gorges etc.

It is impossible to verbalise the beauty of the walk, but it is simply stunning and hopefully some of this is captured on a selection of photos taken on the walk. It is also worth stating that the elevated walkways have been well constructed using stainless steel and seem perfectly safe and secure. It doesn’t have any sections where one feels exposed or challenged.

After crossing the small suspension bridge (on top of the “bridge” structure in this photo)

you are only about five minutes or so to the building where you leave your hard hat, and then continue walking for a few kilometres arriving in a car park BUT you need to walk through this car park, out the other side and on up the hill into the town to reach the bus stop. This is not terribly well signposted, but if you follow the above its a doddle!

When we arrived at the bus top there was a fair queue of people and this particular bus was full meaning we had to wait half an hour until the next one…….bang went our time saving! However, the next bus arrived and took us round to the Kiosko Restaurante where we again stopped for refreshments. From there it was back to the hotel where we got changed into our motorbike gear gathered our belongings, extended our thanks to the receptionist at the hotel, and headed off for our next stop.

What a fantastic day and experience, which is well worth organising if you are ever having a holiday in this area.

The route to our next stop entailed more delightful countryside eventually arriving at one of Andy & Ali’s favourite hotels namely the Grazalema Hotel.
As you can see from the link this hotel has been well thought out as all rooms face the most magnificent panoramic view. It was good to park up the bikes after a pretty long but very interesting and enjoyable day and then have an amazing buffet meal and then Andy and I settled down to watch the England vs Scotland game in the Euro Championships.

Scotland were the underdogs, but we gave a good account of ourselves – I was totally calm throughout the match

The game ended up 0-0 so Andy (English) and I (Scottish) shook hands at the end of a really good game with honours even.

19th June

After a lovely night’s rest we were back on the bikes with Fenwick Tours itinerary today including a stop at the small town of Grazalema only a short distance from the hotel and have a look around/coffee etc. This really is a typical rural Spanish mountain town and although it was fairly busy it’s charm shone through.

From there it was back on the bikes and up the mountain road where at the highest point the views were simply stunning. We also had the joy of being above eagles and vultures as they soared around on the thermals. We felt as if we were taking part in a David Attenborough nature programme – “wonderful” simply doesn’t cover this experience.

For some reason i don’t have any photos from this vantage point – but if i find any will insert into the post πŸ™

From there we rode onto Zahara de le Sierra where we parked up and went for a wander around the town.

From there we decided to walk up to the castle, and upon arriving at the summit of the hill found out the castle was closed – probably because of Covid regulations.

We had a light snack……….and

…from there it was a short ride back to the hotel after a very interesting and enjoyable day.

20th June

Today our plan was to include Senetil de Bodegas, and once again we were riding through the most amazing mountain scenery, with very few cars on the road. Arriving in the town we headed for a big undercover car where there was a large sign extolling the virtues of the EU for proving millions of euros to provide this facility? Thereby reducing the number of cars clogging up the town. I thought this was brilliant use of money and a real benefit to this rural town. HOWEVER this car park where so much money had been invested was……..yep you are correct, it was closed!
You couldn’t write the script at times!!
Eventually we found a spot for both bikes and headed into the town, and what an amazing place it turned out to be.

There was one house that had been carved into the walls where the owner was accepting a couple of euros for people to have a look at the interior – and we couldn’t resist.

The house is on the left of this photo;

These are shots of the interior……

The following photos will give you a flavour of the town, but don’t really do it justice.

Andy and I had to go into the local bank, and only by dressing like this were we allowed in……….

It was such a lovely place to visit, and in truth Sara and I might never experienced it, were it not for Andy & Ali including it within their travel plan.

From Setenil we had a lovely ride again through the countryside and back to the hotel, where we had a lovely meal to round of this part of the trip.

21st June

Next morning after breakfast it was time to pack up and head for home as Sara and Ali has been given their second Covid jab appointments.
So the plan was very simple, just head back by the quickest route, and as we were setting off with full tanks, we would only need one fuel stop en route. The ride back was “hot as hell” and when we eventually stopped to refuel there was welcome shade at the services and plenty juice/water swallowed to rehydrate before getting back into the bikes for the final leg.

We arrived back home a bit “sticky” and tired, but what a trip…….role on the world opening back up so that we can spread our wings further.

As I said at the beginning of this post it was all planned and arranged by Fenwick Tours, and want to close this entry with a big “thanks again guys”.

Till the next time………..

“Let’s head for Cordoba” ….said Andy

With our friends Andy and Ali Fenwick we had previously discussed a motorbike trip to Morocco, and then possibly extending this to ride the “Ruta via De La Plata” when we returned back to Spain from Morocco. However this horrible Covid virus has put paid to any international travel plans for the time being….so Morocco is currently out of the picture πŸ™

This being the case, Sara and I felt so frustrated and also a wee bit trapped; that we reviewed the areas and towns that the Ruta de La Plata goes through. We then decided that the route was away from the current Covid hot spots and that we that were going to do this trip. We discussed this with Andy and Ali on Sunday 9th August, and were delighted when they said they were up for it. We decided to head off on Tuesday 11th August….not much preparation time but heigh ho what the hell. The plan was to head north and do the trip from there to the south.

On the Monday evening I looked at the weather forecast and it showed storms and heavy rain on our proposed route north. This was discussed on a phone call and we simply reversed the route, and would now be going from south to north with only the first night stop to consider……… “Let’s head for Cordoba” said Andy … that was it, decision made !!

Teulada to Cordoba

Tuesday morning duly arrived, and bright and early four people, two fully fuelled Harley Davidson touring motorbikes met in Teulada car park (0600) and headed off with broad smiles.

