Portugal 2012

This year I am going to the annual European HOG Rally again, this time in Cascais, Portugal.

Day 1/2 – London to Santander

Left home in a blaze of sunshine….. rain started in Hampshire and didn’t stop all the way to Plymouth.  Luckily I am used to this as it is fairly standard for the start of one of my trips.

Managed to arrive in plenty of time to board the ferry… me and about 500 other Harleys.. what a sight the whole deck full of Hogs… there’s more on the other side of the deck too…

The ship/ferry was fantastic.. like a cruise liner; it even has a swimming pool! Everyone warned me about the crossing… oooh dear, the Bay of Biscay… people have been known to be ill for weeks after that crossing.  Well, it was very pleasant, just a gently rocking motion that really helped me to sleep, guess I finally got lucky.

As you can see from the photos, the sun came out to welcome us into Santander,

hang on… not so fast…

by the time we got off the ferry the clouds had come over the mountains and no sooner had I left the docks than the heavens opened!!

Oooolala… rain rain rain… why am I not surprised by this???  I took to the off piste roads and had a very enjoyable ride through the mountains and down by the coast, shame about the rain but still quite a ride, which I would recommend to anyone but it would be better in the sunshine I must admit.

Stopped for lunch in San Vincente de la Barquera.. heres some photies

Rode on to Gijon to find a hotel for the night.  Stayed in the Hotel Begona, nice hotel with clean rooms… mine has a small fully enclosed balcony, which is very reminiscent of traditional Maltese apartments.

So, had a look at the map and have not gone as far as I planned so better decide now where I am going tomorrow and book a hotel….  done… am going to Santiago De Campostela for no other reason than I think I have heard of it and its on the way to Portugal… Fabby.

Day 3 – Gijon to Santiago De Campostela

Unusually for me, I got up fairly early and was on the road before 9.  Likewise, no problems getting out of Gijon and it wasn’t raining… yet… so minor miracles to behold.  Of course it didn’t last.. stopped for petrol, coffee and a crossaint and it started chucking it down, so on with the big orange romper suit, googles and mask.

Liva beans anyone??

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more scarey!!!

As I’m making my way I suddenly thought ‘it’s day 3 and I haven’t been to a Harley dealers yet… oops better see to that then’.   The nearest one in the right direction is in Coruna, only 1 1/2 hours out of my way… why not methinks.  On the way to Coruna the gps suddenly has a hissy fit and starts ‘recalculating’ like there’s no tomorrow, so I get lost of course, but only for a short while and then I’m back on track.

Whilst off track I spot this unusual graveyard…

Which reminds me…  when I got off the ferry yesterday the gps routed me onto the C352 but it said California 352 which I thought was a bit odd.. I then thought maybe its Calle..something so its just the gps voice mis-pronoucing it.  Later in the day it suddenly routed me onto the AS264 but said American Samoa 264 so unless American Samoa invaded Spain and grabbed it’s roads it must be down to Garmin being an american product and labeling the road letters as american states or whatever… weird but strangely comforting.

Where was I… oh yes… so I have come across lots of strange place names in my time but this has got to be one of the best I have ever seen….

After finding the Poo I eventually got back onto the right road (N-VI) lots of rain and mountains, but very scenic..

The gps then routed me onto the E70.. just as I am approaching a bend there is a Harley rider at the side of the road waving at me to slow down.. so I do… then round the bend is another guy also telling me to slow down, then I see blue flashing lights.. then lots of debris in the road and I feel sick.  I hope they are ok and as I pick my way through the debris I see a group of hogs on the side of the road so I pull over and ask in sign language if everyone is ok.. they reply yes all fine and one guy comes over to speak to me.. there has been a car accident, no bikes involved.

They are a group of French riders on their way to Portugal but are going to Coruna HD and have stopped to help the emergency services keep the road open and safe.. wow BIG round of applause for French hoggies; I have to say, however, that is my experience of bikers generally, we do tend to stop and help each other out if we can.

Eventually got to Coruna and made my way straight to the HD shop… guess what?  Yep SHUT!!!  I couldn’t believe it, but here’s a piccy as proof.

I arrived at 2.30 but it shuts 1.30 to 4pm… mmm what to do, I’ve come all this way and my gloves are soaking so could do with another pair… no I’ll just have to manage.  So I start to make my way to Santiago when just up the road is a Burger King; now I’m no fan of Burger King but I’m starving and I could eat while waiting for HD to open…..  ok let’s do it.  Mmm not too bad.

Back to HD at 4pm and its still shut, shit don’t tell me I’ve wasted my time, but along comes Julio who is very helpful and speaks excellent english.  An altogether pleasant experience and would recommend Coruna HD but just don’t go between 1.30 and 4pm!!  Picked up some gloves and the obligatory Tee so back on the bike and no stopping now until Santiago and the Hotel Fornos.

Arrived Santiago at around 6pm.. the hotel is in the centre so traffic is heavy but not too bad.  Now parking thats another story.. I ride around the block a couple of times and eventually get parked just down the road from the hotel.. or where I think the hotel is…. get all my bags (no where near the usual mountain this year I might add).. and troop up the road.  I find its not hotel Fornos its a restaurant, so I look next door and there is a plaque on the wall that looks like accommodation and its says PR**  so I go in the door.. nothing there except a lift… what to do??  I have another look outside and it says 4th floor, ok so I cram myself and bags into this tiny lift up to the 4th floor expecting a reception desk but no it looks like an apartment door.

Being someone who is not always easily put off, I ring the bell… waiting waiting.. the door opens and a little spanish woman is standing there and I know immediately I have made a mistake but onward the brave… “Habla Inglese por  favor?”  I mumble apologetically a stern Non is the response… ah thats all my spanish used up… so I just say lamely “Hotel Fornos?” She responds with a stream of spanish and waves her hand in the roughly down the street direction… she looks not best pleased, I bet this happens a lot.. oh dear, desperately trying to think of a word in spanish that might mean sorry, I mumble something spanish sounding and head for the lift.

Whew out onto the street but which way did she mean???

Anyway I walk down towards the bike and spot a sign saying ‘Hotel’ oh maybe that’s it.  No another dead end, but the young woman is most helpful and speaks english.. she thinks its back up the road somewhere; suddenly an elderly man appears and she tells him what I am looking for and he takes me out into the street and points up towards the angry womans flat… meanwhile he is explaining the directions in probably beautiful spanish, but luckily the young woman repeats this for me in english… it’s past angry woman and on the other side of the road.. fantastic!  Gracias I say, da nada they say.. oh I remember that.. no problemo!!

Back up the road I go to find the hotel exactly where he said it would be.  It’s absolutely lovely, the woman on reception is very friendly, I know this because she speaks excellent english of course.. and the room is just perfect 10/10 Hotel Fornos in Santiago De Campostela and cheap too only €35, Gijon was €50 including the parking so this is a bargain.

Highly recommended and I also highly recommend northern Spain, it is really beautiful and would make a great holiday.

