Spain Grand Tour – 2017
We all met up as planned at Plymouth in some unsavoury weather. Having boarded the ferry, there was no stopping us! We were all onboard and raring to go, albeit that some were struck with the dreaded sea bug (including the guide)eek!
Fortunately after getting to know each other at the bar and surviving through a turbulent night on the seas, we arrived in warm but not so sunny Santander. Santander, although a nice place i’m sure, is busy and not conducive to enjoying twisties on the bikes, so off we went in search of them.
This saw us head to Llanes, about 114 miles from the port full of twisty roads. Fortunately the clouds held their threatened cargo and it even brightened up for us. We managed to overcome some niggles with satnavs and we were all happy bikers, riding along beautiful roads where other traffic doesn’t seem to go. Not that there weren’t cars or lorries, but its striking at how empty the roads really are. You know what that means! More empty roads for us to ride on. Safely at our first hotel we settled in for the night.
Our first ride out day! What a treat that was. While some chose to take different routes, others took a more leisurely day to take in the sights and find some twisty roads that even we didn’t know about. A large proportion of the group did the 114 Mile Pico’s de Europa ride out, seeing endless miles of smooth tarmac, curves to suit everyone, whilst being treated to some awesome weather with not a cloud in the sky. Today there were so many opportunities to stop and take pictures and videos that as we travelled the route, there were familiar faces doVed along the roads in laybys, taking said pictures, whilst all having massive smiles from ear to ear.
Riding the road, aptly named ‘the pots and pans’ and the Picos mountain roads we also found a new steed for Magellan, although I’m not so sure it would make it on all the tours as easy as a motorbike! Its always astounding to see how ‘tame’ the local animals are, with many of seeing cows and horses grazing in the road, only looking up to take in the sights. I couldn’t help thinking that they must think “oh, what’s that row?, only another motorbike, oh well, back to sleep”!
Finally arriving back at our hotel in Llanes for the last of our nights stay there, the smiles on the faces of the returning riders made my day. It’s all about fun, and seeing those faces really does make me smile too. A huge mail and a case of the mysterious replenisher of bread rolls constantly filling side plate was a hoot!
Today saw us take in the last part of the ‘golden triangle’ of the pico’s, this Mme going up the mountain, which changes the road completely and provided a great bit of fun. This was followed up by what I can only say is some of the best scenery and looooong sweeping bends to reach Riano. Nestled in beautiful mountains with one of the largest reservoirs or lakes you have ever seen stretching as far as the eye could see. Oh did I mention those loooong sweeping bends??
When my Sat Nav’s stopped visibly spinning, almost as if we had all crossed an invisible sat nav destroying force field, we planned our routes over a hardy lunch. We were then on our way again, taking in more sweeping bends and scenery. Each mile showed that we were moving south as not only did the temperature rise but the scenery changed and got greener and emptier and emptier if ever that is possible!
A short hop on some faster roads to get some miles under our belt, we arrived safely at our hotel for the next 2 nights in Salamanca and the Parador. What a place to stay and talk about the day! And then it was off into the city to see the nightlife… For some that meant a very very long night!!
The Spanish weather did not disappoint, and today saw us leave Salamanca after a great relaxing day seeing the sights and delights of the city. We headed through wonderful twisty roads and were treated to a ride through national parks where there were views a plenty, as well as more twisty roads. Popping into Trujillo for our lunch stop, there was a welcomed break from the heat and a Mme to reflect on the roads we had all travelled in the morning. A bustling town centre welcomed Magellanites and soon it was Mme to head off towards our hotel in Cazalla de la Sierra.
After a long and exciting day we enjoyed a relaxing meal at the hotel and a few beers afterwards, were there was plenty of Mme to chat about our routes and how different our sat navs had behaved (or mis-behaved) during the day.
With a fantastic day behind us it was a welcomed end to what was another fabulous day! Its funny that at many of our stops, Magellanites approach them from every road possible. I bet if you could pinch and zoom real life in a ‘google maps’ type way, we would all have been about a mile from each other all day, yet having the same routes, arrived on slightly different roads! It all adds to the adventure!
Cazella De la Sierra to Granada
Today we rode from Cazella De la Sierra and headed towards Granada. For some magellanites it was one of the best days yet, seeing the sunshine all day, the temperatures a fab 30 degrees or so (not so hot when your moving along), through some wonderful countryside where olive trees littered the fields as far as the eye could see.
As we travelled along, you could really smell the olives and as we went from region to region we were treated to new and more vivid smells the further we went. Some smelling like chocolate. Yum!…
The roads throughout the day were fabulous. Views and unadulterated roads, free from traffic kept everyone entertained and even though a roundabout caused a few issues with one bike seeing more tarmac than planned, we all finally arrived at our hotel for our next 2 nights in Granada safe and well.