We had decided to head for Cordoba by the quickest route, and this was getting more and more important as the skies began to darken the nearer we were to Cordoba. However we were all pleased and relieved to arrive at the Hotel Macia Alfaros (booked the night before) park the bikes in the undergound car park, then out to explore the town.
As Andy and Ali had been here before they knew their way around, but as we were exploring the old part of this amazing city the skies were getting darker and darker and whilst sitting outside in a cafe/bar the rain started, slowly at first but then the heavens really opened. Everyone outside was trying to get inside, albeit it was a small place. As Andy was heading in the hailstones started and he was hit by hailstones the size of small pebbles ….”ouch” he was heard to cry…..or something similar as he thought he had been shot!

We waited in this cafe/bar until things eased off a bit and then headed back towards our hotel, but en route the rain started again so we dived into a small restaurant for both shelter and food. The shelter was welcome but the food was, and i am trying to be kind, somewhat below average. Indeed when Ali’s main meal was presented to her we heard her immortal, and oft quoted line of “Reeeaaalllyyy” clearly everything was simply poor quality frozen food, and forever this establishment (its hard to call it a restaurant) will be referred to as the “Findus” place…….a bit of a slight on Findus, so apologies to them! The rain finally stopped and we headed back to the hotel somewhat tired as it had been a long day. But this didn’t stop our adventurous spirit, we regrouped at the hotel, and as we hadn’t booked accommodation for the next night there was lots of discussion on our next stop. We eventually decided to book en route tomorrow and headed out into the city once more.

Now the start/end of the Ruta de La Plata is in Seville, where one can pick up, at the tourist office the “passport” for the route. This passport has the names of all the towns on the route and every tourist office or Ajuntament office will stamp the page.
This does at first though seem a bit childish, but in truth it makes it all a bit of fun and encourages people to visit towns they might otherwise miss. We decided that we would not collect these at Seville, preferring instead to collect them at Carmona, have breakfast/coffee a look around the place and then head off.

Cordoba to Zafra via Carmona

Riding towards Carmona this morning Sara and I noticed this weird light “thing” in the distance off to our right. It was on the ground, not in the air and we couldn’t figure out what it was but it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. When we stopped for fuel we asked Andy and Ali if they had spotted it, which they had, but like us they were stumped as to what it was……the only thing that makes sense is that it might have been a massive Solar Tower complex but that is the other side of Seville.

With the main tower being 40 storeys tall, it might have been as the land is flat in this area! ….if not, we obviously witnessed a Spanish equivalent of Roswell πŸ˜‰

We arrived in Carmona, and whilst all of us agreed that Cordoba was lovely, exploring Carmona is equally as interesting, and it just “feels” a wee bit better. We went first to the Tourist Information Office, where the ladies could not have been more helpful or friendly. They gave us our passports along with the first stamp.

We then walked around and had breakfast in the square in the old part of town. The food was lovely and matched by the service of the jovial owner. After this we explored a bit more, but unfortunately we were so busy soaking up the atmosphere that we didn’t take many photos. However here is one of Sara and Ali outside the Parador in Carmona which sits proudly at the top of the town.

The motorbike route from Carmona, as you can see in the following photo taken from moto leaflet (which we didn’t have at the time, more of which later)

takes you along the A457 & A455 and this also illustrates fuel stops en route. From reading other information we knew there were two points of interest noted on this route, one being an area with waterfalls and the other being a mirador with a cast sculpture of a Wolf. Most of todays route would, as you can see, be through the Sierra Norte.

This turned out to be fantastic bike road all the way to the Cascades de Huelznar (waterfalls) where upon arrival we found the car park closed with a chain across the entrance. Thinking this was down to reducing numbers re Covid, we parked the bikes and walked the paths to the waterfalls.

On the way we noticed that had we continued around the next bend we would have found the new? car park. This was full of cars and lots of people. There were signs everywhere saying no swimming, but this being Spain this was ignored – ditto for some people when it comes to wearing masks! To be truthful the waterfalls were not as spectacular (sic) as we expected, and given the above we decided to get back to the bikes and head off.

I can see why this route is for motorbikes and not cars as its pretty narrow and twisty. We rode along this for miles and miles without seeing any road signs. this caused us a bit of doubt and wondering if we should have turned back to the main road from the waterfalls, but we decided to keep going. This proved to be the correct decision and we were blessed with lovely twisty roads and very little vehicle traffic.

Now at this juncture I have to say that whilst i have ridden motorbikes since I was a teenager, I am fairly new to Harley Davidson’s (Andy has been riding Harley’s for years) but these big tourers that we have are heavy old bikes, and this, coupled with rider, pillion and luggage comes to over half a metric tonne! That being said, they handle extremely well considering this weight, and are are absolutely fine riding through these twisties……, if the truth be told, it’s hard to get the smile off my face at times!

Anyway back to the route, (SE-179) after riding for a couple of hours we pulled in at the Mirador (viewpoint) that had the casting of the Wolf, with the correct name being Mirador de Sierra Padrona. This was a relief as it was now clear that we were indeed on the right road. Here we stopped for a much needed drink of water and for a certain pillion,……Haribos.

What a viewpoint, it was lovely and we had a bit of a giggle/chat and mess around for about half an hour before heading off again.

You can see how determined Andy was, as he has managed to fit the wolf statue onto his bike….

We were at this point, glad that we had enjoyed a large breakfast in Carmona as eating establishments etc on this road are non existent. From the SE-179 the route goes onto the SE-177 and we followed this into Santa Olalla del Cala where we stopped at a roadside restaurant/bar for much needed cool refreshments and lots of coffee. Sara and Ali got the mobile phones out while we were here and started looking at possible accommodation.

Now as the town of Montemolin is on the passport we thought it would be supportive to stay somewhere in that town. However from the information online it was hard to tell if they had safe/secure parking for the motorbikes, so we decided to ride to Montemolin and check it out for ourselves. This town was so quiet/closed and had a one way traffic system, so Sara and Ali headed off to check for accommodation whilst Andy and I waited with the bikes. When they came back they felt that owner of the accommodation had been particularly unhelpful and rude. This beggars logic as the whole idea of the route is to increase revenue for establishments along the route……as out American cousins would say …go figure!!

