Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018
Spain Day 2 24th May
By Sharon Parker
In the morning once we have retrieved our motorcycles from the cosy garage we once again plan to attempt the feat of reaching yesterday's chosen campsite. Ren has found an alternative route. It is a bit of a detour but on Google maps at least it looks an interesting scenic detour.
As we turn onto the road at 8:45 am from the hotel's carpark I have a moment's hesitation, of self doubt if I can actually do this? I steady myself. I have to be careful for doubt can give birth to fear. Fear will make me tense which will have a detrimental effect on my riding. Self doubt will serve no purpose on this journey so I boot it off the bike and watch it tumble down the road. I know self doubt will not stay in La Franca. No, it will travel around, hiding at the side of a gravely path or a tight bend, waiting for the opportunity to hitch a ride. You need to know self doubt well, to learn how to recognise it, to feel the extra weight the minute it climbs onto your bike. That way the minute it arrives you can hopefully send it bouncing down the road again.
The speed limits confuse me. Traffic seems to want to travel much faster than indicated. But I am a stranger in a foreign land and therefore I stick to the rules. I can't afford a hefty speeding fine. After an easy spate on the A8 motorway we come off onto the N634. It is a good road and things just seem to be getting better and better the further we go.
The N634, skies are grey but the scenery is anything but dull.
We then turn onto the N625 south to Riaño as the sun begins to finally push it's way through the clouds. This road leads us through The Picos de Europa National Park in northern Spain’s Picos de Europa mountain range. Wow, wow, Wow!! It is amazing, it twists and turns as it grips the mountain side and carves itself through tunnels. I am so in awe of this road and the heavenly views that continually roll before my eyes like some dream landscape in a movie that I have no room for fear. I am too full of exhilaration and joy.
We stop in the charming tiny village Puente de Vega for a rest and to drink in both fluids and the views. We can not stop smiling as we chat about our surroundings. It is well, err, perfect. Right here right now in this moment everything is just as one. I relish it and focus on nothing but this simple perfect moment.
Puente de Vega, as a tiny Spanish village it is all the simple perfection you could dare hope for.
After the leisurely stop we carry on. No wait, no surely not how can this be? But it is how it is and this is real, this is true. The road becomes even more otherworldly. Even more twists and turns, even more lush forests, even more mountain ranges, on and on, more and more and more.
Then it appears before me, one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen. Nature's ultimate glory at her most awesome and breathtaking best. So wonderful is this day, so perfect this road that we even have a place to stop. We get off the bikes to further examine this most magnificent and majestic mountain range.
I see it, I am surrounded by it but I don't believe it. It is too perfect, it simply can not be of this world. It is a fantasy picture surely, some CGI trickery. I know even as I take the photos that it will be hard to convince people that what we will show them in our photos is real. No photoshop, no enhancement needed, you could not improve on this.
The mountains rise stark and craggy, their grey tones contrasting sharply with the vibrant green of the trees and other flora that hug the lower slopes. The still waters pay homage and reflect back to the skies this most heavenly of earth's vistas, doubling it's almighty impact.
How old are these mountains? How many eons have they stood silent and serene? They say rocks feel no pain but gosh their beauty can bring a tear to the human eye. I know this is a special moment, another precious treasure to store. Not for me the indulgence of man made riches of fancy clothes and gadgets. It is these mountains, this scene given up for free by nature, these are the gifts I treasure. I can never own them, they are not mine alone to possess but they enrich me beyond measure.
I turn to Ren and see my own awe reflected in his eyes. WOW is all I can muster. No words, however poetic can do justice to what lays all around us. Its beauty renders you speechless. You are reduced to silence and words are replaced by an all encompassing sense of wonder.
Back on the bikes and we ride until we find ourselves at a petrol station on the edge of Riaño. The attendant is all smiles as he fills up our bikes and it feels good to be around such happy people. The N621 is the road we now take and this should take us into Potes and the elusive campsite.
The N621 is yet another road with twists and turns and hairpins bends. Yes I know Ren does not think they are hairpins but as far as I am concerned they are. I can see some of them coming and yes they make me nervous but strangely not terrified.
