We decided the meeting point to be Clevedon, as the region where my brother lives is a central point for everyone as we would be coming from different places. Silvia and I joined up and went one day earlier, as I wanted to visit my brother.
It would be the M4 and then the M5 until Clevedon. The M4 was boring until Reading because of the 50mph average speed control due to the smart motorway upgrade, and thereafter we got under heavy showers for most of the trip. We arrived around 7pm, meaning we had time to have dinner together and a few drinks. Not going into details but it was a nice time in family. Next morning the rest of the group would join us. My brother who also rides a motorbike decided to come for a ride out with us.
The road trip was marked by a bike crash within the first hour on the road. Whilst on a little rural lane, I could see only my brother and Silvia on mirrors so we stopped and waited for the others. At first we thought they had taken a different road, but then a car driver told us that someone had crashed the bike. Immediately we turned around without knowing what to find. Happened that Ricardo got some dirt under the wheels on a corner and ended up in the bushes eating grass. Luckily there were no major injuries, just some scratches and bruises. The bike wasn’t that damaged either, so we could keep up after some immediate repairs.
With a bit less plastic and weight on the Suzuki we were ready to get back on the road. Wadebrige was our goal for the day as Sofia booked a camping for the first 3 nights. We stopped only refuel and to eat something before joining up the A30 and from there it was non stop to the campsite.
We arrived at “The Laurel’s holiday park“, just off the A39 after Wadebrige with the A389 that leads to Padstow which is a bit of a negative point for those who are noise sensitive as the Atlantic Highway (A39) passes just behind. Despite that the campsite was clean and organized.
We had one extra person, my brother who decided to stay overnight and Ricardo with an extra tent. After discussing options with the reception they allowed my brother to stay overnight for an extra fee which wasn’t a problem but maximum up to two tents per pitch.
Great, still early and we were getting hungry. Padstow is a very nice coastal town so we simply headed down the A389 through the rural country lanes looking for a restaurant. Unfortunately due to Covid19 most were fully booked or just full, so we ended up eating at a pub. Food was ok, but the waiting time just awful. Shame we didn’t get back to Padstow as I quite like this town. (I’ve been here before).
After eating we went back to the campsite as some of us were tired. It was time to test if my Vango tent could have 4 people in or not!!!!
It’s been a long time since I pitched the tent. This year’s pandemic put down my plan to ride the Alps again, but the bug needed feeding. I had a few friends asking me to plan a trip, and as last year I left North Devon and Cornwall wanting to get back, it was easy to find a destination. This year with another four mates, south west, here we go!
North Devon & Cornwall 2020
Due to Covid19 it wasn’t easy to find a campsite or hotel, most were fully booked or closed for safety reasons, but after an extensive research from Bruno and Sofia we managed to book three camping sites in advance. (The only option available, to book ahead which goes against my style). We would stay three nights in Wadebrige, three nights in Penzance and two nights in Watermouth.
As usual, before any road trip it is extremely important to service the machine in order to reduce the risk of being stranded on the road. My luggage gear isn’t in new condition anymore, so before setting up the luggage I had to inspect that bags, bungee straps, cargo nets and hooks are still in good condition. I also replaced my older tent the Vango Alpha 300 for three people for the new Vango Alpha 400, with an announced four people capacity.
Tic tac tic tac the clock was ticking… I was anxious to be on the road again!!!
Took me six days to arrive in Saint Ives, (north west Cornwall), but before talking about that, let´s go back in time and start from the beginning!!!
Clevedon to Lynmouth
It was a warm morning and from London to Bristol there´s not much to say… I got caught in the usual congestion on the M25, followed by the boring 50 mph average speed control on the M4 until Slough as the smart motorway is being built, and then all the way west towards the M5 that goes to Exeter.
I had never been to Clevedon and as my brother had just moved there, it was a good opportunity to visit him and this coastal old town. It is quite picturesque and scenic with excellent views over Wales on the other side of the Severn river estuary. Clevedon has the second biggest tidal rise and fall in the world, where the water can go down to 14.5 meters, and therefore strong river currents are common. The coast line is quite pretty with big extensions of sand/soft mud during the low tide.
We went for a swim by the river at a pool/lake on the estuary, the water is quite brownish due to its muddy bottom, however the quality is good despite its aspect. I recommend sandals if you are to enter the water, or you might feel a disgusting spongy bottom. Still, it is safe, as long as you are careful.