The decision then was simple, go online and book into accommodation in Zafra which was only another hour or so further on. We booked into the Hotel La Muralla, which had secure parking in a rear courtyard.

For some reason this hotel only had one star, (two on but it was spotless, lovely inside courtyard, excellent service and courtesy. We have all stayed in four star hotels that could learn a lot from this place.

This had been another long day, but this is not a complaint, todays bike ride was superb on every level. So it was simply shower time, change, and out into town. Zafra is another lovely place and after a walk around we decided to eat in a restaurant in the main square.

The attention to detail in ensuring tables and chairs were all sanitised, QR code menus fitted on the tables, cheerful service and high quality comfort food, ie. burgers and chips ensured that the end of the day matched the rest of it…….simply fantastic!

In the morning we had another walk around town and as you can see in the following photo, there is some sort of spraying arrangement in the shopping streets…….not sure why!

We duly found the Tourist Office and waited for it opening.

Once it opened we had our first stamp in the passports since leaving Carmona. Then it was back to the Hotel, pack up the bikes, get them out of the secure parking, and headed off into more glorious sunshine.

Zafra to Merida

This was going to be a short day, given our long one yesterday. Our first port of call was the Tourist Information Office in the small town of Los Santos de Maimona to “collect” our next stamp. We couldn’t find any signs for this office, but we ended pulling up in a square with the local police pulling in beside us (Why when this happens do i feel I am in trouble?) I politely apologised for stopping our bikes here, and explained that we were looking for the Tourist Information Office. He just smiled, said no problemo, and pointed to the building right next to us. I will leave you to guess what I felt like at this point!

This photo by Daniel Perez Sarria (from Tourist Info Facebook page) shows the square albeit at night.

Trying to find a way out of this square and back to the route was like something out of a comedy sketch, my sat nav system was having a fun time to itself, and as anyone who has travelled in rural Spain will tell you, road signage is not an exact science – if it exists at all! We finally found the correct road out of the one way system and headed off towards Merida.

Now I am writing this blog entry with the value of hindsight and experience, and have to explain a few points that will prove useful when you ride this route. As you know this trip was decided at very short notice and with no real detailed information on the roads to be used. We naturally assumed this would all be well marked, and it is well marked BUT the road signs are primarily for cars NOT for motorbikes.

When we finally arrived home there was a lovely leaflet showing the “motorbike route” which pretty much follows the N632 with certain exceptions.

Therefore, there are in actual fact four Ruta de la Plata options these being whether (1) Driving a car, (2) Riding a motorbike, (3) Walking and (4) cycling. My tip would be to go online in advance of your motorbike trip and request the “passport” and leaflet for the “Ruta via de la Plata en moto” to be posted out to you in advance of setting off.

Neither Andy or I like riding on motorways/busy dual carriageways if they can be avoided, but on the way to Merida we ended up on and off the A66 due to our ignorance of the above. It was a pretty frustrating day in many ways, especially after such a fantastic ride the previous day.

We duly arrived in Merida and headed for our next hotel Hotel Nova Roma which had a super secure garage next to the hotel for the bikes.
The reception staff at the hotel were not exactly welcoming, nor were they particularly ignorant, we were simply processed by nonplussed staff.

Anyway, got settled into our rooms and then headed out to explore this town which has lots of Roman history and architecture from the famous theatre (the entrance to which also houses the Tourist Information Office, where we had our passports stamped ) to the ancient bridge leading to the Alcazaba and just outside on the roundabout is the famous statue of the Capitoline wolf suckling Romulus and Remus … really doesn’t get more Roman!

At night we explored more of the town and had a cheeky wee ice cream while sitting opposite this amazing building all lit up.

In the morning we all met up for breakfast, only to be met with more “nonplussed attitude” in the restaurant, I wonder at times if people are actually in the right type of business. Anyway the bikes were duly loaded up and off we headed into the beautiful sunshine, with the next overnight stop booked at Banos de Montemayor.

Merida to Banos de Montemayor

Our first destination today was to stop in Aldea de Cano and obtain another passport stamp. This is a good example on the benefits of the passport system, because without it being listed, we may well missed this absolutely delightful town.

Next town on our list today was Casar de Caceres, on the way into the town we saw the signs for the Tourist Information Office, but then they disappeared completely. We pulled the bikes into a suitable stopping place while Sara and Ali headed off to find the office on foot, and they came back suitably chuffed at having found the office and collected another stamp πŸ™‚

From there we set off missing out the A66 and the N630 and taking the route shown on the above map, this turned out to be a super bike road through interesting and varied countryside and we passed this huge solar farm which i believe was the NΓΊΓ±ez de Balboa solar complex quite amazing to ride this road with so many solar panels either side.

We were all loving this road, and enjoying the ride through the Parque Nacional Monfrague when suddenly we went around a bend and there were cars parked up at some kind of viewing platform, so we pulled in to find out why so many people were there!

Well, we were all stunned at the beauty of the place called Salto de Gitano, and stunned/in awe at the numbers of Vultures and Eagles flying around.

Amazing sight!

Two Angels not Vultures

Two bikes having a breather

What a special place, and an unmissable stop if you are ever close by or indeed riding the route.

Our next stamp stop should have been Hervas, but we missed the cut off and decided just to keep going to Banos de Montemayor as we could double back the next day to get our passports stamped.

We had booked into the Hotel Rural Eloy which had shaded parking for the bikes, and what a lovely friendly welcome from the owners. The rooms were spotless and everything was neat and tidy. Only downside was that the restaurant was closed tonight, but in chatting with the owners they were happy enough for us to bring back food from the shops later this afternoon and have a carpet picnic in their delightful external patio area.

We headed out to explore this relatively small town, and were taken aback at the sheer number of youngsters walking about. There just seemed to be too many for the size of the town……we couldn’t figure it out……so if you can shed any light on this please let me know.

We found a shop that sold insulating tape so that we could tape Andy’s bad finger to another for support. Poor guy has been struggling with this from the off, and Murphy’s Law being what it is, its on his front brake hand !!

