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Old 06-19-2010, 05:51 PM   #1
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Spain and Portugal--2010--LONG and Lots of pix

The most difficult part of my trip to Spain was coming home, though I had missed my husband and looked forward to seeing him and my family. The return flight felt like a blood bank extracting my vital life blood sending it to flow upon the dusty arid plains and mountains of Spain, feeding the exotic and soon to be distant world. The farther the distance grew, the less settled I became and upon landing in Chicago, I felt listless and drained. Many would say the feeling was the result of “jet lag”, but I felt it more akin to being given something precious then, after a moment's jubilation, having it snatched away and being left with an empty palm. It is with this in mind that I write my Spanish impressions and share the amazing experience I encountered in a country whose language I didn't know and whose history I could barely fathom. I feel fortunate having the ability to make this trip, one that many people can only dream of.

The trip to Madrid was long but the Iberia staff made it painless, serving wonderful food and some decent free Rioja wine, from the verdant Rioja area of Spain where much of the wine grapes are grown and harvested. After a missed connection, I and my travel partner Ken were finally on our way to Seville, a scenic Andalusian city of southern Spain. Upon landing we got a rental car for the first few days to familiarize ourselves with the terrain before embarking on our moto tour of southern Spain. It was in the airport of Seville that we somehow managed to connect with the rest of our mates from America and we decided to caravan to Lora Del Rio, the town nearest to the house that the group rented.

Leaving the awesome beauty of Seville to the scenic countryside, had anticipation flowing, so much that arriving in Lora, was a bit of a disappointment. It was a blue collar town, less than scenic though bustling. We stopped at the Mercadona, a major grocery store for supplies and necessary libation and headed to the cortijo, which was supposedly located just west of town on a short dirt track. The short track ended up being a 3k track of potholes, loose gravel the size of Idaho bakers and rain gullies full of soft mud. There was no real issue for the rental car, but I was terrified at the thought of riding numerous time over this track on my rental motorbike, a BMW F650GS. I decided to ponder it later...

The road into the house...lovely!




The 10 bedroom casa was amazing, even though the owners had let the condition slide a bit, the grounds were simply stunning, located right in the middle of several acres of orange trees, the white stucco glowed and the swimming pool glittered. This was to be our home, for the next 16 days. Well, as usual plans changed a bit and when traveling flexibility is your best friend.







This little guy had no idea he would become dinner in a few days...; )


Day 1---The corjito and resting up a bit
Swimming and hanging at the villa was the name of this day's game. It felt good simply to re-center anticipating the next day's move!

Our first meal together in Spain, home cooked!


Day 2---Andalusia
Off to Cordoba to see La Mezquita, the worlds third largest mosque built in 786AD whose identity flows around the cathedral insensitively placed in the center of the mosque in the 16th century. One can feel the ineffable mystical power of the building with it's Mudéjar style. Mudéjar is a Medieval Spanish corruption of the Arabic word Mudajjan مدجن, meaning "domesticated", in a reference to the Muslims who submitted to the rule of the Christian kings.(wikipedia) It's difficult to see the suggested submission, considering the amazing endurance of the structure and to feeling the strength within the walls.















And we haven't even started riding!!
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Old 06-19-2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

The grand city of Cordoba


Dinner in Carmona, a hill village located only 40 minutes from our rental house. We ate in this village several times and this night we picked up a couple more travelers that were friends of Alix, one of our more youthful cohabitants.







This motorbike was parked in the square and the riders were eating at the next table. Helmets are required in Spain, and most people but for serious tourers only use the protection of a helmet. I also noticed that in Spain motorcycles are somewhat rare, considering the proliferation of scooters. Scooters are everywhere and in this small village, that continually zipped by zooming up the cobblestones, while we were eating our meal!


Day 3---Motorbiking in Spain
The bikes


Well, it played out oddly, in that prior to getting the bikes, our rental car's transmission went out with less than 3k on the vehicle and my traveling partner, Ken, had to push it off the roadway as he was alone. In doing so, he injured his back. He came to the revelation after gathering the bikes that he could NOT ride for any length and that riding up the dirt track was utterly painful. Suddenly, as fate will have it, I was once again a solo rider, only this time in a foreign country. Talk about a stranger in a strange land! My biggest fear was not being able to communicate, however this proved less of a barrier than I originally anticipated. An unending smile and a hearty language attempt took me where I needed to go and always with assistance in kind.

The bike was packed and I was as ready to go as I ever would be!


Phrasebook, check...maps, check...gps, check...sunscreen, check...visa, check...sense of humor, check...OK...I was ready to go. I had my route plugged into the GPS, thanks to my husband, only I was modifying it. Figures eh? I did it on the fly. Does anyone know exactly what this means??


I had to laugh at the eyes on the car. I do believe that here in the USA we need to use more cartoons in our signage as at least it does make one look and chuckle, though the meaning is still unclear! Watch out in your mirror for motorcyclists? Motorcyclists watch for slowing cars? Everyone watch out for steep hills? This sign was always on a hill's downgrade.

The morning I left, the weather reporters were anticipating a high of over 40C...I had my camelbak filled with ice water, but it was mucho calor. and my first stop was to refill my water supply. Now, not speaking Spanish made this job less than an easy one. Buenos días, Senor, uno agua frio, por favor. All I could do was try and smile...

The camelbak was as much an oddity as an American female solo rider. I grinned a lot and hoped for the same in return.



My first attempt at riding on narrow cobblestone streets, complete with lights allowing traffic to travel one way at a time. Many of these streets were amazingly narrow.



Yarn, fans, lace and stockings, something we don't usually see in storefronts in America.


I can't quite remember the name of this town, but I believe it was Fernán Núñez heading to Lucena and Rute.


