South through Spain’s countryside to its southern most tip

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A lot about what’s good about motorcycle touring is captured in this picture. This is a small town somewhere southwest of Valencia and we’ve just stopped after a full day on great roads. Yours truly is having a cup of coffee, we’re having a bit of pan with world-class olive oil, and we meet the owner of the pictured motorcycle. Neither one of can speak each others language, but we communicate none the less: these are great roads!  One of the waitresses and I get into a conversation about architecture and how hard it is to get a beginning job (I don’t know how we got into this conversation) as an architect.  So, in the meantime, she was working in the cafe while looking for a job in Valencia, about 100 miles away.  For some reason, people want to strike up a conversation with motorcyclists.

We woke up on the last day in Barcelona to find that NVII had been burglarized the night before.  This time the thieves pried open the locked pannier cases and stole my battery charger (again!).  This pissed me off even more than the ship burglary.  We immediately went to a m/c store and got the panniers fixed, then went down the street and bought 5 pad locks.  I’ve just begun the implementation of the FW Bullet Proof Security System:)

We left Barcelona late that afternoon and rode south along the coast to Valencia.  Valencia is probably prettier than Barcelona, certainly the street that our hotel was on was stunning.  After unpacking and cleaning up, we spent the night wandering around the jazz/bohemian section taking pictures of old churches (what else?)  finding interesting bars to have a pop in. Next morning, we thought: who needs more cities?  We were off with a different plan in mind.

No longer willing to ride on super highways along the coast of Spain, we made a sharp right turn and went into the hills and mountains, about 100 miles inland.  Now we were on narrow two lane roads meandering through the hills, which became mountains.  Sun was out, but very ominous looking dark blue rain clouds were always just over there, so we never knew when the fun was up.

One night we stayed in a spa/hotel in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  It was kinda weird as  everyone walking around in white robes, but I liked it as its not often are we the youngest in any group.

Perhaps its a sign of “maturing,” but we’ve changed the way we wander pretty significantly.  When we were in South America for three months, we rarely had a hotel booked anywhere as we weren’t willing/able to predict where we’d end up at day’s close. This resulted in some truly horrible scrambles for a hotel room late in the day after a long ride.  Not good for one’s mood at night:)

We now book a hotel online the night before in the town we think we’re going to make.  This constitutes a major improvement in our long-term planning routine and greatly reduces the tension (but not all tension as we may have it booked, but we need to find it to use it, a sometimes baffling problem).  But it also eliminates the “pure” wandering that I love most.  We always have a place in mind to head towards and we can’t really change half way through because we’ve paid for the hotel.  Truth be told, the pluses far outweigh the negatives as the line between end of day and first night’s cocktail is a lot shorter.

Technology that helps one travel has revolutionized the experience.  Or, perhaps more accurately, technology can empower one to go over there because its easier.  The GPS on NVII is a life saver.  I can’t imagine what it was like not having a good GPS for the majority of my motorcycling life. “Mrs. Garmin” as we call her, takes 80% of the worry of finding something off the table. Need a BMW dealer?, just hit the m/c dealer button.  Gas?  Same thing.  The Starbucks location App has been a bit disappointing since there never seems to be one close by:)

Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb and the lot allow one to find really interesting places that would have been impossible to find before.  Reviews give a lot of information about what to expect.  And its easy to check prices.  We’ve had just really really special times in all the bars, restaurants, and hotels that KR first found online.

We rolled through the mountains and entered Granada late one day, a city renowned for beauty and a huge Moorish palace, the Alhambra.  Finding our hotel became a challenge as Granada is mostly made up of tiny streets/walk ways that are occupied by people, dogs, bicycles, motos, cars, and trucks all at the same time.  Have you ever tried backing up a 500 lbs m/c with a passenger and another 100 lbs of stuff?  On your tippy toes as yours truly remains vertically challenged despite nightly prayers.

We spent two hours touring Alhambra’s palaces, gardens, a grounds, which I’ll admit  was great and worth the stop, but I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of dodge.  We were on our way to Tarifa on the tip of Spain to catch a ferry to Morocco, so we decided to take the back roads southwest.

This turned out to be a spectacular choice as we rode into the mountains on back roads with small villages tucked away.  This was the best motorcycle riding we’ve had so far (#1 was this day, #2 was the stretch out of Valencia, and #3 was the Pyrenees stretch along N260) with equal parts twisty roads, spectacular mountain views, and tiny picture-book villages.