Duly taped, Andy was keen to find the old Roman road, so we searched around and funnily enough we found it exactly where they had left it.

We explored around the town, visited the Tourist Information office for the passport stamp, and then stopped for a drink to kill time until the food shop opened. Sara and Ali headed off to buy the food for tonight while Andy and set about putting the world to rights.

Once the food had been procured we headed back to the hotel, and while setting out the food in the patio area, the owners came out and provided us with plates glasses etc – they simply could not have been any more friendly or helpful.

When we were finished eating we wanted to wash up the crockery and cutlery we had used, but they wouldn’t hear of it, they took them all away while we rounded off our evening with lots of laughter.

Next morning we met up for breakfast, and the owners themselves were once again bang on the money with service and courtesy. However the woman helping out in the restaurant at breakfast was sadly not up to their standard, surly attitude, burning toast and hiding under non burnt toast and serving this to customers. Such a shame as up until then we had been scoring this hotel 10/10……this person clearly lets the side down and hopefully will have moved on by the time you read this blog.

From here we nipped back to Hervas to collect the stamp we missed out on yesterday. What a delightful busy little town this proved to be, and we were pleased that we had doubled back.

Banos de Montemayor to Zamora

Our next stop was in Bejar to once again collect another stamp in our passports, but in truth todays trip was bit of mess as my sat nav system was once again doing its utmost to torment me. We ended up on and off the main A66 trying to ensure we were heading in the right direction as the A66 has lots of signage for cars doing the route.

This led to lots of personal and group frustration and exasperation, and I for one, wished I had the moto leaflet with us at the time – O’ how simple it would have been then!!

On the way we decided to nip into Salamanca (love that name) and have a quick ride round the historic part of the city. We found an open area to stop the bikes, and within mintues the police were passing in a van telling us to move on. We explained we were only going to be there a few minutes – a wee bit of a white lie – but heigh ho!

We then took turns at nipping across the road to look at the following buildings,

This is definitely a city on the “must revisit” list, but we had to get back onto the bikes and head out of the city and on with the journey.

We finally reached Zamora and I had take this photo as a bit of a private joke with my grandson Reyce.

We had booked into the Hotel Horus Zamora where once again we were met with a surly attitude, almost as if we were an inconvenience and the receptionist was doing us a favour! It is in a good location, and it has secure underground parking but dear o’ dear they could learn a lot from the owners of the Hotel Eloy in Banos de Montemayor….enough said.

Its only a short walk from the hotel to the square, where we asked a policeman for directions to the Tourist Information Office, these sounded a bit complicated but were in actual fact straightforward, and the passports were duly stamped. We then had a good walk around the town and found some unique pieces of street art etc.

Some people were getting a bit silly……but no names !!

Here is a real Battering Ram

At night we fancied a meal in a Chinese restaurant, but the one we had walked to was closed. Andy had been peering through the window when an employee turned up and he asked them when the opened – now was the reply – Andy’s response was; right then – a table for four – this was so funny for the rest of us to witness. The company was superb but the meal sadly was decidedly average, so we headed back to the square for Andy’s favourite frozen yogurt shop SMOOY as a wee treat!

During this we discussed the worsening Covid situation further north and decided against any further travel in this direction. This naturally would mean the end of the Ruta de la Plata for this year, but we will return one day to complete the route as its been an absolute blast, and we are all so glad we decided to “just do it”!

Below is a record of the towns where we had our Ruta de la Plata “Passports” stamped, and just looking at these stamps makes us all smile when we look at them because of the associated memories.

This did not however, mean the end of our holiday as it was suggested by Andy and Ali, and agreed by us, that we should head for the town of Segovia in the morning.

Zamora to Segovia

This morning we set off energised that our motorbike holiday was continuing, and pleased to be leaving Zamora behind. It was interesting enough, but no ones favourite town.

We decided that we would follow Andy as his sat nav is working better than mine and off we headed into rural countryside. Its simply staggering the sheer amount and size of the irrigation equipment working in field after field. The other amazing sight today was the sheer number of Storks nests built on electricity pylons, and the really peculiar thing is all the nests were built on the same side of the pylons, and there were lots of them!

After we had been riding for a while, the “fancy a coffee” hand signal was used by Ali and I pulled up alongside and indicated that I needed to get fuel and coffee. We had at this point been riding for a long time on small country roads without having passed any fuel stations, and therefore I thought it prudent to fill the tanks asap.

We eventually saw sign for fuel, pulled off the road and into the garage and filled up both bikes. We then asked the chap if there was anywhere nearby to get a coffee, he said he had a vending machine on site and seemed somewhat miffed when we said that we would prefer a cafe. He said in a grumpy manner that he didn’t know any cafe’s in the area.

We jumped onto the bikes and nipped into the village close to the garage, and lo and behold, we found a cafe. They served lovely strong coffee, but sadly no food. This is the kind of place we like to find as its part of the whole “absorb real Spain” experience.

We couldn’t stop Andy remonstrating with one of the locals about the merits of Mike Ashley and Newcastle FC!

Duly refreshed we headed off with the thought of stopping at the first food stop that took our fancy. The countryside was still clearly farmland but charming at the same time. We had been riding for a while and passed a restaurant and Andy pulled in a few hundred yards further on, but we decided to head on a bit more. Then after a few miles we happened across the Hamlet/Village of Aldeaseca and stopped at Bar Picoteo. This is just to side of the road we were on and had easy parking for the bikes. The owner was extremely welcoming which was lovely, and we ordered his fixed menu del dia (menu of the day) which turned out to be lovely and most welcome as we had not had any breakfast.

Now during this meal it was clear that someone else had not had breakfast and decided to join our table. Luckily for Marmaduke as he was duly named by Sara, (and had ULT’s) we had a tin of pate left over from the carpet picnic in Banos de Montemayor………….which was gratefully received by Marmaduke along with lots of petting.

