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Old 07-22-2011, 10:21 AM   #1
Sylvia Stuurman OP
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To Aragon in Spain

In 2010, we decided at the last moment to go to Aragon in Spain: our first idea was to go to the area of Dresden in Germany, but it had been raining over there for months, and it would not stop: Spain it would be.


The idea was to take it easy: I *have* to take it easy after my motorcycle accident. "Easy" meaning: shorter stretches, more rests than what I was accustomed to.
Anyway: any trip starts at home. We never take the highway: the ride itself is the holiday.
That's easy to say if you live in such a beautiful area as we do, in the "Hill country" of the Netherlands, in the south of Limburg.


First the Belgium Ardennes, with what I always call "Spa-houses", though I don't know if it's really the town of Spa that these kind of houses belong to.


This is how we traveled: I rode my Tenere, with only a tank bag, and Ernst rode his SuperTenere, with cases and an Ortlieb and a tankbag and a rucksack. And a bottle of water, of course.


Here, we enter Germany.


The only legal way to ride off-road in Germany is, I think, when there is work to be done on the road...


and after many very likeable small roads, we found ourselves in the hassle of Saarbrücken. One of the Saarbrückeners painted his house like this.


It was late when we reached the village of Abreschviller in France, at the foot of the Col du Donon, where we found this small hotel, named "Col du Donon". In France, you can still find such gems: a small familyrun hotel, consisting of a few rooms above a bar, very cheap, without any luxury. The best ;-)

More foto's on http://www.sylviastuurman.nl/stories/aragon/dag1/ (in Dutch)
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Sylvia Stuurman screwed with this post 07-23-2011 at 02:43 AM
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:49 AM   #2
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:09 PM   #3
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The Col du Donon marks the beginning of what is called les Vosges in French, and de Vogezen in Dutch, but for which I don't know the Engelish name...
It's a region of relatively low mountains and very pretty villages, and beautiful motorcycle roads.


You ride up through the woods to the Col du Donon.


Riding down, we encounter many more motorcycle riders.


We ride east, on typical "Vosges"-roads.


We tried a cut-off, and I had to give up when the gravel turned far more loose, and the road got steeper, with hairpins. Yes I know, I am a coward!


This monument marks a very sad spot: the place of Le Struthof, a concentration camp where both Jews and Roma (gypsies) found a terrible end, after having served as guinea pigs for the Nazi's.
I think the monument is beautiful: a sharp object, jamming itself into history.


The Vosges is a region of fine roads...


and of picturesque French villages.


The white car drove in front of us, when suddenly he backed up, to a driveway at the opposite side.
He had spotted the enormous truck, which drove down with an incredible speed, and would never have been able to stop in time for the white car: the driver of the white car was a smart one!


After that incident, we had the road for ourselves, but you can still see the white car behind me.


We took small roads, and sometimes, a road ended. Such a place is, of course, a fine spot for a picknick-lunch.


This is Saintes-Maries aux Mines, a colourfull old mining town.


The Col de la Schlucht, always full of motorcycle riders. The name of this Col tells it all: this region has always been fought over by Germany and France. The language is French now, but many places have very German names.


The "route des Cretes" takes you over the crests of the mountains. It's a splendid route, but not during holiday times: there were cars parked along the road everywhere, and people walking and picking berries. The Route des Cretes is to be done when empty, so you can enjoy the corners to the fullest.
This time, we go off it, to a smaller road.


Then you ride down, hairpin after hairpin.

But eventually, we ride out of the Vosges, and we enter the Jura. The Jura is slightly higher, and wider than the Vosges.


This farm is typical of the Jura: very big, with a low roof.


And this road is typical of the Jura: you ride through wide open grasslands. Cows give very good milk here!


The motorcycles and we got a rest at the Doubs, a peaceful river, between France and Switzerland.


After having crossed the river, we are in Switzerland.


We both have this idea of not wanting to sleep in Switzerland. Maybe it hasd something to do with the fact that the only hotel which refused us, ever (in pouring rain), was in Switzerland. Maybe it has just something to do with the fact that we like France. However, we try to ride back to France.
Though I must admit that Switzerland is a very pretty country.


This is a dramatic way to leave a country: when you ride out of this tunnel, you are in France.


Finding a place to sleep was not easy. This hotel was fully booked, and some others as well.


This place was, unfortunately, only a restaurant.


This was a hotel in an abby, which was closed.


But in the end, we found a place, in the French Jura, where they know what good food is...

More pictures of this day on http://www.sylviastuurman.nl/stories/aragon/dag2/
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:51 PM   #4
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:37 PM   #5
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Great riding roads. Great pics.
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Old 07-23-2011, 02:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvia Stuurman
We tried a cut-off, and I had to give up when the gravel turned far more loose, and the road got steeper, with hairpins. Yes I know, I am a coward!

Well it was a bit let's say steep-ish, so i forgive you

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Old 07-23-2011, 03:13 AM   #7
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Alps


At breakfast, we got into a conversation with the two Scooter-riders. They were from Germany. He had a Bandit 1200, and his wife did not have a license for a motorbike, so she had a scooter.
And for that reason, he had decided to buy a scooter too, to go on holiday together. I like that very much!