Felt great to be out of London and away from my daily routine.
Later my brother and I did a little barbecue on a little cove beach just by were he lives, which was great! In a way I envy him to be living by the sea away from the city chaos, but I am happy for him as he loves it!
I woke up next morning with Saint Ives in my mind, everybody kept on tell me it is a fantastic town. It was a bit cloudy and warm, which makes the riding pleasant, so after breakfast I left Clevedon and headed towards North Devon. The A39 seemed to be quite scenic on the map, I started following it. Such a disappointment, it was all uninteresting, busy and nothing especial until Minehead, then it all changed. Less traffic density, more rural with the coast not far at all. The road also became more interesting, hilly and twisted.
My first stop was Porlock Weir, a small old settlement in west Somerset around a harbor. It is a pretty spot for a stop to appreciate the coast and the old harbor. There is a little museum, a hotel and a few restaurants. Probably a few interesting foot paths as well but I did not explore these.
I left Porlock Wier and re joined the A39, it was beautiful all around, but the road required some skill (If you are inexperienced I do not recommend you to take this route). Had to deal with a very steep section and a couple tight hairpins whilst going up hill, but once on the top the view was spectacular!!! I was then in the North Devon district and Exmoor! One word to describe it, AWESOME! (I did not take pictures of the hairpins or recorded them as sadly I had no battery on my GoPro camera.)
This was just the beginning and I was loving it, “Sophia” has an appetite for bends, hairpins and good tarmac… I was just delighted with the sight seeings and enjoying the road like nothing else matters in life… what a good feeling, all seemed to make sense, in harmony, and all that together means, therapy to me!!!!
A lighthouse was marked in the map as point of interest, but had no idea how to get there, so after entering a private farm and being politely kicked out, I was directed correctly to the “Foreland Point Lighthouse”. The road to get there, if you can call it a road, was scary… asphalted but very narrow and incredibly steep with tight hairpins, and as if it wasn´t enough, with gravel on bends. (Not for the inexperienced for sure or you could end up at the bottom, in the sea).
It was worth it!!! what a beautiful place!!!
Saint Ives was still on my mind and I wasn´t doing progress at all. All around was pretty and the road just intense making me to stop all the time just to enjoy the views. I was on the A39 again getting close to Lynmouth. In my mind it was just another town I was about to pass, however the moment I started going down Countisbury Hill, I had to stop again as it was too beautiful to keep on going.
The moment I arrived in Lynmouth I decided, I would spend at least a day around a day just to enjoy the place. It is too beautiful to be ignored.
First things first, I was hungry! I went to a coffee shop (The Bake House Cafe) to have a snack and met Hayley, the nicest waitress you can come across. Very friendly and smiley all the time. The food was great too. She told me all the places I should visit in Lynmouth, such as the Watersmeet, the Glen Lyn Gorge, the footpaths around, the beach and the sunset, and especially she insisted that I should visit The Valley Of Rocks. (thank you Hayley!) All in all Lynmouth is a great place to spend a couple days or holidays.
It was time to find a camping to pitch the tent, so after a little research at the information center I ended up going to theChanel View Caravan and Camping Park, a couple miles away from Lynmouth. I read in some reviews that this campsite is a bit pricey and the terrain not so good. Well, I can´t complain, I paid £7 per night for a tent and motorbike. It has good clean facilities (however toilets could benefit some updating), loads of electricity access points and tap water. The terrain was good and easy to pitch the tent, in a quiet location and away from the noise, there is a pub just next to it if you want to enjoy a pint and a little mini market at the entrance in case you need some essentials. Overall, it is a good spacious campsite offering great views over Lynmouth and the Bristol Channel, ideal for a couple nights.
As I was recommended, I had to check Valley of the Rocks just after Lynton. It´s one of the most amazing places I ever seen in the South West. Basically it´s a valley that runs parallel to the dramatic Devon coast, it is quite popular but not crowded and it is famous also for the existence of wild goats in the area. Definitely I recommend you to visit it independently if you are by motorbike or car.It is such a spectacular spot, either to walk the footpaths or just to enjoy the nature and scenery around, not forgetting the twisty roads around able to put a grin in every biker out there.
Here´s a little video about Lynmouth and Valley of the rocks :
Later on, I went back to Lynmouth to do a kind of picnic by the beach and relax while there was still some daylight before heading back to the camping. What a great day!!!!
