Wednesday  Dateicon  10.8.2016  Tigericon  360km - Total:3583km

First rain day of the trip.
It starts out a bit cloudy before the flood gates of heaven open up, I stop at the first available opportunity and close up all the ventilation on the gear but eventually not even that is enough.

The gear still does what it's supposed to do so I'm not getting wet but the rain is hammering down in such a ridiculous quantity that it floods parts of the road and in the opposite direction sand is washing out in two out of three lanes.
Even though the road is partially flooded people are still driving like aquaplaning is just a myth used to scare children so I soon realize I need to get off the road because regardless of my own riding I'm still in a real danger of becoming a statistic on someone else's tab.

I manage to wrestle the bike up on a traffic island under the roof of a gas station and proceed to drink coffee at a rate that would make even a sloth fall asleep.
Somewhere around three quarters to an hour the rain have shifted tempo several times and with the support of a weather app on the phone I need to face the fact that I'm not going to get out of it unless I stay here all day.

I get back in my gear and head off.
I'm fretting the decision but the rain makes me skip a scenic route on the N-320 which I had looked forward to a lot but with this weather I wouldn't have enjoyed it anyway and if the description of the condition of the road is anything to go by it probably wouldn't be the safest detour in this weather either.

The clouds doesn't disperse until I'm in Madrid and now it's to late to go back.
I check in to hotel El Coloso and the receptionist asks if it's ok that my room is on the sixth floor even though the lift only goes to the fifth?
I accept because it didn't sound like there was a real option anyway but I'm silently grinding my teeth because I'm sure that I without any competition whatsoever have the most complicated luggage of all the guests in the whole building.

And the route to the penthouse room was ridiculously complicated but man, what a room!
This isn't even a room, this is bigger than my first apartment. It has a hall, a living room with a desk, a bathroom with a bathtub and a king-size double bed in a spacious bedroom.

I manage a few hours of exploring in the city and the only building I manage to get into is the cathedral but that was also without a doubt the most beautiful building of the trip so far.
The neighbouring royal palace is obvious even from the outside that it will be worth a visit so I put that at the top of my itinerary for tomorrow.
 

Ok. So I was a bit grumpy about the maze-like route through endless halls to get to the room but in the end it was definitely worth it.


Exploring Madrid.




San Miguel market dating back to the turn of the century.

Plaza Mayor

Almudena cathedral. Bravo! Exelente! Magnifico! Esplendido!



The palace



The palace garden, Sabatini Gardens


Thursday  Dateicon  11.8.2016  Tigericon  0km

Said and done, I stroll down to the palace first thing only to be greeted by a cue to the tickets sale that's so incredibly long it feels like that's probably all visitors they're going to accept all day.
With just one day to spend in the city I would never have considered cueing for what would probably be at least a couple of hours anyway but on top of that the whole spectacle is taking place on the palace square with nowhere to escape the scorching sun.

I move on. According to Lonely Planet Madrid has some of the finest art museums in the world and even though it sound a bit above my class culturally I still head toward the best of the three the town has to offer.
Like I'm the only who had that idea...
I don't know how I figured but if the palace cue was ridiculously long then this cue can probably be seen from the international space station.

Somewhat disappointed I come to terms with either spending the whole day cueing or skipping everything that has admittance.
There was a botanical garden right next to the museum so I did a lap in there which was nice but I really had to minimize my exposure to the sun because at this point the temperature was +38°C so a after a long stint in direct sunlight I could almost feel my pale Scandinavian skin sizzling.

A city walk was really nice as the number of tourists where relatively few compared to Barcelona.
I head back toward the palace and the cathedral and pay the bargain price of €1 to get into the crypt under the cathedral which had already closed yesterday.
Absolutely fantastic experience, an eerily beautiful place and a euro well spent.

After that to my utter surprise the cue to the palace by now at about half past three in the afternoon is all but gone.
The wait time now seems to be about ten minutes which seems totally worth it so I line up.
It definitely was worth both the wait and the money. The building itself was very impressive and the inventory wasn't any less so.
Something that spiced up the visit was that you weren't formally allowed to take any photos inside (which I can only assume is because of morons who can't disable the flash on their camera) but the guards where not very active and relatively few so I managed to get a few pictures any with the camera in stealth mode.
After all I'm a tourist, I go places and take photograph, that is what I do.

The biggest challenge was the armoury, that poor lonely guard had his arms full  with single handedly monitoring the entire room.
He faced an impossible challenge and I had to be very sneaky about the couple of photos I managed to get. Well played armory-guard.
I didn't get far however because in the very next room a guard comes up and tells me that I had forgotten to turn of my camera.
The only thing visible was the OSD-info on a black screen and I had the camera on a strap on my shoulder. Very impressive and very awkward.

