Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018

Building Up To España

By Ren Withnell

Sharon and I have discussed Ireland. However due to the cost of the ferry there seems little point as it doesn't really offer much that Scotland can't offer (Southern Ireland 2015). We've discussed France. However after our last experience where we tried to fit in too much and got rather wet we weren't "feeling it" (France 2013). We'd been to The Netherlands in 2016 (The Netherlands 2016). Maybe Spain? 

A collage with an Irish pub, a Dutch tall house by the canal and wet muddy camping in France
Erm yeah, we've done a few trips now.

I have a bone to pick with Spain too, unfinished business you might say. In 2005 I took my first trip abroad to Spain (Spain And The Faro Rally 2005). I was inexperienced, naive, way out of my depth, homesick and bewildered. Now 13 years later I want to return to Spain to see the country through the eyes of a grown man who is merely bewildered. 

The largest problem with going to Spain is the distance. Sharon can only muster the usual 2 week holiday and neither of us enjoy crunching massive miles. If we were to travel across England then France this would take 4 days each way. With 8 days to cross England and France out of a potential 16 (2 weeks plus the weekend) this would leave us with 8 days in Spain. Hmmm.

The ferry still takes 4 days - 2 days to cross England and 2 days at sea. This should leave us 12 days in Spain. Sorted! Oh hang on the ferry costs £560 return for 2 bikes and 2 people sharing one cabin. Holy cow! We could enjoy a lot of UK tours for that price. 

If we travel through France though? Extra petrol, long boring days on potentially expensive tolled motorways, Chunnel costs and that constant nagging when we're finally in Spain we've got all that dull horrible boring ass numbing mileage to do on the way back. 

A map showing a route from Bolton to Bilbao and 1,070 miles
1,070 miles? A walk in the park for some but for us? No thank you!

With much trepidation we book the ferry. 

As I have mentioned many times before we're not into big big miles. Our ferry arrives in Bilbao which is in northern Spain. The plan therefore is to explore northern Spain! Those in the know keep on suggesting "The Picos" wherever that is. The obvious place is The Pyrenees, it has beautiful mountains and good roads. I suppose with 11 nights and 12 days we should be able to visit both? 

It has been suggested that unlike my last trip to Spain in 2005 where it was so hot that I'd reached the stage of begging for rain, northern Spain may be cooler. A lot cooler. As the holiday approaches Sharon and I are looking at Spanish weather forecasts. It's not good. There's a lot of rain and if it's not raining the temperatures are dropping to sub-zero at night. Oh hell - what have we done?

A dry church in the baking Spanish sun
It was VERY VERY hot in Spain when I was last there.
Sharon stands in the rain outside a wet and muddy tent
But I fear we may get WET and COLD this time around.

It's too late, that's it. We are going to Spain. All I have to do now is start flapping about luggage, the bikes, documents and what to do when anything/everything goes horribly wrong. I spend the next 8 weeks watching awful weather forecasts in Spain, trying desperately to learn Spanish via Youtube and treble checking everything. 

