The first leg: plane, bus, ship and m/c to Barcelona

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It’s probably appropriate that our trip begins with a plea to the Undoer of Knots…

 

Nine days in and we’ve traveled less than 900 miles by motorcycle, the only mode of transportation that counts on this trip.   Yet, it does feel like we’ve been on the road for nine days as 90% of said 900 miles have been in the rain or near-rain.  This is no big deal from a riding POV, but it does lengthen the amount of time it takes to get into/out-of the four-plus layers of motorcycle clothing required.

The biggest impact of the rain is that we’ve gone through my beloved Pyrenees Mountains in the rain and/or misty clouds, forcing me to go somewhat slower than I’d like on some of Spain’s best killer roads (that’s killer in a good way), but KR doesn’t seem to mind the lower speed:)

Here’s the headlines for those of you who have a life and can’t waste it reading this post:

  • It took us a very full day to get to Southampton, UK via plane
  • Retrieved NVII from a Southampton farm only to find that all of our m/c clothes and a bunch of other stuff had been stolen on the ship over
  • We took a 24+ hour ferry ride on the Queen Mary of ferries from Portsmouth to Santander, on the northern coast of Spain.  It was by far the best ferry ride ever
  • Left Santander and went northeast to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Jaca and then through the Pyranees and finally ending up in Barcelona
  • We ran where the bulls run in Pamplona without the bulls.  This worked for me:)
  • In Jaca, we met two friends of Sam (Fred and Debra) and experienced a full-on street party celebrating a Moorish/Christian battle from Medieval times.   I’m happy to report that there were no new casualties, although a lot of folks were trying to hurt themselves via drink:) Fred and Debra were great and its nice to meet some locals
  • We’ve pretty much eaten and drunken our way through this tough duty.  Nothing better to get one warm and toasty than tapas and vino.
  • No problems with NVII as he ran beautifully.  He’s waiting patiently as I’m slowly getting back to the Rhythm of the Road feel

Our general plan is to continue southwest along the Spanish Coast toward Gibraltar, but I have no faith that we’ll keep to “Fred’s Plan” as KR hasn’t really weighed in yet. I know I owe her lots of Medieval churches, houses, castles, and all things generally ancient.

Here’s what it’s looked like so far.

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Twenty seconds after arriving in Southampton and we’re on a tour of underground wine caverns.   This is riveting stuff.

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I came to learn that Europeans take their pigs seriously.  This is in the “Pig in the Wall” pub in Southampton.  The Spanish make the English look like amateurs when it comes to pig worshiping.

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Thirty miles into the English countryside and I arrive at this shed containing one studly motorcycle.  We were both happy to see each other.

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The Queen Mary of ferries as we exit to Santander

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NVII is stuffed in its lower belly along with a couple hundred other m/c’s.  Getting on/off ferries is never my favorite thing.

One of the smarter things I've done is get an outside cabin, which was very cozy.

One of the smarter things I’ve done is get an outside cabin, which was very cozy.

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One of the two clear days we’ve had on the trip so far was at sea

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It was clear, but windy. KR pretty much stayed inside with the rest of the landlubbers

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Just an FW art shot. It’s my kind of ferry — big

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Whether on land, sea or air, KR is always looking to find the next place to stay or next thing to do. This process, called itinerary planning by normal folks, does not start for KR until the trip has atcually commenced

 

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Portsmouth is a university town.  This group of professors and students discuss the only class I did well in, “Beer Master Class”

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FW looking like an international man of mystery…on a motorcycle

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A street scene as the citizens of Pamplona start to awake

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Now they’re starting to rock as

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we tourists ogle the sights

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Remember the love of pigs I was referring to earlier?  Well, this is a whole shop dedicated to the fine swine

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Tapas as art.  KR and I had the best meal so far, one little plate at a time.

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We arrived in the northern city of Jaca on the only Friday to find an all day street party with multiple processions celebrating some battle in Medieval times between the Moors and the Christians.  These guys are the Moors

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and so are these

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Only to be greeted with a happy Christian warrior

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We were lucky to be introduced to two of Sam H’s friends, Fred and Debra Hart. Fred’s a great guy with a great name.  Deb was equally great, but without the name:)  They showed us around Jaca, including this bar that had its own special concoction of cocktails.  Of course I tried one.

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Finally, we get to go motorcycling. Here’s the Hero of this Blog

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And his traveling Adventure Woman

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Lots and lots and lots of motorcycles and scooters in Spain.  I’m getting good at parking in tight places.  This is San Sebastian.