And so that was my first day in North Devon… would I get to saint Ives the next day?
Well, you have to wait for the next post to find out!!!!
Thanks for reading!!!
Note:Routes in the maps and routes section if you plan on doing a similar trip.
Summer is here (kind of) and It´s been a while since I last pitched the tent or did a road trip. I had two weeks off work ahead and the idea of doing a road trip around Europe would not get out of my mind. At the same time I realized that U.K. still has loads of places unknown to me. I always heard that the Southwestern side of the U.K. is beautiful and it is the British home for surfers (not that I am one, although I like the ocean), so it could be a potential great destination for my holidays.
Decision is taken!!! I´d ride west this time! Devon and Cornwall here I go!!!
Tent… Check! Sleeping bag, mattress… Check!!! Tools… Check!!! Clothes… Check!!! All bungee strapped, full tank and ready to go on a journey!!!
The road, the scenery, the bike and I…
I did not plan or did my usual research about which routes to take or thought about where I would be staying. One stop in Clevedon (Bristol) to visit my brother for a couple days, then I would ride west without a particular route or destination. While visiting my brother, I simply bought a map and marked scenic routes on it before going. I was lucky, the weather was on my side, and hopefully I would find what I was after. Roads and scenery able to put a grin in my face, beach, picturesque towns and great people!!!
I just had one task to do before leaving Clevedon, “Sophia” (my bike´s name) was due for an oil change. So after that was done and with the luggage on the bike I was time to depart!!
Riding the West!!!The Journey begins!!!
P.S. There´s more to come within the next couple weeks but now you have to be patient! Work in progress!!!
Note: For a better display of this post use a laptop or desktop instead of a phone. Thanks!!!
Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon
Tagus river (Rio Tejo) and bridge , the Christ statue (Cristo Rei) and “Sophia”.
Time to write about Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, my hometown.
Lisbon is located next to the “Rio Tejo” (Tagus River) with the sun almost always shining in a blue sky. Lisbon attracts millions of tourists from all over the world every year. The native language is Portuguese however in the capital everyone has a strong gasp of the English language.
The 25th of April bridge, or Salazar bridge as it was once named over the Tagus River.
View from the same place at night.
Lisbon is a very rich city in monuments together with old traditional picturesque neighborhoods such as,Mouraria and Baixa (Downtown), or the pretty riverside area of Terreiro do Paço together with parks and attractions all around, make Lisbon is a city of a unique beauty where the old styles mix with the contemporary days.
Lisbon is also known as the city of light and offers a great night life with plenty of options for the most varied tastes. It is common to find Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodre packed with people from all ages, drinking and having fun until early morning on a regular basis, especially during the summer time.
Lisbon is an unforgettable destination for all who want to have a unique experience of hospitality, gastronomy, tradition, history, modernity, culture and leisure.
A little tour in…
Belém is on the western side of Lisbon by the riverside and it is one of Lisbon boroughs. In Belém you can find parks and gardens, monuments and museums and an attractive riverside environment with cafes and a public walk. It is one of the most touristic areas of Portugal.
Torre de Belém
A caravel on the “Tejo” and Belém Tower
At night illuminated and surrounded by the “Tejo” waters
Belém Tower by night under the moon. Picturesque!
The Torre de Belém is located in the borough of Belém , on the right bank of the “Tejo River” (Tagus River). It was built between 1514 and 1520 and it was originally surrounded by water around its perimeter. Its main purpose was to defend the Tagus river from any potential attack by sea and was part of a composition with other two fortresses and towers strategically built on the Tagus basin.
Over time, the tower was losing its defense function of the Tagus and, the old warehouses gave way to dungeons. In the four floors of the tower, remain the governor room, the Hall of Kings , the courtroom and finally, the Chapel.
The Torre de Belém is classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO and was elected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal in 2007.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries Monument- In honor to Infant D. Henrique, the Navigator and to all the Portuguese who discovered the seas.
Discoveries Monument- Infant D. Henrique, the Navigator 500 years anniversary.
Discoveries monument front view
Discoveries Monument- A beautiful place worth to visit in Belém, as usual, this area attracts thousands of tourists every day.
