That BMW is parked 10 meters away from me and I can feel him watching me in his mirrors while I load all the luggage onto my bike. It took me possibly 15 minutes. Strange, I think. But lets start the day from the beginning.
Couldn’t sleep well, woke up at 4:30and booked a room in Pamplona. Hours later finally there is some breakfast. Its already hot outside, even in the mountains. Spain is hit by this heat wave which luckily means for me. No rain in the pyrenees, where usually it rains a lot. As promised I took the route up the pass Col de Pierre St Martin, it was extremely stormy and dangerous on some mountain peaks. These winds almost carried me into the bushes. Had a second breakfast at my favorite mountain bar Juan Pito ( this time I took a picture ) and then riding on the NA1370 again. And Yes, I might have broken the speed limit here and there by a little.
Back at the Hotel. Why is this guy on his BMW watching me, engine running ? Is that a cop who watched me before? Anyway, at some time point I start my engine and roll out of the parkin lot. So does he! Standing next to each other we exchange brief looks and then he asks me cia hand signals. Who leads, you or me? I signal: at your pleasure, senor. Off he goes and I am on his tail. He knows the roads, speed limits are non existent, cornering like madman, overtaking anything that happens to be in our way. We ride through Valle de Roncal on the NA 1370, changed onto the NA214 and NA 178 and later onto the NA150 going straight into Pamplona. What a ride. He did wait for me, just to have a good ride, madman. Close to Pamplona I signal to go for a drink, he opens his helmet and shouts “ trabajo… „.
Pamplona is amazing. A fine little town with an amazing atmosphere. The people are out on the street after 7pm just sitting on the street eating Pintxos and having a beer, enjoying ice cream or simply just hanging out. Smiling faces whereever you look. Little bars everywhere. Pintxos are fantastic. In narrow sidestreets you find graffiti from the ETA calling for indepentia. And its all about the bulls race. I believe its happening soon.
My favorite mountain bar, Juan Pito… Cool dude he is.
Pamplona and the bulls.
let me start by saying something provocative: the last 2 days I actually had good food in Spain!! Surprised? Well, the weeks before that: it was nothing but seriously bad, which surprised me. I am deeply disappointed with spanish food, spanish restaurants… Its just: not good. I luckily found some ok OK places the last two days, and that made me so happy that I just had to mention it!
The second thing: Garmin Navigation systems are rubbish !!! Full stop. I‘ ll spare you with the details how it drove me mad in Austria, Italy, Sardegna, Spain and finally today in France.
Thats no no intention of complaint, simply ment as a warning to bikers: do not buy Garmin !!
However, no reason or intention to complain. Robert M. Pirsig states in his book “ ZEN and the art of motorcycle maintenance“ the following. A complaint is always a reaction to discomfort; discomfort is a matter of the mood. Being in good spirits means you „can take a lot“ without feeling discomfort. I simply feel fantastic so driving in circles for an hour because of Garmin… Whatever. I went back to old school navigation: ask local people !!
Today: i woke up in Spain…. Went for lunch in France… Back in Spain for dinner. I did at least 8 mountain passes and it was simply fantastic. Its done: i have finished the famous road N260 in Spain ( apart from the tiny little last stretch to Sabinanigo, didnt that, went straight on the N260a instead cause it just looked much better) … To anybody: do the N260!! I passed to France over the Puerto del Portalet, amazing road…. In France you soon feel the difference in looks of the villages. I met this friendly guy with his 2CV facing the Pic Midi ( 2884 m high ) and then I went through tiny little mountains roads in France passing over several passes. I seemed to stay on the „cheese road“ at least there was all kind of signs for being on the avenue fromage ( D918, D 294 ). Passing several Tour de France mountain passes i finally hit on the D132 to go to Pierre St. Martin. Over the pass of Col de St. Martin ( there is a few other passes on that road) and a stop at a mountain bar ( i think it was called Juan Pinto… Super lovely by all means) i ended up in the Valle de Roncal in Isaba for two reasons: 1) the village is quite charming and I saw a pool in which I had a great swim. 2) the road NA 1370 and the passes St Martin and all the others just need to be done again, tomorrow, no luggage, full speed, facing the limits…. Because that road is fanfuckingtastic.
In the background: Pic Midi d Ossau (2884m)
Vive la difference
day started in this motorbike shop getting new tires. I went for Bridgestone T30 this time. Well to be honest: that was the only thing he had apart from supersport tires that wouldnt last longer than a 1000km… But I heard good things about them… And after 300km… They are good.
