Spanish Steps 3

Another touring blog for your perusal, even if not FF (actually 3 Tigers and an elderly Varadero)

Life goes on

….is a truism, but like all truisms, it contains a lot of truth. Much and many have passed since our last European excursion in 2019, but now that the dust had settled, 4 of us (Mike, Steve, Tom, and I) planned another Moto tour. Spain had previously delighted and surprised us, so that was again our destination. Age, aches, and operations notwithstanding, Steve had scheduled a gruelling 3000+ mile run, with barely a time to draw breath. The more cautious of us had convinced him to temper this by cruising to Bilbao on the outward leg; thereby saving one length of France and gaining an extra day.
More and Moor
2 nights at the Teruel Parador after the run across Spain from West to East. Mike used the extra day to recuperate, whereas the Montes Universales towards Cuenca attracted the rest. A route we had partially done in 2017, but which did not disappoint again, despite some drizzle. Immaculate surface, but given the light rain, we did not complete the full planned circuit around the hills, but called in at Albarracin, with its Moorish fortifications and steep cobbled streets to make up for that.
Teruel airport is used as a storage space for unused hardware – as it’s (usually) a very dry climate. The rows of mothballed aircraft looked forlorn, in the drizzle, as we headed back to the Parador - an industry perhaps not yet fully recovered from Covid.
Not drownin but wavin
Drier next day, we headed south and east into the Muela de Cortes national park, West of Valencia. Wild county; spectacular dams and lakes; virtually no other traffic. We looped though the reserve, over the hills, where many wind turbines waved their sails in appreciation.
Bleu Hotels
Paradors were again used for a lot of our stays and did not disappoint. Predictable luxury at very reasonable rates for old men. When we did try something new, it did not go well. The Hotel Blu (sic) in Almansa was a triumph of fashion over functionality. Started badly, with double beds allocated and no real alternative. We were finally offered one room with 3 beds, and one single room. That will have to do. Noting the 200 € fine for allowing water to splash onto the shower floor we tracked down our 3-bed room:
• The 3 beds filled the room entirely.
• The 3 strip windows were pitch black, as the electric shutters had broken. Upon protest, I was allocated 2 wooden wedges with which to jam 2 of them open.
• The wall mounted switches did nothing, except for the electric blinds, some of which rose while others fell, simultaneously.
• The bathroom area was separated from the bedroom by a huge glass wall, which allowed viewing into whichever side had light. Perhaps the idea was that you could view your partner in the shower, prior to their coming to bed? In any event, it was novel for 3 blokes sharing.
As tired brits, we did not complain, but took it as an amusing hotel experience. At breakfast, the staff in the restaurant were placing buckets under dripping light fittings – presumably one guest was liable to a 200€ fine. Still, the evening meal and breakfast had been OK. The manager took our photos as we escaped. If he wants to encourage others, I think he has to look closer to home….
Fistful of Dollars
Our destination was now near the Spaghetti Western area north of Almeria. Tom had found a remote village hotel, for 2 nights, where initially we seemed the only residents and which was run by 2 fashion-conscious young ladies, (young here is a relative term, but they seemed delighted to have us old blokes staying - it must have helped their takings)
Shape the Mountain
The free day was spent in the Sierra de los Filabres. Steve had found a road between Bacares and Velefique, which had been dubbed the Spanish Stelvio. Maybe it did not have 48 hairpins, but it was as good as that; the curves were perfection and the surface immaculate. If you looked at the road on a map, you would not think it much more than a dirt track, but the roadbuilder had perfected his art on this beautiful construction – and all seemingly for our benefit. Some Spanish bikes at the top – out on a run from Almeria – but nowhere near the hoards you get on the Stelvio. I speculated that while others will build the road to fit the terrain; the Spanish will adapt the terrain to ensure a perfect road.
Coming back to the hotel, this was Saturday night and the ladies had organised a ‘Techno-Disco-BBQ’ to which we were invited. The BBQ lasted until 11 pm - usually bedtime for us, but then the Techno started, so sleep would have been impossible anyway. This presumably was normal for the coast, but seemed incongruous in a sleepy, white-walled mountain village. We crawled away around 1 am, but the techno lasted til 3. Apparently, the neighbours don’t mind.
Sierra Nevada
All our free days had now been used up, so it was time to head west and north. This took in the Sierra Nevada, after we had called in to see one of Mike’s co-workers for a welcome coffee break and reunion. These Spanish roads just keep giving. There was one short section of gravel track, and one well-patched road through the pine forests, but really these were nothing worse than your average rural road in Buckinghamshire. The rest of the time, the surfaces were perfection and the curves a constant radius.
From Granada to Cordoba, the olive trees stretch as far as the eye can see. The ground under the trees is ploughed, so there is really no life there. Adverts will have you believe these are little family enterprises, caring for every olive, but reality is oil production on an industrial scale, using every square metre. At least they won’t be complaining about drought this year.
Speedy Nacho
North from Cordoba took us back into the central reservoir region, SW of Madrid. As we stopped for lunch, heading south came speed-freak-Nacho (who normally does track days) on his Yamaha. For him, the N502 was a revelation, and he’d been carving up the road at huge speeds (whereas we would only be marginally over the limit). In this big country, traffic police are rare. Nacho had to call his English friend to let him know how good that road was.
As we were nearing destination Segovia, Steve’s GPS decided that we really wanted to go onto the Auto Via, into Madrid. Other than deserting him, we did not have much choice but to follow and getting stuck on a Madrid version of the M25 was not something we would have voted for. Problems come when a GPS decides to recalculate the route en-route. I must confess to making improper suggestions to Steve as to what to do with his GPS, as we sweltered in the Madrid jam. As it was, the jam split us up completely, so we eventually arrived individually at the magnificent Segovia Parador, later and rather fraught.
Rural pursuits
North to the mountains, the road suddenly became covered in what looked like small round stones, although they did not feel like stones under the tyres. Eventually it became clear. A huge flock of Pyrenean sheep was being herded to new pastures. No chance of passing this lot – they seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see - we just had to continue over poo, at sheep-pace, until they reached their destination a few kms further on.
Pass the Station
Last night in Spain was only just. Canfranc-Estation is where passengers would change trains between the French and Spanish gauges. The magnificent station hotel from 1928 has been rebuilt and dominates the village, although it was too pricey for us. They did not even allow us in for a beer. Next morning, we hoped to go over the Somport pass, but the cloud was down, so we took the tunnel into the French rain.
Saintes alive, policemen asleep
Last night in France heading north was between Saintes and Cognac in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. A designer hotel and a 12th century church dominated proceedings.
Avoiding Autoroutes through France is still enjoyable and reasonably fast, but things have changed in that every village has a 30kph section, complete with sleeping policemen who ensure you comply.
We come to the end of another successful Moto; with triumphs and disasters as usual. Important thing is that we counted us all out and counted us all back – and we are still talking…..

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A good read!

I enjoyed that Graham! Thanks. You could mention which steed you were on, and those of your companions. We won't hold it against you! :-)


I have added the steed breakdown in the heading. There is another story there - why I had to replace my little Beemer with a Tiger, but that will have to wait for another day....