The Discoveries Monument ( Padrão dos Descobrimentos) is located just a couple hundred meters from the Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) on the North side of “Rio Tejo” (Tagus river). It is another Lisbon icon. The Discoveries Monument was officially inaugurated in 1960 as a tribute of the 5th centenary of the death of Infant D. Henrique ( the most important figure from the beginning of the era of discoveries, popularly known as Infant of Sagres or The Navigator).
Discoveries Monument- On both sides there are sculptures of important personalities in the discoveries history.
Aligned from the top to the bottom there are 16 figures of the Portuguese history, being Infant D. Henrique placed on the top holding a caravel in his hands, followed by other navigators and explorers including D. Luiz Vaz de Camões (Poet/author of “Os Lusiadas”). Note the shape of the monument as a caravel.
Discoveries monument- Left side of the monument and another 16 figures from the Portuguese discoveries history.
32 figures in total are sculptured in Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Infant D. Henrique is on the top again, together with other worldwide known navigators such as Vasco da Gama (Discoverer of the sea way to India), Pedro Alvares Cabral ( Discoverer of Brazil) and Fernao de Magalhaes (the first navigator to sail around the globe) just to name a few figures.
There are other attractions along the river´s massive walking path such as the Electricity museum, the fighter´s museum (which I visited inside and is very well presented), a couple marinas. There are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants around in case you want to have a drink or a snack. If you feel like exercising whilst exploring there are a couple bicycle and scooter rental tents. The area is quite green as well as there is a big park where you can relax and some playground areas for children. If you don´t drive it is very easy to get there, as Belém train station is less than a mile away (The train line goes from Cais do Sodre to Cascais always along the river and coast line, it is a quite pretty and picturesque route and well recommended). Over all it is a very pleasant place, busy with tourists all over the place, but not overcrowded. I took a couple more pictures but as usual, they don´t make justice about this spot.
Next to the Belém Tower, there is the Fighter´s museum. Always with the park going along the river.
A mini Torre de Belém and the surroundings.
People sailing on the Tejo river.
One of Belém Marina´s.
Outdoors exposition at the fighter´s museum.
A BMW in exposition from the 90´s at the service of the Military Police ( from the unit where I served in the army actually).
The colossal Jerónimos Monastery, a Portuguese icon.
Jeronimos monastery is one of the most iconic symbols of Portugal and considered a national symbol from its early days. It was built in the 16th Century using a Manueline style mixed with Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements. It is one of the most visited monuments in Portugal attracting over one million tourists per year. Jeronimos Monastery is recognized as a world heritage monument by UNESCO and also one of the 7 wonders of Portugal along the Torre de Belem. ( A must see if you happen to visit Lisbon)
Belém would not be the same without Jerónimos.
Jerónimos Monastery from a different angle.
Jeronimos Monastery and park in Belém.
The great Jerónimos Monastery in Belém.
Vasco da Gama tomb in Jeronimos Monastery. One of the few tombs.
Jeronimos Monastery church
As I was wandering around, and as it is the Christmas season I came across a motorbike meeting in front of Jerónimos. Happens that it was an event gathering over 100 bikers where most were dressed as Santa Klaus in a mission to deliver Christmas presents to the poor, as I was told by one of the bikers. I was lucky enough to record them shooting off.
In Belém you can´t forget to pass by the original “Pasteis de Belém” café (coffee shop) where the original and the traditional specialty delicatessen of Portugal is made for over a century. In Belém you must have a “pastel de Nata“… or 10!!! Although you can find the these egg pastries in every Portuguese “café” (and even in some coffee shops in the U.K.), only the Pasteis de Belémcafé have the exclusive secret recipe, where they serve them still hot, and with a choice of cinnamon or sugar on top.
The Pasteis de Belém café is the most popular café in Lisbon and maybe in whole Portugal.
Good luck trying to get a “Nata”. Everyone wants to eat a “Nata”, The original “Nata”!!
I introduce you, the original PASTEL DE NATA!
Inside Pasteis de Belém café
There are plenty of space and rooms and space, so pick at table and sit down.
Here are a few more pictures of Belém and other interesting places and museums. This post is getting long so I had to resume it a little bit with a few more pictures and a video of me riding around Belém instead of detailing it all, however I covered the main touristic areas of Belém.
If you like planets and star constellations you can visit the Planetarium which is next to the monastery.
You can also visit the Portuguese Navy Museum in Belém.
An area with some Restaurants, snack bars where you can have the most varied Portuguese traditional food. One of the many places.