With my new „shoes“ I just went riding….. Until 2pm… At this time it just got hot and hotter, even up in the mountains. I passed a liitle village called Campo with all these Rafting/ Canyoning companies. I pictured myself in a cold mountain river: YES YES… I asked and one hour later I did Hidrospeed ( lying on a piece of plastic, putting on a protective neoprene suit, a helmet, flippers… And of I went together with a spanish Air Force soldier, his daughter and some Argentinians fighting that river. Damn it, that was fun… Have to do it again!!! Found a nice Hotel in Ainsa thereafter and slept like a baby.
the 4 english bikers I met told me of a region to go to between Lleida and Reus; so I thought … Lets go. The day started with getting a fine from spanish cops because of overtaking where, of course, I should not have. But hey… All these cars are so damn slow. I headed for the region, met a lovely islandic/ spanish who run this bar in the middle of nowhere on a mountain peak, but to get there I had to cross some spanish plains/ flats….. Soon after the Pyrenees its just like dessert… It was simply too hot… I just turned around, went back into mountains to Vielha ( where a different cop told me that there will be tire shops. I still needed new tires, urgently!!! )
I past through Vielha before, but staying a night reveiled: its quite a cute town. Found this lovely bar run by a half spanish italian guy with amazing food, amazing drinks, amazing Jazz and his travel stories of going from Barcelona to Beijing by train; he said: easy and cheap.
After 5 days Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll in Bercelona ( actually, no Sex and Rock n Roll was more like progressive house..). .. I was eager to get going, start the engine, feel the roar, the wind, be one with the roads again, explore new places… I decided to go north into the mountains. The best decision so far, and it was actually made at a red traffic light in Barcelona heading towards France. I just turned left instead.
Getting out of Barcelona, a nightmare… It feels like the town never ends although you are already driving through different villages. As soon as I hit the C55 towards Cardona and Solsona… Beautiful…then onto the C14 hitting the famous N 260 towards Andorra. I just had to see this little EU country in the mountains. And yes, very tiny, very mountaineous, and very strange. Its somehow like a artificial place. Everybody comes here for shopping, but not the cheap stuff… more kind of the luxury apartment , yet all is quite cheap. Many of the houses look like Disneyland small castles, yet they are real and old. Its just bizarre. After one night, get out of there.
So I went back to the N260 taking a turn right at Adrall and I went straight into the high pyrenees. And ooohhh my god… What a road, what a scenery. At Sort I took a right turn towards Vielha, passing the amazing mountain pass Port de la Bonaigua… Its just stunning, I have to do that road again. Amazing tarmac quality, no speed control, mind blowing scenery.
In the afternoon I dropped my stuff at a camp site with an interesting BBQ facility close to the mountain Anteo ( which is the highest in the Pyrenees with 3404 m ) build up the tent, got rid of all luggage at my bike and went speeding. I am still on the N260. I think I did 3 or 4 low and high mountain passes, passed lakes, waterfalls, beautiful mountains, lovely valleys. I met 4 crazy english bikers during dinner who come here every year just to race. There is this nice czech guy next to me who drove here with his little car and just to unload his bicycle and get going. I had no idea that sthe spanish pyrenees are so amazing. N260… Mui bunito.. I might stay longer than intended. I need new tires… Again!! That‘ ll be the third set.
not much to tell… I met a friend, we went to the beach, walked through the town, had some food, got drunk, and went to the beach again.
Luckily I enjoyed the Festival de Sant Joan; whole Barcelona parties that night and it was the biggest beach party I have ever seen. I can understand why people get stuck in Barcelona, its just… awesome! I would most likely end up as an alcoholic, so after 5 days… Time to start the engine again.
last day on thid beautiful island. I started it by leaving the luggage in the Hotel room to have a light bike and went for a 80km morning ride in the mountains round Castelsardo, Sedino, Martis pushing the throttle and turning the wrist one last time. Wide awake and full of adrenaline thereafter.
My ferry leaves from Porto Torres at 6:30 am tomorrow, which means I got to be there at 5am for embarking the ship. Logic conclusion: Hotel in this harbour town. Yet, after arriving in Porto Torres I thought, no way, my last night here? Naaaa not gonna happen… Ride on.
I found Stintino and I was immediately so charmed by this little village. It is beautiful, cute, relaxed atmosphere, good food, nice people, obviously also not completely poor judged by the amounts of boats and yachts in the harbour. Got my room by asking a random guy in the streets if there are some B&Bs in this town. He then started calling multiple numbers until I had a room. Super cheap, and boy check out the view.
In the afternoon I went to Capo del Falcone and had a great swim at the last north-western piece of land of Sardegna. Just perfect, for the last day on this island.
Capo Torres, looking at Isola Asinara. Caribbean water color in the mare mediterraneo.
Capo Torres, looking ar Isola Piana, which is full of birds. One guy dared to swim over and was immediately attacked by the seagulls. Hitchcock movie for real.
View of my last B&B in Sardegna