|Making my way along the minor coast road to my next camp
at Fuseta I was soon set up and saying “Hello” to people I had
met on previous visits. This site is quite the opposite to El Racco - you
just camp where
you like and the place looks quite rough. Only hot showers but
no hot taps but despite this it is our second most enjoyable place to camp.
just walk into the small town square and as there is no holiday
trade apart from the campers it has a good atmosphere.
I went into town at night but did not need a meal and just had coffee
and cake sitting outside in the square. A kind German in a motor caravan
insisted on giving me a warm blanket for the night was going to be very
cold he said. I did not plug into electrics as I felt I would be warm enough
with the inner tent zipped up and my head torch provided enough light to
I spent a lazy day in Fuseta after a cold start - the “hot” shower
wasn’t and on complaining I was told they were waiting for a fresh
gas tank - now they tell me! I did a small washing and felt quite professional
as I hung it out on my line. I strolled to town and bought the Saturday
Mail on Sunday! and read it sitting outside a café with good coffee
and cake - okay cakes. There were plenty of Brits around to chat to and
we could see that bad weather was coming, lots of cloud and high wind. At
night I enjoyed a meal at “The Wee Man’s Café” as
Grace and I call it - he is a character and runs a tight ship. I was caught
in the rain as I hurried back to camp where I had been invited to have a
drink with two young Brits in their big motorvan. I enjoyed sitting in their
comfortable van listening to the heavy rain while “Sean” gave
me his views on Life, The World, Religion etc aided by puffing on a comforting
smoke. I awoke during the night aware that all was not well. The high wind
had pulled the pegs out on one side and the tent wall was blowing in against
where I was lying. After pretending it wasn’t happening and trying
to ignore the wall pushing against me I crawled out into the wind and rain
and found I had enough spare cord to tie the tent to an adjacent tree -
What a depressing sight in the morning - still strong winds and rain
and rather than spend a day or maybe two waiting for the weather to improve
I decided to change my plan to ride up to Lisbon by going back to Seville
and making my way home via Cordoba, Madrid and Burgos before making for
the French border again.
When I left Fuseta I could not believe the strength of the wind blowing
off the sea - I was reduced to driving at 45mph and even then was being
blown around. After the border with Spain conditions improved because I
was sheltered by hills and I was able to resume my 75mph cruising. Once
again there was a noticeable drop in temperature as I climbed up to the
high ground before Seville - I had made the wrong decision regarding clothing
as in Fuseta despite the high wind it was not very cold - now the neck warmer
I was wearing rapidly became a wet towel and I felt quite chilled. There
is an excellent service station between the border and Seville, the only
thing was I couldn’t remember how far it was. I knew if I kept plugging
on it would eventually appear. Cold, wet and hungry as I had no breakfast,
I finally got there and the warmth as I pushed the door open was a delight.
I had a good snack meal and coffee and took the chance to blow hot air into
my gloves in the toilets. After properly “togging up” with warm
clothing I found that in the next 20-30 miles as I descended into Seville
it became warmer and less windy but, of course, taking the route towards
Cordoba meant I was climbing again and I was so glad that I was wearing
all the right gear at the right time - the big handlebar muffs in particular
do a good job of keeping my gloves dry and my hands fairly warm. At an afternoon
cafe stop on the way to Cordoba I got talking to a Dutch lorry driver and
his wife who travelled Europe on long haul deliveries. I was a little taken
aback when, in order to include her in our conversation, I asked the little
lady if she enjoyed the travelling - “it’s okay but it’s
sore on the ass” - the lady said.
This drive North to Cordoba was not as long a trip as on other days but
I was glad to get there and drive through the city centre to the municipal
camp site. I had a fabulous hot shower and used the disabled facilities
quite shamelessly as they had more room and a chair - well I wasn’t
all that far from being disabled, the state I was in. In the evening I wandered
around the district outside the camp looking for a place to eat but in the
end took a taxi into the city centre - very spacious and well lit, the city,
not the taxi. I had a very average meal and walked around for a while with
a “what the hell I am doing here all on my own when I’ve got
a lovely wife and a motor home at home feeling ” - there was no answer
to this question.
