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Old 12-05-2008, 10:08 PM   #31
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Ritzy Biarritz

Tomorrow is employee appreciation day, some call it Labour Day, the French celebrate La Fête du Travail on the first of May by offering Muguet (Lilies of the Valley).

May 1st
Last night ST spent the night in the small banquet room of the Hotel in Gimont. The French really like motorcycles.


Jacky wanted to go spend the night on the town


So Valentino followed her out

It was nice to walk around stretching out the road and the cold, we had pizza Libanese style, and a bunch of local beers in a local pub full of local people having more local beers.


Too bad it was such a cool evening, the pool at l’hotel Au Coin du Feu sure looked inviting. The objective of the day was met.

We found a palm three


saw some old buildings


The next morning rested, we left at the very reasonable time of 1130 and headed for the coast.

We only stopped in a rest area for a quick pic nick of cheese, saucisson, and a small glass of Gascogne, a regional red purchased for 2 Euros at tiny gas station, they also sold fresh tomatoes, and warm bread.

Thou shall obey the chocolate rule


To the voices of Portundo, and Aznavour we raced for the coast. Passing our first vineyards with sizable leaves already grown, we caught our first whiffs of the Atlantic 12 km from the shore.






In case you get hungry


Or thirsty














White picked fence

Our first stop along the south-western coast of France was Capbreton a small community well known by surfers in search of the perfect wave.


Hard to think that we had just a few days ago left the Alps, the landscape changes so quickly.





This dood wished we was on the North shore, Hang Loose man



The Boardwalk


Jackie was ready for a stroll


Found a bike event but it was wrapping up by the time we got there.


We followed the coast through Bayonne, than landed in Biarritz, found a nice hotel in the center for 63.00 Euros, a bit steep but last night we only paid 38.00, and it also was May long weekend.



Biarritz is quite posh, boardwalks, cafés, and designer stores. Its beaches parceled by rocky shores, there are tapas bars, and cozy restaurants, you can watch the crashing waves, and the numerous suffers.






Maybe I should get a new suit

Like Shakespeare in the park but more like Molière by the ocean





The port

The city has a distinguished yet quite relax and festive feel to it. Walking around the old port you hear people speak many languages, giving it that perfect European flavor.




We now have been on the road since April 21st, and have done a little more then 2000 km, (less than 200 km a day) Crossed 4 countries from the northern sea to the Atlantic no currency change no border crossing.



the sun was coming down




So we headed that way



It was time for dessert, we had a choice:

This place


Or this one


Chocolate ice cream spiked with Piments d’espelettes (local hot chilies).

chocolate?

Lets go look at the sunset












Time to go home

Merci Biarritz


Demain les Pyrénées y despues España.

Hasta la proxima...
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-06-2008, 11:03 AM   #32
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Never to late to post a ride report

Jackie & Valentino.

Thanks again for the pics, and did you had any problems with the language, or parlez vous Francais?
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:37 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaulstat
Jackie & Valentino.

Thanks again for the pics, and did you had any problems with the language, or parlez vous Francais?

Your welcome
Le Français comme première langue, then came English, hablamos Español tambien, e un po de Italiano anche.
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The Southern Episode
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Old 12-06-2008, 05:02 PM   #34
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Cool2 Hola España

The first of many to come

ST spent her first night under the star, it suited her just fine, and I could keep an eye on her from our room window.



The only way we realized that we were now in Spain was when the road signs changed from French to Spanish, we missed the welcome to Spain sign.







If I was lucky enough to see my cousins after 34 years, it was now Liliane’s turn to reconnect with her family. We left sunny and festive Biarritz, and headed south first through Bilbao.








Then Santander the economic center of the region



Eventually we found Suances, a small yet booming village in the province of Cantabria in northern Spain. The village is surrounded by several beaches, and in the summer months it is invaded by tourists in search of fun under the sun.
















For us Suances is a very special village, not only is it Liliane’s dad's birth place, it is also were her mom lays in her final resting place.


We also visited the village of Santillana del Mar a medieval village typical of northern Spain. Altough the village is very well kept it is very touristy and it felt like the inhabitants had traded their for prosperity.












We were overwhelmed by the kindness, simplicity, and generosity of the people who welcomed us into their home. Plus, when your cousin is a great cook, and has for mission to make you sample as many local delicacies as you can in as little time as possible, you know that you will not go hungry.


Spain as many other European countries has a rich tradition of foods, and drinks (comidas y bebidas) that dates back hundreds of years, and that have changed very little since. These deep-rooted traditions of simple regional products prepared in a simple ways, provide a mosaic of dishes that reflects the close bond that people share with the earth and the sea. Even in the larger supermarkets, you find lot of local products advertised.

