Days 4-5 - Andorra, Spain and France
Bed in the hotel was very comfy and it was hard to get up in the morning. I only had 9 days for this trip though so finally I managed to convince myself to get up and get ready. The hotel didn’t have a car park – I had to leave my bike parked in a motorcycle bay on the street. I was a little worried about leaving it there but it was still there in the morning. I loaded the bike and set off towards Tarragona.
Andorra – Tarragona – Barcelona – Girona – Beziers
Weather was really nice and the scenery was amazing. The only bad thing was that traffic was really bad and it was hard to overtake. About half way to Tarragona roads started getting a bit boring and scenery was not as nice anymore, but I just kept going.
I didn’t set any specific place in Tarragona on my sat nav, I thought I would just follow the signs and find some place to stop when I get there. I ended up on the ferry terminal… The policeman told me how to get to the town. I was really hungry though so stopped at McDonalds to get something quick to eat. Decided to not spend any more time here and go to Barcelona.
I set my sat nav for the beach in Barcelona and went there. Only an hour ago I was absolutely roasting in Tarragona. Five minutes after I got to Barcelona, the rain started… Great.
There was no point staying there much longer in the rain. I’m not a fan of big cities anyway. I like to try new roads, mountain passes and see the scenery instead. If I had more time then maybe I would spend some time visiting the cities.
I started heading towards Lloret de Mar. Was hoping that the rain would stop but it only got worse. I didn’t even stop there and just kept going to Girona. Stopped in Girona only for few minutes as it finally stopped raining but it looked like it was going to start again soon. I set my sat nav for Beziers and set off again.
I wasn’t wrong, the rain started few minutes later and it got torrential this time. Sky was really dark and I rode in this rain for about half an hour. My waterproofs did the job but my helmet wasn’t as waterproof as I thought… It has soft padding at the bottom of the helmet (it has no leather liner at the bottom as some helmets do), and when rain got there my whole cheek pads got soaked. The helmet I had was HJC RPHA ST if anyone is wondering. Generally I love this helmet, the most comfy helmet I ever had but this was its only downside.
I got to the border with France and had some issues at the motorway toll. I accidentally went into the ‘card only’ toll and it wouldn’t accept my card, so I had to use “call for assistance” button. It took a while for someone to come to me but eventually I got through. Kept going for a while; rain finally stopped and I decided to stop at KFC to get something to eat.
It was 8pm already. I still didn’t book any hotel as my phone didn’t have good internet connection earlier and I didn’t know how far I would get today. Booked some hotel in Beziers and went there.
I was struggling to find this hotel at first but found it eventually and checked in. Shower, bed, quick look at the map to decide where to head in the morning and finally sleep.
Woke up early in the morning. I really needed to clean and lube the chain in my bike before I set off, as I didn’t do this since when I was in Pau 2 days ago. Once done, it was time to set off… Well, first I had to stop at the nearest petrol station to fill up as my fuel gauge was flashing for quite a long time before I got to the hotel a night before. Once filled up, started heading towards Viaduc de Millau – Bridge in the Sky.
Beziers – Viaduc de Millau – Montpellier – Aix-en-Provence – Verdon Gorge – Cagnes-sur-Mer
Roads were a bit boring at first, but the closer I was getting to Millau Viaduct scenery was getting nicer and roads were getting more interesting. Bridge finally appeared in the distance. It is a toll road and I had to pay around 5 Euro to get through if I remember right.
Went through the viaduct, excited considering the fact that it’s taller than Eiffel Tower, but it wasn’t as great as I expected. I think this is just because all these professional pictures from Google set my expectations a bit high. Pictures in Google were with clouds or mist below the bridge making it look as it’s “in the sky”, while there were no clouds when I was there so it wasn’t as much breathtaking. It was still well worth going there though.
Went through the bridge, stopped at the car park for a small while and turned back. Started heading towards Montpellier.
After Montpellier roads (motorways) were pretty boring. I was absolutely roasting in my leathers, it must have been around 35-40 degrees. Traffic was bad and there were many roadworks with bad road surface so I could only go at half the normal speed. This slowed me down a lot, but finally started getting closer to the Verdon Gorge.
Ride through the Verdon Gorge, one of the most beautiful river canyons in Europe that is 25km long, was the best in this trip so far. It was amazing, water was very turquoise and views were breathtaking.
I stopped in Sainte-Croix-du Verdon for a small while. It was so hot that I couldn’t keep riding in all my leathers, so I took jacket off and strapped it to my bike.
Then I set off to ride through the canyon. It was amazing, there was not a single cloud in the sky. After a while however, really dark sky appeared on one side, and while it was still far away, I was actually getting closer and closer to it. On one side it was clear blue sky and on another side dark clouds. I was hoping that the road would take me away from this but it wasn’t the case. As I was getting closer to it it was getting darker and looked very dramatic, probably the most dramatic sky I have seen so far.
Clear blue sky disappeared behind me, and when I got into this ‘dark place’ it wasn’t as dark as it looked from the distance. I pulled over for couple minutes, and as I found on soon later, I made a really big mistake that I didn’t put my waterproofs on. I kept riding, sky was grey but it was still dry.
And then torrential hailstorm with torrential rain started. I was all soaked through within few seconds. It was not the best place to stop so I just kept going. When I finally found a place to stop there was not much point in putting waterproofs on but I have put them on anyway. Luckily this hailstorm and rain only stayed on for about 15 minutes, enough to get soaked though.
Anyway I wasn’t the only one who got soaked, as there was a car right in front of me (with British plates) with open roof…
I kept riding through the rest of the canyon with not much sun, but luckily no more rain. More sun came out near the end of the ride. I stopped at some point to find a hotel but I didn’t have the signal in my phone, so I had to keep going. Stopped again in some small town at the end of the canyon and had to take my waterproofs off as it was really hot again. My phone found signal again so I booked a room in Cagnes-sur-Mer and went there.
Again I was struggling to find the hotel, but eventually found it. Actually it wasn’t a hotel, it was just someone renting a room. There was no reception, just door bells and a list of names. I didn’t know which one to press, but someone was just coming out so I asked them and they took me to the correct apartment. There was a woman around 50 years old living there, so I was in that apartment with her. She was really nice, kept asking if I want something to drink and made me a tea but I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed.
I was really hungry though, so once I brought my panniers to the apartment and changed into normal clothes I went back to my bike and rode to McDonalds. Had some quick food, went back to apartment, checked the map to see where to go tomorrow and went to sleep.