And on we ride, through the Jura.


I love these roads, especially after we have passed all cars!


We arrive in St Claude, where we have been before.
It's a strange town, St Claude: it strikes me as very sad. We once slept there in what is maybe the worst hotel we found ever, and it was almost impossible to find something to eat in the evening: everything was closed, run-down.
The strange thing is: it's a very beautiful town, built at both sides of a ravine with a river running through. It is as though its inhabitants have given up on trying to make it a prosperous town.


The D124 is very quiet and very pleasant.


The SuperTenere just had to pose next to this Porsche tractor.


When we pause, this Harleyrider, from the Netherlands, joins us. He is camping here, with wife and kids, and is enjoying his bike now and then.
I am very lucky to be able to ride with Ernst, both on a bike!

At this point, the obvious way to go would be to the south-west: that is where Spain is.
But the trouble with France is that it is very big, and, though many parts are extremely beautiful, there are also many very boring long and straight and crowded roads.
So, we decide to go to the south-east instead: to the Alps. A detour it will be.
When you think about it, every trip is a detour: nothing wrong with a detour!


After some boring roads, we enter the Haute-Savoie: we are in the Alps.


This is a rare view: Montblanc, without clouds!


After Beaufort, we ride onto the Cormet de Roselend, one of my favorite Alp-passes. We are accompanied by this motorcycle rider. I admire him: we have bikes with much more ground clearance, and we like corners, but he was able to keep riding behind us!


The Barrage de Roselend has an almost unreal colour.


We climb higher and higher, and the scenery gets wilder and barer. Here, you see that the Cormet de Roselend is a favourite during bicycle-races as well.


This is for me the best symbol of the Cormet de Roselend: bare, lonely, impressive.


We have to stop for road works, so we are able to talk to our fellow-motorcycle rider.
He is from Italy, and "his bike and he are very old", he says. And he enjoyed riding together as much as we did.


On top of the Col, in a valley, lies a camping ground plus hotel: Auberge de la Nova.
We decide to stay there: nothing better than a night high in the Alps, in the shadow of the MontBlanc!


When dinner is served, you eat at long tables. We sit next to a couple from St Etienne, and are able to practice our French.
I remember the time when many restaurants in Paris were like that: you just sat next to other guests, at long tables, and you ate what was prepared, without a menu list. Maybe this is the best way to eat in a restaurant, I think. It was a very enjoyable meal.

At night, we make an evening stroll, and see Ravens, a Golden Eagle, and the white of the MontBlanc against the black of the night.
Perfect!

More photo's on http://www.sylviastuurman.nl/stories/aragon/dag3/
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Old 07-23-2011, 04:18 AM   #8
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Excellent! More...
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Old 07-23-2011, 05:18 AM   #9
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Thank you all!
And yes, there is more to come ;-)
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Old 07-23-2011, 05:43 AM   #10
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The following morning, the weather looked fine. It was just a little bit cloudy.
We followed the Cormet de Roselend to the south.


And then we got stuck: A crane had fallen down, and was being haled up. Impossible to pass, even with a motorbike.
We were lucky to be able to turn: the cars arriving just had to wait, for hours at least...


But to the nord, the weather turned. There was such heavy mist on the Cornet de Roselend that I had to ride without my glasses, to be able to see *any*thing.
Here, we are on the D925 to Albertville, in heavy rain...
This is, I think, the only time that I was glad to have a truck in front of me: his lights were very visible, and he drove fast. I could just focus my eyes on those red lights...


Eventually, we climbed the Col de Télegraphe. It was slightly drier, and the clouds were picturesque.


We ate, and tried to dry our stuff, on top of the col. Here, the view is completely clouded by mist.


But an hour later, the sun was shining. On the road again!


Our next col was the Galibier. A favourite of many motorcycle riders.


Each col in the Alps has its own characteristics. The Galibier has these magnificent mountians as a view: loose black gravel and sharp points.


On other mountains, the gravel is lightgray.


Near the top, you can choose between a tunnel and a narrow road. Of course, we took the narrow road. Difficult for someone with fear-of-heights, as I have, but very, very beautiful.


The south-side of the Col du Galibier is worthwhile as well.


We now rode in big sweeps along the D1091 to the west.


with great views along the way.


The Col d'Ornon, to the south, marked the end of the "Big Alps": we are now in the smaller Alps.


"Smaller" Alps means: more trees, less cars and motorcycles, just as many corners, and great views.


This is Mont Aiguille, a strangely formed rock in the Vercors.


We climb the Col de Menee, with these orange rocks, high above us.


In les Nonieres, we find a hotel, with great food. These were our Alps-days: tomorrow we will leave them.

More photo's on http://www.sylviastuurman.nl/stories/aragon/dag4/
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:49 AM   #11
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When we left the following morning, to the south, we saw the same orange rocks. They are the Cirque d'Archian.


The D61a crossed a small river. I got a sliding back wheel: too much gas!


The D61 is magnificent: it goes on and on, alongside a river. Along with the river, you descend slowly.
And the river made corners, everywhere.