So whats the plan tomorrow.. have looked at the map and distances so onward into Portugal tomorrow via VIGO HD and hopefully stopping somewhere south of Porto…

Day 4 – Santiago De Campostela to Aveiro Portugal via Vigo, Braga, Porto, Espinho etc etc

Slept in a bit so did not get on the road until 10 this morning.  Its a lovely day and very sunny although a little bit chilly on the bike in the morning.  First stop Vigo HD then on into Portugal.  Followed the GPS on quite a convoluted route, but managed to find it ok… except… its not a dealership, its only for servicing.  I was so disappointed that I did not even take a photo.  I did however take some photos on the route from Vigo to Porto; I also tried to shoot a short film of the ride but it didn’t work out… awwww

So this was supposed to be the start of the film… It was going to show the winding road through the trees and reminded me of a ride in Epping… hard to believe this is Spain.

Riding through the Barrios… all the houses had their own vines growing in their gardens… this is the real Spain for me, in fact the whole of this region is just lovely and such a contrast to the eastern ‘tourista’ resorts.

Who says C&A have closed down… they just moved it to Barrio O Castro, (obviously named after that famous Irish spaniard infidel).

I had to turn around and go back to capture that one.  Anyway, after the disappointment in Vigo i decided to go to the next one on the route south, so onward to Braga HD, which is actually slightly out of the way, but never mind at least it’s in Portugal.

Hurrah!!

and….

Here we are at last.

Just over the border I am delighted to find my answer to HD dealerships preprepared for me on a local wall…

Nuff said.

So, just to validate my ratty remark, Braga HD doesn’t exist anymore… sigh!!  I give up, oh well there is definately one at least in Porto so let’s get on with it.

I dial in the Porto HD and we are on our way when the GPS keeps wanting to direct me back into Spain…. I just don’t get it.. so have to wing it for a while and end up on a couple of toll roads, sigh – €14 worth.

Manage to get off and get the gps working again so find my way to the dealership in the end.  It’s right in the middle of Porto so no parking.  Have to try and squeeze the bike between a couple of cars and just as I have finished parking this little old lady comes over to me and starts talking away… now I don’t know one word of portugese at all so I just nod at her… I assume she is telling me off for parking there so I gesture to her that I will only be 10 minutes, to which she smiles rather benignly and says some more stuff, gives me a big wave and wanders off… I have no idea!!

Into the dealership, there are a couple of people serving, two male customers and 2 female customers who seem to be from Belgium… no one speaks, no one serves me or enquires if I want anything.. nada.. so I have a look around and there is absolutely nothing that I want, they don’t even have any Tee shirts… just weird.

Less than 10 minutes and I am back on the bike on my way to the Atlantic coast, there is a great road all along the coast and I am sure I will be able to find a decent hotel there somewhere.

What a beautiful beach.  I ride along for miles and miles… not a sniff of a hotel or motel.. lots of restaurants, cafe bars etc but no hotels, it’s all houses and apartment blocks.  After a while I enter Espinho which is meant to be a resort… no hotels… I keep going but find myself in the rough end of town and decide thats enough seaside for one day and make my way a little bit further inland onto the N101 to Aveiro.

It’s now 6pm and I’m getting a bit chilly so what am I going to do for a hotel???  Then I remember I’ve got an app on my iphone for booking.com a hotel booking site I have used many times before, but I have never used the app so now would be a good time to start methinks.  Excellent, have found a suitable hotel in Aveiro, the Imperial, and booked a room – it only took 10 minutes and its 45 minutes away from my present position so should be there by 7pm at the latest, fab.  What on earth did we do before iphones??

And indeed I am there at 5 to 7, fantastic!  There is a group of hoggies here from Latvia; how does she know that I hear you ask… well.

The hotel has a car park at the rear and one of the staff comes round with me to open up the electric gates.  There is a steep metal ramp to negotiate so I decide to give it a good go… unfortunately my bike is very low and the side stand catches the metal ramp and breaks off the spring that holds it in place when its not in use, so the stand is now trailing on the ground.  This is a major problem, I can’t ride it like that and although the bike will stand on it, its not really very safe.

The staff member tells me he will ask someone and we walk round to the front of the hotel where he talks to one of the guys from Latvia who comes back to look at my bike.  He gives me some cable ties and says they will be leaving about 9am and will help me get the bike off the stand and tie it up so that I can ride it to… you guessed it… a HD dealers to get a new spring.  The only other problem is the dealers is in Lisbon some 200km away, I better make sure I empty everything before I go (TMI) and not drink too much tea or coffee otherwise I will have to hold it all the way as I can’t get off the bike until I get there and someone can cut the sidestand cable ties to let the stand down.  What a bloody palaver!!

Finally… here is a photo of the bike this trip.. as you can see I have been very restrained in the packing department this year…

Again I have been lucky with the choice of hotel… very friendly and helpful staff, the room is large and clean although a bit old fashioned but who cares.  Lovely atmosphere and great location, next to plenty of eateries and apparently the best burgers in all of Portugal are just a few minutes walk away although the bar next door to it is owned by the local Hells Angel chapter, not exactly a good selling point.

Nite nite.

Day 5 – Spring has sprung – Aeiros to Lisbon and beyond…

Stayed up late last night finding details for the replacement spring.  I got the numbers for 3 different HD dealers, one in Pombal, one in Lisbon and one in Setubal about 50kms south of Lisbon in the morning I’ll ask the reception to call them and see if they have it in stock so I won’t be wasting my time going to each one.

I got downstairs at about 8.30 this morning and the woman on reception was most helpful, she did try to call Pombal, (the nearest one), but of course it was too early so she told me to go and have breakfast and she would call at 9am.  I went out at 9.15 but still it was on ansaphone, Lisbon too so she thought it may be they do not open until 9.30 so I went and had another coffee.

I went back to reception about 9.40 and she tried again but still no answer so she called Setubal who thankfully answered the phone.  After a few minutes she tells me they have the part.. whew what a relief.. then she finishes the conversation with them and explains to me that the other dealers are closed as it is a holiday in Lisbon.  It means I will have to go beyond Lisbon so will be quite some way for me to go without being able to get off, but I will just have to manage.  She gives me the address, to which I tell her I have already got it in my gps so I won’t need it but thanks anyway.

I gather all my gear and one of the Latvians helps me with tying up the side stand and I am on my way by 10.30ish.  I did stop long enough to take some photos before I left…  here are some views from my balcony

 

 

As you  can see its a very pretty street… actually the town is very smart and uber clean, very lovely.  I am so impressed with the hotel, its quite oldy worldy but it has monogrammed sheets and towels which does lend it a certain je ne sais quoi and I have stayed in some very expensive hotels for work from time to time but have never had monograms before.

 

I also stopped to snap the gondolas on the canal that runs through the town…

I’m back on the road again and after about 20 minutes I realise that I am going to need to get petrol so it would be better for fuel consumption if I avoid motorways,which means it is going to take even longer… and how am I going to fill the tank up without getting off the bike to pay??  Oh well I’ll have to cross that bridge later.. The gps tells me I am going to arrive at about 3pm so thats 4 1/2 hours in the saddle.. great.

