BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 28 December 2012

We had a real white Christmas.


I looked out the window this morning and was greeted with this...

A good morning greeting from a snowman across the road.
Merry Christmas Mister Snowman.

That reminds me, I've never made a snowman. (Insert Suzanne here . . . "well I did ask you if you wanted to? and your answer was "it depends how cold it is" . So Mr. woose man up and let's make one!" 

After enjoying the weather for the last few days we decided to remove all the thermal liners from our riding gear, as well as leaving out thermal underwear off. It really has gotten a lot more comfortable in the last week or so. It's surprising how much more flexible we are without all the liners in our gear. We rode out of the garage and it was perfect.

When we rode from France into Andorra a few days ago we went through the Tunnel d'Envalira, which is 2,879 metres long. It meant we didn't have to ride across the top of the mountain pass in the dark. Today we were riding up to El Pas de la Casa. This is the village on top of the mountain on the border of France and Andorra and sits at 2,408 metres above sea level. A couple of days ago we were at 1,431 metres at Col du Chioula, Vaychis in France, so that's nearly a 1,000 metre rise in about forty kilometres of zig zag riding. Yes, they were big climbs.

It was only about a nine kilometre ride to El Pas de la Casa, but boy was it fun. The road just winds and winds it's way up the side of the mountain. We were back to looking over the edge of the road and seeing nothing.

The views were pretty good as well...

...when you can tear your eyes away from the road that is...

 ...with bends like this everywhere,
my eyes were on the road.

Look out for cows?
What the hell would cow be doing up here? 
And how would it get here?

One of the many ski slopes in the area.

Of course we didn't factor in the drop in temperatures as we climbed and it was soon down around the 1.5 degree mark, and without our thermals we were a little chilly. Luckily it was only a short ride.

When we got to the top, this is what greeted us...

This is one of the larger ski areas around here, and it's stunning. It so made me want to strap on some skis and have some fun, but the thought of injury in the back of my mind is holding me back. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

We found a nice little restaurant and settled in for Christmas lunch with a perfect window seat overlooking the ski slopes.

The perfect place for Christmas lunch.

Suzanne peruses the menu.
She was happy with her choice of risotto
and my cannelloni was delicious.

A little appetiser?

After a very enjoyable lunch the weather started to turn, and I wasn't that keen on riding back with snow falling, not on those roads. So it was back down the hill. Suzanne said it was like a giant slot car track.

We headed back to Soldeu and down the hill to Hotel Peretol for a drink. We'd been told by Mario that it was very nice.

We discovered that the hotel was owned by and English couple, Tracey and Simon. They were having a traditional English Christmas dinner in the hotel that night, and part of the package was free transport from our hotel and back again after dinner. They could squeeze us in if we wanted to go. Done deal. We rode home, showered and changed, and were ready for Christmas dinner. As we walked out the door Suzanne said "Do you think I should take my face paint?" We decided that it would be a good idea.

The night started out as a nice quiet group of people chatting, most of whom were English. Then more people arrived, and it got a little louder. Then the party people arrived from Bristol and Cornwall, and it was on. Suzanne broke out her paint, brushes, and sponges and was an instant hit with the kids. As usual the adults got in on the act as well.

After a while we sat down for dinner and there were lashings of food, complete turkey and cranberry sauce. There was so much food we couldn't eat it all, and it was all delicious.

Christmas toast.

After dinner Suzanne continued painting a well lubricated crowd. To finish off the night she let one of the young girls paint her. For a first timer she did a pretty good job.

Thank you so much Tracey and Simon. You made our Christmas night. To our new friends from the south west of England, thank you so much for your company and generous offers of a place to stay when we're back in the UK. We had a great night.

 Girls just want to have fun...

...then have a little nap.

Just to finish the night of perfectly, it snowed. Only a little bit, but it did snow, so I got the white Christmas that I wanted.

A warm cuddle, and a Jameson's chilled with snow.

Then Mario (No, not from our hotel, another Mario who is mates with our Mario) poured us into the van and drove us back to our hotel while listened to the fluent Swahili we were no doubt speaking. 

Mario got us back to our hotel safe and sound.

Of course we had to have a nightcap with both of our Marios.

It will be a memorable Christmas day that's for sure. Merry Christmas everyone.

1 comment:

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