Friday, 22 July 2011

Riding North Through Spain


Paul and I are now well into riding back through Spain, this time northbound, heading back home. We are about halfway and enjoying our ride as much as we did on the outward leg.

This is the white mountain town of Casares, which is not too far from my house in Sotogrande. It is amazing the way the houses are perched on the hillside. The houses have small windows and are white to reflect the sun to keep the temperature low inside. There is no air-conditioning here!....








































The road from Casares to Ronda was magnificent and as good to ride as any we have seen on our trip. Fast bends, fast straights, slow hairpin bends and glorious views – this road had them all.

Even though it is only a hundred miles or so from Sotogrande, I have never been to Ronda before and I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised as it seemed busy with many interesting places to go see. They would have to wait for another day as Paul and I didn’t have time to explore much when we went through, but we did stop to have a look at the dramatic bridge that crosses the canyon that runs through the town. Here we parked the bikes just at the edge of the bridge. In Spain it seems you can park a motorbike just about anywhere....


























The bridge itself. Not a great photo due to the harsh sunlight and the deep shadows, but just look at the scale of this stone bridge. Check out the person standing on the bridge, top left, so get an idea of the height of the bridge. The bridge is 390 feet tall, or 120m. Construction started in 1751 and wait for it... took 42 years to complete! To build something as dramatic as this must have drawn people from miles around just to see what back then, would have been a wonder to behold....


























A horse drawn carriage, no doubt carrying tourists, is driven over the bridge....
















We ended the day staying in another Parador, this time in Antequera. We left early to get as far as we could in the cool of the morning and were rewarded with a splendid sunrise....



















I forgot to mention something that happened on the journey south through Spain. One morning, we left our hotel very early and riding through the mountains we were stopped by the “Guardia Civil” who are the federal military-status police force. Amongst many other areas, they are responsible for all highway patrol matters and often make random stops of vehicles to check all the paperwork is in order. Two surprising things happened. First, the two Guardia Civil guys saluted us as we stopped our bikes. I have heard they did this and it was good to see it. Then after checking our papers (in Spain you are required to carry all vehicle papers, insurance details etc) and seeing all was in order, they chatted to us for a while in good English and advised the bike-to-bike radios we were using are illegal in Spain. We had no idea about this and they asked Paul to unplug his before we rode off. It seemed to us that maybe there was a possibility they were wrong and using the radio is no more distracting than speaking to another person, say, in the same car you are driving. I will try to find out more and post what I discover.

Paul admiring the view of a mist covered mountain....


























Even in a foreign language, don’t you just love signs like this?....





















Talking of foreign languages, there was one translation on a menu that made us laugh.  At one restaurant, we were given an English version of the menu. At the beginning of each section of the menu was a food-related quote, one of which was the following by Quevedo.... “What are you thinking, my friend, what do you think about me? For you stuff me with turkeys and hens, dessert in suppositories, purgatives and medicines”.  Something was not quite right with the translation, I think, but it did make us laugh!

We stopped at a place called Guadalope for something to eat and sat in the town square, opposite the monastery. The huge carvings in the sandstone external walls were remarkable and ornate....


























The carving is exquisite and measures about five feet by four....


























It was very dark inside the monastery so taking hand-held pictures was very challenging. This is of the wall above the altar....






















Returning to the bikes which we had no option to park in the sun, this is what greeted us. It was a little warm!....





















Occasionally when riding along, you see something that you cannot understand what it is. Paul and I saw the top of this structure and had to go check it out. It is an amazing new cantilevered bridge being constructed just outside the city of Talavera de la Reina. I am sure this will become an iconic structure after the road it carries is opened....



















The Leading Ladies, in front of Mombeltran Castle....


























Just above the castle is an impressive road that climbs steeply up a mountain. This is the view looking back down....













































We made our way to a city called Avila for the night. That city is so impressive, it deserves a post all of its own, but you, my dear readers, will have to wait for that....

8 comments:

mq01 said...

the pics are so stunning that im speechless... just beautiful gary!

cpa3485 said...

Those pics are amazing! I was fascinated with the bridge. It has been there for 250 years and looks like it will outlast all of us and a few more generations. Very Cool!
Jim

Charlie6 said...

A great set of pictures Gary....very nice scenery in that part of Spain. I really liked the bridge pictures and the sunset shot.

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

motoroz said...

Another great trip. You have a great eye for photos.

bluekat said...

All the white buildings, so pretty!
The roads sound perfect. Good times riding!

That bridge is spectacular. Amazing scale. So much wonderful architecture there.

Canajun said...

Such great riding, and basically at your doorstep. I'm very envious.

irondad said...

I always wondered what it would be like to live like a swallow in a cliff nest community. All those white houses clinging to the side of the hill must be like that.

Can you imagine trying to find your own doorway in the dark after maybe a beer or two too many?

Gary France said...

mq01 – It certainly is a gorgeous place.

Jim – I am sure the bridge will be standing there long after we have gone, and some!

Dom – Thanks dom. There are so many great things in northern Spain to photograph, it is difficult to know what to stop and take pictures of and what to carry on riding passed.

Oz – Thanks. Sometimes my photos come out okay, but at other times I am really disappointed. I work on the theory that if I take enough, a few will be good enough.

bluekat – The white village was not a one-off and there are many like that in the mountains, all painted white to reflect the heat of the sun. Good riding indeed and that bridge was just a wow.

Canajun – I little bit further away than my doorstep, but I know what you mean. In Europe we are very lucky to have such diversification all around us.

irondad – You are right about the cliff nest. I looked at it the same way. The hill was so steep that there are no vehicles in that white village. Parking is only available some way from the houses, so not only would finding the correct door be a problem after a few beers, but can you imagine carrying everything you need from vehicle to house every time you need something new?