August 01, 2006 GMT
Portugal , Spain & France

We arrived in Lisbon on the 24 July_ not too tired as we had had a break for the weekend. Colin had booked the hotel over the net and managed to get one of a chain that was Muslim and therefore "dry" of alchohol. Thought we had left that behind ! However there were many bars on the corner of the street.

The Customs agent phoned us late on 25th and said that the bike had arrived on Mon 24th but he had forgotten to update the tracking system on the net. We had checked and thought it had not arrived.

So bike was collected on Wed 26th. We got a taxi to the Agents to collect the paper work and then onto Air Cargo. It was all so efficient and within an hour the bike was through Customs. Colin rebuilt it and we were back at the hotel within 3 1/4 hours.__ Very different from Delhi and Australia.

The Agent had met us at Customs and hung around for a while and then came back to see if we were OK. Colin mentioned that we needed to get petrol and he took me to the petrol station and put 9 litres in an old water container !___ (memories of pakistan ! ) Total cost of getting the bike out was 60 GBP. How the Agent got paid we never did find out.

We chose Lisbon as it is a good central jumping off point for where ever. Definite route has not yet been planned.
It's hot at 35 degrees and we are back to doushing our head,face and neck at each stop.That,s lush when you are hot.

Left Lisbon on Thurs 27th on the N4. The houses here are pretty with the white paint and the red cupped tiles on the roofs. The storks have built their nests on top of the pylons or Church steeples.

Entered Spain and gained an hour and travelled on to Merida which is a town with numerous well preserved Roman ruins.
On to the N430/420 to Cuenca on Fri 28th. There are fields and fields of Sunflowers along this stretch and all the heads face the sun in the morning. It's well weird to see them all facing the same way without exception.The soil is deep red to chalk white, very lush and fertile. Vines,corn on the cob,all types of fruit and rice paddies.
It was on this section that the tarmac cracks in the road had melted_ just like a skating rink !

On the high plains in Spain (there was no rain!) there are many forts and fortified towns.

The shops shut mid afternoon and reopen at 7pm. Restaurants open at 8/9 pm till 11pm and all the children are out dining with the parents .

From Cuenca to Oliana which is along scrub desert areas with huge rock formations on the side of the road. It,s similar to how I picture Utah- including the cacti. Oliana is on the edge of the Pyrenees and was 35 degrees. We had a hotel with a swimming pool and that was a luxury which we made good use of !

Through the Pyrenees on Sun 30th. A good biking road and scenery of tree covered mountains and babbling brooks in the valleys.

On to the C14 (good biking road) to Andorra which is a small Principality with it's own Customs control. It's one huge shopping area with cut price petrol, booze ,tocacco (15GBP for 200 cigs) and food.

In Spain you can get a good meal for 28 GBP including bottle of wine.Petrol is 1GBP per litre.There is very little traffic on the road and there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or a meal.

And so on to France through Foix where there is a spectaculqr Castle and onto Millau.There seem to be alot of deserted houses around and due to the shutters being closed,( due to the heat,) it gives the impression of deserted towns as well. There are bars galore but you must fill up with petrol when you can.

From Foix to Millau was a good biking road with plenty of twists and turns . On one of the pull offs there was a squat loo !_ I thought I had left them behind as well.

Today (1 Aug) we have been over the Bridge above the clouds at Millau. It is very impressive and very high ! A fee of 2.75 GBP was well worth it.

We think we will route through Switzerland, Austria, Checkoslovakia, Germany, Holland and Belgium. That's plan 1 at present !

Total miles :13904

Posted by Dee Masters at August 01, 2006 02:26 PM GMT

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