Today was arrival day in spain, more exactly in Barcelona, our Hotel is just a few kilometers outside of the city.
Before we head to the welcome briefing we first go for a guided city tour. Barcelona is defenitly one of the most beautiful cities of europe.
Before we plunge into the Pyrenees, we leave Castelldefels on small side roads to get used to the motorbikes and the countless bends. A short stretch on the motorway and we can already see the holy mountain of Montserrat ahead of us. A very winding road winds around and up into the bizarre rock formations. After a short photo stop, we continue on the winding roads around the mountain.
Less than an hour later we reach Cardona Castle, which is an old castle on the outside but a luxurious parador on the inside. We make ourselves comfortable for lunch in a nice café and enjoy a wonderful panoramic view from a tower.
In the afternoon we continue through the foothills of the Pyrenees, the road climbing further up into the mountains. In Berga, we turn left and follow a magnificent route that goes over the Coll de Jou, some of which is boldly carved into the rock face.
We cross the C-14, which connects Spain with Andorra, and tackle "the" pass summit of the day. The Coll de Boixols is the highlight of today's riding experience, incredibly winding, hardly any traffic and beautiful views.
Today we head into the centre of the Pyrenees, where the highest peak, the 3,408 m high Aneto, is located. This is a fantastic ride through stunning scenery, with the snow-capped peaks of the Benasque National Park, over 3,000 m high, in sight. This park is a peaceful nature reserve, a paradise for hikers, and its surroundings are excellent motorbike terrain.
The passes remain below 1,500 m, but this does not mean that there is a lack of bends, quite the opposite. Instead of many hairpins like in the Alps, we enjoy tiny roads with countless curves of all kinds.
In the afternoon, we drive through Jaca and follow the shore of a huge reservoir on wide, winding roads in excellent condition. A "cerveza " in the romantic marketplace of Pamplona is the perfect end to a wonderful day.
Today, as usual on rest days, there are two options. Pamplona, with its narrow streets and picturesque marketplace, is worth spending some time in and the Gothic cathedral for example is also breathtaking. You can watch pilgrims on the Compostela dragging their tired feet through the city, exhausted from the difficult route over the Pyrenees. Or why not visit the legendary Café Iruña in Plaza Castillo and have a cognac with vanilla, just as Ernest Hemingway did when he visited here in the 1920s. You'll see that it's no problem to spend your time in this beautiful city.
If you want to ride, we recommend a trip to the Atlantic coast.
To get out of Pamplona, we use fast main roads, but soon turn into the mountains. The roads remain winding until we reach the outskirts of San Sebastián, and just after lunch they will be winding again. We cross the border into France twice and back, then make our way back to Pamplona. This is a full day round trip and quite a challenge, but once back in Pamplona we can relax, go out to eat and explore the restaurants and bars in the historic centre.
Pamplona is the first city that pilgrims reach on the Way of Saint James after crossing the mighty Pyrenees. Today we follow this famous route a bit, but in the other direction. Don't forget to greet the pilgrims! In Zubiri we can have a look at the medieval bridge Ponte de la Rabia, the name still contains an interesting story. Afterwards, we tackle our first stretch of curves. Along the French border we head east to our lunch spot. In the afternoon we continue through the French side of the Pyrenees. The small villages are nicer and cleaner, the roads are narrower and bumpier, and of course the food is not the same. The route on the French side of the Pyrenees is more difficult and in some places even more spectacular than on the Spanish side. The two mountain passes we cross today both have an interesting story to tell, the first has to do with cows, the second with bicycles. Our destination today is the small twin town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur/Esquièze-Sère, both very picturesque. In the evening, we will of course not miss the French "savoir-vivre" and enjoy a red wine or two...
Today is the day of the passes; no less than 10 passes in one day, that's quite a challenge! Curves, curves, curves ... just enjoy the ride! Right in front of the hotel we climb the Col de Tourmalet, one of the legendary passes of the Tour de France. What a fun ride! But it is also the landscape that impresses us - rugged mountains, green meadows and sleepy little mountain villages. There are 9 more passes on the programme. Now that we know the Pyrenees, we don't need the Alps any more. Isn't it incredible that we are almost alone on these roads?
Our last Tour de France pass on this route, the Port de Pailheres, is the first climb of the morning. This very narrow road with hairpin bends is something special. The view from the top is simply incredible. This is just the beginning of another perfect day of riding. The Collada de Toses is the next highlight of the route, a 40 km stretch of very twisty pass road in perfect condition. And the curves don't stop until we reach our hotel in a small village in the Spanish border region near the coast, but up here we are far away from the busy beach life and can enjoy the mountain views.
Today we head back to Barcelona, but not along the busy coast, but through the mountains! On spectacular roads we make our way south. First we drive through the Garrotxa Nature Park, where a picturesque landscape with long extinct volcanoes awaits us. Later we reach Sant Hilari Saclam, a small town known for its mineral water. There are countless springs in the vicinity. But we are more interested in the winding roads in the area, and there are many of them. A gem is the stretch from Osor to Sant Hilari, so many curves per kilometre are rare, a true festival of curves! The last stretch through the Montseny Nature Park is another scenic highlight before we reach the outskirts of Barcelona. Now it is only a short distance to our base hotel in Castelldefels, where we review the tour over a beer by the pool. Is this incredible motorbike tour really over already?