Back at the camp I tried to sleep but having walked quite far my knees
were aching and hot - so much so that I unzipped my bag and used it as a
quilt so that I could press a cold cloth to my knees. With the heater on
the tent was very comfortable. In the morning the English chap parked in
his van beside me was very chatty and, of course, turned out to be a biker.
He owned ten classic bikes that he had restored and said he would never
sell them but would pass them down to his family - na ïve.
I made my first real error after leaving this camp - turned right and
headed North but must have missed the right turn for Madrid and ended up
a narrow road outside Cordoba - ten miles wasted. It was a nice sunny morning,
initially, and was so warm I took off my gloves and rode with my bare hands
inside the muffs quite comfortably. Once again condition changed rapidly
- the sun went - the wind blew - and it became much colder. Learning from
yesterday’s experience I stopped by the roadside and put everything
on! - including the wax plugs. I decided to really stick the plugs in deep
and in the ensuing silence I sailed along at 75-80mph. My proposed night
stop was a camp site at Val de Pinas which I had been assured by campers
in Fuseta was open in the winter. I came off the Autovia and drove slowly
through the town looking for a “campismo” sign but on the other
side of town asked a chef in a roadside café for directions - “no
problem” - pointing to a nearby flyover and indicating I should come
back down the other side of the motorway. I finally found the site and was
somewhat peeved to find that it was closed and in the process of renovation.
Now late afternoon, cold and windy, the thought of trying to find another
camp open in the winter as I rode along was not an option and I decided
to try for a Spanish hostal. The first village I turned into had a hostal
and I entered the place and asked the less than charming proprietor if he
had a “habitacione” - he picked up a set of keys and showed
me a room that any monk with standards would have refused. Pointing out
the inadequacy of a room lit by a tiny bulb and having no heating we parted
and I drove a short distance to the next town and turned off the main road
to go through the procedure again. This was a much busier hostal with lots
of lorry drivers in the bar and a good atmosphere. I was shown a comfortable
room with the door opening out onto a courtyard. I was invited to bring
my motorbike round to the rear of the building where it was locked in their
enclosed yard. After humping my heavy gear into my room I ran a hot bath
and subsided into it - heaven. As the restaurants in these hostals do not
open till 8pm I listened to my radio, watched Spanish TV news of the situation
in Iraq and read my book about a chap who Ran to Australia some thirty years
ago - made my little trip seem luxury on wheels!
I enjoyed a good meal in the restaurant and lay on my comfortable bed
in my heated room listening to BBC World Service and watching Real Madrid
play Locomotiv in Russia.
I wonder if I will be home before the war against Iraq begins? - more
of a punishment exercise than a war in view of the unequal forces involved.
This bike ride through Spain and down to Portugal is proving a test of
adapting quickly to changing conditions - wear too much and you “boil” when
you dismount, too little and you chill on the bike. The 20 year old Honda
has performed well so far (Am I tempting fate?) and is a comfortable bike
to sit on- shades of the old 250 which was my first bike. I used to wriggle
all over the seat as the foam saddle was too thin and my weight bore me
down onto the frame. The power of the 750 makes overtaking easy and though
I have not exceeded 90 mph the speed is there if you want it.
Writing this early the next morning before re-packing and leaving my
warm room for the ride up round Madrid and on to Burgos, I felt the benefit
of a good night ’s sleep.
I have neglected my diary for a couple of days and am now trying to catch
up while lying in bed in a rather plush Logis de France motel just North
of Nantes in northern France.
When I left my room in the Spanish hostal it was a very cold morning
and I made sure I was well buttoned up. I approached Madrid in bright sunshine
and could see the snow on the mountains to the North. Driving round the
city was quite easy and I was able to maintain a steady 65-70mph. Taking
the exit off the ring road I headed for Burgos and made the mistake of selecting
an old hotel for breakfast - the service was unfriendly to put it mildly.