That's about all I have time for today so I just grab a cup of coffee and a beer in the café at the palace before heading back to the hotel.
Unless I make a really bad mistake in my calculations further on tomorrow should be the longest stint of the journey with its 620kms so I best get an early start.

 

This is just the final third of the cue to the ticket office of the palace and it wasn't moving fast.
With temperatures in the upper thirties I can only assume that all the people at the end of the line got heatstroke before getting inside.

With the line to the Prado-museem being almost as ridiculous I settled for admiring the exterior.
It was a real shame that I didn't get in because I would have loved to see the inside of such a grand two hundred year old building completely regardless of the art on the walls. I can only imagine that the walls are pieces of art in themselves.


The botanical garden.



San Francisco basilica, unfortunately closed.

I went back to the cathedral and visited the crypt.

Very eery and beatuiful.

Back to the palace.


If someone in charge of palace security is reading this everything I've written above is untrue. I would never take pictures where it's not allowed.
The camera must of gone of by itself for some strange reason. Accidents do happen...


The armoury with more shots accidentally taken by the camera.

Back in the courtyard. Here I'm standing in the middle of the courtyard and have taken a 180° panorama and then turned around and done the same thing.

Friday  Dateicon  12.8.2016  Tigericon  618km Total:4201km

When people asked my what I was going to do with my vacation time a half joking and half serious replied that I would get on the bike and head south until it stops raining.
Well I've certainly achieved that.
The temperature is already +37°C when I head off and if I've previously had temperatures where the slipstream even at highway speeds feel like a hair-dryer that hair-dryer has now been upgraded to a heatgun.
Even though it's not very pleasant riding with the visor open at highway speeds it's complete necessity today.
I'm really glad I bought the cooling vest otherwise I'm not sure I could have pulled this off at all.

The cooling vest that is supposed to last 2-4 hours depending on environment is completely dry after one hour and even though I'm drinking just as much as I'm capable at every stop the familiar dehydration headache begins to creep up on me after just 45 minutes of riding.
I don't think I managed any longer stints than 80kms between stops the whole day and I never ate lunch. When I had to fill up on water at every stop just the thought of eating made me slightly nauseous.

With about 100kms to go I make one of countless waterstops today.
Since I've fitted lowering links on the bike I've been a bit extra paranoid about where I park because the lean angle is a bit less than it used to be (and it wasn't great before).
So I always try to park somewhere where the ground works in my favour, and it felt like I had found a good spot.

But just as I get of the bike I can feel the bike slipping away.
But as I get a firm grip and steady myself on the bike I realize that it wasn't the bike, it was my own consciousness that was slipping.
I rested just a bit longer this time before I felt ready to get back on the bike.

All day was just dull highway riding and I think it was for the best because I don't think I could have handled any scenic detours in these temperatures.
It was a great feeling to finally park the bike in the hotel garage and hit the shower but now I really needed to get some food.
It was about 8PM and I hadn't eaten since breakfast.

I stumble inside the first place that sounded slightly familiar which happened to be Hard Rock Café, usually not a favourite of mine since they tend to play anything except hard rock but the surprised me by playing a few classics like Nirvana and Journey.
Not that it would have mattered any which way because what I did to that grilled chicken would put me on a  PETA watchlist and it would have been just as R-rated regardless of the soundtrack and the hipster waiters that continuously interrupting my barbarism to check if I'm cool will never know how close they came to be victims of a violent crime.

I thought I had earned a small digestif so I asked one of the hipsters if they had any Irish whiskey.
When he starts of with Jack Daniels and continues with Jim Beam I can resist saying that I'll stop him if he ever gets to anything that is actually whiskey which happens to be Jamessons.
It seems to be a very popular brand down here judging by all the ads, even on the trams.

Half a grilled chicken with fries, draught beer, mineral water, whiskey and a coffee comes to €30.
I blame myself for not coming up with this business idea because that's more than I paid for the four course meal at the hotel in Sanremo.

That's all I have time for today because I really need to tend to one of the less glamorous aspects of motorcycle touring which is laundry.
I checked the hotel laundry service and I'm not paying €4 to get a t-shirt washed, at those prices it would be cheaper to throw my clothes away and by new.

 

The temperature was right below 40° during most of the day but with about 100kms to go I went over.

Restaurardore square. On the obelisk in the middle are all the names of the casualties in the fighting off the Portuguese restoration war.

The life as a two-wheeled globetrotter isn't as glamorous as you might think. This is about as party as my Friday night got in Lisbon.