We arrived late in Stuttgart, but not too late for a little party. Most people we knew had already left, some had even come back. Bo from Connecticut was in town before moving to Heidelberg, and we said good bye to him a second time. Johannes came also. He allowed me to stay with him while passing through town, and since my things were stored in his attic I swapped my winter clothes for beach clothes because we’d be heading down to the Spanish Mediterranean for some beach time.
The next day we left after taking care of some business such as bank stuff and getting money for the phones. After heading out we pointed the bike south to France. Things went well, and we got to France in no time. The major roads in France are all toll roads, so we jumped off as soon as possible for some back road time. The last couple days had been all highway, and I was ready for some change in scenery. It turned out to be a great decision.
Before long we were fully in the mountains and the sights just got better and better. Without going too into depth, I’m proud to show this photo where we stopped in a little town west of Lyon and say the St. Michael’s church on top of a rock hill. You could see it from the road, and we turned this way. This is definitely something worth seeing if you’re ever in the area. Of course we went up and took pictures of the church and the city, but that’s best saved for another time. We picnicked there and headed on again. The second photo is just one sight Jessica took while we rode through the mountains.
We rode through those mountains, the northern Pyrenees all after noon until Milau, and then what I’d been waiting for. This was a highlight I’d wanted to see for some time. The tallest bridge in the world, the Milau Viaduct. And boy was it impressive.
I took lots of photos there, and hope to make a panorama soon, but these were some of my favorites. This bridge was/is amazing, and it really is a testament to French ingenuity and skill. Here is a link talking about it. That night we rode on in to Spain. Gerona was our stop for the night. The hotel wasn’t bad, but it was dark, and we were tired. The next morning we got up and rode the rest of the way to Benicassim just north of Valencia through downtown Barcelona and along the costal highway. It was quite a ride with the Mediterranean on the left and mountains on the right. I can’t wait to share that ride also in a future post. We finally arrived at my friend’s beach-house town in mid afternoon, and this is what we saw.
It was really a great place to spend the next few days. Jessica and I took in a lot of sun that we’d been needing for quite some time. Carlos, our friend from Stuttgart, showed us around, and the town turned out to be very neat since most of the tourists were all from Spain. We were the only foreigners there. It was pretty cool, plus the nightlife there in summer is fantastic. A couple photos show one beach club that first night.
Yep, that’s fire twirlers. I do have a couple beach photos, but they’ll come out soon enough. Our last day there Jessica and I rode up into the Natural Park and saw the mountains. It was quite beautiful there, albeit dry, and we found an old monastery that was photogenic enough. This photo overlooks Benicassim from the mountains. Quite a cool place huh?
We moved on to and then stayed a couple nights in Valencia and did more beach time. Valencia is probably my favorite city in Spain, and having several friends there makes it all the better. One of them, Elena, hosted us for a night and showed us around a little. It turns out that this was our last stop on the motorcycle trip so I had to sell the bike. The Vulcan 500 had treated us well and carried us a long way on this trip, plus the shorter trips I had done throughout the year. I would miss it, but the memories will last for ever. Me and my last photo on the bike. Thanks to Elena and Victor for helping me sell the motorcycle. Victor wasn’t there during that time, but he played an integral part in transacting the money and paperwork.
The second photo there is the last moment I saw our helmets. I had planned to pawn the helmets, but everyone was either closed to too far away that last day there (no bike remember), and we had to make a flight in Madrid in just a few hours. We decided to leave the helmets at the bus station and watch to see how long they lasted. Spain is famous for petty thieves, and they lived up to the reputation this time. I took the photo of the helmets, and just seconds later they were gone. It was so fast that neither of us saw the thief.
The whole trip to Madrid I was eating myself up inside. After traffic there would be very little time to make it to the airport, but things worked out. We had to hire a taxi, but we made it before last call. This is a photo of Madrid from above. It’s a very large city in the middle of a desert-plain.
Next stop Dublin! We arrived in Dublin later that day. The whole flight had been sunny, but as soon as we reached Ireland the sky clouded up. Odd huh? It was exactly how we imagined it though. The coast was rocky and green. And of course the clouds just reinforced the stereotype.
I only had one day in Dublin. so we did as many interesting things as possible. Jessica was staying in Ireland and would be back to Dublin the next week, so she reserved some of her must sees for then. First we headed to the famous Trinity College, then on to the National Gallery of art. Dublin is a nice place although expensive and a dirtier than most European cities – nothing compared to some US cities however. An example of the cost there is in the next photo
Yep, that’s a 6 pack of Budweiser. Would you believe that it sells for $15?
We ended up our walk around Dublin at the Guinness Storehouse slash Brewery. It was a cool tour. At the end of course you get to sample some fresh Guinness, and believe me it tastes better in Ireland. You’ve never had anything like this – well maybe, but it’s worth going if you’re in Ireland. Jessica and I stopped to take this photo. It’s actually a funny story, but again we’ll have to wait for the whole thing.
That night we drove over to see some friends of Emmet, our Irish friend, and we had a good time staying out late drinking good Irish drinks at a local Public House (Pub). Emmet is on the Right, and I bet you can tell which one is Jessica. The rest of the group was a hoot – several are not pictured.
Our intent for Ireland was to visit the Gaelic Music Festival in Tullamore, Ireland. It was a great place, and is famous for some of my favorite whiskey. The last day of my European travels ended right there. We woke up after sleeping a couple hours and Emmet drove me to the airport to fly back to Germany. It was an amazing trip. I look forward to telling all the stories in future posts. Until then enjoy these photos!