A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018

To The Ferry

By Ren Withnell

Sharon. Is. Awake. 

It is 0430 and with only the slightest of groaning she is actually rising from the bed and dressing. There is more chance of each and every star and planet in the Milky Way lining up in size order perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy. Monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare have nothing on this.

I am excited and nervous. I'm excited because I'm going on a trip. I'm nervous because I'm going on a trip. Will the traffic be bad and cause me to fret about arriving on time? Will the bikes be OK? Will we be OK? Will we be seasick? And so on and so on. I do like to worry and if there's nothing to worry about I worry that there's nothing to worry about. It's a skill that I have finely honed.

At 0600 we wave goodbye to my bleary eyed father and start on our adventure proper. 

This being daaaan saaaaf where all the hard working dynamic go getting forward thrusting people live the roads are fairly quiet because they're all still in bed. Oooop norf where all the feckless cloth cap wearing lazy uncouth slobs live it will be busy because they're all off to start the early shift. Pffffft.

It feels like an age before we reach the port but we're here in good time, about 0655. After the passports are checked and boarding cards are issued customs has a cursory look in my bags and top box. They threaten to empty Sharon's precisely and compactly filled bags then think better of it when she opens one.

Sharon's Kreiga lugagge on her Kawasaki
These bags are so tightly stuffed there is a risk of creating a singularity. 

We're briefly held in a queue where we make our acquaintance with 4 riders, all ex servicemen. They used to be in some kind of airborne division that likes to throw them out of perfectly functional planes with nothing but a big sheet to stop them splatting on the ground. 

It's only a matter of moments before we're guided straight onto the ferry. There's a few bikes before us and they're being squashed in and strapped down. 

The Baie De Seine farry ship at Portsmouth Harbour
Hopefully this wee tub will take us to Bilbao. 

Just a note for those travelling on the Brittany Ferries' Baie de Seine ship. In our case on both the outbound and inbound crossings the bikes were strapped down by the ferry staff. Personally I prefer this because if anything falls over or is broken then "it's not my fault gov..."

It still pains me to see my bike being ratcheted down most cruelly. I imagine springs compressing, side stands bending and stresses and strains. Still, not my fault gov.

Sharon's bike on the ferry after being strapped down by the crew
Sharon's little Kwakker has been firmly restrained.

Our room is - considering this is the "Economie" ship - perfectly fine. 2 single beds, a smallish window, a clean and serviceable shower come toilet come wet room and a couple of European plug sockets. I daresay this is larger than the room I had on the Pont Aven some 13 years ago which is considered a "cruise" ship rather than just a ferry. 

The inside of the cabin is spacious and comfortable
Tain't the Ritz but 'tis perfectly fine.

What the Baie de Seine gains in room standards it loses in entertainment. There is a restaurant, bar, shop and lounge. There's also a very small games room with 3 arcade machines and an equally small kid's room. Unlike the Pont Aven there's no entertainment, no small cinema and only limited outside deck space. 

I...I'm unsure how I feel. This is a long crossing, 29 hours give or take. I'd like to watch a film or maybe even see a dodgy cabaret act to pass the time. But then it's more expensive on the Pont Aven and I don't like spending money. I'm not too bothered now but in 20 hours maybe I'll feel differently. If I get bored I get annoying. If I get annoying then Sharon will likely throw me overboard. 

A deep orange sunset across the flat ocean of The Bay Of Biscay
A beautiful sunset on The Bay of Biscay.

We talk a while with the ex servicemen. They're a jovial bunch with the cruel banter I suppose keeps brothers in arms sane. I wander the ship in search of entertainment. Little is to be found. I have a shower, it's very powerful and I feel jetwashed clean. I wander a little more. I take a few pictures. I surf the net although the ship's wifi at sea is very slow. 

I'm bored and I'm probably getting quite annoying now. Hopefully it will be bedtime soon. Poor Sharon.

If you'd like to publish your own travel story on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

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

Ian Soady said :-
Of course you could have used your time profitably by reading a book or two......
12/06/2018 11:40:14 UTC
Rod said :-
I also found the Spain Ferry boring when I tried it. I much prefer to save money with the Dover Calais crossing and enjoy a ride through France. I only use the toll motorways as a last resort, so it still works out cheaper to ride.
12/06/2018 12:12:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
A book Ian? Sharon has something to do with them book thingies. I might have a go at writing one but...READING one!?! Howzat work?

As we've mentioned Rod Sharon and I aren't into "BIG" miles. A trip down and back through France would leave us with about 2 hours in Spain. The expensive sea crossing is, we deemed, a necessary evil.
12/06/2018 01:12:04 UTC
Åsa said :-
I have bent my side stand strapping my bike on a ferry :) when I had a Ducati Monster. Then I learned to strap it without being on its stand. I wonder how often bikes fall over on ferries, I've never met anyone it has happened to but still I stress about it happening to me.

25/06/2018 08:30:52 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I have just this week read a chap's comments of Facebook regarding how his and 2 other bikes on the Plymouth - Santander ferry seemed to have "moved" on the crossing and suffered quite some damage that wasn't there before.

It does happen but I don't know how often.

There has to be a better way, surely?! I suppose it's one of those "well it doesn't happen often enough to warrant the effort of creating a better solution". It's probably easier and cheaper for the ferries to firstly argue that it wasn't their fault then just pay out for the damages.
25/06/2018 09:44:37 UTC
Paul and Elliot Norton said :-
We are due to board the Baie de Siene this morning - Portsmouth to Bilboa - are the bikes put under cover or left with trucks and campers out in the elements ?

Lodgings the night before
26/06/2018 03:38:35 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The bikes are "inside" they'll not be getting wet. Have a great trip!!

So envious.
26/06/2018 06:05:35 UTC

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