Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Fast forward through Spain and France!

I'm running short on time and I need to get a move on through Spain and up into France.   Problem is, I need service on the bike and desperately need a new rear tire!

All those little stone streets in Portugal ate my tire right up and it's completely bald.  But there is no where around here to get a new bike tire, the kind I want anyway.. so I take my chances on getting to Pamplona Spain and hope for better luck there.

A few photos from the road between Portugal and Pamplona..

I'm in the middle of "nowhere" north Spain.. and there is half a man out here!!  NO idea why!




Taking the back roads is always the most fun.. who is the man walking down the road?  Where is he going?  AND.. Who is the alien walking in the field next to him?????


Then I come across these hillside homes.  I'm traveling way off the beaten path.. nobody around to ask, so I don't know the story..It's way out in the country, no big tourist thing happening around these places.  Reminds me a bit of the cave houses in Santorini Greece.


The villages out here are always a pleasure to explore.. but no stopping for me today.. gotta keep moving.



For most of the day, I passed a lot of dry farm land.. now I start entering grape growing territory - again.


I eventually got my new tire north of Pamplona.. only needed the one. It took lots of time around Pamplona going from dealership to dealership.  They were all good guys who really wanted to help me find my tire, but nothing to be found in this city with my size.  One shop made many calls on the phone and got a guy in a small town on the French border who had a Pirelli Scorpion the size I needed. So that's where I headed the next morning..  No "running with the bulls" happening in Pamplona this week, so might as well move on.. hey?

I cross the border and head east in France for 2 reasons.  Even though I am meant to be traveling the coast of France north to get to England.  First, I desperately need a complete service done by KTM mechanics and the only one that was available in France during my time limit was due East.  Secondly, the coast of France has really bad rain now and not letting up for the 10 day forecast I can see.. So I decide to go around the weather.. why not!  Why ride 10 days of rain when you can go somewhere else and have fun!  Being that the service is East, and Switzlerand is east.. I'll go that way!

Some views from the road in South France....

The architecture changes dramatically after you cross the border from Spain.. EVERYTHING is red and white!  This is "Basque" country.. a region and culture of people that follow along the north side of Spain and the Southwest of France along the Pyrenese.  A very proud culture who straddle both countries as they have been under each others rule at times during history.




Anyway, without all the culturual detail, I simply like the buildings this way.. a nice change from stone and earth colors.  I was super hungry and well past lunch time.  I couldn't find anything open at all since I was past the lunch mark, but before dinner.  So I popped into a village hotel and went to the bar.. and with my totally non-existent French (and the bar lady with zero English!)  She was able to make me a sandwich.   I knew I wanted green (verte in Spanish is verde).. tomato (tomates).. simple one. and fromage (cheese) on bread (le pain in Spanish is pan).  I know enough Spanish and the words are similiar enough that if you work with the lady we eventually totally understand each other!

Gee whiz, she brought out my sandwich.. only those bits on it, but with the super fresh French bread.. why would you want anything else..!  It was soooo good.  Welcome to France! Normally in my real world, it's habit to put a sauce on of some sort, either Mayo or pesto whatever. But it was the best simple sandwich I had in a long time!

The Basque color houses slowly dwindled away in each village as I went further.. and I found.. guess what!!!  ANOTHER CASTLE!!  Check out the old mote around this one.


My  bike is parked near the building, but I wanted to show how incredibly thick they build castle walls.. standard in all of them really, but it still amazes me to think of all the hard work to build.  This wall surrounded the entire town.. all stacked by hand.



Traveling through country then villages then country and more villages.. is a lot of fun.. even though you are only seeing a snipet of it! ;-)  I remember thinking they are all so picturesque and sooo French!


 Beautiful country.. South France


And then I get to my favorite favorite favorite castle of all time.. Carcassonne!!



I've been here before, many years ago with my sister... doesn't get more spectacular than this..  I have always recommended to anybody I know coming to France over the years to not miss Carcassonne!  It's a super strong fortified city.. with a huge amount of history as you can imagine.. I'll leave it up to you to google search if needed to read more about it. ;-)


While your here.. might as well visit the Australia Park????


Well there you have it.. my quick pace marathon through Spain and South France..  one last stop to send a telegraph.. (just kidding! was just surprised to see that it's still part of society today..) and then on to Switzerland tomorrow..


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