BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 11 January 2013

We finally made it to Portugal, then turned around and rode straight back to Salamanca...


It was still grey skies this morning but we had to get going otherwise we'd never get anywhere. At least it wasn't raining. We had a new breakfast this morning. It was bread soaked in egg and milk, fried in oil, and drizzled with honey, and it was yummy. That's another recipe we'll be taking home.

Back upstairs after breakfast I looked out he window and saw this...

Do you think it will clear?
This photo was taken at 10.30 am

By eleven we were all packed and ready to go but at check out we found out that the hotel couldn't take a credit card payment at the moment. No problem, I'll just pop down to the bank and get some cash. Well, I would have if my card had worked. When the machine refused to give me any money I went inside the bank and waited for twenty minutes, in a heated room, in my riding gear and thermals. 'Twas a bit warm. This is the down side to staying somewhere where no one speaks English. We couldn't work out what the problem was. Anyway, it was eventually sorted, I went back to the hotel, we paid our bill, and were on the road to Portugal, at last. It's taken a couple of weeks, but I think we might actually get there today.

Suzanne's programmed ride was superb. We started by riding along some gently winding roads up a bit of a climb and through some nice little villages.

 A nice, easy start to the day...

 ...and the perfect road to warm up on.

 Dry and grippy now.

 Just how narrow can the roads get?

The local courier.
I think he was surprised to see us riding up his street.
So was I. 

More cloud, more bends. 

 Village in the clouds.

 I'll bet we are going there.

 Village watch dog. He watched us for ages from his first floor balcony while we set the sat nav for the next stop.

Pretty soon the clouds started to clear and the pace picked up. Then we turned off onto a one lane wide, potholed road that climbed up a mountain. It was full of hairpins, with very few railings or barriers. The little walls in some areas wouldn't even reach the foot pegs on the bike. At one point we were above the clouds again. It was PERFECT!

 I wonder what that sign means?

Nice wall.
I didn't know we'd be on top of it in a minute... we are..

 ...see, I told you.

 That drop on the right is a hell of a lot steeper than it looks.

We're above the clouds...

...and it's playtime again. 

Once we crested the mountain the road opened up to two lanes, with a smooth surface and nice sweeping bends. It was fun time.

We had a great ride and after a few hours we were in Portugal in Vilar Formoso. Yay! We were only about half an hour away from our planned overnight stop so we decided to keep going and eat when we got there. Then we saw three bikes parked on the other side of the road. They were loaded up with gear and obviously touring, so we decided to drop in and say hi. This is where our plan went haywire.

We met Bruno and Nevio. Bruno rides a BMW R1200GS and explained that he and his mates were on their way to Pinguinos 2013. On their way to what? Pinguinos 2013. It's a small, yearly, winter gathering, that is held on the second weekend in January every year, where a few motorcyclists get together. Last year the official total was 26,715 motorcyclists. WHAT!!!!!!!! 26,000! We can't miss that can we?

So we turned around and left Portugal (At least it was only a one kilometre ride to the border) and headed back to Salamanca for an overnighter before heading into Puente De Duero on Friday morning.

Check out the Penguinos web site here:

Pinguinos video compilation...

OK! Now I have goosebumps.

Right now I'm typing this sitting in the bar at Hotel Don Juan in Salamanca. We received a warm welcome back from MaTe when we pulled up outside the hotel. Suzanne has gone off to the hairdressers to get her hair done. I guess when you're spending a weekend with 25,000 plus motorcyclists, most of who will be male, one has to look one's best.

So today's ride really lives up the the Wrong Way Round name of our trip. We spent about a week getting to Portugal, only to turn around and ride straight back to Salamanca. I must admit that coming back on the motorway took about an hour when it took about nine hours riding to get there. I'm considering going the long way back to Portugal though. I reckon if we made an early start we could do it in a day, and it was great fun.

Suzanne's just back from the hairdresser.
What do you think?
I like it.

I think it's going to be one hell of a weekend, wish us luck. Does anyone have an inflatable penguin we can borrow?

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