WARNING: This post may contain scenes about motorcycling. Non-bikers may wish to pop out for a cup of tea during those.
Vince is currently parked overlooking the Atlantic in Llanes, Cantabria in Northern Spain after an eventful few days in the Picos de Europa mountains. A lot has been happening so I’ll split this update between a couple of posts as I don’t want anyone else falling asleep. Yes, Mrs Trellis from North Wales, I’m talking about you.
We enjoyed our Laredo visit and we’ve made a note to go back there if we can, as our looming deadline meant that we had to leave before we’d finished exploring. We still managed a lunch on the hot sandy beach and a long romantic walk in the surf – we weren’t quite brave enough for full-on immersion, but there were many families splashing away in the sea who weren’t such cowardy-custards.
When we first reached the beach we’d turned left for our long walk, so our journey back to the campsite was through the outskirts of the town. In this area, Spain’s economic problems were all too clear; deserted streets, one in three shops closed down, and most eerie were the empty hotels and holiday apartments – it was like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where Will Smith could suddenly appear being chased by feral dogs! We later learned that if we’d turned right at the beach we’d have emerged in the more picturesque old part of the town where the tourists currently congregate. This is part of the reason we’d like to go back there but I think it’s good to see both sides of the story – it’s not all about castles and lakes. Having said that, our next destination was all about the mountain scenery!
We were off to Ojedo, a tiny town which has been swallowed up by its nearest neighbour, Potes. We did have a giggle at the signs, as you have to pass through Panes to get there so we kept seeing signs for Potes and Panes – cue lots of choruses of Shake, Rattle and Roll… (look up the lyrics, kids).
It was a long drive but it passed quickly thanks to a long motorway section – no toll malarkey this time thank goodness – and Vince provided us with some good podcast entertainment too. The last 30k on the N-621 were most entertaining as the valley became a gorge with tight bends, overhanging rocks and narrow bridges to shred our nerves. Nearing Ojedo the road thankfully opened out again and as we passed the town boundary I saw some parked motorcycles in a hotel car park. I recognised them as belonging to some of my geriatric biker friends. We knew they would be in town – that’s why we went to Ojedo, but I had no idea which hotel they were staying in so spotting the bikes was a big bonus.
We wheeled back round at the next roundabout, parked up, and to be honest, after so long away it felt a bit weird strolling up to their table outside and joining them for a couple of beers. I belong to a loose group of a dozen or so bikers, and every year there’s a trip or two abroad and different combinations of us go away on each trip depending on work and family circumstances. I’ve been lucky enough to take the bike to many European countries, from Spain & Portugal, to the Alps, the Black Forest and the Balkans over the years. Gill used to come along when we were in our twenties, but as we’ve got older she prefers the comfort of four wheels to two – especially if the wheels are attached to Vince.
I have a great bunch of friends and they made Gill very welcome – unfortunately telling her all the stories of our trips which I had either ‘forgotten’ to mention or had strongly edited. I’ve had much explaining to do ever since dammit! She’s keeping an even closer eye on me now, and making sure I stick to the speed limits in Vince. I wouldn’t mind but actually reaching the speed limit in Vince is quite an achievement.
During our evening meal I checked with the guys what their plans were. They’d already had a great time on the mountain roads of Spain, taken a coach & boat tour in Portugal, and had one or several beers along the way. They were at the end of the tour but with our group’s usual immaculate planning skills – they were all booked on different ferries home. If I have this correct, Dave was off to Barcelona the following day – a 500 mile ride to meet his partner Nik for a wee holiday, Ken, Pete & Gordon were on the ferry the day after that, and Paul and Simon were sailing home the day after that. There’s always a bit of banter every trip and this time we had to drink a toast to Simon’s dog Jeff who can talk, mow the lawn and drive a Jag. Apparently. I’m also hoping Simon can send me a photo of his Triumph Thruxton so I can share it with you as most of the population of Spain has already seen it and I wouldn’t like you to feel left out.
After our steak-and-beer-a-thon we headed back to the guys’ hotel to watch the opening match of the Euros which luckily, and eventually, was won by France, the host nation. We’d rather cheekily asked the hotel receptionist if we could park Vince in their car park, with a sweetener – saying that we’d eat and drink there, and they very graciously allowed us to. So if you’re ever in Ojedo, stay at the Hotel Infantado and tell them I sent you!