I manage to stop for fuel and luckily there is someone serving so I just let her fill it up while I am on the bike and pay cash so no problem.

Pretty soon I am in the outskirts of Lisbon and then I am routed onto a fast road, which is great because I have been playing tag with a whole stream of lorries for the last few hours and the ride has been really boring because it seemed like a never ending industrial park all a the way down.  Then suddenly I am faced with the most amazing bridge I have ever seen.. it goes on forever.. I wish I could stop to take a photo but it is too dangerous, but here is one I downloaded this evening

I have since discovered it is the Vasco De Gama Bridge and it is 17.2kms long.. apparently there is exactly the same bridge between Sweden and Denmark but its slightly shorter… by about 2kms.  It was a real experience riding on it… it made me think of the Florida Keys, which I have always wanted to ride and hope to do so one day.

At last I arrived in Setubal and made my way to the HD dealer following the gps… when I arrived… no HD dealer!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  My gps was bought from Harley and has all the dealerships in Europe pre loaded, (sad I know), but this is getting ridiculous because I know this one still exists, the receptionist spoke to them this morning.  Then I remembered turning down the address.. what a plonker… but maybe I put it in my pocket… hurrah, yes here it is.  What a nightmare that would have been.  So its another 15 minutes to the address and that means I have been on the bike for almost 5 hours.. gosh my bums sore!!

I wait outside to see if someone will come out, but no one does, then I spot a guy in the back of the shop so I wave frantically at him until he comes out.  His name is Joao and he really is very helpful and speaks perfect English.  For those of you who know him, he is the spitting image of Marco Nardi, glasses and everything and he’s really short too.  Anyway, as soon as I can get off the bike I rush to the loo… when I come out Joao and his mate have already sorted the bike out.  I have time for a quick browse, buy a tee shirt and find out that Portuguese people don’t drink milk in their coffee and if I want to ask for milk I need to say Galon.

I tell Joao about how amazing their bridge is… he says ‘which one the red or the white’ ‘oh there are two’ says I, ‘yes, and the red one is the same as the golden gate bridge in San Francisco’ so theres another tidbit of information for you all.

They’re not actually a HD dealership anymore, they’re independent…. says it all don’t you think!

The temperature now is 80 degrees plus so its really lovely.

It takes me another hour to get to Cascais, the end of my journey, where the HOG rally is being held.  I arrive at my guest house and it is just beautiful.. I know I have said this before about the accommodation so far, I have been so lucky and this does not disappoint, its marvellous.  Anyway more about that tomorrow.

Went to the rally site and had a look around.  Bumped into some of the Latvians so took a pic

The guy on the right helped me out yesterday and gave me the cable ties.  They are so friendly and helpful, but its strange how we never exchanged names… don’t know why really.

Booked myself onto a guided ride/tour; thought it was on Saturday  but its tomorrow so I have to be up early… and the bike needs a wash!   I’m knackered.
Goodnight.

Day 6 – Already???

Don’t know how I managed to get up on time this morning…. but I did.  Gobbled down a quick breakfast and then took the bike for a wash at the local garage then back to pick up my camera etc.

Arrived at the tour meeting point at about 9.30, quite a few bikes there already so its going to be a big group.  While I’m waiting I decide to take some photos only to find I left the camera battery on charge in the hotel… damn!  The ride is leaving at 10 (allegedly) so I’ve got 10 minutes to get back to fetch my battery and get back.  Zoom, Zoom…. done!!

 

So much for a 10am start… at 10.20 they do the ride briefing… basically  there are about 200 bikes so it will be very slooooow going, deep joy.

At last we get away at 10.30… up into the hills to the first stopping point… this is a Portuguese ‘Palace’ and it takes some time to get us all parked.

I decide not to go inside, I prefer to sit at a nearby cafe and enjoy a coffee.

The next stop is the lunch venue… we are having a 3 course set lunch in a winery.. the place is huge and the food good.  The provide lots of wine with the meal… not exactly a good idea with bikers!  I didn’t imbibe of course, but some did.. mmmm

It sit at a table with some Brits…. the guy next to me is called John but his biker name is Barney.. so I say ‘oh! is that because you look like Barney Rubble?’ ‘No’ says he ‘it’s my middle name’ so I say ‘yes, but you do look like Barney Rubble tho’ to which his wife, Sue, lol and agreed with me.

Next to them is Neil and his wife Jane.. she has just flown in this morning as she has had to work in London – no idea what she does, but she seems very nice… hubby is a bit subdued and only seems interested in buying a couple of bottles of plonk from the winery.

Barney however is very chatty… he tells me his life story, well practically.. used to be a plod in Yorkshire but his mate started up his own business and offered him a plum job, an offer Barney obviously couldn’t refuse it seems as he is still with the company.  Sue is his second wife and he has a daughter with his first.. they live in Wales, just over the border from Bristol.  The best place he ever lived was Foxton in Cambs… they only lived there a year, but when they left the villagers gave them a farewell party… ???

All lovely people actually, very friendly and I certainly enjoyed the company, for a change.

After the lunch they announce that the next venue.. another ‘Palace’ will have a guided tour and as this is a huge place the tour will take 2 1/2 hours… err no I don’t think so, not with these old knees!  I decide to take my leave and go shopping 🙂

On the way down I stop to take some scenic shots, it really is a lovely area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decide to go back to the rally site to see what’s going on… not a lot… few more piccies

 

A bit bored now, so off for another ride around… decide to take the road east out of Cascais to Estoril.  There I stumble upon the Harley Custom Bike Show… ahhhh let’s have a look.

There are some interesting bikes, one of which is an Electra Glide (thats one with a huge fairing or batwing on the front), it has a scene depicted on the front, it looks like someone being tortured and reminds me of Guantanamo Bay, its meant to be a tribute to the British forces who have died in Afghanistan… a very worthy idea and I have to say the artwork is not all that brilliant in my opinion, but who am I to say.  Suppose I should have taken a photo… oh well.

There are a lot of bikes with unusual and very expensive paint jobs, but for me a custom bike means something that has had some work and unique ideas put into it, beyond chucking a load of money on painting it.

These are more to my taste…

and my particular favourite… a totally restored Panhead… with a few custom touches.

I notice there are a few bikes in the Lady of Harley category… OMG great if you like pink and lilac!!  Not on a bike ladies puleeeze… I’m going to put mine in next time, bet I don’t win, not femmy enough.  It’s interesting cos theres lots of women riders here on some very nice bikes… chops, bobbers etc. don’t know why none of them have entered the comp… probably not pink enough!

On the way back to the guest house I stop to buy some kitchen cleaner spray… gonna give the bike a good going over tomorrow, now all the crap of the journey down has been washed off.  Am quite looking forward to it actually, just chill out and listen to music while I clean all the hard to get to spots… weird I know.