After a fuelling stop I used the station café for a snack, phoned
Grace and winged to her about how cold it was - fifteen minutes later I
had dropped down to lower levels, the sun came out and life was much more
pleasant. The high average speed meant it was quite possible to reach the
French border before dark and therefore I aimed for the camp I had used
on the way south - La Roletta. The camp was surprisingly busy for March
and I elected, as the only tenter, to use a pitch with no one beside me.
I plugged in and had a sleep before once again driving into Hendaye to eat.
The restaurant I had used before was closed but on ordering fish soup in
the one next door I was served the huge tureen as before - they must draw
from the same barrel - but I was too wise this time to order any other food.
In the morning I was pleased to note how much easier packing was than
when I started this trip. After a hot shower I was on my way in good condition.
OH! - strangely the bike has not used any more oil, I wonder why?
Feeling home calling I elected to use the French Autoroute to avoid negotiating
the roundabouts and traffic lights I remembered on this road. By the early
afternoon I had to concede that I was very tired - maybe overdressed for
the warmer weather I was having. By 2.30pm I decided to call it a day just
South of Bordeaux and took a room in a cheap motel just off the motorway.
This was more of a cabin than a room but clean and well fitted. After a
two hour sleep and watching events unfold in Iraq I went out to a nearby
Buffalo Grill for a meal - they are certainly consistent - not very good
in the early nineties and still not very good. The TV proved a godsend and
I watched Liverpool play Celtic on Eurosport - good game and result.
Packing in a comfortable room without having to dismantle a tent could
become habit forming and on loading the bike I thought it looked so good
I took the only photo of the trip - of the bike!
The ride from Bordeaux towards Nantes was quite monotonous - just steady
75-80mph on great roads with regular stops for fuel and food. I drove into
Nantes centre to find a cheap hotel - thought I’d found one called
BB’’s but it was one of those unmanned till 5pm jobs - you enter
and pay by your credit card and it would not let me in with my Switch card.
Lucky for me that my card was refused in Nantes as I am now ensconced in
this very nice Logis de France and am about to immerse myself in my Jacuzzi
bath complete with all sorts of soaps and shampoo etc. In the evening I
enjoyed a delicious meal before retiring to my room and drifting off to
sleep - more than 400 miles today.
A minor contretemps in the morning - I packed and debated whether to
just leave my key in the door and go as my room opened out to the motel
courtyard - better manners prevailed and on handing in the key was bade
adieu by the staff. At the door, however, a young lady appeared and said “have
you paid?”. I told her that I had handed my card to the receptionist
on arrival and the waiter had said my meal was included in my bill.” Not
so, monsieur we only took your name and room number - please pay now”.
There was a sudden lack of smiles and the atmosphere was chilly - I gave
them my Switch card and as they handed me my bill I decided to don my glasses
and actually check it - “What’s this breakfast? - I had no breakfast” -
abject apologies - another bill was prepared and I loftily suggested that
their system needed a little fine tuning - aurevoir.
On the road to Rennes next morning I allowed the bike to travel without
re-fuelling till I arrived in the big shopping centre there with 185 miles
on the clock and still with the reserve to come so this machine would do
over 200 miles without re-fuelling - that’s a tourer.
I stopped in Morlaix to search again for the essential gift for my ever
patient wife and was at last successful - no prize for guessing what I bought
but I avoided the company of men till the gorgeous smells I had been sprayed
with died away!
At Roscoff I met a group of Brits who were on an overnight trip from
Roscoff to Plymouth and enjoyed their chat before making my way down to
the ferry as we were allowed to board at 6pm to spend the time before sailing
using all the facilities of the ship - an excellent idea. I showered and
read three daily papers before having a meal in the self-service café and
joining my friends of the afternoon for company. A very smooth crossing
on the Val de Loire and I was in Plymouth by 8am British time. I really
enjoyed the early morning run, along winding roads for a change, to sunny
St Ives. Arriving around 9.30am .
Another long trip completed - would I do it again? - maybe but I would
prefer another biker with me - Robert Chaplin please note ……