Pyrenees and northern Spain tour
After my successful trip to Alps, Italy and Croatia in 2003 (the report can be read here http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122967), I decided to make another one man trip with my bike Yamaha TDM 900 in the summer of 2004. This time the destination is Pyrenees and finally the beautiful Baleric island Mallorca. The route was the following: Stockholm-Gothenburg-Kiel (with ferry)-Hamburg-Narbonne (with train www.autozug.de) -Andorra-Pamplona-San Sebastian-Bilbao-Zaragoza-Barcelona-Mallorca-Barcelona-Narbonne-Hamburg (with train)-Copenhagen-Malmö-Stockholm. The trip took about 6500kms (~4000 miles), this time I saved some miles thanks to trains.
Instead of staying in camping places as I did in the Alps the year before, this time I decided to stay at small hotels since prices in Spain are more reasonable. I raised the standards of my trip:D
Compared to last year, I have the same bike TDM 900, I installed new exhausts in 2004 (an italian brand called GPR) to wake my neighbors up:D .
An early and rainy (typical Swedish summer morning in other words:cry ) July morning, I am ready to start my journey.
My next stop is the city of Gothenburg. Gothenburg is the second largest city of Sweden, it has a big harbour and is heavily industrial. Volvo,SKF and many other big swedish industrial companies are located around Gothenburg. The ride is around 450kms and it rained the whole trip:cry
My plan is to take the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel, northern Germany. So, I skip driving through Danmark and get some good sleep.
I like taking ferry rides in my motorcycle trips. I get some time to read, prepare for my trip by reading about interesting places and get the chance to meet interesting people.
The view of Gothenburg harbour
I stay in a two person cabin and meet a very interesting retired swedish man. His passion is photography and makes trips to take pictures of people and landscapes. Photography is also a hobby of mine, so we have a lot to talk about. He had four cameras with him:eek1 He shows me a lot of his pictures, some of them were really impressive. After showing to me at least four digit amount of his pictures, he decides to go to sleep and I visit the bar for a short time. As usual, the bar is crowded and people seem to be happy. As some of you might know, alcohol prices are quite high in Scandinavia because of high taxes. But when ferries like this sail to open waters, they serve alcohol without that tax and passangers try to take full advantage of that. I wonder if these Scandinavians around the bar are the ones considered to be shy and silent? Not after couple of drinks for sure:lol3
Next day early in the morning, we arrive to Kiel. I have a short ride ahead of me actually. I will drive to nearby city of Hamburg in northern Germany and load my bike to a special train. This train will take me and my bike all the way down to Narbonne, a city located in southern France close to Spanish border.
This train also called autozug in german (more info at www.autozug.de) is a very comfortable way to cover long distances and save time. If tickets can be booked in advance and high seasons are avoided, it can be a good economic alternative in comparison to gas, tire and bike depreciation, one night hotel expense and last but not least the extra risk taken on highways. I took this train fron Munich to Hamburg in 2003 and was very satisfied with it.
My travel companion is waiting to be loaded to the wagon
I met this group of swedish bikers with their Suzuki Intruders. We had the opportunity to test german beers in train's bar:D
Now bikes are in the train. You simply drive bikes into the wagon but should have your helmet on since we've been told that some people hit the low ceiling and injured theirselves:eek1 Autozug people do a very good job of securing the bikes.
Soft bags and large cruiser type windshields are not allowed and have to be taken away. The reason is the wind turbulence that bikes are facing. At first, we bikers especially our Intruder owner friends could not understand the logic of taking away the windshields from their bikes but the argument from autozug people sounded quite solid. The turbulence can hit the windshield from back side with a speed of 100-120km /h when two trains pass each other and windshields are not designed for that. So they took away the shields away and step on the train like proud roman gladiators:rofl
I was lucky and shared the cabin with two other bikers from Danmark. We discussed our future trips and excanged some information.
They were also driving to Pyrenees but first planning to make a stop in Andorra to do some shopping. Andorra has tax free prices and some motorcycle shops with good offers. Since prices in Danmark are very high, they were looking forward to find cheaper prices in Andorra.
The train leaves now. It is a relaxing experience to travel with train. I read a little, chat with danish biker fellows, eat dinner in the restaurant wagon and drink some beer with swedish group. A perfect start for a trip. Tomorrow, we will arrive in Narbonne and I will be couple of hours away from PYRENEES! Exciting...
To be continued...
Another great report, thanks. Looking forward to more.
how cool - bike on the train to the goods!
This will be good. :ear :thumb
Narbonne-La Seu D'urgell
We arrive to Narbonne around 10:30 in the morning. It takes a while to get the bikes out of the wagons but I am not in a hurry actually. It is vacation afterall. After changing to motorcycle outfit, I say bye to the swedish group that was planning to drive via Barcelona to south of Spain. I hope they had a great time and were not burned under the strong Spanish sun in their leather outfits. Then the danish guys take off towards Andorra for ultimate shopping:D
My route is short today, only 300 kms. I plan to cross the border and stay in a spanish town called La Seu D'urgell.
Finally, I am on my bike again. Shining sun, good roads and a beautiful nature welcomes me to southern France.