This is the Gorge of the Eygues, where we saw our first Griffon Vultures.


To get into Spain from the Alps, you have to cross the Rhone, at some point.
The Rhone is a big river, and has made a big vast plain. But there is no alternative: we have to cross it, which means no corners for a long time.
No corners: instead, just wind and wine...


And this is the river that ate away our corners...


But now, we are in the Cevennes, and corners are plentiful. This is the D907, from Anduze.


After a while, the D907 gets smaller.


And then we take a side-road that is even smaller: the Col de Salides.


We ride through the Parc National des Causses des Cevennes, and you can look over the tops of them mountains.


The D151 passes through strange landscapes, with prickly plants and prickly rocks.


The D142 feels like "my" road: empty, and one fast corner after another. It feels like the road gives me energy, I love it!


There is heavy traffic on the D908, but after a while everyone is home, it seems, and the road turns out beautiful.


After crossing through the whole of St Pons de Thomieres, we find a hotel just outside the town, Les Bergeries de Pondérach.
It is housed in an old wine-makery, and we get a big old room, with very high ceilings and an open fire.
We eat outside, and our host appears to be very charming. The food is delicious!
Our host (you can see him in the background) wants to sell the place, because he wants to retire. If anyone thinks of a life as a hotel-owner: this is a great place, along a great road...
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:38 AM   #12
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i love france....the good thing is i live close to the border.....we are always in alsave, vosges on the road...i was at this places you posted here...its very nice!

vive la france! and thanks for the pics
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:41 AM   #13
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This is the courtyard of the hotel Les bergeries de Ponderach, in St Pons de Thomieres. You eat (dinner and breakfast) at the back. Our room is behind the door to the right. A great place!


The hotel is along the D907, which we ride to the south. It's a perfect motorcycle road.
Here, in the south of France, the weather is perfect as well! This is how you always hope your vacation will look like. It's like, with every breath you take, you get healthier and happier.


We have the strange sensation of riding along, for a while, and crossing,, here, the Canal du Midi.
In the Netherlands, we have many canals of course, ans I associate canals with flat countryside. Here, the canal runs through hills. Sometimes the canal is dug deep into a hill, sometimes, the canal runs *over* a bridge, which you ride under. Very strange indeed!


Then we choose de D613, and, when we sit for a pause, an enormous group of motorcycle riders comes along. They are right to have chosen this road: this is motorcycle riding at its best.


We ride to the south, along smaller and smaller roads.


Sometimes we come through a village, which has been built for horses and donkeys; not for campervans...


We find a restaurant near Cubières sur Cinoble, Le Vieux Moulin, where you eat outside, in a big party tent.


We take our time to eat there.
Here, in the south of France, you feel the vicinity of Spain: the food and the language here are Catalan, and the time at which lunch is served is late. In Spain, you eat lunch between 14:00 and 16:00, and over here, it's about between 13:00 and 15:00.
The rythm of having your main course in the form of lunch, late, and eating some tapas or a light dinner after 22:00 at night, is really compatible with a vacation on motorbike: you enjoy a real siesta during the day, and can then ride until late in the evening, find a place to sleep, and eat you dinner.
It ads to the sense of freedom, and here, in the south of France, we begin to feel that freedom.


We ride through the Gorges de Galamus.


Very narrow, and whatch out for people walking or on skates!


We enter the Pyrenees, which are still low here. This mural is in Caramany.


We see the Orgues de Ille sur Têt from far. It's not clearly visible, unfortunately, but it's a sort of Mini-Bryce, and you can see a glimpse of it riding along the D21.


After the D21 we take the D618, and it's one tight corner after another, for hours. The corners are tight, and blind, and the road is narrow. It's beautiful, but also very, very tiring. I'm beginning to feel exhausted.


But in the end, we arrive at Amélie-les-Bains, and turn to the right, onto the Col d'Ares.
The road is wider, and we climb: this road will cross the Pyrenees, into Spain. It's as though I can breath again.


And then we are in Spain!


We get lost in Ripoll, where the main street has been closed, but we don't find a hotel there.


When we are on the C26, the sun is setting: the colours deepen.


We haven't seen any village or house for a long time, when I spot a Refugio. Not knowing what kind of accomodation they have, I ask the girl sitting outside, whether she has a room for two people. "No problemo", she says.
I also ask whether we can eat here. "No problemo" as well.
So we unpack, and start carrying our luggage to the backside of the building, where the room should be.
It turns out not to be a room for two, but three areas with bunk-beds, in rooms where you can't stand-up, and without any windows...

We are too tired to pack again, and decide to stay here. At least we will be able to eat.

But when we return to the front of the building, the girl has disappeared, and everything is closed, including the toilets....


So our dinner is consumed in the kitchen: the only place where you can stand upright. Dinner consists of dry biscuits and water.

In the end, it's not so bad: it's very, very quiet, we are the only guests, and it's almost as we will be camping.

More photo's on http://www.sylviastuurman.nl/stories/aragon/dag6/
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Old 07-24-2011, 04:10 AM   #14
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Very very nice, maybe I should reconsider Transfargasan.....
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Old 07-24-2011, 04:43 AM   #15
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