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Old 09-27-2013, 01:54 AM   #31
panzerrocket
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Another nice european rr from you - thanks.
Lovely area, I spent a lot of time there.
Waiting for the next installment...
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:10 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by panzerrocket View Post
Another nice european rr from you - thanks.
Lovely area, I spent a lot of time there.
Waiting for the next installment...

hey thanks!
part two of day 6 coming up
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:37 AM   #33
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day 6, part two....
town of Jaca, Spain

So, after cleaning up a bit & getting some exploring clothes on we set off for the old town of Jaca & its citadel.
Inmate Jugama had stopped here in his trip report "surrounding the Pyrenees in 9 days" and I thought it looked pretty cool.. so here we are!

The hotel real is pretty close to the town center, just across the street & up the stairs and voila!



We walked over to the citadel and had a look around.





You can only enter with a tour, so we signed up for the next one & were convinced to see the miniatures museum as well. We had time to kill, so that was OK, but if I had to do it again, I'd probably give the miniatures a miss.

They had Mary Poppins into this one... sneaky!



and these ones were made all of paper...



more patience than I possess!

We met our guide near the gate at the appointed time, and we were the only ones in the last tour of the day. The guide was cool, a native of Jaca, she told us when she was in school she used to come play at the citadel with school chums whose parents were stationed here.

She explained the fortress was built in the "Italian style" with bastions that served as mutual defense, and a dry moat. We would see a similar layout later in the trip when we stayed at the Paradore in Cardona.. but that story is for later





There were deer in the moat "to keep the grass trimmed"... good plan!



Seems to me I would have built the fort up there!



The entrance to the magazine is just off to the left. It was quite small, and had a vented roof in case of explosion. Also interesting was the use of limestone to keep temperature and humidity stable in the magazine. Very crafty the Italian engineers of the 16th century.



Entrance to the chapel (I know.. not a church guy but...)



Small, but very nice chapel with orthodox icons on either side of the alter. They were gifts to the regiment that serves here from the people of Bosnia.



Deer doing their thing! I need some of them at home..... ah, never to cut grass again



Tour completed & full of knowledge about forts we head into town for a cold beer



Spotted this: Spanish inquisition on dirt! There's no escape!



After a couple of beers on the sidewalk, watching the town come to life, we head back over to Real for dinner.
It has been about 250 km today.

We met a couple of new people & shared stories.

We rode famous Tour de France passes.

We had a blast!

More to come!



Thanks for reading.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:21 AM   #34
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Nice report!
I'm visiting it every now and then, and comparing with our trip, in the same part of the world, last July.
I agree with you on most points. Nice roads, scenery and peolple. But I had no problems with the language
Waiting for more...

I am thinking of the Alps for next summer, and getting some inspiration from your 2012 Europe Tour...
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:20 AM   #35
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day 7!

We awake to... wait for it.... another beautiful, sunny day in Spain!
Our original plan was to continue west, with another couple of trips across the Pyrenees...



However Saturday night we got an email from our friends (who were also riding Spain) that they would be staying in Sort... So, after a bit of discussion we decided it might be fun to catch up with them, and we set the GPS for Sort.

Dopey (the Garmin) has been told to avoid highways, tolls, dirt roads, etc. For the most part, it has done OK. Occasionally it will tell us to take an exit only to immediately get back on the highway... I guess saving 10m of travel, in dopey's world, is a win.... When I set course for Sort, I was hoping for more than just the N 260... in this case the GPS seemed worth its weight in gold! We are taken down the A1205 to the Hu 300 & 301, and then finally placed on motorcycle twisty nirvana (at least we think so) the A1604! This ends up being about 50 km of fantastic twisties with zero traffic save for the occasional bicycle.

We stop along the way for some pictures:
michelle's reaction when she realizes I am just stopping for a break & not taking her up a dirt road



We are in the Sierra de Guara, wiki info HERE

Spectacular





Just so MUCH of this:



and THIS



the photos barely capture the sense of it all



our "matched set"



and a "team" picture... as my friend Kevin says "I don't know what she sees in you dood" (not sure I do either, but I am very glad of it)



All good things must come to an end, and so it is with the A 1604 as it meets the N 260. A quick stop for outfit adjustment.



