Tuesday  Dateicon  16.8.2016  Tigericon  445km Total:5030km

Nothing bad ever happens that doesn't bring something nice along.
Had I followed the original route I would have missed the ride along the Portugese coast and what is todays scenic detour: Estrada Nacional 222.
93 bend along 27kms of what was hailed as the worlds best road in 2015.

It was truly spectacular riding along the endless rows of grapevines terracing along the hillsides.
If you are of that particular persuasion I bet you could spend a nice holiday just riding between the wineries of this region.

I really had intended just to ride the 30kms but when they where up and the time came to head back on to the motorway it was if the handlebars just didn't want to make the turn.
Even if the rest of the way wasn't as spectacular as the first part it was a very nice ride and Valladolid was only ever intended as a reststop if it takes me another hour of two to get there it really doesn't matter.
So I ended up following the N222 about three times a far as I had intended but I didn't loose any mileage at all and the time was well spent because the rest of the day was just dead straight boring motorway all the way onto... a pedestrian street.

I have in time grown a bit sceptic when the GPS routes me onto a pedestrian street when I don't have line of sight to the hotel I'm going to so when that happens I disregard it and ride past but this time the recalculated route takes me full circle around the block and onto the same pedestrian street.
This time I actually spot a sign where guests of the hotel are exempt so I ride on.
But after riding along what felt like the whole city core on a pedestrian street it's starting to feel a bit weird.
A little bit: ok, 1km+ on a pedestrian street: no, that feels like I'm pushing it.
But after parking the bike and walking the rest of the way I get confirmation that yes, the pedestrian street is the only way. It's a very strange infrastructure in this town.
So when he asked if I'm comfortable with riding about 40m on the sidewalk to get to the garage since that is the easiest way it didn't feel like I stepped it up much.

That he said to ride through the gate and into the elevator I put down to the language barrier... until I rode into the elevator.
There's a first for everything and this was obviously the way to go, it was a vehicular elevator transporting vehicles to two floors of parking below ground.
When the elevator doors opened I half expected to be greeted by someone in a pinstripe suit saying welcome Mr. Bond.

Since it had already gotten pretty late in the day the only thing I got to see the inside of was the San Pablo church.
But it was a very picturesque city so just wandering around without a plan was a pretty good plan.

I had dinner at a restaurant called NYC Hell's, you just have to admire the humour of naming a restaurant Hell when your closest neighbour is the cathedral.
Sometimes there is a fine line between heaven and hell.
Another paradox was that on this Restaurante Americano there was not a living soul that could speak even the slightest bit of English.
Luckily the menu was anglofied enough for me to guess the rest.
And regardless of menus I can order a Cerveza like I was born an hombre.
I ordered bourbon marinated pork with fries, it was so unbelievably good I almost shed a tear.
That swine did surely not die in vain, I shall remember its sacrifice.

 

Estrada Nacional 222.





Bond. James Bond.

Turboturism in Valladolid.

San Pablo church.

Santa María La Antigua church.

With a view of the cathedral from my seat in hell.

Wednesday  Dateicon  17.8.2016  Tigericon  531km Total:5561km

Today is purely transport, I've deliberately made this leg of the route longer to have more time in Andorra tomorrow.
The first half of the day wasn't on motorway however but on B-roads with a speed limit of 90km/h.
The adherence to speed limits in this country is one of the worst I've ever seen, perhaps due to the fact that I've only seen the one traffic cop thus far in all my mileage through Spain.¹

So I sort of went with the flow and took a somewhat more liberal approach to the speed limit.²
Oh my god that was a lot of fun, but even though the Swedish traffic police would have considered the death penalty for my sins I definitely wasn't the worst one out there.

Something that's been a problem throughout the whole trip is the food, it usually is but this was worse.
The last bid I got from the doctors was to not only exclude milk completely but also avoid gluten whenever possible and if at all possible also that entirely.
I though the Swedish sandwich-culture was fairly unique but the Spaniards have us well beat, today's breakfast in Valladolid was bread, bread and more bread.
Honestly it was more like 7 kinds of pastry and not bread-bread.
It was like Marie Antoinette had decided the breakfast menu.
The waiter looks very surprised when I pointed to a mini-paket of corn flakes and a banana... the value for money I've gotten out of the breakfast buffets on this trip is really ridiculously low.