When we left, both Andy and Marmaduke had tears in their eyes. Marmaduke was so traumatised and could not believe he was being abandoned by this heartless biker πŸ™

This is how Marmaduke viewed Andy for his treachery…..

From there we headed for Segovia feeling much better and energised after the food. None of has been there before, but one of Andy’s mates had said it was super, and he also suggested a restaurant that has to be tried.

Entering the city we arrived at the spectacular Roman Aqueduct…….and it is just that…..spectacular!

We parked up in front of this to figure out which road would take us to the city centre hotel that we had booked.

Here is Andy, not content with fitting the wolf to his bike as per an earlier entry in this blog, he has surreptitiously managed to now fit a satellite dish!!! There is no end to this mans talents πŸ˜‰

We figured out where we needed to go and headed up to the Hotel Isobel Infanta, which is a superb location, and provides offsite secure parking. This hotel is also in the area where no vehicles are allowed, unless you are going to a hotel where you need to unload and then go and park up somewhere out of this area. So having parking included as part of the deal was a real bonus.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

We had booked two nights in this hotel and I could witter on sounding like someone from the Segovia Tourist Board about its beauty, but hopefully some of the following photos will give you a flavour of the city;

Nightime; The Cathedral just across the square from our hotel

Aqueduct at night.

Table with a view.

Shopping never stops…..

Neither does the feeding…..

The Alcazar is simply a stunning building with lots of history. I’ve used a link to another website here as it’s difficult taking any photo that captures the building fully.

The aqueduct sweeps across the city as you can see in all the photos, like the one below….

….and then it curves around the city and reaches road level. We had fun thinking about the size of water channel this huge structure would have, and before you scroll down any further, what size of water channel do you think is carried?

Well as you can see from the following photos, it’s not as big as we all thought;

Nor is it as deep as we thought !

Segovia – Aliva – Segovia

This morning we headed across the square for breakfast, where someone got a wee bit carried away, and like Oliver Twist and wanted more, ……wonder if you can guess who it was…….nope, it was Andy

Then it was back to the hotel where we asked reception to organise someone to open the garage (about 150 yds away from the hotel) and we were told to go round there in 5 mins. When we walked around, someone was already there driving the cars out. To explain, picture a normal garage that will take three cars lengthwise with an offset space at the top and bottom. Our bikes were in each of these spaces, and the cars had to be taken out first before we could get the bikes out.
Real friendly happy service, excellent.

We were heading out on a day visit to the city of Avila where we rode right through to the old part, parked the bikes up and went exploring. Our plan was to walk along the city walls but these didn’t open again until the afternoon, so off we went meandering through the city streets. Inside the old walls of the city is no museum, its a vibrant place with residential properties, historic building, with the butcher baker and candlestick maker all making a living.

After exploring a good bit of the city we decided to have lunch in a restaurant in the Plaza de Teresa Jesus, which was not busy and not far from one of the main gates which had an entrance to the walls at the side. After lunch we walked back up to the entrance and found a queue had already built up. This queue was socially distancing, but the line was running alongside a restaurant and the owner was certainly not a happy man, and we could understand why given the current situation.

I don’t know if the walls are normally open all day or whether the current situation has made them change their hours, but it seems weird having a major attraction closed for a chunk of the day, when there are tourist around, albeit in reduced numbers. Anyhow the queue started moving and we duly (and patiently) crept along and finally reached the desk to pay our entrance fee, only to be told by the lady at the desk that we couldn’t walk all the way around the walls, she did try and explain the reason but we didn’t really understand….this is our failing in understanding Spanish/local language.

There a completely different perspective of the countryside from the castle walls, and to be honest, there is a fair bit of it open for visitors.

Our trusty steeds

It was then time to head back to the bikes and get refuelled before heading back to Segovia. There was a garage just down the road from where we had parked the bikes, so this was easy enough. From the garage we were basically retracing our track back alongside the wall when a Guardia Civil Officer stood on the road and directed us into a small layby, (we could almost hear Ali telepathetically saying reeeaaallllyyy!!) where there stood a further four Guardia officers all with guns strapped to their sides and looking very officious. Let me tell you this was a strange and unsettling experience !!

One officer was focussed on Andy and Ali’s bike while Sara and I sat behind them on ours wondering what was happening. At the same time we were trying very hard to capture what the officers were saying to each other (naturally in Spanish) in an attempt to understand why they had stopped us, as we certainly hadn’t been speeding or doing anything untoward. It was, in all honesty one of those situations where it was a case of helmets off, facemasks on, and lots of yes sir, no sir attitude!

They seemed to be totally focussed on Andy’s bike with his UK number plate, he was trying to explain that he had applied for the bike to be registered in Spain and was awaiting a date from the authorities. This this didn’t seem to be making any difference to the situation, with the single officer constantly deferring to the other officers. He then came to our bike and asked if we could speak Spanish, we replied a little, and he asked us to get off the bike – what the…..

He gesticulated at my Spanish number plate and then the penny dropped. The Spanish number plate has the letter E for Espana, but Andy’s number plate didn’t have a GB on the plate or – and this was the point, a GB sticker anywhere on his bike. We were all very polite and explained that in the UK it wasn’t a legal requirement to have a plate with GB on it, knowing full well it should have had one fitted, but being uber polite. Then we heard one of the other officers mentioning Andy’s face mask which as you may have noticed, has “I love Spain” on it with a big red heart. Now we are not sure, but we believe this was actually a training exercise for the officer, and we also believe that one of the others was basically saying you can’t really book the guy as he is wearing a mask with this statement on it. Andy was at the same time, being apologetic and saying he would get a friend to post out a GB sticker and fit it to his bike until his Spanish Plate was issued…….all in a friendly manner accepting he was in the wrong but not knowingly. The upshot was they told us to be on our way……Jesus, it was a relief to pull out of that layby and get back on the road.

Arriving back at the hotel in Segovia, it was the reverse procedure to get the bikes back into the garage, then getting ready to head our for a meal at the restaurant previously suggested by Andy and Ali’s friend.

