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On Monay June 7th Ernst and I took off for our iberian trip. The weather wasn't really great when we left and it got really nasty and cold when we reached Luxembourg. We just kept going towards France and when we had passed Nancy, the clouds broke up and we could get out of the rain gear again. Since our goal was to reach the warm south asap, we continued the A31, only stopped for gas and once to take a picture of my speedo, one click short of the big roll over :-)
In Châlon-sur-Saône we went off A31 and took Route National N6, passed Lyon in the east and finally pitched our tent on a nice campground in Meyrieu-les-Etang. Of course, during the night a heavy thunderstorm reached our area and the bikes and our tent got heavily poured on for a few hours... :-(
The next morning we packed our still pretty wet tent and took off towards Vienne where we hit N86 which runs south all along the river Rhône.
When we reached the point where the river Ardeche flows into the Rhône we decided to follow the Ardeche until we find a campground and call it a day.
All next day we spent cruising in sunny weather along the awesome Ardeche canyons, passed Ruoms, Jóyeuse, continued to roam various small backroads until we reached Alès, from where a nice small single track road led us to the city Ganges. Here we found a sign pointing to the 'River Hérault Gorges' which turned out to be a great ride all along that river through a beautiful canyon where later we put up camp too.

Still following the Hérault we reached Gignac, via N9 we passed Béziers, Narbonne, Perpignan and the N114 led us to Argeles-sur-Mer and Port-Vendres. From there a great twisty road all along the beautiful mediterranean coast led us to Cerbère where we crossed the french-spanish border, rode through Port-Bou, continued towards Figueres and followed the small backroads to that well known (to us ;-) campground in Massos de Pals.
Leaving Pals we took road C255, passed Palafrugell, Palamós, then turned onto GI682 to Sant Feliu de Guixols. Now, the whole stretch between Sant Feliu and Lloret de Mar, GI682 is one of the best roads I've ever ridden: curve is followed by curve with hardly any straight stretch for app. 40km, all the way along the coast! It was that great, we turned around in the middle to do some of it again (and stopped to do some pix :-)
GI682 eventually meets N11, which took us straight into Barcelona. Even though we got stuck a little in the afternoon traffic, we managed to reach the Plaza Sagrada Familia around 3pm where we had arranged to meet with our buddy Jujo. After we had granted us a welcome beer, we rode to his place. One of his next door neighbours owns a seafood place where we had some great Tappas and more beer, and after a short rest we headed back into town to meet with the rest of our Barcelona 'Chapter'. And man, what a great night we had!! ;-)
Jujo showed us around Barcelona the next day, but due to a slight hangover we weren't really able to appreciate all the sights propperly ;-)
We walked Parc Gaudi for a while until we found us a shady place under a palmtree where we relaxed for a while. Later we met with the other folks again, we went to a sea front Bar for some Tappas, enjoyed the breeze and the sights, went to another nice place in the city for a late lunch and the first beers, and the following night we partied at the Bar Frankfurt where they were celebrating their anniversary. Lots more Tappas and Beers ;-)
Sunday Morning (June 13th) we left Barcelona, accompanied by Jujo, and cruised south along the coast to Castelló. After we had lunch and a farewell beer, Jujo returned to Barcelona and we continued our travel.
By now Ernst and I had to acknowledge that, if we continue at our current pace, we'll never make it around Spain in the remaining time, and we decided to speed up things a little bit. So we just cruised along the coast, passed València, Alicante, Cartagena, Almeria and Málaga, not doing a lot of stops, just enjoying the views, roads and the beautiful weather from the seats of our scoots :-)
Wednesday Morning (June 16th) we reached Gibraltar. After passing british customs and immigration we entered the city by crossing the airfield, which is located right behind the border. Here's a map of Gibraltar (759x950, 116kB)
The top of 'the Rock' was covered in a big cloud so we didn't even consider making it up there. Instead we rode down to the 'Great Europa Point' , mainland Europe's southernmost point. On a clear day one should be able to see the african shore from there, but unfortunately it was overcast that day... We continued the road and went back up on the western side of Gibraltar, saw the back side of the Rock and we stopped at the clubhouse of the 'Motorcycle Club Gibraltar' (too bad nobody was home...) To our surprise the road is a dead end, so we turned around and stopped at a pub on Main Street for lunch and a good ol'pint of english beer ;-)