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Now some would say, what all do you have in there?  Just the bare essentials, I assure you.  The left pannier has spares and tools, the right pannier is full of electronics and FW’s brief case.  The two black bags are our clothes – one for each of us.  The two red things are spare gas tanks.  The big box in the center is KR’s “junk drawer”.  The two round things below are more spare tools.  Like I said, just the essentials:)

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This fellow motorcyclist takes a different approach.  60 year old Harley with a 60 year old owner has nothing but a duffle bag strapped on the handlebars…

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Before we go too far, we need to make some repairs.  On the ship over to the UK, someone stole every stitch of clothing on NVII, his spare battery charger, the good tools, AND the additional driving lights and horn.  The latter item they had to cut out.  This fine gentlemen is wiring a new horn into NVII and putting a new tire on the front.  We also purchased new rain suits for both of us which were also stolen.

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Village in the Pyrenees

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For the bikers reading this post, write this down:  N260, which is a great road that winds in, along side and through the Pyrenees.

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Sun is still out, but not for long

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Clouds and rain start

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“Just” another mountain road

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We eventually make it to the Mediterranean town, Cadaques.  In addition to being one of the hardest places to find, its a cute little village that Salvador Dali had a vacation house.

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KR taking a picture of… who knows:)

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Friendly weather makes you want to stroll down the beach.

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Next day we got into Barcelona later the next day. More rain awaited

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Who says that I don’t appreciate culture? (my wife).  We spent a whole day visiting the works of Antoni Gaudi, Spain’s most famous architect.  This is the outside of a house he designed around 1900 that takes its inspiration from a dragon and the skeleton of its victims..

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The inside of the dragon bones house

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This is the work Gaudi is most famous for — the La Sagrada Familia church, which he worked on for 40 years and its still far from done. There is a team of 20+ architects working to finish it, which they promise will be by 2016, the 10oth anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Seeing this alone is worth going to Barcelona.

 

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One shot of its interior, which is impossible to capture.

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One more shot will kind of giving you the sense of the place – a parachuting in Jesus

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Street in Barcelona

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KR taking a picture of one of her favorite items…

Karen's is of two minds about getting back on the road...

Karen is of two minds about getting back on the road…

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9 Responses to “The first leg: plane, bus, ship and m/c to Barcelona”

  1. Bill Barclift May 11, 2016 at 1:46 AM

    Fred –
    Thanks for the pics, great as always….as is the commentary! Love the Basque region and Rioja region, looking forward to going back. Damn thieves on the boat, so wrong. Glad you two are having a good time. Hope to see you in SD this summer.
    Bill

  2. La luvia en Espana no esta on the plain solamente.

    Barcelona was overcast and rainy when I visited La Sagada so did not get the full impact of the awesomeness inside. So glad you made it to Cadaques, my favorite little stop last fall. Hope you got to Dali’s house- a masterpiece!

    Intrepid is but a meek substitute for your travel stamina and sense of humor. Carry on, mi amigos.

  3. Debbie Hundoble May 11, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    Hi Fred and KR,
    I always enjoy seeing your photos and reading about your adventures, sure hope you have many more sunny days and less rainy ones ! Your photos bring back wonderful memories of my vacations in Europe 🙂 Have a wonderful time ! Didn’t you get ripped on your last trip abroad also ? So wrong !!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

  4. Fred, you two are an inspiration to intrepid travelers everywhere–and to those of us bound to a desk who dream of these kinds of adventures. And your blog is great entertainment. Keep it going, and safe travels to you both.

    CB

  5. You strolled the Pamplona streets “without the bulls.” This was a very wise choice. Both my elder son and I did run with the bulls (40 years apart) and it is as crazy and dangerous as you would imagine.
    Special thanks for sharing the pics of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona. We loved his architecture and the city as well.
    Can’t believe that KR does your trip planning on route! But, whatever works…
    Loved your “international man of mystery” photo. The perfect caption for the shot.

  6. Thanks for sharing the scenes from Barcelona. Best of luck on the next leg. Safe journey.

  7. W Fred & Debra Hart May 13, 2016 at 1:10 AM

    We particularly enjoyed the opportunity to share Jaca with you during one of its most elaborate celebrations! Sorry for all the rain in the Pyrenees. Making it to Cadaques via N-260 (even finding Cadaques) proves your MC expertise and Karen’s bravery. Safe travels! W Fred & Debra

  8. Holy shit Fred!!! I thoroughly enjoy your updates, but every time I read one I am totally disgusted with the number of things that are stolen off your motorcycle. For the price of lights paners, horns tools, parts—– would they be cheaper to put the damn bike in a box with a lock on the outside. Think of the time you would save. Obviously, we have the advantage of driving around the world in an expedition truck with double locks on every door. All of our lights are locked on. Any screw that can be easily removed is filled with JB Weld. Anything else that needs to be secured securely has a stainless steel quarter inch cable and a padlock. Are we paranoid? Yeah! But on the other hand we very seldom get ripped off anymore. Tip= put the bike in a box and lock it up. Pay somebody to stand there with a machine gun and guard it. Think of the time and aggravation and money you would save? Humorously and sincerely yours, Gary