As promised, Spain has finally brought the sun and warmer temperatures this week, but not without a nice sprinkling of rain and howling crosswinds. You can’t have everything, right?!
Setting off on Monday to cross the border into Spain from France, we were headed for the 5th largest Spanish city, Zaragoza. After an hour-long pack up (must get better at this!), I was blessed with blue skies and sunshine as Yogi and I turned inland and headed for the Pyrenees. First though, with the ever-helpful guidance of sat nav, we weaved through the back country, into people’s farms and across vineyards before finally finding the somewhat main road again and starting the ascent. I am quite sure sat nav was well and truly lost however she tried to save face and keep going. It was to my benefit though with true local villages and farms seen along the ‘tour’. Speaking of which, some of you following me on Instagram might wonder what my @not.lost_touring is all about. When I was a child, if I happened to be in the car with my grandad and we were lost, he would confidently tell me, “we’re not lost darling, we’re touring”. That has stuck with me all these years. So there you go!
Anyway, back to the ride. I have been lucky to see some stunning scenery in the past few years from the seat of a bike however this day, crossing the Pyrenees, would come close to being at the top of the list. Every turn revealed even more jaw dropping vistas of soaring mountains, velvet green hills blanketed in emerald grass, fields of flowers and remnants of snow capped peaks in the distance. It was truly breath taking. I did find myself lost in the experience, only to once look up almost too late and see I was rather rapidly approaching a barrier on a tight bend. Sh*tttttt, TURN. We got away with it and mental note made, watch the road!
In a little village somewhere near the top of the range we were pulled over by men in non-descript uniforms waving their batons. Something indistinguishable was asked to which I looked lost and he then very politely said in English, “where do you go?”. I guess I was at the border. After a pleasant chat about my trip and bike we were waved on. Almost instantly the landscape changed. From lush green rolling fields to barren, red dirt and rocks. With the temperature dropping the higher we climbed. I saw a tunnel, which would usually be a welcome sight for cold bikers, I would stop and put some more layers after going through it. Big mistake! This was no ordinary tunnel, with arctic like air coming straight off the snow above and at 10km’s long it was an ice tunnel! Warning signs flashed every few hundred meters to remind you not to speed, so it was a slow torturous ride to the other side where I could stop and rug up.
With all my clothes within easy reach piled on, we began the winding descent and into the plains of northern Spain. It rained, the sun came out. It hailed, and the sun came. This went on for the last 2 hours of the trip into the city.
Zaragoza was a great place to walk around, it had a really relaxed vibe and a beautiful, huge, Basilica over-looking a river through the centre of town. I wound up staying two nights and really enjoyed my time there.
A windy ride through horrendous traffic to the outskirts of Madrid to camp up for a couple of nights was uneventful, as was Madrid itself. I wandered around and realised that I felt more at home at this stage in smaller villages and the outdoors. With that in mind I randomly picked Merida out on the map for my next stop. What a great decision that turned out to be. Once conquered by the Romans, the town felt very much like Italy today with ruins around every corner and a grand amphitheatre reminiscent of a mini Colosseum.
With the weather turning again, I changed my plans, now a daily occurrence, and headed for the coast. I have learnt my lesson about trying to plan even a day ahead at the moment and just go with where the wind, rain or sunshine takes me. It was a stunning ride through scenery more like that of the French Pyrenees, to get to the Costa del Sol. The shimmering Mediterranean came into view from high in the mountains and the warmth and calm air have been an amazing change. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the locals here as welcoming as the French, much more reluctant to interact or help which is a shame but hopefully with two more weeks to go here that will change. I have set myself the challenge to learn a few more basic words and phrases in the hope that will go some way towards breaking the ice.
With two and a half weeks under our belts, Yogi and I are getting along much better after our shaky start. We have a long way to go and it is still taking time to find a routine that works. How to pack so the weight is even, where to put things so they are accessible with the ever-changing weather, unloading and loading back up. I am sure in another months’ time it will be done in my sleep!
Until next week…..