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CBS2102 St. James Way: Tapas, Peaks, and Turns

Sunday, October 10, 2021 | Angela / Christoph Haidinger | Europe

day 2: Alcalá de Henares to Soria

What a great pleasure to be back in Spain, Madrid to start another tour along the St. James pilgrimage path. With Alcala de Henares near Madrid being our start and finish of the tour, we will travel the northern part of Spain all the way from the Pyrenees in the east to Santiago de Compostela in the west. Today, we will go from Alcala via the remote and lonesome Sierra de Robledal with its ancient and simple slate stone houses to Soria. 

Out of the Parador's garage and ready to start the engines
3, 2, 1, ... GO
Our new "favourite" thing to do Masking around town
Torrelaguna serves as our coffee stop but we happened to be there right in time for the market on the plaza.
Yummy olives to taste
One of the many embalses (water reservoirs) which enable the Spaniards to make efficient use of the precious water
We arrived at our lunch place in the Sierra de Robledal. Some of the slate stone houses are new but most of them are still the first, simpler versions. But they absolutely serve the purpose. Simple but good. Which also goes for the delicious food we got to eat here
Well, people back then have been either very tiny or they found big doors not to be very practical
At lunch inside of such a slate stone house
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Carl with ...
... his father Bob
Cindy and Steve
And last but not least Brad
Arriving at the Parador of Soria after a great first riding day

day 3: Soria to Pamplona

The second riding day took us from Soria in the autonomous region of Castilia-León via the famous wine region of La Rioja to Pamplona in the autonomous region of Navarre. Not only is Pamplona located at the foothills of the Pyrenees, but it is also famous for its San Fermin festival and the bull runs. Depending on your point of view we were either lucky or not for the festival to take place at a different time

Although the wine tasting was not for us during our riding day, it was still very much worth it to get a guided tour through the vinery. But who says we couldn't buy it to taste it later in the hotel
Their way of recycling old vehicles
Delicious tapas lunch at the vinery
What ??? A tour of the vinery? Now ??? But it is soooo comfy here ...
This was the best! Nibbling grapes right from the source
A stroll through the streets of Pamplona in the evening

day 4: Rest day Pamplona

In Pamplona we will spend two nights. Any experienced Edelweiss rider will know what this means A rest day usually is a riding day, too. Yeah !! We are going to visit the city of San Sebastian at the Atlantic ocean. And by doing so we are adding another Spanish region to the list - the basque country. San Sebastian is famous for its half-moon shaped beach and the small entry it provides from the Atlantic. It is also said to be the city with the highes density of 5-star Michelin restaurants in the world. We at least got to taste the big variety of Pintxos (the basque country's word for tapas)

What an awesome start of the day !!
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A stroll through the streets of San Sebastian
This is San Sebastian's Constitución Plaza, where the bull fights took place. Usually taking place in a bull fighting arena, here in San Sebastian they simply numbered the balconies on the houses and turn the plaza into a suitable space for the event
The world famous Playa de la Concha in San Sebastian

day 5: Pamplona to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

From today on the chances are good that we might come across some of the pilgrims. From Pamplona the spiritual hikers follow their paths to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the many important pilgrimage places. As their paths usually won't include so many curves, we riders are trying to integrate roads that are more attractive to our taste. The destination, though, stays the same.

Hey guys, it is time to run the engines
The first climb of the day in the morning sun
Haro is the capital of the La Rioja region and was a picture stop for us later in the day.
The picture shows what happens if you have too much of the delicious Rioja wine
The bell tower of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, right next to our Parador hotel

day 6: Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Cervera de Pisuerga

Riding beside the Rio Ebro, the basis for all the good wine in la Rioja
Finally it started to rain
The Picknick made up for it, thank you Angela!
At the end of the day, a cold beer at the terrace of Cervera de Pisuergas Parador - what a view!

day 7: Cervera de Pisuerga to León

The weather forcast kept showing us that we should be prepared for some rainy spots all day but, as a matter of fact, we enjoyed dry conditions almost throughout our entire riding day.