The waiter we had was so funny, and in truth a wee bit “Faulty Towers” but he made us feel so welcome, the whole ambiance upstairs was typically Spanish and the food was most welcome and tasty. Best bit though was the laughter and teasing about Andy and Ali getting pulled in by the Guardia earlier in the day. From there we walked down to the Aqueduct for a final look at night…… followed by another frozen yogurt, there’s a bit of a theme building here πŸ™‚

Segovia to Albarracin

Todays countryside was much the same, mainly agricultural but it was yet another perfect day riding motorbikes in glorious sunshine and clear blue skies – life just doesn’t get much better. En route to Albarracin we stopped for our customary coffee and croissant, topped up the tanks and then rode off again.

Today Andy was in front using his sat nag and for some reason best known to itself it had us riding over this mountain road on which the surface was deteriorating and the road getting narrower, I thought if this gets much worse we would be better off with trials bikes instead of the leviathans we were riding πŸ™‚ However we safely made it down and reached our destination, but our challenges hadn’t ended…….

We had booked into the Hotel Arabia and when we arrived in Albarracin, Andy’s sat nav had us ride up this steep narrow hill to the hotel where we precariously stopped the bikes to unload the panniers. Then Sara and Ali headed off to book us into reception which we assumed was on this top level of the hotel. Meantime Andy and I were wrestling these heavy bikes in a tight area trying to park them where they wouldn’t get damaged all this on a steep slope with a cobbled surface…….sheesh.

The girls then came out to say that reception was actually on the bottom floor of the hotel (click the link above and you will see the height difference from the top to bottom floor) and there was a level car park opposite the hotel.

“O jings” I heard myself say !!!

Now Andy had his bike in a better spot than mine, so I said I was going to ride down to the car park at the bottom. This entailed more wrestling and turning the bike, and I was building up a bit of a sweat, but relieved when I got the bike turned around 180 degrees and headed off down to the car park where I luckily found a space. I then walked across to the hotel and found there was a space in the hotel grounds, right at reception/restaurant, where the bikes would fit.

I suggested that Ali tell Andy the parking was much safer down here, and of my intention to move my bike into this space, and then stand at the side of the road to show Andy where to pull in, all this was duly accomplished and the bikes safely parked up. Moral of this story is, if you are ever riding a bike and stopping at the hotel DO NOT go up the hill, as it will save your blood pressure getting too high πŸ™‚

Rooms were lovely, and we all met down in the terrace where we had a few drinks, and whilst we had only booked for one night, we asked the chap if we could extend it to two nights. He wasn’t sure as they were busy, but he went away to check. We were relieved when he came back and said yep another night was OK. We then decided to go to the shops, pick up some food and have another carpet picnic on one of the outside terraces of the hotel. The lift in the hotel is a boon whether going up to go to the old part of the town, or down to the small supermarket.

This is the hotel entrance at the top of the hill near where I almost had cardiac arrest

Having booked a second night made us all unwind a little more and we headed off for a look around the town, which is an absolutely amazing medieval town. Its more amazing that there are no power or telephone cable to be seen on the walls which makes me think it might be used for period films/TV programmes.

As Andy and Ali had been here before they knew their way around and we had a good walk around the town while they reminisced about their previous visit.

Next morning during breakfast we decided we would walk around the city walls, and hopefully the following photos give an indication of how lovely the scenery is around the town.

Our hotel from above;

Fearless Ali……..reeaaaallllyyyy

At night we ended up in a restaurant in the old town, where we all had pizzas, a few drinks, a final walk around the town and then back to the hotel having enjoyed our two days immensely.

Albarracin to Chulilla

This morning, after our breakfast we set off trusting ourselves to Andy’s sat nav, and it weaved us around some small country roads (CV 330A )until we ended up in a small hamlet Val de la Sabina and stopped two ladies to clarify/ask directions. Well this set of heated exchange of views between them both, then another lady appeared on a balcony asking what we wanted and then she joined in the cacophony of noise. Then one more lady appeared on another balcony asking questions, but didn’t join in the exchange of views on the right way to go :-). Finally a guy came out of his house and asked us where we were heading for, (the ladies were still “discussing” options) he said back up the way we came, take first right over the mountain, then when we cross a small bridge turn right to a village called St Miguel…… turns out this is the CV363.

I think this is the most excitement this hamlet has ever had, with two big noisy bikes and four foreigners seemingly lost. It was such a funny experience, and we loved them all for their efforts at helping.

This road the CV363 was a simply superb mountain road with stunning views and lots of twisties, hairpins etc a fantastic bike road, and once again these big bikes were fine on these roads. By the time we pulled into Puebla de San Miguel we were in need of a coffee, albeit we were all buzzing after such a great section of road.

We found a local cafe, filled with locals sitting outside, and between them and the owner we all had a good laugh even though we couldn’t fully understand each other. It was more the international language of friendship and courtesy, even though the owner forgot the peanuts about four times, much to the amusement of all…….really great stop.

We then headed back onto the CV363, and I simply don’t have a good enough command of The Queens English to describe the road to Chulilla (Chew – lee – ya) . This route CV363-CV350- CV345 – CV395 is the best motorbike road I have ever ridden full stop. It simply has everything you could want, climbing up one mountain, looking at the road descending and then up the next, – fantastically exhilarating !!

We arrived in Chulilla (Andy and Ali had been here before by car from Valencia direction) to find it really busy with traffic and people. We stopped the bikes in the centre of town and had a coffee and sandwich in the square. Andy and Ali knew of a river walk, and also where to park the bikes so that we could change out of bike gear into cooler clothes for the walk. This was lovely, and at the end of the walk there is an area where there appears to be a small dam and various shapes cut into the rock. The following video will do a better job than me in describing this area. There are photos and more information on the town in the link above.