I arrive to a town called Puigcerda that is located at the French-Spanish border. Both French and Spanish can be seen on the shields in the town. But interestingly enough the French side looks more French and the Spanish side vice versa even though both sides are only meters away from each other.
A view from the Boules also called Pétanque tournament. It is a quite old game where each player is trying to place his 2 metal balls as close as possible to the small wooden ball. Seems like a relaxing game to play on the beach.
I am on the road again and I crossed the border. Viva España
I arrive to La Seu D'urgell at evening time, find a cheap room in a motel. After dinner, I take a short walk around its small lake.
Although I slept in the train, I feel tired. Time to go to bed to start the journey early in the morning.
to be continued...
La Seu D'Urgell-Torla
I leave La Seu D'urgell early in the morning. My final destination for the day was a town called Ainsa but I arrive there earlier then planned so I continue driving and stay in a mountain town called Torla. I am glad about that choice because Torla was a magnificent place. I drive total of 350 kms today. I usually drive 500 kms per day in trips like that (that's what I did in the Alps in 2003!) but I realize that everything is kind of slower in Pyrenees and I got affected by that I guess, not bad really:D There are less motorcyclists compared to Alps. I found road conditions better than I expected. Spain has spent significant amount of money to fix these roads for sure, thanks to EU? :evil I follow the road N260 since it looked the most curvey one.
Peaks of Pyrenees come closer:D
I increase the speed, want to reach mountains ASAP. mountains+curvey roads=happy Ahmet:rofl
Suddenly small and nice villages pop up on the scene. I really enjoy this randomnes, in a sense feels more natural than Alps.
Finally, I arrived to a high ground. Cold mountain breeze tells me that it's high up. Time to take a memory picture.
After each uphill comes a downhill:D A nice valley is ahead of me. Perfect spot to take my traditional reflectyourselfinthemirror shot:D
My next destination is a town called Ainsa. I read that its old town is worth to see so I drive up to check it out. The old town has some of its surrounding walls still intact. A shot from the wall.
A typical spanish style townsquare
Narrow streets of Aisla
full of nice details
I eat lunch in Ainsa and continue my ride towards Torla.
to be continued....
I loved the Alps report and this looks like another winner! Beautiful photos and excellent narration. I hope to make it over there someday. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Nice report!! I too usually took the auto train to Narbonne but stayed close to the coast. Will try new routes next time! Where's the rest of the report??
Torla and Pamplona
Finally, I arrive to Torla. It is a small and friendly town resting at shadows of magnificent peaks of Pyrenees. I find a room in a decent priced hotel. The reason for choosing that hotel was actually that two other bikes were parked in front of the hotel.
I meet the owners of these two BMW bikes (1150 GS and 650 GS). A friendly german couple. They have been to many places like USA, South Africa with their bikes. They actually took their own bikes to those places with air freight. I ask them what they think of their bikes. I am curious about these german panzer GSs, I saw so many of these in my Alps trip last year and despite their clumsy look they were driving quite ok in front of me on curvey mountain uphills. I get some information from friendly couple about beemers, reliability, high torque etc. I am curious now, I decide to make a visit to BMW dealer in Stockholm. For info, I drive a red (the fast one) R 1200 GS now:D
I take a short walk in the streets of Torla. Such a relaxing place, like one of those where it feels that time stands still. Amazing.
This is the view in front of me while drinking my cafe cortado. I can't complain at all
This view is one of my favorites, absolutely breathtaking.
I made a promise to Torla, I will visit her again in my life time.
I fall asleep peacefully in Torla and early tomorrow morning I will drive to Pamplona to see the bull run festival.
It was difficult to leave Torla, maybe I should stay there one more day but I am curious about this bull run in Pamplona so I get on my bike and drive towards Pamplona.
My plan is to see the bull run and then continue to San Sebastian, the bohemian atlantic ocean city of Spain.
After Torla, the landscape gets flatter and immediately temperature rises and it feels on the bike:puke1
I arrive to Pamplona and it is really crowded. FInding a secure place to park the bike and changing clothes and leaving it in a hotel lobby takes some time. In that rush, I forget my camera so I don't have my own pictures from the event but here are some pictures I pulled from the internet.
The whole event is kind of absurd actually. There are some freightened bulls and tons of people shout at them, then bulls start to run in narrow streets on wet pavement and fall or hit the walls or people in front of them. There are bunch of crazy people who most probably watched a lot of MTV Jackass and they are running in front of the bulls. THe most dangerous moment is in the entrance to the stadium. The tunnel is narrow and sometimes people got stuck there. I heard that 2-3 people heavily got injured that day in the tunnel. There were also some US college students super excited running in front of the bulls. I hope they didn't come all that way just to run in front of the bulls:rofl
I am done here, back on my bike. Destination is San Sebastian. I heard the city is famous with its tapas, I am getting hungry with that thought:D
to be continued...
Ahh, sitting in Florida and hearing about tapas!!!! When do they understand the word "cooking" here??? It's all about FAST food and huge servings here, but the quality sucks. Looking forward to my yearly trip to Spain in Sept.
Awesome pics of Torla!!
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