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Building Up To España In the prologue to their journey Ren can't help but feel that the forthcoming journey might be a costly disaster. Forever the optimist.
Getting Ready For Spain Sharon is determined to be ready, organised and prepared for her forthcoming trip to Spain. However life is even more determined to ruin her plans.
Bodging Daaan Saaaf Ren bears witness to an impossible event. Then there's some last minute bodging to be done.
Motorway Miles And Muses Sharon's derriere proves more than tough enough for the big ride across England. Can she manage to lose them emotional luggage while securing her physical luggage though?
To The Ferry What are the chances of Sharon getting out of bed very early twice in the same week. Well she'd better had otherwise the Muppet's will miss the ferry.
Ocean Blue Sharon's more excited than nervous but this is the first time the Kwakker has been aboard ship. That's if customs let her on board.
Lost Off The Ferry The great adventurer and motorcyclist Ren is proving that he is in fact a useless idiot. He can't ride and he can't find a campsite that is open. Oh what will become of the BAT muppets?
Campsite Conundrum Sharon is having way too much fun while Ren is trying to find a place to sleep. Well someone has to be happy when Ren's such a grump.
Discovering The Picos After a troublesome first day in Spain hopefully Sharon and Ren's luck will improve. Thing is they have a 187km detour to reach their destination. There have been worse detours though.
Heaven's Mirror Putting fear and doubt to bed for a while Sharon enjoys the wondrous ecstasy of nature and the joy of riding a motorcycle through it. Oh and a lot of sharp corners too.
Rain In The Picos Will the rain bring doom and gloom to the already grumpy Ren? Luckily there's enough scenery and interesting things to keep him going.
The Sound Of Silence In spite of a dire weather forecast Sharon's day in Spain is filled with the beauty of nature, fond memories and the creation of great new memories.
Riding to Burgos Is motorcycle touring a non stop stream of excitement, beauty, wonder and exploration? Erm, nope. It's a rather ordinary day on the road to Burgos.
Tin Tin It's both a good and bad day for Sharon as she travels from the delights of the mountains to the grim reality of the city and the rain. At least her hair is looking good.
Higher Than I've Ever Been In spite of the weather forecasts. In spite of no longer being in The Picos. In spite of Ren being a pessimist. In spite of all this it seems Northern Spain has more delights in store.
Magical Kingdom Sharon's having another amazing day riding around Northern Spain. She's on a high, metaphorically and literally.
Boots And Burgos Ren is suffering a footwear malfunction and it's time to go and do that city thing. Can Burgos convert Sharon and Ren into city lovers?
Burgos Bimble Sharon explores the city of Burgos, Spain. Architecture, stone masonry, pilgrims and tempting food. But can a city really endear itself to this country girl?
Lost In Luxury How to turn a fortuitous and splendid day into a nightmare. Just follow Ren and he'll sort the rest out. Still, it could be worse.
Dam Lost Fearing the weather Sharon is braced for a drenching. Thing is the weather isn't really the problem.
Gritty Northern El Bierzo There's time to explore a different part of Northern Spain today. It might not have the beauty of The Picos De Europa it is however a fascinating area.
Blink Of An Eye Sharon has an interesting day poking around north west Spain. There's a something of a shock in store for the evening.
Back To Beauty, Dodgy Caravan It's time for the dynamic muppets to saunter their way back towards the ferry and Ren is in reflective mood. Wonderful scenery, weird accommodation.
The Good, The Bad And The Musty It's a day of confusing emotions for Sharon, but life is for living. Will this evening's accommodation be as luxurious as the previous evening's?
Beautiful Potes While going to a now familiar town is hardly intrepid at least it means Ren is calm, chilled out and not lost. For once.
Head In The Clouds Sharon is calmed by the wonders of Northern Spain's wondrous scenery as she returns to the comforts of Potes.
Sun, Sand, Sea And Santander The weather has improved now it's time for the dynamic muppets to head back to the ferry. Ren is intrigued by stories or walking across Northern Spain, will we see "Walks And Travels" or W.A.T.?
Splish Splash Santander The beauty and grandeur of the The Picos means Sharon does not want to leave, ever. It's back to the city, ready to sail home. Fear not, there's still pleasures to be found.
The Ferry Home It's the dynamic muppet's last day in Spain so it's time to catch the ferry. A mixture of sadness and relief for Ren, but what about the other riders in the queue?
Final Thoughts On Spain Ren crosses the T's and dots the I's on the Spanish trip.

Reader's Comments

Christopher said :-
Espanol is all going to be just fine....Go for it! As for the weather....Remember it is just a 'forecast'...and that's all it will ever matter where you are! Focus on the positive, and the outcome you desire.....not the one you don't want eh! Hence, The weather you are 'creating' will be fine, warm and dry...The U.K Met Office(along with the media in general)Just love 'doom and gloom' stories...(as you will have guessed!)....Take no notice of any of it, and do your own thing. Have a great trip!

07/06/2018 10:22:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Well Christopher - there's more to come so keep on reading to see how we get on.
08/06/2018 11:05:10 UTC

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