Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 4 - Bagnères-de-Luchon/Zaragoza

To Madrid by the Pyrenees
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bagnères-de-Luchon -- Saint-Mamet -- D-618A --  N-230 (French/Spanish border) -- Es Bordes -- Aubert -- Vielha e Mijaran -- Vilaller -- Pont de Suert -- Sopera -- Tolva -- Benabarre -- Lleida -- A-2/N-II -- AP-2 -- Zaragoza

Forget stylish stone bridges and medieval villages, today's post is about asphalt and junk food and complaints about the cruel weather gods, among other things.

It had rained all night. As we were fastening the cases onto the motorbike outside the hotel, we checked repeatedly the skies hoping they would clear up, but it seemed that the same dark clouds we saw yesterday had settled over the mountains for good. There was no way we could go east as planned. Goodbye to Luz-le-Sauveur, Aramits and Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin. It was time to resign ourselves to changing completely our itinerary. So we wound up driving south in order to cross the nearest moutain pass and reach Spain.

Sitting on the main entrance stairs of Hotel d'Etigny in Bagnères-de-Luchon
At a gas station outside Bagnères-de-Luchon, we could see in the distance Maladeta's peak. We just couldn't believe that this was where we had no choice but to go to (see picture below). Seriously. Whoever said Spain was a warm and sunny country is a fraud.

Who wants to drive through this?
To our surprise, despite the rainy conditions the moutain pass and road which led us to Spain were very nice but quite difficult. I must say Philippe impressed me a lot. He is such a good driver and a master of patience. We arrived in Pont de Suert safely. Needless to say we were freezing and drenched to the bones.

A more than welcomed tea and coffee break in Pont de Suert…
Our next stop was Lleida, or should I rather say a concrete nightmare. We took the first exit lane and decided no to go much further and remain we were, that is, the suburbia. Definitely not your favorit destination, but we didn't really care for we were starved. Arriving at an unknown place is never easy. Your common sense may be switched off for a while and you are more likely to agree on some snack or junk food that normally you would not. And that's exactly what we did. As a mere compensation rain stopped for lunch break.

Fast and cheap. Our saddest excuse for food and beverage in Lleida...

Knowing that we would take a highway (A-2), we naively believed we were done with driving inconvenience. So wrong! Not only did it start raining again but no one actually warned us a fuel tanker truck and trailer transhumance was taking place that afternoon. And what I mean by transhumance is a procession of hundreds. Dig the picture. Our microscopic motorbike (we were the only one!) like a mouse zigzagging between mammoths' legs. And of course few of these scary vehicles bothered signaling before overtaking. Unbelievable. Too bad we couldn't take any picture. People are right, highways are definitely not motorbike-friendly.

Speaking of motorbike, did I mention earlier our tyres needed to be changed? Well, reaching downtown Zaragoza solved the problem miraculously. Like snap, we found the BMW garage we were looking for. It was now time to have a drink and meal and wifi connection.

You mean tuna-filled pickle cucumber?

Following next :
Day 5 - Zaragoza/Madrid

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