Out of the garage of our beautiful Parador hotel in Cervera de Pisuerga we started out right into the mountain range of the Picos de Europa. Even though these mountains are not so well-known among international riders, they are not at all inferior to the Alps. We had beautiful roads in the majestic mountains as well as along meandering rivers, and all this in remote and lonesome areas

"The significant other half" all of a sudden has a completely different meaning, hasn't it?
The city of León has some interesting sights to show. In the late afternoon we were walking the town and visited the clerical museum and the museum of the Roman times.
León's cathedral is well worth to be visited. Especially sitting in one of the tapas bars nearby, enjoying the view of it while having a beer
We had a great time and lots of good laughs
Carl having a great time with the group

day 8: León to Villafranca del Bierzo

The weather cleared up, dry roads and wonderful views!
Badass Bikerboy with the milkshake in his skull glass
The most amazing Huevos Flamenco!
Villafranca del Bierzo is one of the many little towns of importance to the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
After the riding day, we went on a short walk to see some of these important places
The Calle Santiago, for example, is part of the pilgrimage path. Every pilgrim is walking on this street through Villafranca.
And this is the sign every pilgrim follows on their hike
Along the St. James Way there are various types of accommodations for the pilgrims. Some like it more luxurious, and others prefer the more simple ones. To get an idea of what such a more simple hostel looks like, we had a quick glance into one of them. The goal of each pilgrim is obvious, but this board gave us also a good idea of where around the world the pilgrims were coming from.
Here in Villafranca, you will also find this chapel with its special door. Back in the early days, the hiking equipment, obviously, wasn't as good as it is these days, hence, the journey used to be much more demanding. It was very well possible that a pilgrim, for some reason, wasn't able to complete the journey to Santiago. In such a case, he or she, instead, would come to this door, the "Puerta de Perdon", where they would receive the blessing.
Another pleasant experience in the northern part of Spain is the really great wines that you get to taste. To us this place looked especially "inviting"
We have been traveling through Rioja already before. Here, in this region the grapes are growing on a slate dominated soil, which gives them a different aroma again.
Villafranca del Bierzo even has a roundabout depicting the sign of the St. James Way

day 9: Villafranca del Bierzo to Santo Estevo

Looking out the window this morning the skies didn't look very promissing at first. It was all cloudy and rainy in the distance. We decided to stay a bit longer in the mountains in the vicinity and wait for the clouds to move away. This plan worked out perfectly so that we were back on track after our morning coffee break.

The coffee place had some wisdom to share with its guests It gave us a good chuckle
It says: "The envious invents the rumor, the gossiper spreads it, and the idiot believes it"
It is said that Spain is the number one slate producer and exporting nation in the world. Riding up this road alone made this fact obvious to us. This is only one of the seven really large slate mining areas in Spain.
Yessss Cindi, give it a good push !!!
Carl balancing along the slate mine's edge
Mmmmmhhhh.... yummy yummy picknick. This time prepared by Chris.
A fantastic view over some of these tiny and winding roads we were riding today.
Riding through more of these delicious looking vineyards, we couldn't resist nibbling from one of them

day 10: Santo Estevo to Santiago de Compostela

Our day started out a bit foggy, but dry roads and a nice ride
Wine in its first stage, still had to be picked
We were lucky, there was somebody picking them grapes for us
Happy owner of some freshly picked grapes
Yess, we are on the Camino de Santiago, on the last 62 miles to Santiago, so there are a lot of pilgrims on their way
An amazing burger - organic octopus burger
On the Monte de Gozo. From this point it is already possible to see the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. From here on a lot of pilgrims used to put off their boots and wander barefoot.

day 11: Rest day in Santiago de Compostela

Another rest day on our two week's tour. So what to do on this rest day? Ahhh... you are riding... Hmmm... okay, I'll come along

What a strange thing to do as a pilgrim - you would think that after their long, long journey they should be relieved to stop their walking. But quite on the contrary. Most of them continue their hike out to the Cabo Finisterre, the "end of the world". With its sheer cliffs and the seemingly endless Atlantic ocean, pilgrims in the very early days must have had this impression. Today, however, it represents sort of the "true finish" of the St. James Pilgrimage.