After shopping I spend some time in the garden enjoying the peace and quiet… here is a link to the guest house website so you can see for yourself how lovely it is

http://www.dolcecascaisguesthouse.com/en/

In the evening I go back out down to the rally site… its really busy, but I find a place to eat.  They have something here I have never seen before…. steak on a rock!  Basically they bring your steak uncooked on a very very hot rock and you cook it yourself… what a brill idea.. I chicken out as I like my steak well done..ish and didn’t believe the rock would stay hot long enough.  Then two guys on the next table had rocks and I instantly regretted my home made burger, (which turned out to be very nice), so I’m definitely having that tomorrow night.

 Day 7 – Blooming Heck!…

As promised got down to giving the girl a good clean…. started at 11.30, finished at 2.45… mad I know but she looks fab!

As you can see….

After a quick shower I take a ride along the coast road..

 

There are several very posh looking restaurants so I think I will treat myself to an expensive meal on the way back.  I start up into the foothills then realise this is the same area I was in yesterday on the run out.. (Sintra), so I turn around and decide to go and get my late lunch.  The first restaurant definitely looks too posh so I go on a bit further and spot another one, again posh but there are a number of harleys parked outside, right this one will do.

I park up and go to the main door of the restaurant.. there is a bloke standing there and he gives me a bit of a weird look.. (I’m quite used to that so don’t take much notice).  I look at the menu and am disappointed to see it is all fish… but at the bottom they do have steak so I reckon that will do…  I’m pleasantly surprised by the prices, €25 is not toooo bad.  I turn to go into the restaurant when the bloke stops me and says.. ‘closed’… ‘oh.. what now?’ ‘yes closed’ he reiterates.  ‘Oh what a shame… what about the other restaurants along the coast?’  ‘All close you go Cascais’.  Ah I see… I get the picture, obviously I am not suitable clientele and even though I can well afford their prices I’m clearly not welcome.  Do you think it might be the converse boots, cut off jeans and bedecked waistcoat that put them off.. topped off with my usual cropped barnet or were they really closed?… discuss

Back on the bike then and down to Cascais with the hoi polloi… the rally site is absolutely rammed.. Bloomin’ heck, I think half of Portugal has turned up for a look.. it’s really difficult to get parked and a lot of the spaces are taken up with non harleys, which is a bit rich if you ask me.  I manage to get parked and just sit in the shade watching the world and its dog go by… speaking of dogs, I have seen two dogs cowering in fear due to the noise of the bikes going past, it made me quite upset, but what pisses me off is the owners, they just ignore the dog, why on earth bring your dog to such a noisy environment.. stupid and cruel.. I wouldn’t do that to my boys.

 

 

 

 

 

Mummys Boys.. awww I do miss them

 

After a while I’m feeling bored so I go back to the guest house and have a rest, it really is too hot anyway.  I spend some time re-reading my old blogs from Spain and Switzerland/Italy and it makes me think…. I wonder if anyone is actually reading this drivel???  Hey, if you are please can you click on comment and say Hi!  Thanks

I spend quite some time messing about with this blog, after the virus problem, and suddenly it is 11pm and I still haven’t eaten.  I get ready and take the bike down to the rally site again thinking it will of quietened down… no way… still hundreds of people, but now a lot of them are pissed!!  Manage to park and go to the same restaurant as last night for my rock steak… boo hoo it’s finished serving… damn should have had it last night.  Eventually I find a restaurant still serving.  I have a very nice Portuguese Steak… yummy.

I then have to ride through the crowds as the road on the site is only one way… people are so stupid, I am revving the engine but still they don’t get out of the way.. then one bloke starts shoving a plastic cup of lager in my face and jabbering away at me, obviously wants me to drink it, I say no thanks but still he insists.  I don’t know how I kept my cool but I did, I just kept saying no thank you.  The crowd then gets even thicker and its almost impossible to get through but luckily there is another bike in front and I am able to catch him up and let him part the waves.

I get back to the hotel at about 1.30pm.. there are still some residents to come back as half the bikes are missing, (theres about 6 other bikes at the place… mostly french).

Eventually go to bed, only to be woken up by the others returning.. ho hum such is harley life sometimes.

Nite nite

Day 8 – Km high club… almost!!

Today I start the route home…. I’m up earlyish so that I can get packed, not too bad given the very late night.

All ready to go by 11.30… have decided to ride up to a place called Chaves.. just because it’s called Chaves.  It is quite some distance away, 240 miles, so I need to get a move on.  I’ve decided to take motorway most of the time to get through the mountains without too much time lost… there’s no getting out of Portugal without going through the mountains if you’re heading north I’ve found.  I do like riding in the mountains but it takes such a long time with all the convoluted roads and I want to try and get out of Portugal by tomorrow morning.

The owner of the Guest house comes out to see me off… such a lovely man and so friendly and obliging, nothing is to much trouble, but typical me I’ve forgotten his name.

It’s 80 degrees and rising in Cascais but as I travel inland the clouds begin to loom…

South

 

 

North

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem number 1 – I seem to be heading to Lisbon… well the gps must be right so I guess better stay with it.  Next thing I know I’m on the same road I took to come down… nah don’t want that so keep going for a while then turn off eastwards.

Before long I am bursting for a pee so turn off to a town called Batalha… its really very nice and as I look to my left I see the most unusual church

It seems this is quite a popular place… there’s a couple of souvenir shops, some cafes and a large tourist information centre, which is closed – well it is Sunday.

Anyway this town has some connection to that famous Portuguese navigator – Prince Henry the Navigator… and here he is

Not sure where he navigated too or from… hang on let’s check wikipedia…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Henry_the_Navigator

enjoy

The other interesting fact I found was that Batalha is the where the famous portuguese cockerel comes from…

 

I feel another wiki moment coming on…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock_of_Barcelos

The other thing I didn’t know is that Portugal is the cork capital of the world… they make everything out of cork… shoes, hats, bags, purses, and even this

Unfortunately they didn’t have one in my size…  seriously though, I never thought one could make something as soft as cloth from cork!!

Problem number 2 – get onto a toll road.. don’t want a toll road but I’m on here now so better carry on.

Problem number 3 – gps routes me off A1 onto the E801 and here is the toll booth to pay the toll.  The woman says ‘ticket please’… ‘ticket??  Don’t have one’ ‘OK you have to pay fine, no ticket’  ‘Oh how much’  €40… ‘but I never saw any ticket’  ‘no ticket you must pay’…. I give in….sigh!!

The weather starts to get a bit chillier as I begin to ascend the mountains, better put my jacket on then.  Not long after the sun comes out and it’s getting really hot, but I can’t be bothered to take the jacket off and sure enough the sun disappears, but it’s still quite warm.  It begins to rain very lightly… I’m not cold so don’t bother with the orange romper suit.

Lots of fantastic scenery…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem number 4 – suddenly its pissing it down… I’m soaked… stop to get more petrol (3rd time today) and put on orange romper suit!  Can’t be bothered with the trousers, as jeans already soaking wet so just put the jacket on and some warmer gloves.

The petrol station is almost a km above sea level…

and a few miles further on I reach the dizzy height of 977m – does that get me into the km high club???

You can see I am riding amongst the clouds – very reminiscent of the Pyrenees… burrrr

Not long after this I decide I can’t go on much longer as tired and wet so not going to make it to Chaves… shame.

