The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018

The Ferry Home

By Ren Withnell

After yesterday's scorching sunshine I find it's a relief for the skies to be grey and the air temperature to be much more comfortable. The cooler air is a positive, the dark, imposing, threatening thunderheads feel considerably negative.

Sharon is strapping things to the Z250SL at Cabo Mayor campsite on a dull day
It's a little cooler as we pack up this morning.

We have to be off the site by 1100. Our ferry departs around tea time. Luckily we can arrive at the port anytime after 1200. I briefly flirt with the idea of having a ride around Santander then I remember it's a big horrible nasty busy bustling traffic filled sprawling city. We will be riding straight to the port and no more.

We decamp slowly and depart at precisely 1100. We are presently to the north of the port, all I need to do is keep the sea on my left hand side and Bob's my dad's brother, easy peasy, job's a good 'un and everything will be tickety-boo.


Firstly it's a lot further away than I recall. I thought it was perhaps 5 minutes, you know, maybe a mile or 2 away? 7 km isn't actually that far but when I'm not expecting it I find myself disorientated. Which does not help when we arrive at the port.

I can see the port and signs for the port. A sign points me inland away from the port. OK, one way systems, I figure it will route me around the block. Erm, errr, nope. I have moment's panic then recall I have 3 hours to sort this out. That, now that is a calming thought, this 4 by 4 coming towards me is not a calming thought though.

After looping around the busting hubbub of the retail centre of Santander a couple of times we finally turn into the port. I take in a long, deep breath of relief. 

I have enjoyed this trip immensely and in so many ways, I don't want to go home. Never the less I am relieved to know that Sharon and I and both our motorcycles are here, on time, alive, well, healthy and complete. I would do it all again in a heartbeat yet I feel the weight of responsibility slipping off my shoulders. I still don't want to go home.

After a little initial confusion we join the queue of cars and bikes. If anyone tells you that all bikers are super friendly helpful angels they are delusional. They, we, are just normal people, the difference is we share a common interest which makes it much easier to strike up a conversation with random riders, that is all. 

We get talking to the random riders. Tony and Ted have been travelling and touring around much as we have, although I suspect they've done a fair few more miles than we have. They've had a good trip and they're both full of enthusiasm, looking forwards to new adventures while recalling tales from this one. 

sharon is in the queue for the ferry with all the other bikers at Santander
I didn't think you'd be so happy to be going home sweetie?

Sharon and I plan to take some food on the ferry with us - thus saving on the expensive ferry food. We bravely leave our kit with Tony and Ted and walk off the terminal (this is permissible and entry is regained with our boarding tickets). There is however a spanner in the works with our cunning and devious plan. It's Sunday.

Unlike good 'ole Blighty Spain is still rather religious and not completely overwhelmed by capitalist consumerism. As such the town centre is bustling with people presumably visiting the various cafes and restaurants that are open, but not the food shops which are closed. 

There is a shop, a large supermarket chain, with it's door open. Within however everything is closed save for a small patisserie counter in the foyer. I suppose Spain will have it's own rules as to which places can open and this will be some kind of workaround. We make do with a handful of doughnuts and some kind of pasty each.

Back at the terminal the conversation turns to my 125 and alternatives to the typical big bikes most folks tour on. Tony tells me about this crazy nutter he knows that likes to do ridiculous miles on odd machines, things like an Iron Butt challenge on some weird far eastern scooter. This sounds familiar. This sounds like Stephen Cooper of 1,000 miles in 24 hours on a scooter fame (Spanish Butt). Turns out we both know Stephen. Well I mean it'll be unlikely that there's 2 crazy long distance scooter riders wouldn't it?

We are joined by the ex military riders we'd met on the outbound ferry almost 2 weeks ago. You know how we've been dodging rain? Well they headed south and to the coast and they've been utterly drenched. One of the chaps shows me a video on his phone of huge hailstones crashing down. They've had it rough, it seems we've been incredibly lucky. 

Does this mean Sharon is no longer cursed as the goddess of rain? That thought has crossed my mind but no, no I think I'm wrong. I think Sharon's curse has grown such that everyone around her gets a real soaking now. So if anyone reads that Sharon is heading your way be sure to pack waterproofs.

Just to be sure her curse brings a drizzly shower as we're herded onto the boat. We grab our supplies and toiletries then soon we're in our cabin. This one is inside and has no window but otherwise is perfectly spacious, comfortable, clean and pleasant. It's time to settle in and wait for the next 26 hours to pass.

