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Germany tour provided by: Jörg Sellmann


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Tour

In May 99 I drove my AT to my parents house in Andalucia, near Malaga

I took the train from Hamburg to Loerrach (near Basel) to avoid the german motorways and to save some of my tyre's rubber. You arrive there at the foot of the Alpes, after a more or less good rest, to hit the road and search for these curves. Those of us living in flat northern Germany know what I'm talking about.

I cross the border to France, shortly after the one to Switzerland (not for the last time on this day) in the direction of Geneva. The french and swiss Jura offer nice small roads, winding through deep valleys and green forests. In the higher areas there is still snow beside the streets. Via St. Ursanne, Morteau, Pontarlier and Morez I reach the Col de la Faucille (1323m). From the top I can see the Lac Leman, Geneva with its fountain in the lake, and in the background the panorama of the Alpes wih the towering, snow-covered Montblanc.

I found a way through Geneva and went on to Annecy. Because it was a holiday in France I had difficulties to find an open gas station, so I took the motorway to Grenoble. Shortly after Grenoble lies the impressive mountain range of the Vercors with its deep ravines and quiet mountain passes. I drove the "Gorges De La Bourne" and "Combe Laval" incredible streets carved into the mountains, behind only a small wall there's an abyss of several hundred meters. Passing the Col de Tourniol I drove down to Chabeuil, where I stay over night.

In the night it's raining heavily, so my AT is clean the next morning for another ride! The northern Provence is a beautiful landscape with its trees, small villages and rivers coming down from the mountains. It's getting warmer the more I drive into the south of France. My intention was to go over the Mt. Ventoux, which can be seen clearly on the horizon in the days heat. But I have some difficulties with the chain of my AT, so I search and find a Honda dealer in Orange. This village is well known for its roman, well-preserved theatre. I know this buildings from my last holidays, so I just sit on the market place and enjoy a café au lait, waiting for the dealer to open his shop after lunch break.

Of course, it was only a minor problem. So, later in the afternoon I hit the road to go for some lost time. A short ride brings me to the old town of Aigues-Mortes, once the harbour where the crusades to the holy land used to start. On this long weekend it is more like a parking lot for cars. I use the advantages of a motorbike, slip through the traffic jam and get out of there, as fast as I can. Passing Montpellier I leave the motorway into the landscape of the Languedoc. A wise decision.

Small winding roads lead me through little villages. Hundreds of curves and not a single car - that's what I think, when suddenly a car appears in front of me. The road is narrow, each of us drives at the extreme right, it's too late for braking. My handle-bar hits his left mirror, but I can keep the balance. That was close!

I'm looking for a Gite d'etape, a Bed and Breakfast, and finally I find one in the small village of Félines-Termenès. I have a house completely for myself, and when I make a little walk in the fading light, all windows in the little village are closed. There is no bar or restaurant, nobody is on the streets. Scary!

After another rainy night I leave for the Pyrenees. Passing Cucugnan I see the castle ruins of Quéribus of in the distance on the mountain top. A small, very steep road goes up there and gives you a splendid view. A view on rainy and windy weather it is, so I leave the Pyrenees for next years trip and go for Perpignan and the coast. With only a few km remaining to spain I spend my last francs on croissants and cafe au lait.

As I come nearer to Barcelona the traffic gets dense and I take the motorway to pass around it. Bikes have to pay the same rate as cars for using the motorway, argh!

Near Tarragona I leave the motorway and drive up into the spanish plains. The roads are in perfect condition with a good grip. I even meet a spanish AT-driver! Passing Alcaniz I enter the province of Aragon, which is a coal-mining area. Coal dust on the streets, a very green landscape, but at the Puerto de San Justin it's cold. Endless streets seem to stretch to the horizon, red mountains and valleys remind me of Monument Valley in America.

It's getting dark, so I just slip through Teruel to reach the old city of Albarracín, part of the cultural heritage of mankind. The city merely consists of small cobbled streets, old buildings and the castle, dated of 970.

The next morning I went through the Montes Universales. This is a very lonely and rough mountain range with lots and lots of gravel roads, leading through deep forests and up to mountain tops. Highly recommended for offroad activities! A monument besides the street marks the spring of the Tajo, longest river of the spanish peninsula.

Passing the Puerto de El Cubillo I reach another well-built road, sponsored by the EC as there are many others all over spain. Worth a visit is the so called Ciudad Encantada, the enchanted city, an area of bizarre rock formations, some kilometers ahead of Cuenca. Cuenca itself is well-known for its strange houses build on top of the cliffs.

Finally I reach the vast plains of the Mancha with its many colors. The roads are rather boring, just straight ahead, maybe a curve every five minutes.

But then it's Toledo, the old capital of Spain, situated beautifully in a loop of the river Tajo. I don't stay long, but take my time for a coffee in a cafe with a splendid view over the city.

Leaving Toledo the landscape gets even more lonely. Olive and stone-oak forests along the streets. Small villages, which doesn't see tourists very often. Always a Plaza Mayor, occupied by correctly dressed men with skirt and long trousers. No traffic signs to lead you through, the residents know the directions anyway.

South of Sierra Gredos I drive to the reservoir of Valdecanas, where you can find a roman temple beside the street. The rest of the roman city Augustóbriga is drowned in the water. The journey goes on to Guadalupe, the city of the black virgin, the patron saint of all spanish speaking countries. Pilgrims visit the little city and stay in the the old monastery, which has a well-known guesthouse. I manage to get a room in there. The path to my room is lined by large tapestries, paintings and dark wooden furniture. This place has also a very good restaurant. I recommend the Hospedería del Real Monasterio!

The next day starts rainy again. At an intersection I take the wrong direction. In the Extremedura as well as in other spanish provinces the numbering of roads is subject to modification. A C-401 may be a EX-732 now. Finally I notice my mistake and go for the right direction. This area is called La Serena or La Siberia, deserted and lonely, no trees and little green.

The towering castel of Pueblo de Alcocer offers great views into the landscape with the huge reservoir of Embalse de la Serena. The roads run dead straight to the horizon with gravel roads to both sides. Passing Zalamea de la Serena I take the road to Azuaga, no other village for the next 50 km. Between Sevilla and Cordoba I pass the Sierra de Hornachuelos on nearly overgrown little roads. On the plains of the Gualdiquivir I encounter a sandstorm, so the cars have to use their headlights to be seen in the sudden dark. I drive carefully not to be blown into the oncoming traffic.

Just ahead of Antequera I know my way, and in Vélez-Malaga I reach the Mediterranean sea again. One last stop at the gas-station and I drive up to my parents house in the mountains. The next two weeks I do short trips all over Andalucia, but that's a different story ...


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