We then walked back to the bikes, changed into bike gear again and set off for our accommodation that was listed on as being a few kilometres from Chulilla, but first things first we all need a water stop as we were boiling. At our second attempt we found a restaurant/bar that actually stayed open to serve us. To explain it must be a family place because as he was serving us his family were shouting him in for his meal, he was quite cool about things and we paid him along with a decent tip for being so accommodating.

Duly refreshed, and with my sat nav working again i took the lead for the couple of kilometres to our B&B Amarain Casa Rural but this turned into a lot more than a few kilometers as we were riding over hills/mini mountain type roads, and then I heard a blast on a horn and stopped for Andy to pull alongside ” Dear chap are you sure we are on the correct road”? or words to that effect. In truth we had no real option but continue to the end of the road. There we found the signs for Gestalgar where the accommodation was, and I suppose it IS only a few kilometres as the crow flies, but by road a good 20-25 mins.

When we arrived the owner was there and gave us a good welcome, but explained he had no parking on site for the bikes and we would need to park in the pub car park round the corner – not ideal. We had booked two rooms, one with air con which we blagged and the other with a fan. Its fair to say these rooms are “compact” and I could hear in my mind a massive reeeaaaalllly coming from Ali. She was in the words of our illustrious Queen Victoria ” Far fae chuffed”
Turns out both rooms were a similar size, or as Ali prefers to say, both wardrobes were of a similar size πŸ™‚

This was a shame as it was our last night, and the atmosphere was a bit sullied until we went to the restaurant and after a few drinks the world came back into balance. Andy on Bacardi and Coke and me on Fanta!

We had a late check out and decided to take a walk along the river bank before leaving, and I have to say it was a lovely walk and similar to the one in Chulilla, with the girls taking time to cool off in the river.
Now there were signs everywhere saying NO SWIMMING…..others saying NO PICNICS.

On the way back we saw two lifeguards sitting by the river in their swimmers having a picnic……only in Spain !! πŸ™‚

Then it was back to the bikes to load them up at the pub car park, and after packing was complete we sat in the shade for a coffee and watched all the tractors passing through with trailers full of Carobs (?) they tooted their horns and we waved like locals…..childish but lovely at the same time.

Andy and Ali wanted us to go to a restaurant they had been raving about called Las Bodegas in Vanacloig for lunch, and that was our next destination. It was in actual fact not that far from Chulilla, and has plenty of parking outside. They were fully booked when we arrived, but they set up a table for us none the less, and the menu of the day was of fantastic quality, I would say its the best we have had on mainland Spain thus far, coupled with really good service, and all at a very reasonable price in a beautiful building.

This was a fitting end to a superb motorbike holiday, where we took in superb roads, towns, cities, met lovely people on the way, and in the company of two exceptional people namely Andy and Ali Fenwick. We had so much laughter and many reeeaaaalllly’s on the way – thanks guys it was great!

NB: Finally we were all happy for Andy as he expressed his delight at being reacquainted with Betty Swolloks during the trip!

We are looking forward to the next trip already……………to be continued πŸ˜‰

Burriana to Valencia

After three night in Burriana, it looked like we had a sufficient weather window to cover the 27nm to Valencia.
The forecast looked like the winds be favourable in the Burriana area, and start piping in strongly again from the east in the Valencia area around 1300.
We had sail up and out the marina at 0900 and had a good breeze behind us, with a blue sky above. Now i don’t know if it was because the fishing boats had been confined to harbour or not, but there were lots and lots of them en route. This meant a fair amount of maneuvering to keep out of their way.
I’m also pleased to say that the run down to Valencia (apart from the above) was pretty straightforward.
As there was a huge yacht tied up at the refuelling berth there was only enough space for one other boat, so in we went, topped up the tanks and reported to the office. However given the building queue for fuel we agreed with the office that we would come back round at 1600 to do the paperwork. Meantime they would have a marinero standing by at our allocated berth, so off we went round to Sundog’s new home just as the winds started to build again!
The balance of the day was spent washing the boat and unloading all the food, clothes etc into the car which we had left at the pontoon. When all this was finished, we drove round to the office and completed all the documentation.
Crazy as it sounds but we were away 12/13 days, 9 of which were spent sheltering from the recent absolutely crazy weather. This weather system/s had inflicted massive flooding damage in Denia, Xavia and this was replicated in other towns and cities up and down the coast.

A trip never to be forgotten !


There are two separate bodies that offer berths in this harbour. Burriana Nova, whose office is on the port side as you enter the harbour. The other is club nautico, which is a little more expensive but does offer all the facilities. Last time we were here we used Burriana Nova, this time club nautico and we are happy with the shelter and use of the club’s facilities, while waiting on this awful weather system to finally move on !!
If you ever call into this port, (berthing at either) follow the signs outside for “Charter” and you will find a decent stocked supermarket. Its literally two streets back from Club Nautico. The main town is actually a couple of kilometers inland.
We spent a relaxing day, replenishing some ships stores, and as the club has laundry facilities we took full use of them.
We also took a walk along the road to the beach, and enjoyed watching windsurfers and kitesurfers taking full advantage of the onshore winds. It does look a lot of fun, and we were both amazed at their speed through the water…..quite astonishing.
On the way back we noticed a Surfer Cafe called Burrifornia, a play on words with the town and California. Perhaps this is also a surfers haven? Who knows!