“Quentes e boas”- “Hot and tasty”; typical slogan from who sells roasted chestnuts.
President´s palace although I am not sure the Portuguese President lives there.
President´s palace residence guard!!
Detail of the president´s palace. I found it pretty.
Garden in Belém in front of the President´s palace.
Panorama of a Park in Belém… one of many around.
HO HO HO Just because it´s the Xmas season… Merry Xmas to all!!! P.S It´s not me on the bike.
I woke up late, slightly hangover, dry and with a headache, silly me!!!!… Thinking I had a 350 mile journey ahead almost turned that headache into a migraine. After a shower and a good reinforced breakfast at the hotel I was ready to get back on the road. Today I would arrive in Lisbon!!!
I left Ibis around 11 am, as usual, the weather was good in South Europe despite the season of the year… nice, warm and sunny. I did not ride much as I wanted to see a bit of Salamanca before leaving. I parked the bike and walked for a while to the historic side of the city. Sunday morning, the streets where crowded with people, coffee shops were busy and there was even some street animations going on. Salamanca is a lively city day and night for sure.
The New Cathedral is together with the Old Cathedral of Salamanca one of the two in the city. It was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries in a Gothic and and baroque styles.
Ornamental sculptures are carved along the facades of the Cathedral. In particular the figure of a modern astronaut and a gargoyle eating an ice cream on the facade of the north entrance of the Cathedral, unlike any other, attract dozens of tourists to the door just to photograph these unusual carvings.
How could anyone have carved such a clear picture of a modern astronaut in a cathedral built hundreds of years ago and long before such a character existed?
Apparently this would have happened, in fact, very recently, when, in 1992, the cathedral was restored. The fact would have obeyed an old tradition, in which the restorers usually include some modern element.
Of course this is just a hypothesis, and many claim that the figure has been there since the original construction of the cathedral.
There is a lot more to see but I had to start making my way to Lisbon. It was getting late and I had to make a move. I was only 50 miles away from the Portuguese border and could have entered Portugal via Vilar Formoso (North Portugal), however you have to pay tolls on motorways and they are quite expensive together with high petrol prices. It was better to head South and enter Portugal in Badajoz (Spain)/ Elvas (Portugal) meaning that I would be still riding in Spain for another 200 miles or so, and then another 200 miles until I arrive in Lisbon.
The Spanish autovia A66 (E803) was quite pleasant to ride, nearly empty, in very good condition, and the best of it all, no tolls to pay. I stopped after Bejar to have a quick snack and to refill the petrol tank. Quite curvy and scenic this section and a great sigh seeing of the Autovia I was in. Had to stop for a couple pictures.
I passed Plasencia, then Caceres and then Badajoz. By 6pm I was about to enter Portugal, so I stopped again to refill my tank right before crossing the border as prices are insanely high.
I entered Portugal on the A6 in Elvas towards Pegoes and then the A2 motorway to Lisbon, in 200 miles I would be at my Portuguese home in family. I did not take any other pictures as I wanted to get home. By 8 Pm I was safe and sound in Lisbon, although I did not feel safe at all on the Portuguese roads.
Here is a warning:If you are planning to ride a motorbike in Portugal, I advise you to do so only if you are an experienced biker, otherwise chances are that you might end up having a serious accident. Portuguese drivers are mad and bad, speed limits are there but nobody respects them at all, most drive dangerously, unconsciously and very aggressively. Also tolls are very expensive, I paid 16.60 Eur for some miserable 120 miles on the motorway, please be aware of these facts.
My F4 all ready and loaded about to depart to the Ferry in Portsmouth!
24 Hours with Brittany Ferries. What a great experience!!!
I was due to sail on the 30 st of November by 5 pm from Portsmouth port, however there was a delay of an hour and a half due to someone passing away during the previous trip, unknown to my person the facts of how it happened.
After the check in, 2 hour waiting time before boarding
While waiting, I went for a snack, and coffee indoors, nothing especial there.
Not a busy time at the Port judging for the number of cars waiting. By the way, there is a brand new Harley behind mine. Was chatting with the owner for ages.
Finally around 6.15 pm I was directed to the boarding area. It was a slow process, first the lorries and trailers were allocated in the ferry garages, then cars and motorbikes (only 3 counting with mine) and at the end, caravans and vans. I parked the bike in the designated area and the staff secured it with straps so it would not fall during the trip. Then I was sent to the 7th floor to find my cabin. It was a 4 person berth but the ferry was quite empty so I ended up having it all only for myself, lucky me!!