My steed in España, one I was happy to be trying. The GS, especially this new two cylinder V-Twin, had plenty of power for the roads I was challenging and it was at least 50lbs lighter than my Suzuki Bandit, however for the long haul, it was less than comfortable and definitely lacked in umph for a speedy escape route. I didn't see many of these on the road, but I did see its older and wiser bro, the big adventure and touring bikes.


There was once scenic village after another in the foothills leading to the north end of the Sierra Nevada range. Yep...I did say that, the Sierra Nevada Range of Spain! Funny, I crossed the world to find more Sierra Nevada mountains.

One of the many hill villages I passed while winding through the Sierras.
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Old 06-19-2010, 06:06 PM   #3
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

Sort of your own personal racetrack...although I did encounter city buses on this secondary road.









One of the more prominent roadways, A92 leading south to Almeria.




I stopped for petrol in Abla on the A92 and tried to see the best way to get to Canjáyar without following the highway system. A young father did his best to understand me with my other classic phrase, “¿Me puede indicar dónde está en el mapa? I had a Michelin map book along with the GPS, which only showed some of the roads since the 276C could not be updated to the latest maps. He pointed to an area on the map that showed NO road and pointed up the hill to a road I could see winding upward. He also pointed to the bike and did a sign for twisty as his son giggled. Apparently that road was my destination. I smiled and thanked him and then I kept smiling for the next hour!

From this vantage I could really see the result of terraced farming.


The village of Ohanes


You could see Canjáyar in the distance.


What an amazing road!


I arrived at my home for the night La Piscina (the swimming pool) just as darkness settled. I grabbed my purse and entered from the bar. Once again, no one spoke any English. I tried to make them understand I needed a bed, not just dinner and finally it dawned on the proprietor who grabbed some keys and asked me to follow him. He showed me the room which looked lovely and asked if I wanted “cena” with the room. Dinner, at least there were a few words I understood! I said “si, por favor”. I was charged a whopping 31€ for dinner and a room, including a bottle of vino!









This is where he tried to draw what dinner consisted of...hmmmm what exactly was he trying to say. I kept thinking of my friend Frenchy's mapkins!
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Old 06-19-2010, 06:11 PM   #4
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

Dessert and never-ending vino tinto.


The lone motorbike.


The map of the day:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...28574&t=h&z=14

More as I sort photos!!
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Old 06-19-2010, 06:35 PM   #5
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

So funny!

"uno agua frio, por favor" You would think that is more than sufficient when it is past 100 outside. That is surprising that your phrasebook did not include how to ask for a room. Not as easy as it seems since the term varies from country to country. cuarto (room), cama (bed).

The meat is chicken (pollo of course), turkey (pavo), veal (ternera) or rabbit (conejo). Looks edible to me. If it was fish, it could be shark (tiburon) or swordfish (espada)

Nice pics from the Cordoba's mosque, a difficult subject to photograph.

The sign is interesting. It means "caution, keep your distances" I guess, maybe because some brake lights could possibly be broken?

The blood drain feeling definitely hints at a successful adventure. First lesson as far as I am concerned: stay away from rental cars
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:13 PM   #6
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

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Originally Posted by Eryx View Post
So funny!

"uno agua frio, por favor" You would think that is more than sufficient when it is past 100 outside. That is surprising that your phrasebook did not include how to ask for a room. Not as easy as it seems since the term varies from country to country. quarto (room), cama (bed).

The meat is chicken (pollo of course), turkey (pavo), veal (ternera) or rabbit (conejo). Looks edible to me. If it was fish, it could be shark (tiburon) or swordfish (espada)

Nice pics from the Cordoba's mosque, a difficult subject to photograph.

The sign is interesting. It means "caution, keep your distances" I guess, maybe because some brake lights could possibly be broken?

The blood drain feeling definitely hints at a successful adventure. First lesson as far as I am concerned: stay away from rental cars
--
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Actually Eric, in the end it was the phrasebook that saved me with ¿Tiene una habitación individual con acceso a internet? A good phrasebook is worth its weight in gold!!

As much as I tried to practice some Spanish before leaving, my mind would sometimes simply go blank and I know I possessed the deer in the headlights look, but then I was a silly American girl...how apropos!

I got by, that is what was amazing!!
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:33 PM   #7
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

Habitación, I knew I was missing one! You even figured out how to type the reversed question mark¿ If south of the US border is your next destination I am definitely tagging along. I think my favorite phrasebook was the Burmese one. I feel very sorry I lost it. I am sure others, like Orson, have their own.
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but then I was a silly American girl...how apropos!
I expect a nice chapter on machism of course
Did you hear about the torero who suddenly got scared?
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

Totally AWESOME Donna!! Despite the language barrier and your friends' misfortunes, looks like a glorious trip!
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:05 PM   #9
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

Hey Donna, this brings back a flood of memories during my 2 year Navy tour ('81-'83) in Rota, Spain which is a bit north of Gibraltar on the Atlantic side. I would love to get back there someday, the best part (at least for me!) was the lovely Spanish senoritas Of course the roads weren't too shabby either
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:30 PM   #10
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Re: Spain and Portugal--2010

I love the pic labeled, "Yarn, fans, lace and stockings, something we don't usually see in storefronts in America." Especially, the reflection of your rental ride in the window. Just something about that... You have a unique quality in your composition.

2nd fave was the rental ride's view of the twisty road ahead.

And, NO, I'm not envious, I'm not!!! Who wants to travel 1/2way across the world and ride around on a tiny little 650cc anyway?! Not me, certainly! Twisty, foreign roads with exotic food and luxurious, colorful rest stops...who needs it?!

Ummmm, do you have any more pics
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