I get out the trusty Booking.com app on my phone and look at possible hotels.  The next biggish town on my route is Vila Real.. hotels seem quite expensive but there is one for €45, more than I want to pay but beggars etc.

Back on the road and it’s starting to get dark so glad I’ve decided to stop soon.  Arrive at the hotel and omg it looks dead posh… I pull in to the front and check my phone to make sure I have stopped at the right place.. yep this is it.

I’m very impressed.. obviously booking at the very last minute gets you some great deals.  I’ve got a huge twin room with fantastic views over the gorge… even at night…

After I drop stuff in my room I go down to the restaurant but I’m too late… have to get a bar snack instead but it’s better than nothing.

Back in my room I check out the map for tomorrows journey… can’t be bothered to decide tonight… I’ll do it in the morning….. zzzzzzzzzz

Day 9 – Rubber Camera….. NOT!

Took it very easy this morning and actually spent time in the hotel having a leisurely breakfast.  I also take the time to study the map and decide I am going eastwards into Spain to a place called Zamora.  I get straight on to booking.com and book my hotel for the night… so I shall be staying in The Hotel Jarama, which is in the centre of Zamora a short walk from the main tourist attractions… oooo maybe I’ll be a proper tourist tomorrow.

Here are some photos from my balcony in daylight… I think I prefer the night ones…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got everything ready and left at about 12.30ish.  There was a doorman standing outside the hotel… he reminded me of the guy outside the restaurant on Saturday… too late mate already been in haha

Back on the road again… was on a fast road for a while when I realised it was taking me the long way to Zamora, so I switch to the compass page on the gps and head east… after a while I decide to try and film a bit of the ride again… I think I’ve got it now…  bugger.. it won’t upload!!

That’s a shame…. anyway…

Onward and up into the mountains again.

The point is you don’t get scenery like this on a motorway…

Whilst riding ever upwards I glance down at my gps and see I am approaching the 1km above sea level mark… so I’m now definitely a member of the 1km high club… yippee!!

There are some lovely views from this height…

It’s all downhill from here… as I’m negotiating the twisty roads I decide it’s time for another video… but I can’t really manage the bike in bends one handed so what to do??  Aha… I’ve got some cable ties in my bag that the guy from Latvia gave me.. I can tie the camera to the top of the gps… fab

until the camera fell off that is….

went back to retrieve it and it’s in pretty bad shape… the battery had come out and the casing is broken… I take a few photos to test it, but I can’t see the screen properly… will have to wait and see if they come out.

oops… will have to come up with a good story for the insurance company… I don’t think ‘it fell off my bike’ is gonna cut it really do you?

It’s also a shame because the next few miles are some of the best twisty bits… would have looked good on film, but I think I’m going to have to invest in one of those camera mounts for the bike in the future.

That certainly was a great road.. the N216 between Macede de Cavaleiros and Mogadouro.

I cross the border into Spain at Miranda do Douro where there is a massive dam across the river that separates the two countries.

As soon as I am in Spain  the time jumps forward an hour, (Portugal is on the same time as the UK at the moment), I thought I had another hour and 45 mins to go, but actually its only 45 mins so that’s a good thing.

I arrive in Zamora and find the hotel no problem, but oh dear what a shabby area, it doesn’t look very good and seems my luck with the hotels has finally run out.  I have to go into a bar at the front of the hotel and the girl behind the bar does not speak any English.  Somehow I managed to ask about the parking and she takes me around the back, the garage is on a separate block and as she is showing me where it is another Harley rider and his partner walk up and he hands me a remote control for the garage door.  Ok, so that’s a positive… I park the bike and then go back to the cafe where she checks my reservation and gives me the door card.  The actual entrance to the hotel is on the side and I use the door card to open it…  good security.  Up 3 short flights of stairs to the first floor and I am very pleasantly surprised by the room.  It is very modern and clean with a good size bathroom and huge shower, which is a massive plus given the tiny one I had in Cascais; there’s a flat screen tv, wifi access and air con so all in all another good find… but I don’t want to be wandering around this area on my own at night that’s for sure.

After a quick wash and sort out I make my way down to the bar/cafe/restaurant to find out about dinner.  The other harley rider and his wife are in there and they invite me to join them for a beer.  Vince and Pat are from Milton Keynes and they have just ridden 400 miles up from Cascais to here in one hop… wow!  I ask the girl about the restaurant… in mime mostly… she says it does not open until 9pm.. another hour and I’m starving.  Pat wonders if there is a Maccy D we can go to.. so I go back to my room to check it out on the laptop and sure enough there is one a shortish walk from the hotel, so off we troop.  After about 15 minutes we find it and I have the obligatory Big Mac etc.  Oh well its filling at least.  Another 15 minute troop back and then into the hotel for the night.  Pat and Vince are a very nice couple who do a lot of touring on their bike, they tell me that the next HOG Rally will be in Rome… no way, that’s mad… there were over 10,000 bikes at Cascais, how on earth will anyone enjoy riding in Rome; well I certainly won’t be going, that’s for sure.  I might go to another major rally in Fakker See, Austria next year instead, but wait and see.

Tired now so off to bed… think I am going to Burgos tomorrow, its not far so should be a quick run, but you know me….. watch this space.

Oh checked the camera and all working ok…. just can’t see the screen properly.. damn!!

Test photo with broken camera

 

Day 10 – It’s a funny old life…

What a day!  But I shall begin at the beginning, which, I am told, is a very good place to start.

Up fairly early this morning, breakfasted and got the bike out.. packed up and just before I left took a few photos of the hotel, just to show you how grotty it looks from the outside.  As I said yesterday the room is excellent, so no complaints really…. yes I know, I’m always complaining…

 

 

So I have changed my mind as usual… not going to Burgos… realised I’ve not had the pleasure of finding a closed HD dealership for a few days, so its off to Oviedo, just 205kms from here and on the way to Santander, which is where I am getting the ferry home tomorrow.

Bombing along the N630 in the sunshine and nothing much happening… I was just wondering what I was going to say in my blog when I enter the town of La Robla.. am approaching the Pyrenees again and can see the dark clouds emerging over the mountains.  Just before the next roundabout there is a group of Spanish Civil police and one of them flags me down.. oh oh, what have I done??  He comes over and using a mixture of spanish and gesture tells me I can’t go any further on the N630 and must detour to the AP66 (a bloomin’ toll road).

OK so off I go… when I get to the booth the charge is a whopping €7.40, wow that’s steep!!  Well, I’ve go no choice so I pay up and am soon bombing up the AP66.  Before long I am in amongst the Pyrenean foothills and travelling through fairly long tunnels.  I have to say the views are almost worth the toll fee… look at this…

And a few kilometres further on…

Then through a 4000m plus tunnel into the clouds and the temperature drops and it gets decidedly damp, but I carry on without the romper suit for now as it’s only very light.  As we drop down the drizzle stops but its still gloomy.  About 2kms outside of Oviedo it really starts to rain, but as I am on the motorway there is no place to stop and put the wet gear on so just have to bear it.

