|12-11-2008, 08:10 PM||#61|
After bustling Madrid, Toledo is nothing but eye candy.
The inner wall of the city is said to have been founded in the 7th century by the Visigoth, the architecture, and the masonry are of Moorish influence. One of the most interesting aspect of the walled city, that sits on a rock above the rio Tajo is that from the 8th to 11th century, it was known as La Convivenca.
Under Arab rule the city new a golden age of tolerance, and sitting in the center of Spain was the crossroad between Muslims, Jews, and Christians culture. I wonder what the Caliphate of Cordoba new then that the Muslims, Jews, and Christians have forgotten today, more then a thousand years later.
Like all good things coming to an end, La Convivenca ended in 1085, when Alphonso VI retook the city, and begun an iron fist rule. This would later become the first concrete step taken by the Castilla y Leon alliance to initiate la reconquista by the Christian armies.
For us the small city was a perfect resting stop. We spent two days visiting, and recuperating from the Madrid marathon. ST thought nothing of the 70 km that separates the two cities, and taking the autopista we made it well within an hour. We booked at the Toledo Eurostar with lastminute.com, and paid a very reasonable € 85.00 for 2 days in a **** star hotel.
This is the view from the room.
Wow what a feast for the eyes. On the subject of feast, last night we opted to stay home to enjoy the comfort of the room, and picnicked from a delicious home made snack. We discovered artisan made chips (fried in olive oil). Forget Lays.
some of this, a bit of that, and add the -comosellama thingamagig- por favor, and don't forget the patatas fritas artesanas
And while sipping a glass of Rioja
Toledo is also known for its craftsmanship in all things steel, but specially knives of all types, swords, and armours.
For a collector, or someone like me who just likes knives, it was quite a treat, and I was lucky to received an authentic stiletto from Toledo. Hand made, with a blade of 420 stainless steel, and handle made of cuerno de torro (bull horn).
Of course in return for the gift, I parted with a penny thus ensuring that the ties of friendship between Jackie and Valentino could not be severed.
Dood where's my penny
It was funny as we amble in the very confusing sinuous streets of the old city to witness other tourists looking haggard as they tried to figure out where they were, and how to get where they wanted to go. Loved every minute of it.
We also took ST for a little city tour. It was great fun to ride around the paved streets, and around the city walls just wearing helmets and jackets.
ST was happy not to be stuck at the hotel this time
Valentino what are you doing?
... here let me try!
The large square structure is the Alcazar
A few more pics of this beautiful city, even this early in the season the roses were already in full bloom
That Valentino he's so cooool!
We found this beautiful courtyard
And this really tall tower
The arcades and the streets were so charming and well decorated
What's behind this door?
A mini street
After sampling some local delicacies
Of course we had to go see the cathedral
The weather has been ok, but not great, mostly cloudy with sunny breaks with the mercury barely reaching 19-20 C. tomorrow is forecasted to be similar even further south. Our ride to Cordoba planned for tomorrow is 340 km, with a stop in Ciudad Real...
|12-13-2008, 05:59 PM||#62|
Although we left under cloudy sky, the weather progressively cleared up and the ride was beautiful, warm and comfortable.
Of course Torro was there.
And a nice fountain to welcome us in town.
I should have known that after circling around for more than an hour amidst the labyrinth of, under construction, streets that make up the Casco of Cordoba (old town), and Jackie noticed a sign the size of a postage stamp indicating the way to our pension El Portillo, that serendipity had cast its magic spell yet one more time.
Things were just as they were suppose to be.
Thanks to ST the 340 km from Toledo were seamless, and it was just a pleasant ride. As you can see unbearable traffic.
A lot more on this stretch
The country side was beautiful, with fields of red earth where the olive threes abound. We made a couple of stops in Orgaz, and later in Ciudad Real just to admire the moorish cathedral, and indulge in a quick cup of coffee.
BTW, the further south we get the better the coffee seems to become. Rich, dark, thick, but smooth with a faint touch of acidity, what a perfect blend. I usually like a long expresso, in Spain it’s called ‘‘cafe cortado’’
We arrived in Cordoba by mid day to our sunniest, and warmest day yet.
It felt good to be in Andalucia. The streets of the city are decorated with flowers harboring the colors of Spain.
One of the most amazing things are the lemon, and orange threes lining up the avenidas. We could smell their citrus odor perfuming the warm, still air.
After a quick meal of fried Bocarones (species of anchovies), una ensalada mixa, and a pedazo de tortilla, y dos cañas fresquita, in this courtyard restaurant.
Nothing puts a smile on your face quite like a cold one on a hot day.
We headed to visit the Mezquita Catedral (the mosque cathedral).
