Sunday, October 24, 2010

Europe 2

Crossing the Pyrenees was the first real motorbiking challenge. The first few kilometres went great although we didn't make it to light speed of course. I still felt a little uneasy in the turns when driving too fast (meaning anything from 40 to 60kms/hr depending on the turns and the slope). The fact that the weather had turned on us, leaving the asfalt wet and sometimes unreliable didn't help of course. By the time we crossed the first pass, it was getting darker and I was freezing, soaked from the measly rain and beaten by a firm breeze. As we crossed the second pass, on came the downhill part (of course), this being my favorite part, especially in the dark... Anyway, we made it through without a scratch. But I can tell you guys that we rode right past the campsite-sign and on to a nice and comfy hotelroom in Izaba, Spain.
When we took off the next morning, the weather looked fine. Clear blue sky, nice mountain village, what more could any traveller want. We chose to do some more small roads through the spanish side of the Pyrenees, with again some nice steering opportunities in beautifull landscapes. From the plains afterwards we mostly remember the pounding icy wind. Is this the South of Europe or did we take a wrong turn??? As we got closer to Soria we both got a little tyred, but were determined to go on. Which turned out to be a little disastrous. We weren't able to find a suitable hotel/hostal (with parking like facilities for motorbikes), so Nicolaas guided us back out of the city towards Garray where we had seen a pension. Unluckily this was past the paradorhotel, which in daylight might have been good for some nice scenery. But in the evening it was just an utterly dark small road, going steeply downhill in some hairpin turns. (anybody noticed a pattern??) Tyred as I was I suddenly panicked and didn't want to move any further. Some arguing followed and Nicolaas got very frustrated, as did I for that matter. In the end I gathered all of my courage and went further downhill, encouraged by Nicolaas. Pfew. We ended the day in Garray with some serious meditation to do. Situations like this can't happen again!
After we left Garray we did a marathon ride of 698 kilometres in one day, almost reaching Malaga. In Manilva we stopped to have the tyres changed before heading to Africa and ended up spending the night next to the caravan of one of the employees of the garage, because the job couldn't be done the same day. Then the final stretch of 50 kms to Algeciras, booking a ferry to Ceuta and suddenly we were out of Europe (geographically anyway) very quickly. Ferry booking: 16h45, departure time 17h, arrival time 17h45, and practically no formalities...

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