The HD dealers is 5 or 6kms out the other side so by the time I arrive my jeans are soaked… again!!  I reckon I can change into my wet gear in the shop, but guess what…. it’s shut.. closed from 1pm to 4pm and its 1.30 now.. sigh!  Sod that, I’m not hanging around til 4 so I take my time and put all the wet gear on, change my gloves etc etc.

I then check out the gps and find there are two other HD dealers.. one in Bilbao and one just outside Santander.. well I’ve got plenty of time so I route to Santander for the ferry tomorrow night via the two HD dealers.. I’ll find somewhere to stay tonight along the way.

It’s still raining and miserable when I leave and have gone about 3k.  I am about to turn right when the bike decides to disappear from under me.. no warning… one minute I’m riding and the next I’m in the road listening to the bike scraping along the tarmac.  There is a tremendous pain in my right thigh, so much so that I think I have broken it.. within a few seconds there is a man standing over me obviously asking me if I’m ok in Spanish… I can’t speak the pain is so bad so I just sign pain to him and point at my leg; I think I moaned a bit too (tres unusual I know).  I try to get up but really can’t move although I have ascertained that it’s not broken as I can lift it slightly and wiggle my foot.  The man puts his hand on my shoulder and again obviously tells me to stay still.. meanwhile he is calling for an ambulance.

After a few minutes I realise that the bike is still on, so I ignore the man and make an attempt to get up… he then helps me and another man appears from nowhere to help. Once on my feet I’m able to limp over to the bike to turn the ignition off.. and when I look up the civil police have arrived already.  The first man and a lady cop lift the bike off the ground to take it out of the road, but of course it is in gear so I have to try and take it out of gear.. the pain is memorable!!

Anyway.. have to get out my papers.. passport, drivers license etc.  No one speaks English btw.. so have to try my leetle beet of espanol with sign language.  The upshot is that I have to wait for the ambulance to arrive so they can assess my injuries.. ok but I’m not going to the hospital.

While I’m waiting I assess the damage…. not too bad considering…

New front fender/mudguard; new set of brake levers and fluid reservoir; oh the mirror broke off completely so new set of mirrors; new air filter; new rear brake pedal pad; new foot pegs and lastly, my headset snapped from the gps so have to get one of those made.  All in all I would say roughly £1000 and a hike on my insurance next year… bloody bikes!!

Ambulance arrives, two guys one of whom speaks a little english, he takes a look at my leg and says I must go to hospital, but I tell him it’s ok, I don’t need to go.  He makes me sign a release, which is fine with me.  He tells me if I get any more pain or swelling then I must find the nearest Hospital or clinic.. I promise him that I will.   They go and I assume I will be able to get on my way now, but noooooo I have to wait for the traffic cops to come, they arrive a few minutes later; take all the same details as the civil guard and then let me go.  I do manage to get some details from them so I can tell the insurance and that should be ok for me to make a claim.. I hope.

When they have gone I take a few photos of the crash site and then, tentatively, get back on the bike.  I turn around and head back to the HD dealers down the road who should be open now as it is gone 4pm, to get a replacement mirror.

There is more to tell, but to be honest I’ve had enough blogging now and my leg is throbbing so will finish off tomorrow morning… night all x

Morning all… I am feeling much better… I slept quite well considering and the swelling in my leg has gone down quite a bit along with the pain so I’m looking forward to today.. anyway back to yesterday…

Arrive at the dealers and must admit I’m a bit shaky… there is a group from Provincetown Northern Ireland at the shop and they are very friendly, some enquire as to the accident and it seems we will be on the same ferry tomorrow night so invite me to join them.. thanks maybe I will, be nice to have some company.

I manage to pick up a standard mirror.. its chrome so looks more than a bit out of place on the bike, but it does the job so that’s good.  I pop in the loo to see if I can see what my leg looks like, but its too dark, I can feel a huge lump on the side and its very hot and painful to touch.  I notice that I also have pain in my right shoulder, knee and ankle… guess that’s where I whipped around on the ground after the initial impact on my thigh.  Anyway, it all makes walking pretty painful at the moment.

I also grab a tee shirt.. just because I think I ought to… and the total bill comes to €71 which is not too bad for harley… he has given me 15% discount?? normal HOG member discount is 10% so that’s a bit strange, but grateful of course.

So gingerly I get back on the bike to resume my journey… I think, briefly, to just go straight to Santander and find somewhere to stay to wait for the ferry, but nah… theres more tee shirts in them thar hills quimo sabe… (for those who remember the Lone Ranger.. can’t be many of us left…).  Onward and downward as we are out of the mountains now,  towards Bilbao.

After about 20 or 30k I realise I am more shook up than I thought, the accident has really knocked my confidence on the bike and it is raining again.  I enter a town called Villaviciosa and pull over to consult the booking.com app (I just love it!!) and find a hotel right here in this town.. its the Casa Espana.. fab!

10 minutes later I am parking up at the hotel… so easy peesy…

There is another group of Brits sitting at some tables outside the hotel, they are from Scotland I would say, judging by the accents.  I tell them about the accident and one woman comes over to offer to help me with my bags, her name is Elaine and she tells me that she had a similar accident on her bike a couple of years ago, but her bike was a write off so guess I have been lucky really.  Elaine says ‘why don’t you get your insurance to transport your bike home’… ‘no’ says I ‘I can ride it, its not broken’; to be honest it’s not something I would ever have thought of.  They are going home on the same boat and invite me to join them… bloody hell, thats two invitations in one day.. but I’m not going to have accidents everytime I would like some company!!!!

I get settled in the hotel.. have a look at my leg.. not much to see except this huge lump in the middle of my thigh; it’s still hot and painful to touch and difficult to walk but hunger conquers all, so I get changed and make my way downstairs to see what is on the menu.

No menu.. only sandes and bocadillas.. ‘ah ok, where are the restaurants por favor?’ apparently they are just 20m away up the street opposite.  Well reckon I can manage that…. but you know me and my sense of direction.. yep round and round.. limp limp limp, can’t find anything except cafe bars, bars and more bars full of blokes watching football, delightful.  In the end I spot the word Restaurant up ahead and decide whatever the menu that is where I am going to eat.  I look inside, there are a few people at a long bar, theres footie on the telly – no ones watching it, and some bare tables.  The menu is on display outside and its all in Spanish, but I spot Entrecôte on it.. right thats what I’ll have, so in I go.

I get a few strange looks (ho hum), and limp up to the only table with a paper cloth and some cutlery on it.  After a few minutes a small woman comes from behind the bar to serve me, she doesn’t speak English of course so I ask for the menu… she disappears… comes back and says ‘Non menu’, disappears again and brings….. the menu????  She asks me ‘solo’ ‘Si’ and then gets me to move to another table.. the only table in the place that is set up is for 4 people and because she is so busy I need to move to a smaller table…. sorry don’t get it????  Anyway, she leaves me to look at the menu and I remember before on the way to Switzerland Lynn and I asked for the menu and got the set meal for the day, (see the Switzerland blog for details), so she thought I wanted the set meal…. ahhh all is revealed.  She comes back and I point to the Entrecôte.. ‘Non blah blah fillet’  ‘OK thats great… err bueno por favour’ ‘con patatas?’ ‘Si.. oh salade natural’ ‘Si Si’ and off she goes.  I’m feeling rather pleased with myself there, almost strung a sentence together.  A few minutes later she comes back with a small plate with one tiny piece of french bread on it and gives it to me.  I think… god what’s this, I hope it’s not fish.  It looks like cheese with a lump of jam on the top.. oh well, can’t be rude, I take a bite.. yep it’s cheese with a lump of jam on the top… tasty!!

