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Faro to Poulaphoca

Covering day ten to day fifteen
  • Day ten
  • Day eleven
  • Day twelve
  • Day thirteen
  • Day fourteen
  • Day Fifteen

Faro to Caceres - Monday

Our bungalow in Caceres picI can't believe it, on the way home :-( but at least we've a few days riding north, so after packing and checking-out of the hotel, we hit the road out of Faro heading towards Seville, which is motorway for the best part, Seville from the outskirts seems industrial, we stop for petrol and get talking to a Spanish guy also on a bike with a pillion, in broken english, seems the reg plate catches his attention anyway we hit road and head north towards Cacerces via Merida, it's fairly hot today, especially back in leathers etc. so we stop a few times more for water than fuel, I see the Spanish guy again at our next stop and he seems to join us as we head north, between myself and Mick. I start to suspect he's up to something and push on a bit and expect Mick to follow, but no, while I pull away no sign of Mick so I slow down a bit.

Pool View and Maria pic

Eventually Mick overtakes and push on again, and to my surprise, the Spanish guy over-takes us both, I'm getting really concerned as to his intentions, so I go into overdrive and buzz passed him again, not to difficult on a Blackbird, and I expect Mick to do the same, alas no and a while later the Spanish guys seem to disappear. At our next stop I quizzed Mick as what happened and Mick's take on it seems the Spanish guy just wanted to ride with us some of the way, so much so he nearly binned it trying to make his exit off the motorway, so all the concern for nothing.

We make it to our night stop in Carceres and get a room with air-con alleluia!! as it's been one of the hottest days yet, but a dip in the pool and a beer is just what's needed...

Caceres to Riano - Tuesday

Another stop near Riano pic

Another bright sunny day and most of the group leave together, I start leading the group but soon notice some have disappeared but most have maps or sat-navs so no big deal, but it's not long until it's just Mick and myself again, I pull in and find I had missed the motorway, which is strange that the sat-nav missed that, so after some checking I find I had turned off the motorways yesterday and it was still set that way - doh! but I was enjoying the scenery anyway. At the next chance we get, we get on the motorway as we do have a bit of ground to cover and it's not long before a fuel stop brings us all back together and the slowest service in history for a coffee, anyway with us and the bikes refilled we veer left as we approach Salamanca and head to Zamora, the more we travel the smaller the roads and the more picturesque everything becomes and coming out of one of many tunnel the vista is breathtaking, a reservoir to our left, and a major drop to our right and it clicks that we are on a dam, it's just spectacular scenery. Looking down over Riano picA few more bends and tunnels we come to a bridge over a glistening lake in the strong sunshine, with Riano on the opposite side.
What a place to stop, with the camping site looking down over the town and across the bridge which we passed over, every direction was spectacular.
So for the second time of the trip, it's a tent tonight but you couldn't pick a better place to sleep under the stars - a quick shower and change we all sit in awe having a glass of beer and some tapas which were delicious and just as well as the restaurant doesn't open til 9pm. No ones complaining and a nice relaxed evening was had with a glass of champagne in celebration of Tania's graduation which she missed today by being on the trip.

Riano to Dax - Wednesday

the descentWell an over-cast start to today and a good bit cooler that yesterday, myself and Mick pack and leave the beauty of Riano, and as we ride along the lake, it starts to drizzle, the road is narrow and bendy as it ascents into the low cloud and it's not long before we can't see 20 feet in front of us, the road is dreadful at this stage changing from tar to gravel and sand in places. We past some road works, I don't know how they got the trucks up here, I'd hate to pass one in a car as the drop to our right is unnerving, especially with the visibility being so low, I suppose if you could see what was to your right, it might be worse. Dropping out of the cloud picEventually we get to the top and start the decent on the other side, but now you have to deal with visability or the lack of it, the wet road surface and the steep decent. Now and again you get a glimpse of the valley floor on our right, it's a long way down and after what seemed endless decent the clouds begin to break and we can see more and more, eventful trip down the mountains, glad that section is over. We push on and we end up riding parallel to a river through a gorge with sheer cliff risening up either side, it's a pity it's still drizzling as I say the scenery would be something else considering how good it is now!!
As we begin to level out, the weather brightens and stops raining as we hit Bilbao and Durango (Maria's ancestral home), I'm surprised how big some of what looks like small towns on the map, are in fact major cities with motorways heading in all directions at some points. As we head east along the coast heading for France we stop for lunch, and as we leave the restaurant, most of the crew past us as we saddle up, traffic is heavy and it's into France before we catch them at which point I lose Mick, but when I get to the hotel in Dax, a couple of phone calls and the group is all back together - I'm shattered, dinner, beer, bed!!