Una Paella


Frankly, in North America, be it in Canada or the States we are completely clueless when it comes to food. It seems that sadly our tradition is to spend as much time as we possibly can in the acquisition of wealth, so that we may spend it on things that we think we need in order to make us happy.
Don’t get me wrong Europeans like their Dvd players as much as anybody else, but it is quite refreshing to discuss shopping habits with French and Spaniard, and find out that they have never heard of Wallyworld. You get a funny look when you tell them it's open on Sundays, and 24 hours a day.


"What in the world do you need to purchase on a Sunday that cannot wait for tuesday afternoon" they ask?

"Sorry" I don't have the answer to that one.

Then comes the next question:

"Where do you get your fresh produces, meats and dairies... if you don’t have a weekly market"?

"Huh well.... we go to Superstore, and buy stuff shrink wrapped that all looks, and taste the same, mostly comes from thousands of miles, grown in a soil laden with fertilizer and pesticides, picked before its ripe, and then trucked for thousands of miles. -Monsanto style-.

A hairy donkey



France has over 247 homologated different types of cheeses, this does not include micro producers. Belgium, as small as it is offers more then 400 different types of beers to choose from. The small province of Asturias in Spain has dozen of local hams, and over 40 different types of registered brands of cheeses, and none of it is processed. We have already seen more species of domesticated cows since, traveling from the country side of Holland to Northern Spain, than in several Canadian and US crossings we've done in the past. It seems that we in North America have completely lost touch with reality.

Jamon Iberico -Pata Negra-


Ok I’ll stop this rant, I love both Canada and the US very much, and I do not want to alienate anybody, but despite many many trips to Europe over the years, I am always amazed to see so many people taking the time to socialize over a beverage served in a non-disposable container, with their dogs sleepily lying next to them in a local establishment.

Chorizo por favor


I cannot help but wonder if there is any correlation between the socialization factor, and the fact that there is rarely more then one television set per household?

We left the village of Suances on Sunday morning, and it was difficult to say goodbye, but is never easy to do so after such a warm, and sincere welcome. We zig an zagged through the Picos de Europa, sandwiched between mountain and ocean, the view was incredible. But we did not take many pics, it was mostly overcast.

Here are a few






Lunch was in a road-side restaurant in the middle of nowhere, we had for 12 Euros a seafood soup made with large shrimps, and fresh shellfish, fresh grilled sardines with French fries, a glass of local red wine, for dessert home made lemon tart and cinnamon flavored rice pudding, and an expresso. The Buffalo on the Manitoba license plate attracted quite a crowd.





Our next stop is Oviedo, the capital of the province of Asturias where Jackie’s sister anxiously waits for our arrival....
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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-06-2008, 08:00 PM   #35
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dood.. you're torturing me with all those French sweet delights!!
How can you ever be satisfied with riding when you get home again.



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Old 12-06-2008, 08:37 PM   #36
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Mois aussi ma premiere langue etais le Francais et maintenant au USA ces l'anglais.

Hopefully, some day I will ship my GSA and ride the road of Europe for an all month. Before that I have plan of riding from Seattle to Prudho bay this summer of course if my job and time permit.

Thanks again for the great pics and the story behind the pics.

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Your welcome
Le Français comme première langue, then came English, hablamos Español tambien, e un po de Italiano anche.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:04 PM   #37
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Oviedo

Oviedo, the capital of the Principality of Asturias.


Asturians are a very proud people. They say that “Asturias es España y lo demás tierra reconquistada”



Meaning that Asturias is Spain and what’s left is land re-claimed. It mostly holds true because at a point in history, practically everything to the north was French, and most everything to the south was Moor (Berber and Arab).



Two monks, Máximo and Fromestanus, founded the city in 761. But their are traces of occupation since the first century in Roman times. Weather-wise it’s quite similar to to Oregon and BC, maybe a bit warmer.



San Miguel de Lillo Pre-Roman




I found the city interesting, it felt a bit like Paris with wide avenues and rounded buildings decorated with, wrought iron balconies.









Jackie was at it again





Its small (187 km2 with a metropolitan population of about 227000), and it sits amid a mountainous region.

A view from the top





The beaches of the Bay of Biscay are less then 25 km away. We were not to impressed by the over develop beach front, to many "pisos"


Because the population is dense and many have apartment in the center, the city is bustling with the daily activity, but not so crowded that you feel engrossed by the density. For reference compare it to Kingston, Ontario with an area of 450 km2 and about 120000 in population, and you get an idea.



