Spain: Grand Tour 2018
Day2 – Santander to Llanes.
We negotiated the release of all the bikes from the bilge of the ship, and waited and waited and waited for what seemed an eternity for them to open the doors. But once they had it was a free for all and we all got out safely.
Once past passport control we all met up to make sure everyone was ok, sat navs were working and we were all present and correct.
Then we headed off on our adventure.
Santander can sometimes be a really busy place to get out of, but today, we got through the traffic with ease and before long we were on unadulterated open sweeping bends. Meandering through the countryside was a delight and put a huge smile on my face to be back in Spain. As we headed to the national park, we ascended the mountain and seemed to ride into the clouds! The road got murkier and murkier but with a bit of care, we all navigated our way through and over to our fabulous hotel for the night.
Only 1 sat nav went haywire, with loud sounds coming out of it, which took us all by surprise, but thank heavens for google maps!
Day 3 – Picos rideout
Today started with a great breakfast and while we were waiting for the sun to make an appearance and rise, we had our briefing as usual.
Everyone was really looking forward to the ride and not getting wet. Yesterday we remarked that there was only 3% chance of rain and we had found that 3%, so although there was only 1% chance of rain today, we were determined to NOT find it…. And we didn’t!
We all took to our trusty steeds and made our way onto the road and found the most amazing twisty roads up and over mountains, through fantastic scenery where every corner opened up for more and more views and scenery to be gawked at! Strewn around the route were bikes and their riders, adopting the camera stance to take the best pictures, after corner after corner…. Just when you think you have seen the best bit, the scenery opens up even more to provide a more spectacular sight!
It was then on to the pots’ and pans road and head to hotel, all within 20 degree warmth with clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight.
The smiles on everyones faces when we arrived at the hotel and indeed all throughout the evening were something to behold.
Day 4 – Llanes to Salamanca
Today we made our way from Llanes to Salamanca. Our original plan was to use the famous Pots and Pans road to make our way to Riaño for lunch and then head down from there, although yesterday’s last leg took us through there and they are currently widening the road so there were oodles of workmen in the road with lots of traffic lights, so we all decided to repeat the very first part of yesterdays ride to Congas De Onis and then onto Riaño for lunch.
Every one was up and ready in record time (as today was a little longer than usual), and before we knew it we were in the twisty hills once more enjoying a couple of hours of fun. Surprisingly, as we had done this route yesterday, the whole group were together for most of the day.
A short hop on the motorway got us to Salamanca, ready for us to explore the Parador hotel and the surroundings before dinner.
Day 5 Rideout
Salamanca day off – Several people did the planned ride out today, whilst some chose to relax at the hotel and visit the ancient city of Salamanca and walk through its lovely streets to soak up the culture.
The first stop on this epic day’s ride out was a motorcycle museum in Hervas. The amount of vehicle that are there are amazing, with building after building hiding its spectacular contents.
Everyone returned to the hotel safe and sound with tales of how they had taken different routes and explored the local roads.
Day 6 – Salamanca to Cazella de la Sierra
Today greeted us with the most glorious sunrise we had seen and we knew that the day was off to a great start. We made our way through fabulous scenery and round curves that had you salivating for more… and guess what! There was more and more and more….. perfect.
The Monfrague and Navalonguilla national parks are certainly well worth a visit when in the area and they do not disappoint at all. Stunning views, roads and of course weather…. What more could a biker as for!
Day 7 – Cazella de la Sierra to Granada
The smiles on people’s faces were amazing at every stop today. The roads were sublime and unreal at the same time, providing such an intimate experience of our surroundings. We rode through the Cazella de Sierra and Sierras Subbeticas which are too, some of the most amazing places to ride through in Spain. That’s the things about Spain: the roads are sublime everywhere you go and as it is such a big country, the roads are nearly always empty and surrounded by the most amazing sights, smells and beautiful smooth tarmac!
Everyone enjoyed the day today, well, who wouldn’t! A real balance of twisties, views and smooth roads always lead to a great day for us intrepid bikers!
Even though all the bikes were now firmly ‘run in’ on the tour, one bike needed some oil, but unfortunately the lockable, tamper proof filler cap key was in the UK so with some lateral thinking, we managed to get the magic juice into the bike so we could continue…. That’s true touring troubleshooting right there!
Day 8 Ride out – day off in Granada
So a chilled day for everyone. Some took advantage of the fabulous ride out that was planned, around the Sierra Nevada, which is one of the most spectacular routes to take your two wheeled machine when in this part of the world.
Mo found some wild animals and went native traversing rivers and dust tracks, while Geoff H took another diversion on dusty roads and practiced his off roading!
Finally back at the hotel, 8 brave victims…. Oops, volunteers had a go at a Segway tour. The tour was 2 hours and wasn’t aided by a diversion in the city, and other than 2 minor mishaps everyone enjoyed the tour and listening to information about the history of the city and the Alhambra!
We even found a morocco restaurant for Lamb Tugiene which went down really well and then a fabulous ice cream while we walked back to the hotel.
