BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Girona to Collioure - Another world's best ride.

Friday 26/4/13

We left the comfortable Ibis at about mid day. We were in no hurry as today's itinerary was very relaxed. Visit Castell Gala Dali, then ride on to Collioure, a stone's throw over the French border. Total kilometres, about one hundred and twenty. Easy.

We made the most of the rural back roads, which were really good, apart from a bit of traffic in one large village. I'm really spoiled now. Any more than three cars on the road and I'm not happy.

Traffic? What traffic?

Our wheels were rolling on the cobblestones of Pubol before we knew it. Then it was into Castell Gala, the house Salvador Dali lived in after his wife, Gala, died. It became a shrine to her and is a bit of a sad story.

Insert Suzanne here . . ."There has been a lot written about Dali's life. I am a wee bit fascinated : ) so I have been keenly reading about him. When visiting these "touristy" places the story you are told is a fairytale one of a millionaire life style, a creative genius, passion and love for Gala, etc. Well if you would like to read a different take on what he was really like, have a read of this and make up your own mind. Sadly I find this a bit more believable than the story you get in Spain. Don't get me wrong, I adore his work and I am a huge fan, but I have always said that he was perhaps a tortured soul, hence his bizarre work."

It was a little more subdued that the Port Lligat house we visited yesterday.

Just a little shack...

...with a modest garden...

...a couple of geese...

...a kiddies pool...

 ...along with the odd Dali, long legged elephant...

...or two...

...and the occasional statue.

It was time to go inside, but not without visiting the most important room in the house. The garage.

 Dali was a Caddy owner. No surprise there.

But a Dato owner, now that's cool.

The ceiling in the reception room.

A flaming giraffe on the wall, and a glass topped table.
Nothing unusual about a glass topped table?
You can see through it to the floor below, that has a...

Stuffed horse.

Have a look at the bath taps.

A small selection of Gala's dresses.
Dior, Channel, etc.

A little bit creepy. A Gala dummy dressed in the clothes she wore for the painting Dali did of her shown in the background.

Suzanne's favourite.

The way out.

Gala's crypt in the bottom level of the house. Dali himself is buried in Figueres.

It was another small insight into Salvador Dali's life. He certainly was different. I can't imagine what people made of him back in the day.

After Dali's house we continued our back roads tour across to the coast, turned north toward our destination, Collioure, just over the French border.

What a ride it was. Riding in the mountains we paralleled the coast into a little town called Portbou.

It started out as a nice road along the coast...

...then turned into a race track.

The train uses tunnels through the mountains. That would be nowhere near as much fun.

Mountains, mountains, mountains.
Bends, bends, bends.

We rode through a little town called Colera. It was good to back off and have a bit of a break from the fun we were having and give my arms a rest. Sometimes so much intense fun can be exhausting.  ; )

Colera from the road heading north.
We'd just ridden through the mountains in the background.

From here it was more of the same into Portbou, but only for about five kilometres.

This is on the road into Portbou.
You can see the road out on the other side.

Portbou was a pretty little place and I'm sure at this time of year the sun is usually shining and the place would be packed with people. With all the dramas affecting Spain right now, the worst winter in years certainly isn't helping matters.

Portbou beach. On the plus side, after you've been to the beach, you don't have to vacuum beach sand out of your car.

Me contemplating how many fish there are in the Mediterranean. Actually I was looking for a ferry terminal so I could avoid riding up the road in the photo.

The local mall wasn't very busy.

The ride so far today was fantastic. I was actually laughing out loud in my helmet as we carved through bend after bend along the undulating road. Every time we came out of a bend we were immediately presented with another. It was unbelievably good. So good that when we stopped in Portbou, I checked my tyres, the chicken strips were almost gone.

For non motorcyclists.

Chicken Strips: The edges of a motorcycle tyre that are not used when leaning over during cornering. The less you lean, the wider the "chicken strip" is. The more you lean, the skinnier it is.

I was pretty chuffed with this, and the fact that the tread was "balling up". That is, under acceleration, the rubber starts to make little balls or ripples on the tyre. It means it's working pretty hard. 

I don't do this very often, if ever with someone on the back, but the road today demanded it. It was just too bloody good not to.

I was so proud of my skinny little chicken strips, I took a photo.

It was time to leave and payback time was coming. The road up the mountain and of Portbou was absolutely bloody terrifying. We rose 1,000 metres in about a minute, along the very edge of the mountain. We were a kilometre up in no time, and I felt extremely uncomfortable. I reckon I sat on about twenty kilometres an hour most of the time. Quick looks over the side felt like we were in a plane and flying. Once I had a good look over the edge back down at the town, I started to feel OK and the ride improved considerably, but it was nothing like the ride into Portbou.

The road out of Portbou. Yes, it was high. Very high.

Over the top of the mountain we crossed the Spanish / French border. We were both sad to say goodbye to Spain. We've spent a total of over three months in Spain and Portugal which means we won't be able to visit some other countries we had on our list, but we don't regret that at all. These two countries are just the best places to be and we loved every minute of being there. We will go back, again.

We were now in France. It was a quick thirty kilometre ride into Collioure which looked like a nice little place. We found some cafes and tried to park. Do you think we could find anywhere legal to park? No way. We parked near a no parking sign and wandered off. After four cafes we found one that had WiFi and set about finding a hotel for the night. With incredible luck we found one a hundred metres away that fit the bill nicely. Fifteen minutes later we were in, changed, and ready for dinner.

That's when the shock came. We've had fantastic food on the cheap for four months now, so when we got the bill tonight it was a bit of a shock. The meal was OK, but nothing special, and the wine was five times the price of what we were paying fifty five kilometres south of here. We should have stocked up before we left Spain, but I don't know how we would have carried it all.

We feel homesick for Spain already.

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