An oxymoron by name, from the outside, the building looks like a large fortress,
easily identified as a Moor building by its typical arches, and minaret.
But then you start to notice the bells, and crucifix that annunciate the rites of Christianity.
Toledo was at a religious crossroad, the Mezquita-Cathedral is embedded as a Muslim-Christian icon.
As soon as you enter its massive portal, and witness the intricate ceramic, and mosaic designs of the inner wall, and arches that surround the orangery, you know you are in for a threat.
But the amazement really start as you step in the mosque itself. You cannot help but be humbled by its beauty, and the meticulous precision of its design. Each pair of black, and pink marble columns holding the arches are in perfect symmetry with one another.
Yet if you close your eyes, and let the place seep through your inner being, you can almost hear the hooves of arabian stallions echoing through its vaulted walls. It was magnificent.
From the Muslim side
To the Christian side
Lets try this again, from the Christian side
To the Muslim side
A view from the top
Jackie in the box
After a well deserve siesta, we ended the evening strolling through the dedale of narrow sinuous streets,
we saw this
and unknowingly made our way to the plaza de la Corredera,
just a little before 2200, where a Flamenco spectacle was just about to start.
We sat down under the stars enjoying a glass of Rioja while being entertained by the dramatic cantor of AuroraVega.
As I sipped the wine, and allowed myself to be bewitch by the melodious lingering voice, I could not help but notice how far from anything known to me this was, yet the faint smell of garlic, olive oil, and citrus ladening the air made it oh so familiar.
I closed my eyes for a moment, taking Jackie’s hand in my own, and felt like I belonged nowhere else but here.
We made our way back to El Portillo licking the Turon ice cream of a waffle cone with a huge grin painted on our face.
Thank you Cordoba for sharing your magic with us. Tomorrow glorious Sevilla awaits...
|12-14-2008, 03:39 PM||#63|
3 days in Sevilla
May 21, we have been on the road one month today, and I believe it took us at least that long to really get a rhythm going. We now feel we could go for a long time.
We have our packing unpacking routine down to a science, I now really feel comfortable piloting ST among European traffic, and we are going from beautiful landscape to amazing cities. A trip of a lifetime. For all who hesitate, don't wait. Find the time, save a bit of money, do a bit of planing and go, make your dream happen and take that trip that you've always dreamed and talked about. Regardless of your age, it is never to late or to early, just do it. It's the perfect thing to heal your soul.
Not much to report from the road, it was a nice easy comfortable ride to Seville, the landscape is mostly flat, with long curves, ST is really a great bike, and a pleasure to ride.
There is absolutely no traffic until we hit the cities
Of course Torro was there again
A closer look
Since we are on the bull topic
I have always known corridas not to be for the faint of heart, but faith of the bull set aside, what a grandiose spectacle to be witness in the birthplace of the sport. We were well advised by the security guard who was both gracious, and friendly enough, to tell us that since it was not a grand corrida, but a novillada because the matadors were still fairly young, it would not be worth it to buy the tickets from the scalpers to get a better seat. Instead he told us: get the ones at this gate, and that row, and at this time of the year don’t even be concern about sun exposure... So we ended up with great seats for €11.00. We parted with our adviser, corrida tickets in our pocket, ST parked across the street from the Plaza de Torro.
Plaza de Torro
Getting it ready before it starts
The area inside of the circle belongs to the Torro, the horseback Picadores may not enter to stab the bull, they must coax the animal out of the circle so that they may stab it in order to weaken it.
The actors are introduced
The star of the show 9 bulls were put to death during the evening, as the night progressed the bull became darker. The last one was the largest, a huge black beast.
Yup count yourself lucky to be behind that thing
The Picadores on horseback, these do the most damage to the bull, weakening it for the Matador.
The Picadores on foot, there are two each sting the bull with 3 picks
Indeed not for the faint of hearts.
The next day we went on to discover the largest city of Andalucia. More than 2000 years old, Sevilla is a cross road of Roman, Arabic, and Christian cultures. Fourth largest city of Spain in terms of density, we felt a lot more comfortable then in stuffy dirty Madrid. We were blessed by the Andaluncian sun as we went about admiring the purple threes, and other exotic palms that ornately decorate the avenues.
Here's a few pics
There was a rowing race on the Guadalquivir
It was for me the southern most European city I have had the pleasure to visit, what a feast for the eyes.
The older buildings, and other architectural treasure were extraordinary.
The cathedral in the center of the city is impressive just by its sheer size. The total area covers 11,520 square meters and new calculations, based on cubic measurements, have now pushed it in front of Saint Paul's in London and Saint Peter's in Rome, as the largest church in the world.