Early afternoon we left Gibraltar again and hit the the road towards Portugal.
From Gibraltar we headed towards Algeciras, where we went onto the small backroad Nr. 381 through the 'Parque Natural Los Alcornocales' and towards 'Jerez de la Frontera'. Even though the road was pretty bumpy sometimes, it's still a great ride! In Jerez we turned onto road NIV to Sevilla, from there N630 and N433 took us to Aracena, in the beautiful area of the 'Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena' where we found us a very nice campground.
Still on N433 we headed towards 'Rosal de la Frontera' at the border to Portugal. Although we stayed on the same road most of the day, it's indication changed quite often, which made it a bit more difficult to navigate... From Rosal to Beja the road is N260, then it's N259 and changes all of a sudden into N120 and a few miles later into N5, only to change into N10 shortly before Setubal... N10 finally brought us to 'Vila Franca de Xira' and via various small roads we ended up in Peniche that night. Lesson of the day: when travelling in Portugal you need a very good and detailed map!
Oh, yeah, one more thing I learned that day: you can get hit by more and bigger insects on a single day than in all your previous riding days combined: two bees flew inside my tshirt sleeve and stung me before I could smash'em, and some monster bug, probably the size of a pigeon hit me right in the face! Thanx to the solid frame of my Wayfarers I got away with a slightly black eye and lots of nasty, grey-green, slimy stuff all over my face...   B-(
Due to pretty strong winds blowing from the sea, carrying tons of fine sand, we didn't cruise the portuguese coast for as long as intended but turned westwards again. Time was running short anyway, so we decided to cut off the north-eastern corner of Spain and head directly towards the area of Santander.
From Pedrògão we went to Pombal where we hit N1 towards Coimbra, changed onto N17 and IP5 towards Guarda and crossed the border to Spain in Formoso. Via Ciudad-Rodrigo, Salamanca and Valladolid we reached Palencia, from where we took the N611 all the way up to Santander on the northern coast of Spain. Between 'Herrera de Pisuerga' and Torrelavega N611 is a great road with lots of nice, fast curves! Even though it started raining a bit, we had lotsa fun there :-)
Somewhere on that stretch I suddenly heard my rear brake making ugly noises. Turned out, the right pad was worn off down to the metal while the left pad was pretty good still. Somehow the right side pistons got stuck, so I just swapped the pads left and right and stopped using the rear brake ;-)
From Santander we continued westwards taking the nice and scenic road N634 along the coast, passed Bilbao, and still riding the coastal roads we found a fine campground in the small village of Lekeitio.
During the night we got plenty more rain and in the morning the clouds didn't looked like they'd go away soon, so we saddled up and got on our way back to France. We crossed the border in Hendaye, and north of Bayonne we hit the N10. We left it again in Liphostey and finally put up tent in Biscarosse-Plage.
The next day we rode around the 'Bassin d'Arcachon' and took the backroads up north to Soulac-sur-Mer, where we boarded a ferry across the Gironde delta to Royan. From there we went straight up to La Rochelle and took the bridge over to the 'Ile de Ré' where, after we went around the island once, we put up tent.
With two days left and about 1100km to cover, we took off the next morning heading towards home in a more or less straight line, but still avoiding the big highways. N11 took us to Poitiers from where N151 led us through Châteauroux, Bourges and Auxerre. We switched onto N77 for a few more miles and finally stopped for the night somewhere around Pontigny.
After breaking down camp for the last time on this trip, we continued N77 to Troyes, turned west behind the city onto D960 and kept going on it through beautiful countryside until in Toul we hit the A31 again and we'd closed our loop...
Via Nancy and Luxembourg we headed up north, cut through the Eifel, and in the late afternoon we finally reached home.

The whole trip was 6600km, despite all the shortcuts we did. I guess without those it would have been way more than 8000km, and that's a bit to much for less than three weeks if you're trying to stay off the major highways.
But, hey, planning is for whimps!! Just take off and keep going is all the fun! ;-)

PS:I got the exact statistics from Ernst:
     according to his Hi-Tech speedo, the bikes were rollig
     for a total of 93.3 hrs, covering 6631 km, which comes
     to an average of 71.07 km/h :-)