Tag Archives: routes

The way down

Salamanca (Sp) to Lisbon (Pt) (01/12/18)




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.

Walking to the historical center







Salamanca on a Sunday morning.
Historical Salamanca














New Cathedral at the back , I had to have a look.









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. 

The Impressive New Cathedral
The Old Cathedral. I believe at the time I was passing people were exiting after the religious service.













The New Cathedral
One of the towers of the New Cathedral.


Salamanca old Salamanca
These pictures don´t make justice at all of how impressive the Cathedral is.













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.


New Cathedral of Salamanca
The North entrance of the Cathedral
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Note the amazing sculptures carved on the wall all along the entrance.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Challenge 1: Find the astronaut. Challenge 2: Find the dinosaur eating ice cream.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The famous intriguing Astronaut.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The dinosaur or Gargoyle eating ice cream.














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 Map
My route from Santander. As usual, I am anti GPS so the route marked on the map together with notes works wonders.

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.

The A66
The motorway after Bejar, empty and going downhill towards…
A66 motorway
... towards this great curvy section and amazing scenery. Loved it all the way!!!
The Spanish soil
The places, the scenery, the odors, the bike, the road and the exhaust growling on my ears. All the problems, all the noise in my mind, gone!!! Nothing else matters besides what lies ahead!! That´s why I love long rides!


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 holidays were just starting…                    

  … Keep an eye for future posts, more to come!!!



Day 11

Saint Andre Les Alps Saint MaximeTrets 07/08-17 (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.
Saint Andre les Alpes
The bridge on the N202  exiting St. Andre Les Alps and the outstanding Lake Castilon.
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. 
On the road to the Mediterranean sea
road to St. Maxime
The terrain is a bit more sandy and less dense in vegetation
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.
Wild fire 2017
Devastation after the wild fires in South France 2017
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.
 St. Maxime beach
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).
Mediterranean Sea
St. Tropez view from St. Maxime.
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.
View from Marie´s friend house while having a great dinner at the end of the day
South France is great!!!! Life is good!!!!




Maps and Routes

In this section you may find maps and routes that I particularly liked for some reason and decided to share with you. I will try to be precise and give you a review about the route:



Glossop to Hope Valey  (Snake Pass) (A57)
Great route for motorcycles, particularly between Glossop and Snake Pass. Very steep in this section and with a few tight bends, sinking in towards the Ladybower forest alongside the Ladybowel reservoir and the dam, a bit hilly but not so twisted or steep . Surface in good condition, good scenery and fun to ride. Be aware of cyclists in the area.


Castleton to Sparrowpit (Winnats Pass)
Very short but sweet!!! Worth passing by Castleton and explore the caverns around before crossing Winnats pass. It´s a small pass (no more than a mile and a half), steep and very picturesque with the road cutting in between two big hills and a couple tight bends. Surface in good condition, be aware of  roaming sheep and people hiking, this road can be busy during the high season. The other sectors are pleasant to ride as well. Be aware of hidden small junctions.


Sparrowpit to Baslow (Peak District) (A623)
Very nice country lane cutting across the southern side of the Peak district. Scenic, with a few good bens able to put a grin on your face, some hills and dips. Good vision towards the road and fun to ride, however not as picturesque as Winnats Pass or Snake Pass.




Saint Sauveur sur Tinee to Beuil (D30/M30)
Great route, mountain road, good surface, very curvy and not too steep from Beuil to Col de la Couiolle (1678 mts). Be aware that D30 Changes to M30 after the Col towards Saint Sauveur sur Tinee, very steep and curvy, narrow at points with a few hairpins and pittoresque tunnels. It is very scenic and pleasant to ride. Very recommended!!
Gorges cu Cians (D28)
One of the most scenic roads of France, ride through a canyon of red rock, a couple sections are closed to traffic forcing you to divert through some pretty tunnels dug in the rock. Wide road in the most places, not steep with a few good corners. and very well maintained. One of the top french dangerous roads, this one will take your breath away with it’s scenery. A MUST DO!!!
Gorges du Nan (D22) and Route des Presles ( D292)
One of the most scenic routes I have ever done, balcony roads, narrow, high altitude, not for the faint hearted. Very curvy and steep, fantastic views. surface in good condition. It will take you a lot of time to complete as it is impossible to not stop to take pictures.


Col de Rousset to Chamaloc (Die) (D518)
Mountain road, ride from 1300mts to 470mts above the sea level, light to moderate traffic and possibility of lots of motorbikes on the road. Wide with road markings well-defined and  many wide hairpins. Very curvy, not too steep and the surface maintained in very good condition. Great scenery independently if you are traveling on an ascent or descent orientation. Starts after the Ski Station du Rousset thorough a 770mt long tunnel and ends in Chamalot. Low police presence. A great road for all bikers!!!
Gorges du Daluis (D2202
One of the most amazing roads of France. Ride through 17 narrow tunnels and through a road cutting red rock, great gorges alongside the Var river. Surface in good condition, not too curvy and not steep, amazing scenery and very popular among bikers. National route but not too busy. Low police presence.  highly recomended!!!!!


 Les Scaffarels to La Roche Percee  (N202 route de Grenoble)
 Only 3.2 miles but one of the greatest roads, mountain road,  very curvy and slightly steep, a few tight corners with the perfect camber, very well marked and maintained, narrow in a few points but with a good visibility. Go through a great pierced rock and simply enjoy it. Be aware of a small village ” Rouaine” where you should slow down a bit. Low police presence, GREAT ROAD!!!!


Route Des Cretes (D23 Gorges du Verdon)
WoW!!!! What an amazing route!!!  Mountain road, very steep,  curvy with a few tunnels and a few more hairpins. Very well maintained, however can be narrow in some points. High altitude and no road side protection in some places. Stunning views, can be crowded in some areas during the summer time and there is a possibly that this route is closed during the winter season. Dangerous balcony road and definitely not for the faint hearted or those who are afraid of heights. To be taken slowly as there are lots of points of  interest.  
 Aiguines to Trigance (D71 Gorges du Verdon)
Amazing route, twisty, with a fantastic scenery all around including the blue turquoise Lake de Saint Croix in the Verdon. Ride through the Grand Canyon of Europe. Twisty balcony mountain route, a few hairpins and not too steep and frequently used by tourists during the Summer. Be aware of slow caravans on the road and people walking around. Good surface but be aware that the road becomes a bit unstable a 5 or 6 miles before Trigance due to tree roots, do not over speed there. Otherwise read road in excellent condition. A must do!!!



More coming soon…