But for us that now have seen a few Spanish cathedrals we still have to give the lead to Santiago de Compostela.
We were flabbergasted by Plaza de España, with its intricate mosaic designs relating the history of the Christian Reconquista.
We also visited the Alcazar, a former Moorish palace with gardens lined with citrus threes laden with oranges, and edges of red and yellow Hibiscus. Truly beautiful.
We were again lucky with our sleeping arrangements, we stayed in a four stars condo resort type complex, with reservation made on lastminute.com, and paid € 165.00 for the 3 nights instead of the advertised € 330.00 a night.
The resort was 7 km from the city center in a very upscale residential suburb.
Very comfortable and quiet. We had a full kitchen, and were grateful to be able to eat a home cook meal, I made pasta with Iberic ham, and Spanish salcichon fried with garlic in olive oil, added some, Oveja vieja, cheese, freshly baked bread, salad, and a bottle of Rioja. Perfect!
As certain things happened when you travelled, I forgot my Serengeti sunglasses in the washrooms of a busy tapas bar while we were enjoying some croquetas, and cold cañas. It sucks because they were my favorite glasses but, what are you going to do? Sometimes you win some, sometimes you loose some.
So far I have forgotten one pair of gloves and a pair of shades, not too bad after a month on the road.
After Sevilla we head further south to Granada to visit the famous Alhambra.
Till then... hasta luego.
|12-14-2008, 05:52 PM||#65|
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: East TN
Thanks for sharing, I grew up in Spain (Galicia) and the pictures bring back memories. That is my dream vacation.
|12-15-2008, 05:57 AM||#67|
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Jennings, Louisiana
Amazing photos. Thanks for sharing your journey.
An '00 KLR 650, An '07 1250S, An '03 5.3L Chevy Truck + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
|12-15-2008, 07:05 AM||#68|
I will add another installment tonight...
|12-15-2008, 08:39 PM||#69|
We arrived in Granada early in the afternoon, the weather was perfect for riding and ST hardly used half a tank to cover the 267 km that separated us from Sevilla.
Again as you can see the roads were really busy.
What a beautiful ride it was.
Jackie is really starting to get the hang of taking high speed pics.
Some nice landscapes -olive threes galore-
And really cool shots.
We are now in the south and really, really enjoying it. Leaving from Amsterdam at the end of April was a bit early in the season to be riding with mesh jackets, but we are now loving it. Hopefully we will not pay for it too dearly on our way back north following the Mediterranean coast.
Our first view of Granada.
We are now on the habit of stopping just before entering our destination and plotting the address of our next dwelling in GP, so far it has not fail, really easy. Gotta love technology, might not be the same if we were traveling in rural Africa but for Europe it is as easy as it is back home.
So we found this place, it was actually a back-lane but look at the intricate design on the street.
Our hostel Costa Azul was well located in the busy university neighborhood, and just walking distance from all the sights, and a short hike up the old town. Granada felt like the youngest city we visited yet. Buzzing with the sounds of zooming scooters, and decorated with all sorts of graffitis claiming justice for this, and justice for that.
It was not until we made our way to the Albaicín, a hill located on the right bank of the river Darro containing the old city, that we felt transported to Granada’s unique world: the site of the ancient city of Elvira, so-called before the Zirid Moors renamed it Granada in the 8th century. Granada remained under Arabic rule until the end of the 15th century when Isabel de Castille and Ferdinand d’Aragon reclaimed it for the Christians.
Of course the cathedral leaves nothing to be desired.
It’s history is actually quite old, prehistoric settlements have been uncovered from the city’s underground, before the Moors it was a Celtic settlement who traded with the Phoenicians, then the Roman city of Ilibris, until the Moors gave it its current name.
The flora is definitely changing cacti abound everywhere.
With Salamanca and Compostela it is one of the 3 most coveted cities in Spain in which to study.
Yes yes trust me I know where to go.
See I told you we'd make it.
It was a pleasure to stroll through the Moroccan neighborhood, albeit touristy, the shops were colorful and selling all kinds of knickknacks from the Maghreb. Lots of cool typical eateries, it was great fun.
The canvas over the streets are there to protect you from both the sun and the rain.
La Lechera (milk bearer).
Typical southern Spain architecture.
The city was getting ready for semana sentima.
Tea vendors just outside of the cathedral.
Plaza del Torro.
Then we found this place.
And Valentino got some ham once again
At night the city was just as pretty.
Where is everybody going?
Perfect another free outdoor concert and time for cañas
Wow! Today was a full day, time to catch some ZZZZZs.
Tomorrow we visit the Alhambra.