Fifteen days after starting, we rolled into the tiny seaside village of Tarifa on the southernmost tip of Spain.  Now this place is beautiful, helped by bright sunlight, the mineral-colored waters of the Straight of Gibraltar, the totally white walls of every building in town, and a miles-long sandy beach that seems to be Sail Board Central.  All of this is wrapped in a hundreds-year old fort wall with turrets and everything.  This place could be good.  So good, that we immediately decide to stay for two days to prep for crossing the Straight to Morocco.

We were shocked to be greeted by a smile and an offer to carry our luggage by Carlos, the proprietor of the tiny “Tarifa Room” hotel.  In 14 days, not one hotel service member had offered to help with our bags.  And, frankly, we haven’t received very many smiles from restaurant/bar/hotel/shop folks along the way either.  We’re not that unlikable, making me believe there is some inherent reason that many of the Spaniards we encountered are not happy campers.  I have my theories, but will leave those for another time.

It’s time to go.  It’s almost 10PM as I write this in my hotel room in the Moroccan town of Fes.  But Morocco is a whole ‘nother story, for another day.

Fred

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Touratech/Barcelona repaired our pannier locks for free.

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Street outside our hotel in the El Centro part of Vaencia

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Tapas bar/restaurant in Valencia

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Back on the road and we’re both looking forward

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Young grape vines in Spain’s smallest wine region, which is west of Valencia in the mountains

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What’s a trip without a tip-over?  I was trying to make a tight turn while going slow uphill and it didn’t quite work out.  Guy in the car down the street reluctantly came to our rescue and helped right NVII.

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Back to civilization and the famed “Alhambra,” which is reported to be the finest Moorish architecture still in existence. I was good with just this view, but KR wanted to actually see the inside. What’s the point in that?

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On the way toward the Alhambra, a modern city street:) Notice its angle. And yes, I was dragged up it by KR

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Wait , wait, its….. another old house! Wow, can we pretty please see some more

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Street scene in Granada

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I’m thinking she must be a relative as we’re both at the same level of excitement

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The Towering Tapa. Even the couple who ordered it  had to wonder at this architectural achievement

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OK, one last picture of beautiful Granada. Nice, but we spent one day too many there (two:)

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OK, NOW we’re talk’n traveling!  Just cruising along at an indicated 100mph:)

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Somewhere along N330 in the Spanish countryside

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Ohhh man, bring them on

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And on

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And on

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Communicating in the only language needed:  Motorcycle Speak!  We’re both feeling the same way about biking this day

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Karen kept poking me on the shoulder whenever she saw this sign.  Hey, braking is for wimps, real men pass.

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We finally arrive in Tarifa, a tiny little town on the very tip of Spain.   After conversing more narrow, uphill alley’s (without falling over), we arrive at the “Tarifia Room” hotel.  This was a great find, but but not because of the room..

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This is the view from the deck.  The Straight of Gibralter and the hills of Morocco.  You can see that the weather god has smiled on us finally as well.

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Super Highway in Tarifa, which by law makes all houses painted white.

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Morocco across the Straight.

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Tarifa is very very cute.  I like beach towns

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It’s also the wind surfing capital of Spain.  This beach is on the Atlantic coast

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Surfers make it look easy, but just getting in/out of the surf can be a challenge

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Just so no one thinks its all play and no work:))), my office in The Room.  Wrote first draft of my speech for Ethiopian leg

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This is how I’d like the Little Woman to think of her man:  A King among lions…

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Back to the beach scene again…

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I could get use to this.  Really.  With a little practice, I could get the hang of just hang’n and drink’n

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But no rest of the non-weary, we’re off on another ferry to Morocco.  I’m writing this post from a Moroccan Atlantic coast resort called Asilah.

Take care,

fred

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3 Responses to “South through Spain’s countryside to its southern most tip”

  1. Sounds like you are having a ball. I’m glad you got to Granada. My other favorite is Toledo near Madrid. However…you know you can go across to Portugal (sp?)which is also a neat country to explore.
    Love you guys…take care….

  2. Morocco? Why not! This is a great trip!

  3. Name (required) May 24, 2016 at 11:39 PM

    Hope you missed the rain as it has been cold, windy and rainy here in the City of Lights. Chuck and Lois