Dax to Nantes - Thursday

Leaving Dax Hotel pic

Leaving Dax it's a little damp, which probably sums up our spirits as we get closer to the end. today is a relatively short day so we stay away from motorways most of the day, some nice country roads and while the scenery is nice, pales into comparison to Riano. Plenty of fields of sunflowers, must be harvested for oil, it's very Van gogh feel.

As we pass Bordeaux which has a major ring road and it's vital that we get off at the right exit or you could spend hours finding your way back, we pass over a fairly long bridge, and fairly high as we pass the Garonne River, nice to be able to see a little more till we get back to ground level, a fuel stop and lunch and then the last stretch into Nantes, A toll from Dax to Nantes picthe roads approaching the city centre narrow and seems most of the roads have been sacrificed for cycle and light rail lanes, a bit confusing in sections particularly at major intersections but we get to our hotel without any real bother.


As usual, it's a shower and a change and we head out to explore the place, well - find a bar and a restaurant, a nice dinner was had, some tried Escargot but I settled for steak :-) and headed off to find a bar which isn't to difficult, but prices are equivalent to Ireland's if not more expensive, as it's our last night on foreign soil, it was a late one...

 

Nantes to Cherbourg - Friday

Le Mont Saint-Michel

Well not an early start, but we get sorted and moving, today we want to stop at Le Mont Saint-Michel before heading to the ferry but we have plenty of time as we meander through French countryside, certainly more villages that Spain and more of a rural feel about the place, the weather is fine and sunny and all is well with the world.
As we travel north, we get glimpses of Le Mont Saint-Michel in the distances, it looks great and as we hit the coast road just east of it, it's plain to see why so many visit, a lovely place and plenty of tourists too. As we are on bikes, we get to park nice and close to the entrance which is great especially walking around in leathers on a warm day. Plenty of bikes parked around and most from Ireland and two belonging to our group. As we enter, the place is alive, people everywhere and the smell of restaurants and cake shops is appetising, plenty of souvenir shops too - we snake our way higher and higher. Great views around as you look back towards the mainlandLe Mont Saint-Michel pic - we don't go all the way up to the top, it's just to warm carrying gear and wearing leathers, a few photos and we head back down, the restaurants are all busy, so we wait till we get back on the road to find a place for lunch. Plenty to choose from and after a nice lunch we head for Cherbourg and we arrive with plenty of time to spare. We stop along the edge of the harbour for a coffee and savour the last of our trip, and it's not long before we are queuing up to board the ferry back to Rosslare. Four bikes already here and we're directed to the ferry and up the same ramp, no apprehension this time though and as we park the bikes we see some of the others make there way to the ferry. As we settle down for a beer there are text messages going to and fro to some of the others who are running late and are last onto the ferry, much to their relief they've made it just about

Cherbourg to Poulaphoca (or Home) - Saturday

So this is it, the last day (for some) most of the crew are planning on finishing their trip by attending a rally in Poulaphoca, Wicklow - but I decide to head home, it's been two weeks and I look forward to seeing the family.
I wake up and head for breakfast, seems I'm the only one up, the weather matches my spirits, a bit grey and overcast and another three hours before we dock. After breakfast the crew slowly emerge one by one, we all share stories while we wait till we land and I say my goodbyes as most are heading together to Poulaphoca to the rally, yet again we will be last to leave, so when the ferry docks, trucks, cars and campers all unload first, then the bikes, a quick stop in Rosslare and I'm off to Newbridge and home.
Next day I here the crew win furthest traveled to the rally, not surprisingly since Faro is over 2,500kms away - Well Done all - it was a blast, thank you one and all for a brilliant experience that I'll never forget ;-)

Alan


Faro to Poulaphoca pic