On the 7th Floor looking for my 4 berth cabin
Cabin 7220 on deck 7 (7th floor) access card
My 4 berth cabin, luckily I had it just for myself. private bathroom as well.
The “Cap Finistere” is a 10 year old ferry cruise ship serving on “Brittany Ferries” sailing from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao in Spain and vice-versa with a capacity for 700 cars and 1600 passengers. It features 2 bars, 2 restaurants, a spa, a mini market, cinema, a swimming pool and a heliport on the top deck in between other facilities. The decoration is good and modern, and there´s Wi-Fi available for free as well (although it´s not the fastest) . Quite impressive once I was inside I must say!
Indoor Atrium. One of many.
Floor 7, staircase and lifts.
Simple, modern and warm decoration all round.
The top deck (10th floor) snack bar sells pizzas, burgers, ice creams, drinks. In front of the swimming pool. Above this only the Heliport.
Not a good shot but the best one I could get of the swimming pool (which was closed to the public because of the low season)
It was a pleasant trip, as we were leaving Portsmouth I decided to present myself with a nice dinner and a bottle of wine in order to celebrate my solo journey, followed by a visit to the main bar where there was live music. I wanted to start writing this post but ended up talking with other passengers and crew as everyone was friendly and warm, great atmosphere. After a couple pints the ferry was wobbling badly and I was afraid to feel seasick, I supposed we were on high seas already. Around 1 am there was no one around so I went to my cabin and tried to get some sleep. It was a good feeling to be out of the U.K.
Time to eat (Rather expensive but I decided to present myself with a nice meal)
Crab cream with something I dont remember, quite tasty entry.
The main course, Duck two ways and a French Bordeaux wine. The stomach was happy.
The camera is not the best but gives the idea. 7th deck at the back.
View from the 8th Deck where the cinema is. Live music on the first night animated the passengers.
I found out the next morning that the crossing was delayed by two hours as someone had an heart attack and an helicopter had to come to pick up the patient. It was a tough landing as the ocean was quite rough. Unfortunately I did not record that event as I was sleeping while it happened. I ended up meeting L. (a very nice lady who told me all about it). She was traveling to Santander to do a car road trip to the Pyrenees and then across France. We exchanged a couple smiles the previous day, ended up meeting and talking a lot. L. was my companion for most of the day as she was a lovely, fun and chatty person. At a point we were told to stay inside due to weather conditions, and stabilizers had to be deployed as the ocean was quite rough, slowing us down a bit more and balancing the ferry hard.
View from the 6th Deck, Saturday morning around 7.30 am
Later on, same day, being caught in bad weather.
Caught in bad weather!
We docked in Santander by 7.30pm on the 1 st of December, two hours later than predicted (26 hours in total), it was time to wish L. safe travels and to part ways. Unfortunately it was dark already and I could not see much beside the road, I headed straight towards Torrelavega on the A67 motorway, going up the Cantabrian mountain. I stopped at a service area next to Reinosa to fill up my tank, also to have dinner as it was nearly 9 pm and I was getting hungry. I was around 1500 meters above the sea level and I could feel the cold, so it was time to swap my summer gloves for my winter ones. From there it was non stop until Salamanca where I booked a night at an Ibis hotel. The Spanish motorway was quite nice, empty and in good condition. I passed the cities of Palencia, Valadolid and finally arrived in Salamanca by midnight, 250 miles later and 4 hours after I left Santander Port. It was time to park the bike and call it a day.
Instead of going to sleep as I should I decided to go for a beer. I ended up staying out until late night. I found out that people from Salamanca are true party animals, I went from bar to bar, from beer to beer trying to find a spot where I could sit down, enjoy some music and a drink but it was nearly impossible, it was crowded everywhere and the streets packed with locals enjoying themselves. The Spanish are loud and talkative, so I met a few people along the way sharing a few laughs.
I went back to the hotel around 4.30 am, tipsy, exhausted and nearly forgetting I had 350 miles waiting for me next day…
This road trip came up quite unplanned and unexpected… Personal reasons led me to embrace on this adventure. I was supposed to fly home and get back in early January, however my traveling bug on two wheels was stronger. After a brief chat with a friend I decided to book a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain and from there ride to Lisbon in Portugal.