So if breakfast is a slice of bread for the normal Spaniard then lunch is a slice of bread in between two other slices of bread.
At one point I got of the motorway to eat at a lunch restaurant just to find that there was a refrigerated counter with sandwiches, that was the whole menu on something calling itself as a restaurant.
No wonder almost the entire way between Madrid and Lisbon was endless grain fields.

But my point is that by now I've pretty much given up on lunch on the move completely even on the days I would manage to eat something so today I just turn of the road on nice spot of my choosing and eat one of my readymeals.
Obviously the surroundings and the sense of freedom have something to do with it but I have yet to eat a readymeal that wasn't delicious.
I don't care about the extra weight, next trip I'm bringing even more of them.

I'm actually staying in the outskirts of Lleida in an Ibis budget hotel because I thought it would take me all day to do the 500km from Valladolid.
One of the first things that happen after check in is that I ask about the garage.
I get told that the garage is open and I'm welcome to just ride down. Big mistake.
The gate is closed (not noticeable from ground level) and there is no intercom, and the decline down to garage is steep as a m*****f***er.
Turning around is not an option at all so I'm actually kind of proud that I managed to park the bike in that decline but the hatred must have been oozing from my pores on the walk back to the reception because as soon as she saw me walk through the doors the receptionist apologised and said she would open the gate right away.
Sometimes it's definitely beneficial not having to speak because with the vocabulary I had in store I wouldn't have made any new friends.

There was a McD adjacent to the hotel so that was irresistible but I had a very strong feeling that you weren't supposed to bring any outside food into the rooms since you pretty much had to walk through the hotels own restaurant to get back.
The solution was McDonalds take away in a backpack. I obviously could have just eaten in the restaurant but there is a certain satisfaction in committing the perfect crime.

 

¹I have since learned the speeding although still obviously frowned upon by the police the fines aren't particularly high  (about €100 for doing 120km/h in a 90km/h) and the speed at which you get your license revoked is a lot higher than back home. And if I'm not mistaken, the speeding isn't considered serious (with license revokation) until your caught doing over 160km/h in 90km/h zones or 190km/h on the motorway.
² You'll never take me alive!

 

Lunchspot of the day

A quick brake to drink some water

Thursday  Dateicon  18.8.2016  Tigericon  259km Total:5820km

It's time to start heading back north so today I'm heading back towards the mountains to be more precise the Pyrenees and Andorra.
Thanks to the slightly more ambitious routes the last few days I can afford a slight detour on the way.
Ultimate Drives lists the N-260 as on of the finest rides in this region and even though I couldn't do all of it I could at least do some.
It only added about 20kms to the route and it was worth every meter.

Sometimes when you ride a particularly boring road every meter feels like a pain and you'd like nothing more than being able to teleport to the next hotel but here on this road I never wanted it to end.

Until this trip I had never ridden in an elevator with the bike but now I did it again at the hotel in Andorra, this time it's probably a bit to rocky for a basement so now I went up to level 3 and parked the bike.
I take a shower and hit the town, get some lunch (McD:s again, I'll shamefully admit) and take in the sights... which I have to say there where none, none whatsoever.

Wikipedia says:
Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 10.2 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status... and furthermore The banking sector, with its tax haven status, also contributes substantially to the economy

I didn't know this when I walked the streets of their capital but in hindsight it's perfectly obvious because that was all there was... banks and shopping.
I think I walked almost 10kms before I went back to the hotel and all the way I couldn't shake the feeling that I was stuck in a tax-free shop.
There where just hordes of tourists and weirdly niched boutiques like cigarette-shops with pallets full of cartons of cigs and trinketshops with its windows full of pepperspray and knives that have no legitimate use at all other than as props in a horror film.

This was probably one of the biggest surprises of the trip, I had no expectations or prejudices towards Andorra at all so I don't know what I expected really but it definitely wasn't this.

I have no more stays planned where I sleep in the same place more than one night which causes a bit of a laundry dilemma.
A trouser press would have been grand but without either that or an iron I'll settle for just washing underwear and socks.
I rotate the socks so each sock gets 7 minutes on the hair dryer (the guests in the next room probably loved me) while I'm routing and booking hotels for the next few days.
The room have a floor mounted AC-unit that can produce tornado-like output so I tie my underwear like a jolly roger in a storm and set it to 25°C.


Already at the first water stop of the day it's obvious I'm heading towards more scenic surroundings.

N-230 outside Sopiera heading north.

Escales reservoar
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N-260


Port del Cantó
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Andorra la Verra, the sculpture is Salvaror Dalís Nobility of time