The meal arrives and it’s enormous… a huge piece of steak, chips (hand made) and a full plate of salad… fantastic.  It is so large I can’t finish it all.  I am eating away and notice it’s England v someone in blue and yellow on the telly at the far end of the bar, so for want of something better to do I sort of watch it.

Suddenly the woman at the bar starts pouring from a large wine bottle.. nothing odd there, except she is pouring from the full stretch of her arm above her head to below the bar… she’s pouring it on the floor for some reason I think…  then she puts a large glass about 1/4 full of a pale yellow liquid on the bar and a man takes it, gulps most of it in one go and empties the dregs onto the floor… I’m sure my mouth is open, I’ve never seen anything like it!  She then starts pouring on the floor again from the full height of her expended arm.. up pops a glass with the same amount onto the bar and the woman next to the man takes it, gulps most of it down and throws the dregs on the floor…. now this is fascinating, I can’t keep my eyes off them.. if they look I just pretend to be watching the footie.  She then serves two other people, but now I can see her other hand.. so the right hand is way above her head and her left hand holds the glass fully extended below her waist and she expertly aims the liquid into the glass.. she misses a bit so some of it goes on the floor.. she’s not bothered.  A few minutes later she comes round the bar and is talking to the two people who have had the drinks.. she spots me gawping and comes over.. oops!  Now I remember when I was looking at the blurb about the hotel that this region is famous for its Sidre… ah I bet thats what it is… she seems concerned that I am not enjoying my food… no no and I mimic the pouring action and ask if it is Sidre?? Si si.. she disappears and gets me a glass.. no no I say but she tells me that the two people are offering me some of their bottle.. oh so I really cannot refuse.  She does the whole pouring action and brings the glass to me.. she gestures ‘down in one go’ so I do.. ‘Muy bueno’ she says and beams at me.. I beam back.. its really very strong, so I beam over to the couple and say ‘Gracias’ the woman nods back.  I’m feeling a bit woozy.. that stuff is deadly!  After this the couple leave and the woman says buenos noches to me, I feel very happy to have found this place.

At the end of the meal I practice my very best spanish in my head and when I go to pay I say… badly… ‘Muy, muy bueno… deliciosa’  ‘delicthiosa’ she corrects me but she is beaming at my compliments and poor attempt at Spanish I suspect.  ‘Grathias, I say again and buenos noches’ and off I hobble back to the hotel.

It’s a funny old life isn’t it when you can go from deep upset to euphoria in the space of 4 hours… oh well tomorrow is another day.  Am going to continue my journey to Bilbao and Santander HDs then on to the ferry tomorrow night.

Ciao for now….

Day 11 – Shaky Day

Got up late this morning… think I was putting off getting back on the bike… not like me at all, still a bit wobbly.

Went down for brekkie and finished off yesterdays thrilling instalment.  While I was there Elaine came in and we had a chat… she was telling me about her crash 2 years ago in more detail.. that cheered me up no end!!  I remember seeing her bike in the Ladies of Harley category at the custom show… pink I’m afraid, but now I’ve met her I forgive her… 🙂   Really very nice people.. her hubby came and we were talking bikes.. he customised his and Elaines V-Rods, very nice too.

As they are leaving I hobble outside to take some photos…

I’ve always quite liked the rods but they are too much of a stretch for me to reach the bars and foot pegs.. although I could put different bars on and move the pegs backward… mmmm now there’s a thought!

About half an hour later and I’m ready to go… pack up the bike and start to make my way to Santander via Bilbao and Cantabria (Santander) HD’s.

I’m taking it very easy… only doing about 60mph, especially as its quite drizzly.  I get on the motorway and just keep in the ‘slow’ lane, not taking any chances.. until I get behind a lorry and then I have to overtake… I open her up and it’s all fine so I start to feel a bit better.. then I think to myself, I’ve been riding for over 30 years and although I have fallen off a few times, that is to be expected in the scheme of things and I have never fallen off a harley before.  The more I think about it, the more I realise that it was a combination of rain and slick road surface that caused the spill yesterday and in the end I am fine, the bike is mendable and if I come off at 60 or 65 or 70 or 75 the result is going to be the same… finito benito!  I can’t ride at 20/30 all the way home so better I just ride my usual way and get on with it.  This decision is helped by the fact that the rain has stopped and the road is almost dry 🙂

Gps routes me to Cantabria HD just outside Santander first and I decide that actually I’m probably not going to bother with Bilbao… enough is enough.   I arrive at the address in the gps… yep no HD in sight… jaysus this is beyond annoying!!  I get my phone out and check the website.. they have a map of their location on it and I can see that it is just up the road from the current position… ok let’s see if the famous Pogs sense of direction can find it… some hope!  Ha! there it is… well done me…

I must admit I did go a bit over the top.. but they had a lovely shirt that I just couldn’t leave behind and a couple of other things too.. weeeellll it is the last one this year.

I’m not in there long before the Northern Ireland gang arrive… they are so lovely… then I notice the patches on their backs say Provincewide not Provincetown which is a BIG difference.  I don’t ask where they are from as I feel like its a bit of a delicate question given that I am Eire.

We really have a good chat about bikes etc. and they invite me to be in a couple of photos with them… that reminds me I must find them and ask for copies.

Here’s a photo I took of them

A grand crowd…

After this they leave and I sort out getting the new stuff onto the bike.  I then make my way in to Santander to find somewhere to eat… oh and I must pick up fags for Glo and Spin too.

I find a tobacconists and on the opposite corner is a cafe with some hoggies sitting outside so I park up, get the fags and go over to the cafe for something to eat.  A rather underdone spanish omelette, (which I always thought had lots of vegetables and peppers in it, but this was just potato), chips and a coke.. not that great, but filling.  As I’m waiting for the food Neil and Jane pop up, (the couple I met at the ride out dinner) and I tell them all about my accident.. then the Scots appear and Elaine and I have a short chat about the ride to Santander.. wow I feel like I have really met some lovely people this trip, its been grand.

I then make my way to the port to queue up to get onto the boat.

The queue is quite long and we have over an hour to wait.. in fact it was more like 2 in the end.. and it rained a bit… but never mind am on the boat now enjoying a pint or two in the lounge… there has just been a singer on and she was quite good.. feels even more like a cruise ship.

So that’s all for today… unless something interesting happens between now and bedtime that is.. if not ciao for now, last day tomorrow and then will be home.  Glo’s away so won’t see her till Saturday, boo hoo, but hoping to pick up the boys tomorrow night if not too late… yippee!!!