As with many of our tours there is always time to see iconic places, scenery and sample the culture of our surroundings. Some took to the roads and travelled around the Sierra Nevada, sending pictures to me of their stops and describing the route as the best they had ever ridden, whilst others had a more relaxing day in Granada.
The sights at the Alhambra were amazing and whilst walking around the city taking time to sample food and coffee in the sunshine was amazing. Even witnessing a protest through the streets, which strangely enough was the best run protest I’ve seen, with no fear of being unsafe whatsoever! Others chose to sort their shoes out….. well in Granada, do what Granadian’s do! Good job Alan.
Several Magellanites made their way to Play Granada in the city where we had arranged for Segway tours of the city. This was so funny, seeing hardened bikers, that were no stranger to hanging off a motorbike at 60 miles an hour, and yet on an 8 mile an hour machine the concentration on their faces was a picture! After a bit of tuition they were off with their tour guide to learn a bit of history through the city whilst holding all of the local traffic up! Several cobbled streets and dicey corners only saw one mishap and we all got back to base safe and sound.
Sadly the next day we had to leave the wonderful city of Granada. After managing to find a tyre fitters first thing in the morning, we were waiting outside their door. One of our guests bikes needed a new tyre, and in true Spanish fashion, they put the bike straight in the workshop and fitted a brand spanking new tyre. Amazing service I thought, a new tyre fitted at 930am, on the road again by 10 and the tyre scrubbed in by dinner, fabulous!
After sorting that out, it was Mme for us to leave Granada. An amazing Mme in a fabulous multicultural city with so much to see and do, i’m sure we will all be back at some point! Although leaving, we knew we were in for some scenery that is out of this world. And we were not disappointed. Some long roads that went straight ahead as far as the eye could see, broken up with a few sweeping twisty bends to mix it up! It resembled something you would expect from route 66. The scenery was immense, stretching from horizon to horizon, full of vibrant colours and landscapes, it was so nice that we had to stop to record a quick video for our Facebook page!
Finally we all arrived at our hotel for the night in Cuenca, not before a few got stopped by the local constabulary!
Riding up to the hotel, we knew that we were in for something spectacular and when we got to the hotel, it revealed all its glory and the stunning, breathtaking views in all its spender. Even though all of the hotels had been fabulous on our trip, this one had that ‘WOW factor’ where every rider, on arriving, didn’t rush to get their room key, but stayed outside to take in the views.
Overlooking Cuenca, the hotel (an old monastery) had a suspended bridge across to the village with provided a fabulous back drop and photo opportunity for us all to pose for Felix’s new toy! His drone!
Off to Sergovia was next on our itinerary, and having left our hotel and started to make our way towards Segovia, we made our way through some of the most fabulous roads, encased in such beauty that to not stop and take photos everywhere would have been labelled a crime.
Groups left the hotel and made their way and at the first coffee, I sat and thought that it always amazes me that everyone seems to come from a different direction, and if it were possible to pinch and zoom real life, that I bet that we were all within a couple of miles of each other most of the day!
We then headed to Francos Tomb and had a leisurely coffee stop whilst looking around the fantastic buildings and structure, looking at historical relics and artwork. The scenery was to die for and stretched for miles and miles, Well as far as the eye could see anyway! Perhaps we should organise a Magellan concert or maybe even a Magellan reunion motorcycle bash someday, as this would be the place to do it! Opulence everywhere!
Heading back to Santander the next day saw some people take the longer route across the Picos mountains and through the Pots and Pans road again. I had a blast and I know that the others did too (secretly the roads around Riaño are some of my favourite ever!). Richard managed to fall in love with his BMW and was practising different cornering techniques, which I have to say he seemed to be mastering, and judging from the massive smile he had on his face, clearly enjoyed it too!
The other half of the group took the more leisurely route which enabled them to visit the most fabulous restaurant next to the lake and use one of the last opportunities to sample some amazing food!
Finally arriving in Santander it was all to quick! Sailing away from Spain and waiving goodbye left a tear in many an eye in the group as friendships and memories had been made and bonds forged for the future. We even managed to coax Rudi up from the sanctity of cabin to brave sea sickness to walk around the ship. If you know Rudi, you know how difficult this was for him and how amazed we were to see him, but immensely glad he was able to overcome this tum for a while to be with us all. After an evening of said tongue in cheek, amazing ferry entertainment, and plenty of g&t’s we arrived in not sunny at all Plymouth!
What a fabulous tour. It is always a pleasure whilst guiding to meet groups of people, facilitate and share trips and experiences with them and genuinely I had another tear in my eye as they all left the ferry and made their way home.