You know, one of the things I like about traveling a bit outside my normal comfort zone is those interesting little interactions you have with people. Like this morning, I went into the bar / breakfast area of the hotel, and the nice (and distractingly pretty) woman behind the bar said something to me in French while turning to the coffee machine. There wasn't anyone else around at the moment, so I assumed she was asking what I wanted to drink. So in my best massacre of that language, I said "a large black coffee". She looked at me with something between pity and disdain, and said "I need to know your room number". Oh. 203. See, aren't languages fun?
Not wanting to repeat the hotel search debacle of last night, I jumped on the web and made a reservation at a hotel in Logrono, in the Rioja wine region. At least it looked decent, and cheap.
I left Biscarrosse in a pretty steady rain, all bundled up in my Frogg Toggs. Between them, the supposedly rainproof jacket, the supposedly rainproof pants, and Tourmaster Solution boots, I did stay pretty dry, even on the freeway at 75 miles an hour. It's not fun, but it gets you there, you just need a few coffee breaks.
Somewhere along the way my iPod played "If I Had a Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies. I love that song, and as I sang into my helmet I got to thinking what I would be doing differently that moment if I had a million bucks. I decided that maybe other than riding a Moto Guzzi Norge instead of my V-Strom, and maybe some thicker socks, I wouldn't change much at all. I'd still be right here, riding to Spain in the driving rain. Not a bad place to be in, all things considered.
Eventually the freeway turned into a toll way, so I jumped off and headed up into the hills.
This is Basque country, and many of the signs that were in French and Basque have been edited.
Every single house or building I saw for about 30 km looked like these two, white with green or reddish-brown trim. They must only sell three colors of paint here. But they're pretty.
Well, not EVERY single one. This one appeals with the timber frame aspect, but in a modern-ish way.
You think YOU can stack a stone wall? Look at this. Wow.
It seems even more like spring on the south side of the hills, even have wisteria in bloom.
I stopped in a bar for a quick bite at lunch and got a brief language lesson from the very friendly crowd of older gentleman, some wearing the typical Basque hat that looks like a beret but is not the same as the French wear, I think. Anyway, saying 'thank you' in Basque sounds kind of like you are saying that "Is Carrie at Costco?" It's written 'eskerrik asko'. I screwed that up, too. See, me and languages!
Eventually it was on the way towards Pamplona, where despite the weather the bike was running great, no bull.
"Just why did I think this was such a good idea?"
Past Pamplona I saw a sign for Noain, which i thought I'd heard of before. Oh, right, I was there on my bike ride in 2010, and took a bunch of pics of this.
I was headed for Olite, a little town I nearly went through back in 2010. It has a pretty cool castle.
But by the time I got there, it was REALLY raining, so I didn't feel much like strolling around more than about 20 minutes. No umbrella.
At least the weather makes for a dramatic backdrop.
I finally got to my 50 Euro hotel, which has an elevator to the parking garage, a sauna, a hot tub, a fantastic atrium lobby, and a glass of Rioja in the lobby bar that would cost $9 in the US is 1 Euro. Uh.. I might have to stay here another night.
Man, I do LOVE Spain! Now if only the sun would shine.