Second half of Richard and Mark’s holiday write-up - continued from the Oct-Dec 2015 Newsletter
Day 11 : We start the day with a hearty breakfast ahead of our farewells . The mood this morning is influenced by the view from the hotel window, grey sky and rain. So as the rest of the boys head north east towards Santander Mark and I consider our options do we head to find sunshine or carry on towards Santiago in the footsteps of the disciples? Well that's a no brainer, obviously towards to sunshine! So south it is towards the top of Portugal, little did we know what lay ahead of us.
We start off on A type roads but after about 10 miles we are on very twisty B roads or very twisty unclassified roads, this was to be for the next 140 miles in the rain and mist , sometimes visibility is down to about 10 yards. There is every type of bend you can imagine, with many roads having subsidence and/or debris on them usually somewhere on the bends. We also have to contend with cars and lorries cutting the bends at much higher speeds than they are able to stop safety on their own side of the road which they can see to be clear. If that isn't enough to deal with throw in some cows and a rabid dog the size of a small horse!!! We are right on the top of a mountain road in the rain and mist with all most zero visibility, we haven't seen any sign of life for miles when a very large black shadow is rushing towards me from the mist, by the time I can identify what it is I can see the whites of its eyes and its snarling teeth. I put a squirt on, plus extend my boot towards it . Fortunately we both get by unscathed. Later we arrive at Villablino, find a hotel on the main street through the town, go in and find a rather portly gent and arrange a room for the night, we are shown upstairs and into room 101, that will do nicely. After a freshen up we return down to the bar area where the rather portly gent who by now we have discovered is the owner, is watching porn on his laptop and is not bothered that we know this!! So funny.
Day 12 : We make an early start – well, by our standards and head towards the west coast of Spain. We start as we finished the previous day with tight twisty roads. Within about 50 miles we have found the sunshine and the bends are getting more sweeping and within 100 miles the roads are flatter and bends less twisty. We stop for coffee about 2pm and watch the world go by enjoying the sun. It’s been a few days now since we have ridden with the sun on our backs, and it feels good. I manage to get stung by a bee which had gone up my sleeve, glad I packed the large first aid kit. We had a boys own moment again today when I wacked my pannier while off-roading , so we had to dismantle it and resemble it to get the catch to work correctly. All was well and we had a brew by the roadside while fixing it. We arrive in a town called Xinzo de Limia stop outside a hotel. The owner is stood outside, he walks over to us and asks if we want secure parking for the bikes, “yes please “, so he sets off walking, telling us to follow. We have totally fallen on our feet here, top place for £13 each including breakfast. We shower, change and have a walk around the town stopping for a beer in the square and enjoy the evening sunshine.
Day 13: We head west towards the coast, 80 miles see us in northern Portugal just in time for lunch, great roads again to get here. We decide that as the temperature is now in the 20s it’s time to get the hammocks out and sleep beneath the stars. Last time we toured we decided we needed to get a little more organised as far as catering is concerned. So tonight we would source and cook our own dinner. We find a shop, purchase steak, noodles, carrots, onion, peppers, tomatoes, eggs and of course wine.
A right feast , well enjoyed and finished off with cheese and bread. It’s these moments that really make motorcycle touring an adventure. Another great day, we did almost 90 miles, lol. Time for bed I think.
Day 14 : We have a lazy day , not rolling out of our cosy hammocks until 8.30ish then after we cook boiled eggs, and coffee for breakfast we hit the road about 1030 and head north hugging the coast until we get to Vigo. By now it’s 1430ish so we decide to head back through the mountains to our campsite at Camposcanos . We arrive back about 1730 do some housekeeping then kick back and enjoy the sunshine until we smell food cooking at the site cafe, so that's another day done .
Day 15: We leave are wooded haven and head north along with the cows for a small island joined to the mainland by a long bridge , this is funny as my companion does not like bridges. It’s about 2 hours away and it’s a great ride. When we arrive in glorious sunshine it’s time for a coffee.