The car deck of The Baie De Seine and the sea as we sail from Spain
Adios Espana! Hope to be back soon.

This crossing goes a little quicker. 

We spend time with Tony and Ted. Tony likes to make things like racks and hand guards, just like me. Unlike me he seems to do a proper, neat, smart and professional job. They tease each other, they talk of places and rides and dreams and bikes. This feels familiar, it's a biker thing.

We spend time with the ex servicemen playing cards. My god if I thought Tony and Ted teased each other these make them look amateur. They're all older than I, close to or retirement age at a guess. They look their age but bicker and jibe and poke fun and laugh just like 19 year olds having a night on the tiles. 

They're joined by a mature lady travelling solo in a campervan. Sure enough just like 19 year olds one of them is soon sniffing around, being charming and getting the drinks in. Men don't ever grow up and mature, their childhood toys just change into real cars and bikes. It's delightful.

We sleep. I wander. We shower. We sleep. Eventually we pack away our things and head back to the bikes and prepare to disembark.

There's an hour's ride back to my Dad's place. There's a day's ride to see us back home. And that is it. Game over. Job done. Back to reality. All that's left for me to do is spend the next 2 months writing all this up for the BAT readers. Jeeeez, I hope they appreciate it.

Instead of Ren writing everything Bikes And Travels would welcome all kinds of motorcycle related articles, stories, posts and the like. Contact

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

Paul S said :-
Hi Ten and Sharon. Just to let you know, I appreciate it. Keep up the good work. :-)
18/08/2018 06:37:36 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Paul S. It's good to know someone's reading all this :-)
20/08/2018 06:27:33 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I admire you both for your spirit and determination to suffer these awful trips just so you can write them up for your devoted readership. It's a tough life, but somebody has to do it I suppose....
20/08/2018 12:45:56 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yes indeed CrazyFrog. The whole point of these trips is Sharon and I endure, suffer and struggle our way through them just so you, our dear and dedicated readers, can stay safe and well at home. You can vicariously take the same harrowing journey by reading the blog while never being at risk of having to actually venture out yourselves.

It is indeed a tough life, but if we did not do this then some other poor soul would have to.
20/08/2018 01:21:42 UTC
Upt'North said :-
"All that's left for me to do is spend the next 2 months writing all this up for the BAT readers. Jeeeez, I hope they appreciate it".
You can be assured I found it delightful, and Madame Moisture's contributions even more so. I will go back through the dribble again and check out some of the routes.
I have ridden the Potes road from the coast and on into Portugal previously but it was all too rushed to get somewhere we weren't when it was probably just as good where we were already. The weather was lousy in Northern Spain and visibility on the tops of about 10 feet.
I think I'll post a piccie, it'll warm me up. I think it might be in the same place as one of your piccies?
Thanks again, there's nothing as good as planning a bike ride even if bugs do kill em off.
Posted Image
03/08/2020 06:27:21 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
"Madame Moisture"!!! HAHA That'll be another cuppa tea coming out of my nose gosh darn it.

Them mountains look familiar but I can't place the bridge specifically. Any clues?

03/08/2020 08:34:43 UTC
Upt'North said :-
After extensive research (30 seconds on googlies) I'm almost nearly almost certain in a slightly doubtful way that it is looking West towards Riano on the N621. Probably about 25 miles south of Potes. The sun came out once we popped over the tops and headed south.
03/08/2020 11:07:06 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Just had a thought our Ed, I looked at the bike and thought the pipes are looking a little dirty after a shortish ride, then I remembered we'd ridden here from Amsterdam!
Please excuse my dirty pipe, and don't lick it.

03/08/2020 11:13:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Follow the link below to see Google Map's view of the same spot. Yes we passed along that magnificent and majestic road, that's a ways before the famous deer statue. I shall leave your pipe unlicked seeing as you asked so nicely. It's not galvanised anyhow.,-4.9972146,3a,75y,264.91h,79.88t/data=!...
04/08/2020 02:57:00 UTC
Upt'North said :-
In which case, said deer statue was probably hidden by the said mist/fog/rain/steamed up visor/rain running down inside of visor........infact Er'Indoors was probably soaked when I took that photo of er.
04/08/2020 05:39:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
While you have your own smashing piccies we were lucky and had a delightful ride. What a road!
Posted Image
04/08/2020 06:23:51 UTC

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