Girl in tow? Check.



Amazing rock formations.. I should have brought a geologist along to explain it all. To me it looks a bit like sedimentary rock... but what do I know?



The N260, smooth as a baby's bum & full of fast sweepers. Really getting the old GS to boogie, and she's pretty good at it.



We decide it is getting close enough to lunchtime so we stop. There's a pile of bikes in the lot, and the only Guzzi I would see on the trip.



After lunch check list: wallet? check. girl in tow? check. All's well then.



It has been a bug-killing kind of day



Looking a bit like the western USA







I think next time I want to take the old road around & see where it goes! Michelle said she'd wait for me and let me go first



We arrive in Sort, and I check my mail to see if there's an indication where our friends are. Message reads: "it's 12:30, where are you? We are on our way to Figueres"...... oh well. Bit of miscommunication, no biggie.

We decide on Hotel les Brases on the main street. They were half the price of the place we had lunch at earlier in the trip, and even had a locked garage for the bikes! Perfect!

So, seeing as it is 5:00... and no chance of food for 3 hours, we get changed and walk into town for a beer. We pull up a seat on the roadside just as a mob of French sporty-bikers roll in. They all dismount, order up some snacks & beers and set to giving each other good-natured stick about the day's ride. Some things are the same the world over

Of course, just like everywhere the discussion turns to lean angle, and the comparison of chicken strips (strips de poulet?) ensues



Turns out the guy on the Bandit 1200 (with a rather large pillion) had done the best. Bravo sir!
And then, as quick as they had arrived, they are gone... off home to France.



Time rolls on, and we head back for dinner at the hotel. They bring out a plate of cheese & sausage along with a massive salad! They also have toasted bread with tomato and garlic. Sadly we didn't realize these are basically meant as "fix your own bruschetta". Rub the garlic clove on the bread, and then rub it with the ripe tomato....

Next time....



In the end, about 260 km or so for the day.. brilliant roads, perfect weather!
What could be better?

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Old 09-29-2013, 03:48 PM   #36
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Thank you for the nice Ride Report.

Quote:
chicken strips (strips de poulet?)
In fact, chicken strips translates in French as "bandes de peur" which means literally "Fear strips".

"poulet" is also slang for "cop". So don't talk about your "bandes de poulet" to a French gendarme as it may create an "interesting" situation !
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:14 PM   #37
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good RR thanks for the nice pics
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:33 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olirider View Post
Thank you for the nice Ride Report.
thanks for reading!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olirider View Post
In fact, chicken strips translates in French as "bandes de peur" which means literally "Fear strips".
merci!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olirider View Post
"poulet" is also slang for "cop". So don't talk about your "bandes de poulet" to a French gendarme as it may create an "interesting" situation !
^ now that is some good inside information!!

you come from "the land of stinky cheeses".... we were on les route des fromages for a while...
Michelle & I love cheese
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:13 PM   #39
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Cant wait for the next day!


I have a feeling that day 8 Is going to be my favorite!!!!!!
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:41 PM   #40
Backcountryboy
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Great report. Makes me want to ride Spain with a taste of France thrown in.
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:53 PM   #41
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Nice

Looks like great weather. Lucky You. Nice Pics. Thanks.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:07 AM   #42
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Day 8,,, Monday, September 16th
I think I'll have to do this day in two parts, the ride & the destination.

So, a bit of back-story... September 16th is my birthday and for the past three years, Michelle & I have managed to be away on my birthday. Michelle: "What do you want for your birthday this year?" Me: "a nice dinner somewhere in Europe will do." Not too hard to please.....

Since we have changed the route & headed back to Sort, we really don't have a plan today. Actually I should say I don't have a plan today... apparently the girl has been scheming.

Looking outside it is yet again chamber of commerce weather in Spain, with clear skies and the promise of a sunny day.



While Michelle is in the shower doing the fluff & buff, I run down & fetch the bikes from the garage. Yes, I'm good that way



We decide to head east on the N260. It's a bit cooler today in the shadow of the mountains, but still pleasant.



