Distance: 202 Miles
Saturday 5th September
We agreed with Alex & Lizzy that we should meet them at our first stop today, rather than trying to find each others hotels in the city.
Our aim is to be on the bikes with engines running at 8 am as we've planned for a fairly long day of 200 or so miles.
Our hotels parking is in the basement of an underground garage a couple of blocks from the hotel. It's steep so I bring Alisa's bike round to the front of the hotel and then go back for mine. It's pretty dark in the garage, but not too dark to notice that the rear tyre of the Explorer is flat. It's too dark to work on it there so I ride it as best as I can to the hotel, trying my best not to damage the wheels or fall off.
After nursing it back to the hotel we perform open tyre surgery. I had bought a tyre repair kit just before we left the UK which allows you to plug the tyre then pump it up with a few canisters of compressed air. I'm thankful for this as we are in the middle of the city and unlikely to find a garage.
We text the others and let them know we are now running 30 minutes late, gently heading off to the nearest petrol station to properly inflate the tyres. Mission accomplished and our repair looks like it is holding, the instructions are clear that it's a temporary repair and the bike should not ride at over 60 kph or be ridden more than 400 km (looks like we are going to test this).
Our next unintended stop on this eventful morning is at another service station as the Tom Tom is not charging. A piece of cardboard ripped from a biscuit box and jammed in the bracket seems to repair this one.
Rejoining the motorway, we catch sight of the others in the distance and meet them just as they leave the motorway at Lanjarón, the beginning of the route along the south of the Sierra Nevada.
There is a main road, twisty but well used from here to Algeria and we will rejoin this later in order to make good time, but to start, we head up the windy road to Trevelez, the highest village in Spain.
The roads on the way there are lovely, small, twisty well tarmac'd and quiet - occasionally a little slippy with dust and debris or polished to a fine sheen with age and use. We stop regularly on the road to take photos of the view or the bikes (as bikers will) as we rise up into the mountains.
Although we are constantly climbing, it's the occasional breaks in the trees and the amazing view that lets us know truly how high up we are.
At Trevelez we pull in and stop at a taverna for a well earned brunch on a cafe patio, which turns into a slap up meal. It's not until we head inside, that we notice that the whole ceiling is covered in hanging Jamon, (hams). The waitress laughs as the photos are taken and tells us that the place is somewhat famous for Jamon, so we have a quick wander around shows us the Jamoneria and see some of the ageing process.
After lunch we continue at altitude for another 30 minutes before descending down to rejoin the 'main' road again. The main road is fast and flowing with constant direction changes and just as much fun as the twisty road up the mountain. We are treated to great views of desert terrain now. Around lunchtime we stop at petrol station for quick break, the big breakfast and soporific turns has made us all a bit sleepy. A quick Redbull, rather than the litre of house wine from a vat for 1.10 EUR which is on sale, and we head off towards Tabernas.
We pull in at the Oasys resort, the largest of 3 Spaghetti Western theme parts. Many famous westerns were filmed here in the 60s/70s. The theme park is a somewhat well worn with many of the faux western buildings empty, when they were once a functioning part of the tourist attraction. Despite this, it was fun to walk around the little cowboy town, have a drink in the saloon whilst watching the can-can and getting a couple of hours off the bike.
We decide to forego the attached zoo and found the most interesting part was an exhibition of film cameras, projectors and film posters, used at the time of the Western movies.
Aware that the weather is about to turn, and that we have done well not to be rained on so far today, we head off on the fast route to Lorca, our base for the night.
A quick stop at Almeria race circuit for a photo and a reminder of the track day here earlier in 2015. I can hear and just see some bikes on a track day, but we don't have time to watch if we are going to stay ahead of the rain.
With ominous clouds overhead we hit the motorway for the final stretch. Our visors are spotting with rain, but we keep pushing on and beat the odds by arriving dry at our hotel in the early evening.
The hotel was chosen for convenience after a long ride, and is just off the motorway, so we head into town, have a drink in Old Town square and then check TripAdvisor for the best restaurants.
Taverna San Mateo looks like not very much from outside, but is a lovely local restaurant. It is empty when we arrive at 9.15 but by 10 there is a queue for tables. The Proprietor has no English but we work out that he would like us to have a selection chosen by him for the table. This works well for us as we try things we wouldn't have otherwise and is presumably easier for the kitchen and is being chosen by many.
The food is amazing:
Course 1: whole octopus in olive oil and spices
Course 2: tempura style battered prawns
Course 3: squid
Course 4: salad goats cheese, toms & lardons
Course 5: steak
We added desert, 2 beers and 2 bottles of rose with water - all for 95EUR for four people. It's probably the best value meal we have had in Spain and certainly the best quality.
At the end of the meal we say our goodbyes to Alex and Lizzy. We will shortly be heading north and they have other destinations in mind. It was great to catch up and to end our days together on a high.