For us it was another truly fantastic riding day with a lunch spot that none of us really wanted to leave

The view of the Cabo Finisterre from the distance
The mile stone at the pilgrimage's finish line
When a simple traffic sign isn't sufficient anymore ...
Good food at a sunny beach after great motorcycle riding ... what more do you need ...?
A lot of food on the table here - it was all so delicious, though, that we finished it all
Pulpo Gallego - the super tender Gallician squid
Very tasty Almejas muscles
Delicious Navajas - razor clams

day 12: Santiago de Compostela to Castillo de Monterrey

We are leaving Santiago de Compostela again today to pay a short visit to Portugal along our route. Before the end of the day, however, we will return back into Spain. 

To our surprise, Portugal has great rides and capturing landscapes to offer. And even though Spain and Portugal are neighbouring counries, their culture and ways of lives are yet so different.

A must-have group picture in front of Santiago's cathedral
The amazing stone staircase below the Cathedral of Penedes amidst this remote Portuguese natural reserve.
These are the so-called "Horreos", small storage houses as they are very common in Northern Spain. Even though they are mostly not in use anymore nowadays, they are still being taken good care of for heritage reasons.

day 13: Castillo de Monterrey to Salamanca

Another mind-blowing Parador hotel we spent last night. We totally felt like the residents of a castle. Giving you the impression of a difficult to take fortress from the distance, it surprises you all the more with its unbeliveable mix of the past and the present. On top of that, it is such a small Parador that we seemed to have been the only guests. 

The Parador's entrance area where we had our boot beer upon our arrival
Today, it was me on the van. So after the group had left, I took the time to walk up a different path this time. And to my surprise I found this ancient road up to the fortress. Imagine you had to pull a donkey cart full of luggage up here like they did in the ancient past... Better not!
This plate shows really well how the road up to the fortress used to look like. I am glad they have an evenly cobbled road these days
Back then this must have been the servant's houses
This picture is especially for the people at the Edelweiss garage who are responsible for the vans and the picnic equipment: This is a perfectly looking ancient Spanish picnic table. Maybe a good idea to install on our vans, too
One of the best lunches in the Portugese town of Braganca - wild boar stew

day 14: Salamanca to Alcalá de Henares

Unfortunately, today will be our last riding day of this tour. But we still have great places for you to visit before our return back to Alcalá de Henares.

Leaving the beautiful city of Salamanca, we are headed toward the medival city of Avila first thing in the morning. 

Including 88 towers plus 9 gates, the completely intact city wall of Avila comprises a total length of 8200 feet !! Very impressive, indeed !!
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Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 22:08

Hey all, looks like an awesome tour through a beautiful country, too bad we missed out on this one. And I don’t know who picked the colours on those beautiful GS’s but someone has great taste!
Angela de Haan
Friday, October 1, 2021 at 17:11

Dear Goldie,
I already heard only the best about you and your great riding skills. I am sure you would have liked the riding on this tour. I will be happy to welcome you and Kent next year then.
In the meantime I wish you great rides, Angela
Bob Elson
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 18:26

We miss you and Kent. You would love these tiny twisty back roads that go on for hours and then to end up at first class accommodations where we dine like royalty. I must say, this is a fabulous tour but it would have been better with your company.
Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 15:08

Hi Angela,
We have all this picnic food, you must eat, I insist.
It's fantastic seeing you back on tour.
Angela de Haan
Friday, October 1, 2021 at 17:13

Hi Bob,
I see you are following the right blog for the right tour When will Gene and you come over to do this amazing tour of North Spain?
Best wishes for you and stay safe, Angela
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 01:02

Viel Spaß auf Deiner Tour!
LG Claudia
Charlie Green
Monday, September 20, 2021 at 21:33

Great to see you on another tour have fun
Angela de Haan
Monday, September 20, 2021 at 22:06

Hi Charlie,
yes it is fantastic. And I love being here in Spain. Good memories of our tour. You know you are very famous with the riders on this tour?
Charlie Green
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 00:21

I recognize the faces hello to Brad Bob Cindi &Steve have a great tour Charlie
Bob Elson
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 18:10

We thank you, Robert and Richard for highly recommending this tour. The accommodations and meals are first class and our tour guides, Angela and Chris, are fantastic. In addition, with all of the twisty uncrowned roads, this tour has exceeded all expectations.
Charlie Green
Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 01:29

That is a great tour and accommodations looks like your having a great time enjoy


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