This is a solo trip, time for myself, the road, the bike and I. My plan is to ride straight from Santander to Lisbon depending of weather conditions, or maybe I will book a night at an hotel half way so I can enjoy the scenery (which I am not expecting to be that amazing). The way back will be by the 10th of January 2019 via Bilbao to Portsmouth.
I will sail for the first time on the 30st of November from Portsmouth at 5pm being the arrival time in Spain next day around 5.30pm. It is going to be a tough and a lone trip, but I will try to update with pictures and posts in real time as I progress instead of writing it down later like the previous trips.
As usual, I did my usual research and prepared all the essentials in order to avoid surprises whilst on the road. While routing the trip I didn´t look at any scenic routes as I usually do, this time I will be mainly doing the boring motorway until I arrive at my Portuguese home.
I might end up taking you on a discovery trip about Portugal and its beauty on my future posts. It will also be my first time in Portugal by motorbike since I left to the U.K making this trip more exciting.
Honda CBR600 F4 2001, A.K.A. “Sophia”
Stage 1: From Portsmouth, 30 of November 2018 at 5pm. 24 hours by Ferry to Santander. ETA 1st of December 2018 by 5.30pm
Stage 2:Santander to Lisbon, 1st of December 2018 being the ETA in Lisbon unknown… I guess I will play it by ear.
It felt weird to wake up in an unknown house however, we slept quite comfortably… as opposed to our infltable camping mattresses. Our aim today was to visit Cassis. As suggested by E. (Marie´s friend) there are great walking paths and beaches on the “Calanques de Cassis“, and it is a good way to spend the day. A quick shower and breakfast, beach towels and in no time we were on the road road again!!!
Another day on holidays, another summer day, another hot day!!!
Our road ride got us a little lost for a while. I didn´t take my tank bag where I kept my maps so we were riding by GPS… Conclusion, we got lost and we spent most of the morning trying to find Cassis. I did the mistake of entering the A8 and we were riding back and forwards confused, to end up in Marseille accidently. I didn´t take any pictures as we didn´t want to lose time however I found Marseille ugly, dirty and a bit of a dodgy city, people also drive madly (like in most cities I guess). We were pretty much lost in the city centre, not knowing where to turn or where to go, until finally and after asking a few people, a local guy on a scooter (250cc at least) was kind enough to show us the right way. ( He also was mad on the road making it difficult for us to follow him). Uff, once out of chaotic Marseille we were back to the nice and scenic country side roads. We arrived in Cassis around 12pm, later than we wanted… of course, before anything, we were hungry already, so meal first.
Cassis is situated in the Mediterranean Coast, East of Marseille in the Cote-de-Azur department. It is a very picturesque town by the sea, famous for the outstanding “Calanques de Cassis” (Cassis cliffs), port and beaches making it a very touristic town.
We walked a bit near the port just admiring the town and taking pictures here and there when we found a company that offer boat trips around the famous “Calanques”. Instead of walking as suggested by E. we decided to book a boat trip as it could be interesting and maybe we would have time to enjoy the beach after.
The boat trip and the “Calanques de Cassis”!!!!
Quite affordable and a great experience that´s what I can say; there are several boats operating in Cassis so the waiting time isn´t long even if it is a quite popular attraction there. The trip lasts for about an hour and a half but it is well worth it. There´s a touring guide that also comments on the Calanques all the time. ( If you understand french you might find it amusing too). We took loads of pictures and it was hard to decide which ones to upload but here are a few:
NOTE: Click on the pictures for a better viewing, it is really worth!!!
Leaving the Port of Cassis
Leaving the Port to see the colossal Calanques De Cassis
Leaving Cassis by boat:
The Calanques de Cassis:
Approaching the Calanques
The amazing rock formation of the Calanques
Rock in detail
Look at the little cave and how clean the water is…
Here and there, people everywhere enjoying the great Calanques
A rock in the middle of the sea, one of many!!
Little bays and beaches in the Calanques:
I felt so jealous about the people on that beach… paradisiac!!
