Wed Aug 1 2007: The Road to Valencia

We woke up early to get out of Bérchules. Not because we didn't like the place, in fact we had the most fun in this out-of-the-way Andalucian village. But we needed to get out of Spain! We've been here for a week now and it's eating into the time allotted for other places. Originally, I thought we could make a run to Barcelona, just over 800 kms away, but it would take 2 hours to navigate the 100 or so twisty kms out of the mountains, so we decided to head in that general direction and see how far we could get. Up at 6:30AM, we were on the road by 7:30AM.

When we told Andrew our plan last night, he asked if spending our vacation on the Autovia was any fun. The answer is no, but with limited time in Europe, we wanted to see as much of it as we could. And it isn't the usual Paris/Barcelona/Monaco/Rome tour. We could do that anytime by flying into those cities and renting a car or hailing cabs. Being on a motorcycle, the excitement is seeing how time has shaped the landscape into mountains and valleys, lakes and coasts. Because it's in these unyielding, irregular forms that people have carved thin, twisting ribbons of asphalt that folks on two wheels crave. The coast of Normandy, the Pyrenees mountains, the rolling hills of Andalucia. And the odd motorcycle store in between... That's what this vacation is all about!

Neda leading the way through Almeria

Andrew warned us that the south-eastern coast of Spain would not be very picturesque. East of the beach havens of Malaga, Nerja and Motril stood Almeria, which although on the coast, was littered with 20,000 square hectares of white plastic tents - "greenhouses" - which were used to grow most of the produce for consumption in Spain and for export. It's a shame that such a pretty coastline was marred by such ugly structures.

White tents line the south-eastern coastline of Spain

The area of white tents is so extensive, it can be seen by satellite photos

The weather stayed cool for much of the morning, only climbing into the mid 20s by 10AM. We were on the Autovia by then, so as the temperatures soared into the mid 30s, we at least had a strong headwind to keep us semi-cool. Another hot day in Spain! We had been reading about many forest fires in the southern tip of Spain, in fact smoke from the fires in Tenerife were visible from pictures taken from satellites! Glad we were getting out! The ride up to northern Spain took us along the western coast, and we saw the scenery slowly change from the industrial coastal cities to more farmland.

Along the way, we passed by a line of bikes, one of which was the F650CS (inset), Neda's old bike!
LOL! The CS is very popular in Europe. Not so much, in North America...

Giving the left hand a break

By around 3PM, we had been on the road for almost 8 hours and the heat was quickly draining the energy from us. At that point we were about 400 kms from Barcelona. We weren't going to make it today, so we opted to stay in Valencia, which was actually Andrew's recommendation because of it's beautiful architecture and museums. I made a reservation on a pay phone in a gas station. Did you know those phones count down the seconds for every coin you put in, like a parking meter? Omigod, that was stressful, waiting for the receptionist to confirm my reservation while the clock ticked 19 seconds left... 18 seconds... I'm not going to make it...! Put another 0.20 in. Ah! 1 minute, 17 seconds... oh, the reservation is confirmed? But I have another minute and 15 seconds left? Can't we chat a while longer about something else?

Statue outside of our hotel in Valencia


Harley Night Rod. Sweet!


We pulled in around 4PM, and checked into the sanctuary of an air-conditioned room in the Holiday Inn. Neda slept the sleep of all sleeps while I planned the next day's itinerary and downloaded the pictures. We've developed quite the routine now, day in and day out. Every morning: wake up, have a snack, check out, uncover and pack the bikes. Every evening, the reverse: unpack the bikes, lock and cover then, check in, then have dinner. Like the big-haired guy in spandex sang, "It's all the same - only the names will change"...

Dog taking owner out for a bicycle ride

No, this car didn't run me over. I jumped out of the way in the nick of time

Funny balcony display

If you've ever met people who just don't give a damm, here's a free one...
A couple of old ladies were drinking this, I was trying to take a picture of the beer,
but they looked at me like I was some kind of pRevert! LOL!

Valencia is a beautiful city, here are some pictures that attest to that. The one thing that irks me about European life is that restaurants don't open for dinner till 8-9PM. It's fine if you want a bocadillo, which is Spanish for an armadillo sandwich. But if you want a real meal, you've got to plan your lunch and snacks accordingly. And that means finishing dinner at 10PM. Which is not good when you're lying in bed at 11PM trying to get to sleep while armadillos digest in your gut... All because you're trying to get up before sunrise to beat the heat and traffic!

"Maybe tomorrow, I'll wanna settle down. Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on..."

Hopefully tomorrow we'll be in different country.

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