After coffee we head inland to Santiago de Compostela to find the finish point of the 'walk de Santiago ' it’s about an hour away. We are not sure what to expect when we arrive, I'm thinking it will be some religious monument, I think Mark is expecting a finish line with a chequered flag and a foot spa. As we are nearing Santiago the walkers appear to be looking more weary than usual. I suppose it’s a long way from Paris.
We arrive in the city to find a real buzz, lots and lots of people probably more people that we have seen in the last 14 days. There is a fun fair and real festival atmosphere. We will stay here for the night, so check the internet for a local hotel with secure parking. Result, there is one just half a mile from where we are. Once the reservation is made off we go. We arrive at the address and go in, the hotel is a single floor of an 8 story building, with an underground garage. This is a right result. That evening we walk into the old city with the cathedral at its centre, take the usual photos and do what we were told all who have made the trek from Paris do , lie in front of the cathedral entrance .
So with that done and more atmosphere soaked than we can deal with its time for a beer and local cuisine. We have a stroll around the new town and find a very busy cafe , which is a good sign in our books. We go in and another result top nosh and loads of it, we sit and enjoy for the rest of the evening.
Day 16: Heading to the most NW point of Spain, we find the most breath- taking coast line, to those who have not been I can’t recommend it enough, so totally unspoilt. It’s like going back in time. This is what I tour for to find places that have not been spoilt by western tourism, no English spoken not a MacDonalds or Tescos in sight. Sheer bliss, I would say this is the closest to UK you can find this.
Just when I thought we had had the best of the roads we stumbled across the AS12, a gorgeous mountain road north towards Navia, probably the highest unfenced road I have ever ridden, the drops were so big you couldn't even see the tops of the trees! Roads just wide enough for two cars to pass, with the most amazing views.
We are about two thirds along the AS12 when the mist comes in and dampens the roads , now that focusses the mind. We have done nearly 250 miles today which, by are standards, is high. We arrive in Navia, which appears to be a small fishing town on an estuary near the coast, at about 1830, find a hotel and settle for the evening.
Day 17: Today’s half a plan is to head east back towards the Picos, we ride all day on more amazing highly-demanding roads. Having negotiated more than our fair share of hazards we arrive at Potas and decide to stay at the same hotel as we did earlier in the trip as it was so good. One of the many things that have amazed me on this trip is the magnificence of the engineering in this part of Spain, especially as the country appears to be stuck in time. The viaducts, bridges and electricity pylons in the mountains are beyond belief. I would say at least 80% of the roads we have used are in race track condition, tho’ the other 20% are like off-road. We have done about 2,500 miles and millions of bends, at one point today we stopped got off our bikes and just laughed and said “no more bends today please”. You can tell we are near the ferry as we have seen British bikes again, we have not seen any since we left the Picos 10 days ago, we can’t believe the Brits don’t appear to go much further than the Picos, they really don't know what they are missing. Or perhaps that is a good thing!! Tonight we expect a feast as it was the last time we were here.
Day 18: Off to Santander, the long way. We choose a route which will be about 100 miles as the ferry doesn't sail until 2115. The CA282 turns out to be another great road, it’s about 30km through the mountains. On roads that cause us to negotiate articulated lorries, cattle, and a sleeping dog. Great fun is had by all on our last day in this awesome area. We arrive in Santander at about 1500 and have the obligatory MacDonalds , as we have had more than enough cured meat. Then in to the centre to find a cafe to while away the hours until its ferry time. We arrive at the port, and again we get talking about where have all these bikes and cars been? Because we have seen hardly seen any since we’ve been here. We conclude that they probably all use motorways. Cos it’s not likely that we are going to ask, being a pair of anti-social old farts. Lol. At least the fun is now off the bike trying not to make eye contact..... Who will lose this game we regularly play? lol, Mark’s first to crack , and who should he crack to but Messrs. Foster & Thomas, so now we have entertainment for the evening voyage. After an evening of fine food and wine we retire to our cabins and sleep until 1300 hours the next day, it just goes to prove how hard we have tried over the last 3 weeks... Lol.
So as per previous trips now the conversation moves to where next as its only 3 months away