Hairpin or not? You decide. either way it is fabulous.
We are forced to come to a halt by a herd of cows being encouraged along the road by their owners. I smile as the farmers pass both young and old and get smiles and nods in return. The herd is large, consisting of mothers with their calves and some large horned, muscle bound bulls.
One particular female decides to be a right cow and unlike the others does not go around my bike but starts heading right for me. Arghh please go around, please go around! She does not but does change course a little at the last minute to give the bike a glancing blow rather than a direct hit. I wobble but stay upright. That was scary.
After the herd is finally gone we carry on. The road is now covered in cow pats, perfect for bike tyres to slip and slide on so I keep a keen eye on the road and my speed in check.
The road continues to delight us and we stop at Mirador Del Corzo viewpoint to once again stare in wonder at all that lays before us. The mountain range is vast, dominating the horizon . The bare summits are festooned with snow bearing testimony to how high they soar. The jagged outcrops tell the story of the ongoing battles through the ages between rock and ice.
I wish to find the right words to describe in detail what I see but such is my awe once again I am rendered as silent as the cold, jagged rocks around me. I just stand and stare.
High both physically and mentally
We are soon joined at the viewpoint by more bikers. All British and all loving the area. As a girl myself it pleases me that two of the bikers are female friends travelling together. It is heartening to see so many more ladies riding their own bikes these days.
The famous Roe deer sculpture by Cantabrian Jesús Otero. I heard a story it was once shot at and had to be removed to be repaired. I don't know if this story is true or not but I like to think this is why it now tucks it's bottom in.
More exhilarating twists and turns follow as we now begin to descend from the peaks. I am having the most amazing time. I want to absorb every second into my psyche. I know that this moment, this here and now is fleeting. In the future this road, this adventure will merely become a beloved story I will enjoy talking about. I know I will never again fully capture the reality of how I feel at this very moment.
I am in a heavenly paradise of deserted winding roads and spectacular scenery. Apart from the gathering at the viewpoint we have ridden this road almost completely alone. I feel like an intrepid explorer. It does not matter others, many others have ridden this way before me and will continue to do so after me. This is my journey, my experience, my almighty adventure. I am incredibly joyful.
Potes town comes into view. A quick stop at a supermarket for supper. From here it's a short journey to Camping La Viorna.
The campsite does not disappoint, it too is fantastic. It nestles in an ideal setting with the mountains as it's protective guardians. On one side the guardians are cloaked in emerald green, on the other they are crowned in white. The whole site is beautifully maintained, from the immaculate toilet blocks to the abundant flowers in full bloom. The staff are friendly and helpful. Even the sun is shining as we set up the tent beneath colourful trees.
After 7 hours of the best riding I have ever known it is time to rest.
I will remember and hold dear this shared day with Ren for a long time, maybe even forever. So many days go by and simply disappear, wiped permanently from our memories. But days like this one, this glorious special day, this hopefully will remain. It will return to me and make me smile. As I survey this kingdom before retiring to bed I give forth my heartfelt gratitude to the universe for the gift it bestowed of this most memorable of days.
Remember when travelling always take the scenic route
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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Ian Soady said :-
Lovely tale and photos Sharon. You even manage to make Spain look attractive......
30/6/2018 3:36:48 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Nice and positive write, good to hear you did enjoy the hairpins, thats what they are there for :-) Nice photos with good composition and framing as well !
30/6/2018 8:36:03 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Ian and Henrik,
Thanks for your positive comments on my positive write up. To actually look at a hairpin and want to ride it and not just dread it was indeed a new and very welcome experience.
It is easy to make Northern Spain look beautiful because that it what it is. These photos are not just the best bits. In fact there was some even more stunning views that did not afford a safe stop to take photos. Also if I did stop everytime the view took my breath away I may have only travelled one road. It was indeed a veritable feast for the eyes.
4/7/2018 10:13:12 AM UTC
Paul said :-
I really enjoyed reading your travel story to the Picos de Europa.Yes, the motorbike is the best way to see the world and I was inspired by your narrative and beautiful pictures. let it not be your last one!
17/12/2019 3:16:22 AM UTC
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Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018