The matched pair at rest.





We continue down the N 260 until we near the C16. At this point we need to stop & reevaluate the route plan for the day. Michelle seems to be quite interested in the map & some info from her phone...



Done with the map? see Kevin... my fingers didn't catch fire when I touched a paper map



We set off east on N 152 until we reach Ripoll.
Much of this ensues:









At that point we reevaluate again. Michelle, out of the blue, says "is Cardona far from here?" Hmm.. no, not far. In fact the roads look nice. We will go that way:



Michelle: Can you find "Paradore de Cardona" on dopey? Sure... its here. Michelle: OK, let me check this app & voila... room booked. Smart phone tech is pretty amazing....

Route programmed and we're off on C26 headed west. Amazing road, not too many pics, but there is some video (that will come later). Past Berga we swing onto B420 south, and as we come around a corner.....



Perched on a hilltop is a proper castle!



Of course there's a nice twisty climb up to it as well... icing on the cake! We make it to the car park, and Michelle goes up to reception to check in. I go for a wander to snap a few pics.



Looking back to where we came in from



Looking down on the town of Cardona with the salt mines just visible far left



Plenty of renovation going on. I'd imagine renovation is a full time job here.



The bus in the foreground gives you an idea of how massive the structure is.



The call comes from Michelle: "room secured, you can bring the bikes up"
So, being good that way, I fire up Michelle's bike & run it up to the entrance to be unloaded, and go back & get mine.

Bikes happily tucked away for the evening.



This may turn out to be the nicest place these two GS's have ever spent the night! It is the nicest place this guy has ever spent the night!



The day's riding was about 250 km again. Not a big day, but some very cool roads. We are becoming spoiled by Spain as every day is sunny, and every road is perfect. I really love riding here!

the route:



coming next: details on the Paradore (a report in itself).
thanks for reading.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:26 AM   #43
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Really enjoying this RR!
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Old 09-30-2013, 01:14 PM   #44
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thanks for all the kind comments!

OK, day 8 continues.....


day 8 / part 2

So when we were in Jaca we learned a little bit about "star forts" or trace italienne

Quote:
A star fort, or trace italienne, is a fortification in the style that evolved during the age of gunpowder, when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield, and was first seen in the mid-15th century in Italy.

courtesy Wiki

The castle of Cardona seems to be a development of this style of fortification, even though it was initially constructed in 886.

Quote:

The Castle of Cardona (Spanish: Castillo de Cardona; Catalan: Castell de Cardona) is arguably the most important medieval fortress in the Principality of Catalonia. It is situated on a hill overlooking the river valley of the Cardener and the town of Cardona.

The fortress was initially constructed by Wilfred the Hairy in 886. It is in both the Romanesque and Gothic styles, and includes the so-called Sala Dorada and Sala dels Entresols. During the 14th century, the dukes of Cardona came from the most important family of the Crown of Aragon, which was second only to the royal house. Because of this, they were called kings without crowns, as they had extensive territories in Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia, and dynastic ties with Castile, Portugal, Sicily, and Naples. This presumably increased the importance of the castle.

In 1714, even after a Bourbon siege destroyed a good part of the castle's walls, the garrison was one of the last to surrender to the Bourbon troops which supported Philip V. As the Bourbons and their heirs would go on to suppress Catalonian national identity, the fort has become significant to Catalonian nationalism.

Today, the castle's main jewel is the torre de la minyona (from the 11th century) a tower which measures 15 metres in height and 10 metres in diameter. Additionally, there is the romanesque Church of Sant Vicen de Cardona adjacent to the fort. The fort is currently used as a parador, a state-run luxury hotel.

courtesy Wiki

I wonder what "Wilfred the Hairy" was like???

The aerial shot shows it quite well:



Another aerial shot shows just how massive the fortification is:



Once the bikes are parked I head over to the reception area... this place is way cool! As I go to grab the panniers to start humping them to the room, I am stopped by the staff... "they will be delivered, this way sir"

me: "what room are we in?" Michelle "203...." we get off elevator and there's 201, 202 and "the suite" SWEET!