Day 9 – to Cuenca
Today started out a little cooler than the 36 degrees we had the previous day, which after breakfast was a welcomed relief to start the day. A quick dash up the motorway to take us away from the busy traffic and we found our selves on the most amazing roads negotiating the most spectacular scenery.
Todays scenery was second to none, very green and filled with so many olive plantations it is impossible to count them all.
We visited the American diner but as they were under a refit we made our way to the lunch stop and sat on the veranda eating and drinking….. after that we found the straightest longest roads you have ever seen, which was brilliant as it gave us all a chance to take in the glorious scenery and gasp in awe with the vastness of the countryside.
Onto the coffee stop, which is a favourite of ours where they serve some of the best cakes you can get!
But the best was yet to come, after another stint on the bike we arrived at our Parador hotel in Cuenca which is a converted monetary and is perched at the top of the gorge, providing breath taking views of the hills with an old bridge that spans the whole gorge to the old village for a wander…..
As with any tour, people give themselves different nick names, and tonight was a sad evening, as one of our group, Geoff (affectionately nick named El Geoffo) would be leaving us in the morning to head to his home in Spain as we headed towards Sergovia, so we all enjoyed a fabulous meal and a few drinks to say cheerio! Mo and also found the stock! Hahah…..
Day 10 – Sergovia
Today we were to head to Sergovia, leaving our spectacular hotel in Cuenca. It was a little cooler again this morning, with the first set of due on our bikes that we had seen throughout the whole trip! It must have been the altitude we were at as the hotel seemed to be in the clouds, although looking to the gorge below, the sky was blue and we knew that we were again in for an amazing day!
The morning brief about the day was interesting, as it’s always fun but today I was able to deliver some of it from the alter box. Made to an interesting start to the day!
So we headed off, waving farewell to El Geoffo. Today we had yet more treats in store, from hairpins to national parks and forest as well as open plains too, today had it all!
After morning coffee we all made sure that our sat navs were playing correctly as with one of our way points it stops the sat nav taking a 12 hour detour! Eek! Luckily no one had the sat nav gremlins today… phew!
The it was onto Franco’s tomb. Riding through the entrance and to the car park, it certainly hits you of the grandeur of the place and how immaculate the stone masonry is, as well as how impressive it it.
We entered the tomb to see what was inside, and once through security, the tomb went on for what seemed like miles, into the mountain itself! Wow! How amazing inside and how intricate the carvings and paintings are. They don’t allow pictures or video to be taken inside but outside is just as amazing. Presumably placed and built in such a way that it is imposing over the surrounding countryside to show its dominance!
Once we had left Franco’s Tomb, we headed to our Parador hotel in Sergovia. A spectacular city nestled the most amazing countryside where, when you look out of the window, you could be mistaken to think it is in Morocco or somewhere similar, as the colours and vibe is very much in that sort of ilk. Beautiful!
After a lovely evening meal together it was time to hit the hay and get some rest before our last day in this amazing country.
Day 11 – to Santander
So today was the last day in Spain for us as we made our way up to Santander to catch our ferry that evening.
The great thing about the ferry is that it leaves at just gone 9pm, so we have a full day to explore, stop and eat, take in the countryside and ride some more, all without the worry of being late…
So it was onto the motorway for a short stint to get a few miles under our belt so that we could enjoy the other roads and views that awaited us. Some chose to do the long route with takes in the Picos mountains triangle while others (most of us) chose to take the shorter route today, meaning there was more time to relax.
Once off the motorway we headed up the N road which loosely follows the motorway but has lots of twisties and stops on it to take pictures etc.
We stopped at a lovely café which is attached to a petrol station (as they usually are out here), but that also had one of the biggest outdoor hiking clothing shops I have seen in ages… who would have thought that in the middle of nowhere, there would be a huge shop! We weren’t complaining though as the coffee and bacon and egg sandwiches were just what we all needed after our first stint of the day!
So now we had been fed and watered, it was time to head over some mountains towards Reinosa lake for lunch. The ride was sublime, traversing hills and negotiating the most amazing sweeping open bends to arrive by what can only be described as one of the most beautiful lakes in the this area of Spain.
So it was lunchtime, and being the last day in Spain, most people had a big dinner, mostly consisting of steak! Steak by the lake, wonderful!
It was only a couple of hours away from the ferry port so it was a chance to site, relax and ponder at how amazing the tour had been and laugh and joke about the adventures we had all had.
Arriving at the ferry after yet more…… you guessed it….. spectacular roads we lined our bikes up to wait for those who had taken a different route and to have a nice cuppa awaiting the all clear to jump on the bikes and board the ferry home.
As a tour guide, I am always thankful of the job I do and always think myself incredibly lucky. Not only because I get to tour the world on the motorbike, but most importantly because I get to meet such amazing people on every tour, and this was no exception. An amazing group of people that I have had the privilege to share a Spanish adventure with and yet again I had a lump in my throat when the time to say good bye was upon us.
Spain is one of my favourite places to be, not only for the weather and culture, but also because as a biker, it is truly incredible at the amount of empty ‘amazing’ roads there are to be enjoyed!
We will be running this tour again in 2019, so if you would like to join me on the adventure, drop us a line and let us know!
Until next time!