Something quite interesting happened.. I bumped into Barney and Sue… seemed pleased to see me and I must say I was pleased to see them too!  Nite Nite..

Day 12 – Home again, til next time

The crossing is so smooth as to be almost unnoticeable… it would actually be quite nice to have a small swell, at least it would feel like being at sea!

Didn’t rush to get up, but woken by announcement.. something to do with Brittany lighthouses… oh that might be interesting.  Quick shower and off to have a look.. gosh what a grey day again.  Anyway seems I have made it just in time to view the lighthouses etc and in the distance the coast of Brittany.

Then I bump into Stan and Alice from Darlington… they were staying at the Dolce Cascais at the same time as me, remember?  I sit and chat with them for a while, then off for a wander and a bit of shopping.

Settle down in the lounge at the prow of the boat with my laptop to blog and chat on Facebook with Telboy.. as you can see it is raining… again… hope it clears by the time we reach Plymouth, don’t want another spill.

After a while am feeling a bit bored…. there’s a group at the rear of the lounge who are obviously having a fabulous time… very loudly!  Just remember I’ve got my binoculars with me in the cabin and we are entering the channel sea lanes so lots of boats to look at.. better get them then.

Guess what.. the group loudly enjoying themselves are the paddies… I join them for a short while for the craic.

Back to my cabin and sort out my packing.. got to get the shopping in somehow!!  Pick up the binos and head back to the lounge…  Damn, it’s foggy so nothing to be seen; hopefully it’ll lift soon.

We are due to dock at 4.30pm so back to the cabin and finish off the packing up.  At 4pm they announce to vacate the cabins so make my way to the lounge again.  I’ve left my wet gear on the bike so will have to put it on before I disembark.

Eventually make my way down to the bike… where is it???  It’s all very confusing as there are now huge lorries parked in the middle of the bikes… squeeze through to find it’s the wrong side so have to backtrack and squeeze through to the other side.  Still can’t see her… oh there she is, great.

Get to the bike and some bloke who has parked his Fazer next to my bike says.. ‘Oh there’s no rush love’  except he’s finished packing and his bike is on the side stand instead of the centre stand so I can’t get my pannier open to pack my stuff.. and there’s certainly no room to get into my wet gear.  I ask him to put his bike on the centre stand so I can have some room, but we are so tightly packed in that there is no room to manoeuvre at all.  I wait and fume….

Eventually the bikes start to disembark and I am able to get my stuff stowed away but will have to wait until I get off to put the wet gear on.

Up the ramp and out into the pouring rain.. it did not look this bad earlier.  I immediately pull over to put my gear on, but some jobsworth in an orange sou’wester comes over waving his walkie talkie at me and saying I can’t stop there.  Damn, so have to get back on the bike and queue with the others until I see some bikes who are stopped up ahead also getting their gear on.  Already I am soaking wet.. anyway, pull over ok and get ready.

Now there is a long queue as I am behind loads of cars and have to wait to go through passport control.  Eventually leave the dock at 5.25pm so almost an hour late.

It’s absolutely thrashing it down and with all the spray from the other cars etc. visibility is really short.  The gps says my eta at home will be about 9.30pm so not too bad.

After an hour or so I’m really starting to feel the cold, but feel I must press on as want to get home asap.  I stop for petrol and put some plastic gloves on under my gloves to try and keep the cold out… it’s also easier to get the gloves back on when your hands are wet.

As darkness falls, I really do have to stop.. I’m so cold I am shivering.  I see a Little Chef up ahead so pull in there, I guess I need to eat something anyway.  I just get off the bike and go straight in, I don’t even stop to take off my gloves and helmet.. I am so cold that I cannot stop shivering and even after I have had a large mug of tea and some hot soup I am still shaking.  I think I might have mild hypothermia as my jeans are still wet under my waterproof trousers and this has made me even colder.  I order more hot food and slowly begin the thaw out.  Luckily I bought a HD hoodie at my last stop in Cantabria HD so I go out to the bike and get it and put it on.. ohhh that’s better.

I call Glo and she suggests I stop overnight in a Travelodge or something, I agree that I will see how I go and if it’s too cold again will stop somewhere.

By the time I am warm enough to get back on the road it is gone past 9pm… the gps says my eta now is 12.15am… oh well let’s see how I go. It is still raining quite hard and the wind is now blowing hard too…  all along the A303 it is quite exposed.. past Stonehenge and then onto the M3.. so am having to battle the sidewinds and the spray from the idiots who overtake and cut in really close.. why do car drivers do that??  It really pisses me off that:

a) they have to almost sideswipe to get past… on a motorway??  Is it really too much effort to turn the wheel another inch and actually go into the overtaking lane??

b) when it’s raining they then cut in as quickly as possible to maximise the amount of spray that goes into my face, cutting down visibility to zero!! If you are a car driver.. please do think about how your driving affects others…. think about vortices and spray; think bike does not just mean ‘oh there’s a bike over there’!

Anyway, in the end I do ride all the way home… arrive at 1am, turn the heating on and flop into bed.

Nite Nite all….

Day 13 – Trip Stats

Hi All… it’s lovely to be home… even though I am all alone.  The boys are at the minders and Glo is still away, but I lounge in bed until mid morning and then call Harley Davidson insurance to put in my claim for the accident damage.  I’ll need to take the bike to a dealers for a proper estimate for repairs but that can wait til tomorrow.

So what’s the breakdown on the trip?

Countries Visited
England x 2
Spain x 2
Portugal x 1

Total Distance Travelled – 2477.3 miles

Costs
Ferries – £344  includes upgrade to a cabin for both journeys.

Accommodation – £415.68 (avg. £46.19 per night)

Food – £160.55 (avg. £13.38 per day)

Fuel – £268.78 (avg. £22.40 per day)

Toll Roads – £64 (including €40 fine)

Maps – £80.98

Lisboa HOG Chapter Rideout – £50.04

Shopping – myob

Best Ride – Northern Portugal on way back through the mountains
Worst Ride – Plymouth to London, but mainly due to the terrible weather

Best HD Dealership – All the ones that were open or still existed at the address in the GPS.. except
Worst HD Dealership – Porto… crap, I don’t think I have ever spent less than 10 minutes in a HD shop before.


Best Hotel – Dolce Cascais Guest House, but they were all good.
Worst Hotel – On reflection… of them all the one I would definitely not go back to was the first one the Hotel Begona in Gijon

Favourite Country Visited – Portugal
Least Favourite Country Visited – England… well the rainy, blowy ride home

What I Would Do Again
Travel on Brittany Ferries
Visit Portugal

What I Wouldn’t Do Again
Fall off my bike – hopefully
Trust the HD dealership address details in my GPS

What to remember for the next trip:
Warm gloves
Don’t trust the HD addresses in the GPS

Seems I took my own advice from the last trip, cos I did pack less; took meds; avoided cities for the most part, etc. etc.

All together a great trip.. I really enjoyed it, apart from the poor weather going and coming back.. Oh! and the accident of course..

Next trip??  Watch this space

Ciao