Our room:



As we sling the bags in room service arrives with a bottle of Cava and some fresh fruit. My baby knows how to birthday PARTY!

Salud!



We had some of these in with the fresh fruit.. no idea what they were, pretty tasty. Any guesses?



Princess Placek on her perch



We go for a wander... the grounds are massive





Michelle is "16th century size"



Me, on the other hand, needs to remember to duck...



View from the tower:





Headed down to walk around





Quick shot of the road up... great curves!



A glamor shot for good measure



Panorama from the tower. No sneaking up on this place.



Sunset closing in:



Eight PM rolls around it's time to head in for dinner. Massive dining hall!



A selection of local cheeses to start and then the "roast shoulder of kid" for a main course! Amazing



All washed down with a lovely red...



A completely surprising and unforgettable birthday celebration. I think Michelle is worried she has no encore... I was totally blown away.

Not many days of riding left now sadly...
Thanks for reading
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:07 AM   #45
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day 9... almost done.

Surprised I am waking up refreshed & well rested (instead of hung over & hurting) we get cleaned up & packed.
Really nice breakfast in the dining hall gets us started, and then back to the room to grab our bags.

it occurs to me this is probably the NICEST place these panniers have ever stayed (certainly the nicest place I have ever stayed) so I snap a pic for the guys at IMT



Next step is to whip the bikes down from their parking spot to the main parking lot. Bit of a downhill hairpin right on cobblestones, so being a "good guy" I ferry both bikes down seems the least I can do after a fantastic birthday surprise!



Once we have everything buttoned up & stowed we are off! No particular destination in mind really, but knowing that we need to bring the bikes back tomorrow, we decide to see if we can find some twisty roads. First order of business is to support Marquez & Pedrosa, so a stop at the Repsol near Santpedor.



We get on C25 heading northeast, but this seems to be too much of a highway for our mood, so we jump off to do a little "recalculating" near Aviny.

Town hall or hotel? I never determined... but I thought it looked cool enough for a photo.



Michelle went to fetch some water.. probably wondering where I had wandered off to.



After a quick reprogram of dopey, we find B431 much more to our liking:





When we reach Prats de Llu蓷n鋊 B431 ends and we jump on C154. Sadly that drops us onto the C16 near Vic far too soon, and we are back on the highway. Just when it is looking like it's time to give dopey a slap, we are back off the highway and on to C26 heading east. This was the same highway we took yesterday heading towards Cardona!

We stop where the highway crosses a large reservoir and snap a few pics. There's a troop of kayaks out in the lake, but they managed to hide from the cameras by staying under the cliffs.



Still the matched set



Just after Borred we angle right on to BP4654. Never been on a "BP" road.... I really need to figure out what the prefix means... I think Michelle probably already knows... BP = bicycle path and she tells me so through the comm set.

It's actually a really nice bit of road, but not one to go fast on... just a good road to dawdle. We stop near Alpens for a bit of water, and a few more snaps.

All-conquering Michelle & her mighty GS 700!



... and a nice shot for friends & family



Greg... still a bit bemused over the whole birthday thing



Happy? very happy!



Like most of the roads today, the bike path finally ends, too soon, and we are greeted with highway once again. We decide at this point to head towards Olot figuring we'll be able to find a place to stay the night that won't be too far (or too close) to Barcelona.

Stopping to renew our team Repsol Honda sponsorship obligations...



I pull out the smart phone & fire up the Michelin Guide... Hotel Riu Olot is right around the corner, has availability, and isn't crazy expensive... and the pics on the app make it look nice too.

Off we go!

The view from our room:



As the sun begins to set we clean up & walk to the old part of town for dinner.



For today we had a somewhat short day, maybe only 200 km total. But the pace was mellow, the roads twisty & uninhabited, and of course the company was the best!



Tomorrow we have to deliver the bikes back to Barcelona... and our holiday will be all but over
However.... we are on the edge of
El Parque Natural de la Zona Volc嫕ica and looking at the map... I think we can easily entertain ourselves...

One more installment to come. Thanks for reading...







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