Vinaros to Burriana

Well we finally left Vinaros this morning at first light as a decent weather window had opened, and i was hopeful of getting to Valencia without stopping.
The sea yesterday was still very lumpy, and we watched a fair sized fishing boat go out the harbour and they just turned around and came back in!
We had looked at the sea conditions all that day and there was no doubt that the sea was finally reducing in force. That coupled with the forecast made us decide to leave at first light.
Exiting the shelter of Vinaros there was still a fair amount of swell running but all in all it was OK.
I was really pleased at our progress, but as we were coming up towards Castellon the swell increased dramatically and swiftly and it was more like being in an Atlantic/Irish Sea type swell. I looked at the charts but couldnt see anything on the sea bed that would cause such a sudden change.
Then within ten minutes the wind piped up quickly and strongly from the south, and kept increasing. Therefore we decided to run for shelter to Burriana rather than turn back for Castellon.
I asked Sara to get the pilot book and read out what it said about the approach an extract of which said “…entrance would be difficult with strong winds from E to SW”…
Now that was reassuring!
We decided we would have a look at the entrance and if we didn’t fancy trying to get in, we would either head back to Castellon or accept a bit of a beating to Valencia.
As we got closer i could see the green starboard marker on the harbour wall, but all i could see was waves breaking on the rocks but no entrance!…….it had to be there, and after a few more minutes we could finally see the opening into the harbour. It was a bit rough, but didn’t look too bad, so we kept up our reefed mainsail and entered under engine and sail. We both felt a sense of relief at getting in, and were happy to drop the sail and get the boat prepared for berthing.
Onto the radio and we were told to go to pontoon A, which it turns out offers the best shelter in the harbour.
The young mariniero was trying his best but there was a real kerfuffle with him taking lines, and failing to grasp the need to give me the slime line quickly before the wind blew me sideways. He had elected to give us a berth with open berths either side. Not ideal, but with good humour we sorted it all out. It was then time for well earned coffee and some hot food.
Forecast is still not looking good at all so we might be holed up here for a while.

Still in Vinaros

Well it’s still blowing it’s socks off and we are still stuck in the Vinaros marina. We have walked all around the town and enjoyed a couple of the restaurants, with the paella in El Barco (restaurant faces the sea) worthy of special mention.
We also seem to have found our favourite cafe called Mandragora which for some reason has monkeys painted on the outside walls. Quite what monkeys have to do with mandrakes escapes me!
We do however love the building and the atmosphere, and in truth the coffee and cakes are not too shabby either.
As for the weather, well the forecast is such that we could still be here till Friday…….winds just now are NE then they simply do a polar shift and become S to SW. That should create a lovely washing machine type sea………patience, I believe, is the name of the game.

Blowing it’s socks off!

Today the winds have been strong with even stronger forecast for tomorrow. Indicating NE to Easterly gusting up to 38/40kts. So our decision in staying in here was definitely a good one. Vinaros offers excellent shelter from these winds, albeit I think it might be a different story if the winds were from the south.
Our day was spent exploring the old town, followed by lunch and then a food shop as the shops will no doubt be closed till Tuesday, given it is the Semana Santa (Holy Week) aka Easter.

Cambrils to Vinaros

We checked the forecast before turning into our bunks last night, and then I checked it again at 0700. Strong easterlies are heading our way, but we headed out at 0730, as we wanted to get around the Ebro Delta and into good shelter before the weather caught up with us! We had two option on our route for good shelter, one being Sant Carles de la Rapita with the other being Vinaros.
The wind strength and direction was lovely and Sundog was happy sailing along towards clearer skies than those we were leaving behind. I’m now even more convinced about the increased hull speed and it’s not a figment of my imagination! I am also pleased that the weather God’s smiled on us all day, and apart from doing the lobster pot marker grand slalom for a good few miles going round the Ebro, it was all pretty straightforward. Next time I might stay out wider in deeper water (70m) to avoid this forrest of pot markers.
Just before reaching Vinaros the wind was beginning to increase slightly, (cue Jaws music) so we were happy when we radio’d and had a berth allocated to us. There was a mariniero already on the pontoon waiting on us as we approached.
We had been in here years ago, and whilst it’s a working harbour with a fishing fleet operating , it’s got a nice atmosphere and again, friendly helpful staff, with reasonable costs.
We booked in for one night, in the hope we could set sail early tomorrow morning……..but upon checking out the current weather forecasts, we amended our booking to a total of 5 days and have to accept the situation is what it is!
I suppose the only solace is that “it’s better to be in here wishing we were out there, rather than being out there wishing we were in here”!

Port Ginesta to Cambrils

Having checked the weather forecast it’s not looking to good for later in the week, so we changed our minds en route and decided not to stop at Torredembara, nor to stop at Tarragona, but rather we pushed on towards Cambrils and stopped there for the night.
Major works are being conducted in this marina and everything is being renewed. The town itself looks lovely and clean but we were a bit tired and had an early start planned for tomorrow morning.
We sailed a bit of the way, it then fired up the engine and motorsailed.
One spectacular thing happened on the way down. A marlin leaped out the water no more than 20 feet in front of the boat……absolutely amazing sight. Sadly Sara was looking astern at the time and missed it. We kept looking back to see if it would leap again, but to no avail.

Also, with all the work conducted on the underside of the boat and the hull being smooth with the epoxy and copper coat finish, there is a definite uplift in the boat speed. There are too many variables to be precise, but I would say we have gained somewhere between 1/2 kt to 1 kt in speed through the water.Then the added belt and braces of the ultra sonic antifouling system, means vastly reduced filthy antifouling work, love it.
Passing the entrance to Tarragona harbour we had the fishing fleet all racing into port. Now according to the rules they should have been the give way vessels as we were off their starboard side, and they were not fishing!………I’ll leave you to ponder whether any of them altered course even slightly ???

Back to Cambrils, we would happily recommend this marina, as the staff were so friendly and helpful. We had tied up at the waiting pontoon and got in the radio. Told to wait there, and along came a rib to guide us to our berth and take our lines. The facilities will be super when finished and the charges were very reasonable.

Barcelona to Port Ginesta

We left Barcelona early afternoon and headed down the coast for about 12nm to berth in Port Ginesta. This would give us the chance to double check everything was working as it should, and I’m pleased to say everything was perfectly fine.
There were quite a few commercials boats at anchor outside the main port, and we had to be mindful of one going into the port with another coming out. Other than that it was a straightforward shakedown sail.
The reason for going into Port Ginesta was also to visit with our friends Peter & Debbie, and once again to thank Pete for doing such a good job on Sundog.
The marina gave us a berth close to theirs, and we had our usual good time together in the evening with much fun,laughter and leg pulling.
Then in the morning a final coffee before they both headed off to work.