Just a tease...
|12-16-2008, 08:47 AM||#71|
Joined: Sep 2004
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Thanks for all the great pictures! You had the opportunity to look more closely at things than I did when I was there. I barely had time to wave at lot of those places, let alone get off the bike for a closer look. I can't wait to see more!
I'd forgotten about the drip cups on the jamon.
|12-16-2008, 07:26 PM||#72|
We made a conscious effort to savor every minute, looking back on over 3 months spent on the road, it feels like we zoomed past everything, it went by so fast.
|12-16-2008, 08:28 PM||#73|
Granada is above all known for one of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture that is La Alhambra.
A series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th Century.
Part of the city wall is still standing.
This mighty compound of buildings includes the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens, it towers at the top of the city, standing at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range.
The Sierra Nevada.
You could see your enemies from far and wide.
Visiting the site was however IMHO very poorly managed, como se dice: un poco a lobirlongo.
The site opens at 0800 but we needed to stand in line for tickets as early as 0700, so we were there waiting in line with only 4 booths open for several hundred tourists waiting to get in.
The thing is we had to wait if we wanted tickets for the same day visit.
We where lucky enough to get tickets for the morning visits, only available for the first thousand, including reservations(the thing is you don't know while your waiting when that thousand if reached). So by 0845 we had our tickets, but with a scheduled time of 1300 for the Palace visit, which meant that even if we took 3 hours for visiting the grounds we would still have at least another good hour to wait.
The whole thing was a bit odd, but what can you do the further south you get, anywhere in the world, the more may I say disorganized life gets.
"Eh iss okay wee got notheen bot time" .
The gardens were magnificent.
Gotta smell the roses.
And make sure you don't get lost in the maze.
Or you just might end up here.
But I like better the view from here.
Wow! Who does your ceilings? I'd like to make an appointment.
Just let me rest 5 minutes please.
There is so much more to see.
At the end of the day the visit was well worth the wait.
And a view from this side.
And that one.
One of the courtyards, were the serfs use to live.
Last one of the city.
We were sure glad we found this place.
By now Jackie was thirsty, Dos Cañas por favor.
What a day this had been, we revised our packing strategy a bit, and sent some of the stuff we had not used yet and did not think we would at a friends place in Paris.
Jackie and Valentino are shedding some weight.
Granada is your last southern Spanish stop, tomorrow we head north along the coast to Barcelona with at least a 1000 km to go.
Its about time we got some ridding done.
Work is just the time you have to spend between rides.
The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
Valentino's 2010 Winter Olympic Run
ac_elite screwed with this post 12-18-2008 at 08:50 PM
|12-16-2008, 09:52 PM||#74|
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Aiken, SC
Subscribed! Great thread and incredible trip. Thanks for taking the time to do this, i know it is a lot of work. The pictures are incredible.
|12-18-2008, 08:42 PM||#75|
A 1000k to Barcelona
We left early from Granada wanting to avoid the parade for Semana Sentima, beautiful sunshine, perfect riding conditions.
A closer look at the windmills.
The mountainous region of southern inland Spain was just amazing, and the sun was shining, the twisties were challenging but not death defying, it was perfect.
A small village nestled on the mountain slope.
Spain's largest dam.
The plan is to only make one overnight stop along the way. A 1000 km is really not that much, we have taken much longer rides but, since we want to again avoid the superslab as much as possible.
We hugged the coast all the way to Barcelona, going through Almeria, where we stopped for breakfast. We found a lady that was making churros, and we over-indulged. I must have gotten a bit excited at the thought of breakfast because I made a slow speed U-turn, and ST answered back by laying on its side, no harm done thanks to clever Honda engineering and the well positioned wing-tips (pisses me off though, this was drop number 2).
Then we headed north to Murcia, the coast line was beautiful, this was our first glanced at the Med that we would follow completely around all the way to Sicily.
We zoomed by Alicante and Benidorm. Once you have been to California, seen the Florida beaches, flown to the Caribbean and Hawaii, Dove in the warm water of Fiji and Australia, Benidorm is just the European version of Waikiki: Outrageously expensive shop and a miniature beach overshadowed by high-rises. At least in Hawaii you can escape to the north shore.
Needless to say we did not stop long. The road along the coast was marvelous, lots of twisties and very little traffic.
Valencia, where we saw very modern architecture, very cool buildings.
Midway between Valencia and Barcelona, we stopped in Amposta. We spent the night in a road side motel, slept poorly, it was hot and there was no screens on the windows, so we got devoured by Spanish mosquitos.
Let's blow this popsicle stand.
Barcelona here we come.
I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...
Work is just the time you have to spend between rides.
The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
Valentino's 2010 Winter Olympic Run
ac_elite screwed with this post 12-19-2008 at 06:10 AM
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