We have now being in Oviedo for four days, and are slowly starting to get acclimatized to the rhythm of Spain. There is a day care center next to Liliane aunt’s piso, and it is open from 07:45 to 20:00. Most businesses open at 10:00 then close from from 13:30 to 16:30, and then re-open until 20:00. The larger stores and supermarkets are open all day, but close at 18:00.
Companies give their employees at least an hour and a half for lunch, civil servants work from 09:00 to 14:00.



They really like Woody Allen there



The market in the center of town runs 3 times a week, on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most restaurants and bars are closed one day of the week, and several close on Sunday.

Eating habits takes some getting use to: you have breakfast when you get up, so far so good, easy enough to handle. Then anything after that gets slightly complicated, from 1100 til 1430 only snacks are allowed, locals refer to them, as pinchos or tapas (solo par picar) only to eat a little something.

Then at or around 1430 lunch (la comida) starts, but not much later then 1530. This is usually the biggest meal of the day. Of course during that time snacks are mostly unavailable.

Time for another Paella


After 1600 to at least 1930 it is snack time again (la merienda), but this time it leans more on the sweet side at the cafeteria, or pasteleria.



Since we're on the topic we went to Valor to have Churros con Chocolate, they have been making that stuff since 1889, Churros is a very light dough that is deep fried, sprinkled with sugar, and served hot to dip in dark chocolate presented in a cup at 75 C.



Then from 2000 to about 2230 sometimes later is dinner time (la cena), a fairly light meal.

But not always.


If you think that the Spaniards spend most of their time eating, or drinking something, you’ve got it figured out. Anytime not mentioned above is usually spent drinking a coffee, a freshly squeezed juice (zumo), a beer, a glass of cider, or a glass of wine in any of the multitude of establishments such as wine bars, and sidrerias that adorn the streets.

Without missing a drop


At the grocery store, we purchased 4 bottles of wine, a 1lt bottle a water, a bag of chips, a lt of orange juice, and a can of anchovies’ stuffed olives 11.45 Euros (about $16,00 cdn) and the most expensive item was the OJ. At least they have their priorities straight.

Nothing like a nice piece of meat hanging out at the bar.



We have been privileged to be guided through the city streets by my brother in law (mi Cuñado). Don Heradio Cano Gonzalez. Born in Matagalpa in Nicaragua, he came here during the Sandinist era. A Doctor in law, and a Notary, he’s published 2 books. At the young age of 73 he still spends half the day at his law practice.

He maintains a simple approach to life, and most everything he says is tinted with humor. What a privilege it was to have such a guide to enjoy the city with.



He provided us with historical comments on many of the building, and churches we encountered, as well as on the specific aspect of the cultural, social, and political life of the Oviedences and the Asturianos.



We took pictures of the house where Liliane’s family was born


On the street that bares her family's name.



Last night we went to a piano concerto featuring the soloist Carmen Peyes.
Tomorrow, Friday we take the Camino del Sur, and head for Santiago de Compostela, in the province of Galicia.

Muchas Gracia Oviedo, hasta luego
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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-06-2008, 09:18 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
How can you ever be satisfied with riding when you get home again.


I fell into a deep depression for the next 3 months after we got back home
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:10 PM   #39
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I fell into a deep depression for the next 3 months after we got back home
that is the worst part about an epic ride.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:11 AM   #40
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time to start planning yer next trip

To stop ye gettin depressed get planning yer next trip
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:38 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac_elite
I fell into a deep depression for the next 3 months after we got back home
I know the feeling... they know how to live... with their long lunches, and siesta's and fiesta's to say nothing of the beautiful architecture, history and geographic beauty... and us... it's the 9 to 5 rat race...

Thanks for the detailed report and insights into life in Spain... Looking forward to more...
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #42
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Deep, deep envy (a sin I know well)

Could my wife and I rent/borrow/steal your European family for a few months??
Fantastic journey and great report.
And I'm hoping it doesn't end somwhere with a bad getoff - read too many of those lately
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:22 PM   #43
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Thumb Busy doing it now

Quote:
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To stop ye gettin depressed get planning yer next trip
I have already started, it will be the west coast at least as far as Panama.

Can't wait
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:22 PM   #44
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St James

Leaving Oviedo proved to be slightly more difficult than anticipated, we waved goodbye to Liliane’s family to head west, or so we thought! GP recalculated several times, and then it started to rain (so I chased the compass for while). The rain did not stop for 5 and some hours it took us to join the 350 km separating the capital of Asturias from the Saint city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the wettest city of Spain.



We did not take any pics until we reached the city, a few kilometers short the rain finally gave way. Apart from my gloves which reminded me of the subtle difference between water resistance, and water proof, the rest of our gear and ST performed well.