One of many Yatches, If you look closely on the right side you can also see people swimming and snorkeling
Leaving this bay in between the Calanques
Kayaking along the Calanques
She posed for the pic… or maybe to get aware of the boat passing by
A lot of sea activities are possible here, and it seems safe
Climbing, Jumping and diving into the water
Trying to show how clean the water is but the picture doesn´t make justice
Way back to Cassis:
The Colossal cliff, just East of Cassis
returning to Cassis ( at the far end)
I could have uploaded a few more but I believe the pictures above give a pretty good idea about the “Calanques”. It is an amazing spot and much better in person. There are many little bays with little beaches and ports. It is all populated with people on the water swimming, bathing and doing all sorts of activities, either on the water or simply sunbathing in their boats, however it isn´t crowded, which is good. Definitely Cassis is a good place for holidays… maybe someday in the future!!!
It was still early so we had time for a sunbath and a swim on the beach. The sea in Cassis was a bit more wavy and not as hot as in Saint-Maxime, but with 22 degrees in the water it is still awesome.
By 6pm we were leaving Cassis to get back in Trets ( this time we didn´t get lost). My other half wanted to get back to catch up with her friend. We had dinner and a few drinks at E. and bedtime was calling us. (P.S. if you read this, many thanks for the hospitality E.). The following morning we would be leaving Trets to get back to Saint-Andre-Les Alpes and enjoy our last two days on holidays before the road ride back to London.
Saint Andre Les Alps– Saint Maxime–Trets07/08-17(9 am 7 pm)
It was early, hot and sticky as we emerged from the tent and our neighbor, a nice 80 year old man from Germany who did not speak a word in English, simply approached us smiling with a kettle saying “cafe? Cafe?”. He was the sweetest guy we met. Using smoke signs and lost words here and there to communicate we understood he was spending a couple weeks in Saint Andre just to do paragliding ( very famous activity in the area). Also the couple staying in front of us ( which we had met on our previous stay) invited us for a barbecue event they were planning at the camp site. Very nice the community at Les Isles, however we politely declined as we had different plans…
We planned a nice day on the famous beaches around Saint Tropez and a visit to an old friend of Marie that happened to be living close to Marseille, in Trets. After having coffee with our friendly German neighbor, we took a shower and jumped on the bikes towards Saint Tropez. this time the camping site Les isles would be our base, so we did not have to lose time with the tent and to set up the luggage on and off the bikes.
We rode southbound on the nice N202 and then by Saint Julien en Verdon we turned right, into the D955 along the lake and passing the EDF power station to Castellane again. ( At this stage, I was already pretty familiar with this route)… We passed a few towns along the curvy, scenic and extremely well maintained mountain roads. We were going down the Alps to the Mediterranean sea.
Unfortunately it was possible to see signs of devastation. There had been some bad wild fires in the south region a couple weeks before our trip, we passed really scorched areas where the fire passed by burning everything around leaving that burnt wood odor in the air, not a very pleasant scenario to see.
As I rely more on maps over the bike tank than GPS systems it was very easy to reach the coast, took us about two hours to arrive in Saint Maxime. I wanted to go to Saint Troppez which is not far but the horrendous traffic plus the heat beat us, so we decided to stay at Saint Maxime. There are series of beaches along the coast. On the billboards was saying the water temperature (26 degrees) which was perfect and also a notice warning that medusas populate the sea. After speaking with a life guard he said that it is normal and they be a bit dangerous because some people may develop allergies, luckily on that day there were no reports of medusas on this part of the sea.
We were hungry so we had a nice salad and sandwich at a beach snack bar. It´s understandable why this area is so famous and busy during the summer. It is hot, very pretty, the clean sandy beaches very inviting and the Mediterranean sea simply great and warm… could not wait to jump into the water.
It felt great, I spent ages diving, swimming or simply floating on the sea feeling that light waving on my body and just letting myself relax… at that stage I thought that life could not be better so I made sure I really enjoyed it.
At Saint Maxime beach
No doubt it is a wealthy region, judging by the villas on the road side and cars around, and especially by the numerous massive yachts around the coast( probably belonging to famous people and possibly corrupt politicians).
We left Saint Maxime around 5 pm to meet Marie´s friend in the little village of Trets which was about an hour and a half away from us, close to Marseille. We did a bit of mountain road and motorway until we arrived, however my other half´s friend house was not easy to reach as it is in the mountain and the access not the best… very tiny road, steep, full of gravel and dusty, not a good environment for two sport bikes, however, we arrived without issues. She lived in a big old house with massive bedrooms, two floors, swimming pool and a big garden. We ended up having dinner outside, talking and listening to Marie´s friend suggestions for the following day over a bottle of wine.