02 September 2010

Cascais-St Tropez

Evening, August 29, 2010
I didn't leave the hotel in Cascais until about 20:00, but thought that maybe I could get to Spain before it got dark, or shortly thereafter. I wanted to get as far as I could, because the next night I wanted to stay in Zaragoza, which was a long way off, and plus I thought it would be cooler riding at night rather than the 100+ temps I expected riding through the center of Spain the next day.

In fact, I was at least 100 km from the Spanish border when it got dark, and I was plenty tired from the day's activities, so after riding in the dark for a while and not digging it at all, I decided to stop in a city called Evora. While it may sound like a planet from a Star Wars movie, Evora is in fact an ancient Roman city, and I would have liked to check it out, but unfortunately I didn't arrive until well after dark, and in the morning I had to get moving early, because I had a lot of ground to cover to get to Zaragoza.

August 30, 2010
I left pretty early in an effort to beat the heat--I was going to be riding more than 500 miles right through the steamy middle of Spain, and was afraid it would be above 100 degrees for most of that distance. As it turns out, the heat wasn't that bad, I think in the low nineties. The ride was long and tedious, with the worst part when I tried to go around Madrid but instead got sucked into the middle of town (thanks GPS!) and then seemingly rode around the city a couple of times on various freeways, it was horrible. I finally succeeded in breaking free of Madrid's orbit and headed off towards Zaragoza.

Frankly this day was pretty much a blur, zipping along the freeway, and certainly not memorable. After the long ride, however, I wanted to spoil myself with a nice hotel in Zaragoza, which I had picked out and selected on the GPS. Of course, once I got to the city, the GPS could not find the hotel (a fair number of one-way streets and pedestrian zones got in the way), so I drove around for half an hour trying to find a place to stay. Finally I found a rather shabby if centrally located hotel (Hotel Inca) and took a room. Finding a decent place to eat with tables outside was also a challenge, and in general, I have to say that I was not that impressed with Zaragoza, it was just not that lively and didn't really have any other major redeeming qualities.  Here’s a view from my hotel room:


Here are a few more pix of Zaragoza:

August 30, 2010

No breakfast in the lame hotel, so I had to scrounge around to find something to eat, and then left Zaragoza, destination:  Andorra.  The Pyrenees start pretty soon after Zaragoza, and the road was pretty nice after a short stretch of freeway.  I had heard that there were some good bike shops in Andorra, and thought I'd stop there for lunch and some shopping, although not like I really needed anything.  Of course I got there around 13:00 or so, and most of the shops were closed for lunch…I'll never figure out Europe.

The road after Andorra got even better, and was quite nice, through the mountains.  As usual, when riding through the mountains, it is hard to get pix of the stunning scenery because there is no where to stop.  After Andorra, I really didn't know where to go…hadn't done much research on this area.  I saw Carcasonne on the map, liked the name, and so decided to head there.  It turned out to be a pretty cool city, with a Foreign Legion base and a cool old castle:

And here a few of the city itself:

Carcassone is a nice enough town, but pretty sleepy.  The hotel I stayed in (Pont Vieux) had a great roof deck though, so I could have some wine, smoke a cigar, and watch the changing light on the fortress.  The old town, inside the walls, is super touristy, but pretty cool as it got later and the crowds thinned out (to zero).


September 1, 2010

Today I decided to head to St Tropez, just because it sounded glamourous and fun.  So off I went, with most of the way on the freeway, very boring.  But, once I got off the freeway I was on a rather remarkable road leading to St Tropez's back door.  Very narrow, twisty, uneven, off-camber, it was very interesting little road.  Pulled into St Tropez and found a hotel easy enough, with a courtyard to park the bike.  Walked around town quite a bit, it is a nice town, obviously very wealthy, with some seriously, seriously large yachts.  Here are some pix:

St Tropez was nice, but nothing super special, I didn't even see a beach in town, I guess they are somewhere nearby.  Oh well.  Anyway, after one night it was off to Italy!

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