The large adjustable windshield of the bike is a blessing in wet weather riding. As I mentioned before, we have been following the Camino de Compostela loosely since Grenoble, and when we landed in town we were tired, and weary from the rain. It had not been a particular long ridding day, but getting lost right from the get go and 5 hours of heavy rain had taken their toll.



Nothing that a glass of red could not cure (un baso de tinto). We have been using hostelbooker.com and lastminute.com to find a spot but we had been unable to book a a room, because many were full. But we got lucky and benefited from a last minute cancellation at one of our previous elected spot. A 2 stars hostel ten minutes walk from the old city for 37€ for the room and 4€ so ST could spend the night in the garage.

After showering and warming up, we headed for the old town, (la ciudad antigua), to get our first glance at the cathedral that has commended so many pilgrims to their knees, after having walked the Camino from wherever their point of origin was.

And there she was in all her magnificence


Nothing to plug your power tools in when this baby was build, think about that for a minute or two.



The top.



You need a wide lense to even begin to give it justice.


Like so many before us, we where mesmerized by its beauty and its size. It is impossible to know whose bones were actually found, and precisely when and how, the pilgrimage started. Legends abound.

Jackie the accidental pilgrim




Not that it really matters, but what the history of the pilgrimage requires, is what the meagre sources fail to reveal, it is not well known how the local Galician cult associated with the saint of St James was transformed into an international cult drawing pilgrims from distant parts of the world.

A few from inside




one more

The 1000 year old pilgrimage to the shrine of St James, Zebedee’s son and brother of St John the Evangelist, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the way of St James, and in Galician as the Camiño de Santiago.

It was slowly getting dark and we were getting hungry


So we found this place, and bought some food stuff for the room.


The city at night was simply enchanting.




In the morning we gave ST a day of rest and walk around more, this time enjoying the wonderful architecture under blue skies.




Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year from points all over Europe, and other parts of the world. However, few get their on a an ST with license plates from Manitoba.


And Palm threes were there too.


Tomorrow we travel south to Salamanca, stick around for more...
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-08-2008, 08:49 PM   #45
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Sunday May 11

The morning skies were dark and gloomy.


It was only 0800 and we were already on the road (read early for us)

And followed this route to cover the 500 km to Salamanca.


Although the clouds were black and menacing, we stayed dry.


Plenty of wind though


The province of Castilla y Leon is of extraordinary beauty, the landscape from Galicia changed from rolling green hills to steep gorges separated by desert like mountainous range, until we reached the plains of central Spain.

Unfortunately the light was not the best to take pics


Another bull, I love these


We are starting to see some olive groves, and the perfumes in the air are also changing. Maybe because it was Sunday, but there was no traffic at all, and we were lucky the rain was holding off.

Storks did seem to mind the weather


Navigating is through city traffic is not a problem. Despite being a real pig when static, ST becomes easy to handle in the narrow coble stone streets, and nimble enough to thread safely as soon as your gather a bit of momentum.

We stayed away from the superslab to better enjoy the landscape, and landed in Salamanca by late afternoon.

Plaza de España


We entered the city searching for our hostel, and Jackie after taking a quick look gave me the thumbs down. Leave it to Flight Attendants to be able to appropriately gauge, the value you get for your buck for any establishment.

So we ended up here, a got a really good deal on a nice 3 stars.



Shortly after it started to pour, really hard. Perfect I thought, ST needs a rinse anyway.

Squeaky clean


Salamanca is a one of the oldest university city of Europe and is alive with people of all ages. A much younger crowd than in Oviedo.



People were much taller back in those days


The cathedral was majestic but it will have to take second place behind Santiago de Compostella.

Here are a few









The nave was very impressive, see how small people look next to the columns



Jackie was tired, she kept on saying come on Valentino why don't you go get ST while I guard this bench


Ole Torro


Valentino was happy again, we found ham


I will let you delight in the pictures, but Salamanca was truly beautiful. We have learned more about the customs of Spain.

Although the streets were practically deserted for most of the day, apart from a few wandering tourists,

Where did everybody go


After resting for a few hours we left our hotel, the Rona Dalba, to return to the streets where we were greeted by crowds of Spaniards doing their Sunday evening walk, (El Paseo del Domingo)

There's everybody


Here


And here


Meeting for caña y pinchos (cold beer on tap and individual appetizers).
Two beers and two pinchos will set you back €3,40. So far anyways, Salamanca takes the palm... at least for tapas.



Plaza de España by night







Tomorrow we head for Madrid, the capital and a visit at the museo Del Prado....
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The Southern Episode
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