Spain in the Sunshine | Motorcycle Tour

Spain has fantastic roads to ride on a motorcycle.  After catching an overnight ferry from England to the northern coastal town of Santander, we started did a 2,700 mile trip from north to south over the full length of the country, and then back again.  Spain is a country full of culture, with many old buildings dating back many centuries.  Keeping away from the larger motorway roads, my friend Paul and I saw rural Spain at its very best.  Keeping as much as possible to back roads, we saw small villages, farming communities and a side of Spanish life that few tourists experience.  We ate in small local cafes, drank local beers and stayed in Paradores – converted castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings, some dating back to the 12th century.  While the castle may seem a grand place to stay, the room rates are not at all unreasonable and no more than would be paid for, say a modern chain hotel in a large city.

The first part of the ride was through the mountains in northern Spain, on glorious twisting roads with fabulous scenery.  The further we rode, the better the weather became and we were soon sweltering in the Spanish summer heat.  The route we chose gave us a few surprises and undoubtedly that is one of the great benefits of touring – you just don’t know what you might find

While people speak English at the majority of the coastal tourist locations, few speak anything but Spanish in the central and more remote parts of Spain. Neither Paul or I speak anything than just a few words of Spanish, but with a gestures, pointing and speaking very simply, enough basic communications are possible and we can get by.  In Spain, many bars serve ‘Tapas’ which are small dishes often cooked on the premises. With our poor Spanish, it is often fun trying to guess what the food is and ordering dishes by pointing and guessing what they might be. It always seem to work as we never went hungry!

We were in no hurry and took four days to do the journey south, where we then met up with our wives who had taken the (for them) sensible approach and flown down.

The journey back north was equally stunning.  Sticking mainly to the scenic routes marked on our maps, we rode through many canyons and over glorious mountains.

Riding is Spain is thoroughly recommended and here are a few tips for anyone that hasn’t yet ridden there, but maybe thinking of doing so….

  1. The roads in Spain are generally of a very good quality
  2. Beware of people walking on the roads, where very often there are no pavements / sidewalks
  3. Away from the motorways and the main roads, there is almost no traffic
  4. Away from the motorways, there are very few places to stay the night. Hotels and campsites are few and far between, so book ahead.
  5. Away from motorways and especially on the back-roads, take every opportunity to fill up with fuel, especially on Sundays. Fuel filling is nearly always done by an attendant.
  6. Beware of the lunchtime drinking culture, even by drivers. While we didn’t experience any problems at all, we did see many drivers (including truck rivers) drinking alcohol in the cafes and bars we stopped in for lunch
  7. It can get very hot in July and August. Drink a lot and wear sun screen
  8. Few restaurants serve dinner at night before 2030. Many don’t open until then.
  9. Plan your motorbike ride to pass through mountain areas. The roads there are fantastic!
  10. Away from the coast, very few people speak anything but Spanish, but this is okay. Learn 10 Spanish words and everyone will try to help you!

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