After many hours honing my riding skills in the depths of winter in Southern England it’s apparent that “Destination Spain” is the obvious choice for my springtime European motorcycle tour.
The Destination Spain decision is based on the following criteria:
Warm enough for early Spring riding.
Plenty of historical attractions to visit in the region
Good food that’s not too expensive
I’ve not been there previously
Good value accommodation from which to base myself for the duration with regular whole day ride outs with the occasional one or two overnight stays to interesting destinations further afield
Not too far from London – I don’t want to have to ride for weeks to get there.
But hey, I’ve been to Destination Spain before – on a couple of tours actually. The first was on an organised tour run by Alpine TT which was centred around of northern Spain and Portugal and included the Picos de Europa mountain range. This was my first taste of Spain and it left me wanting more.
The second time was on my epic 2011 Turkey motorcycle tour – between Andorra and Bilbao – day 67, day 68 and day 69 to be precise. Again I was left wanting more of the great Spanish roads, stunning mountain scenery and excellent food.
Even though I’d had a taste of destination Spain it wasn’t as though I’d conquered it by any means – there was plenty more to see, lots more tapas and pintxos to consume and many more miles of Spanish roads to ride.
Destination Spain is a big place, the Costa del Sol will be the warmest in early spring and, as I quickly learned after a few Google searches, there are plenty of things to do and see in Andalucia. I’d like to stay in the area around 3-4 weeks to give myself the best opportunity to see as much of this region as possible.
So where should I base myself then? Why not consult my favourite website/app to help me decide?
A couple of posts back I listed some of the places I’d visited during 2014 when motorcycle touring was not an option for me. In looking for good value non-hotel accommodation, I’d started using airbnb for stays of a week or more – typically taking an entire small apartment rather than a house or room.
Using airbnb worked out well for me staying at several locations in Mauritius at a much lower cost than hotel accommodation but probably more than a hostel (I can’t see myself staying in a hostel – never have really wanted to).
Being already registered and verified I started searching using a date range of four weeks in April 2015 in concentrating my search on the areas surrounding Malaga. Being out of peak season I was spoilt for choice and soon had a shortlist so I could confirm prices and availability. Within a couple of days of commencing my search I’d signed up to stay in a great one bedroom apartment in Benalmádena – just west of Malaga. Hope it turns out to be as good as it looks on airbnb. Time will tell I guess.
Accommodation sorted next to book was the ferry to Spain. Portsmouth to Bilbao was my preferred ferry route with Brittany Ferries. Allowing three days of reasonably low mileage to ride from Bilbao to Benalmádena my ticket was booked on the Cap Finistere and I’d even treated myself to cabin upgrade to a Club Cabin.
Not having yet settled on a return route to London, I only booked a one way ticket. Might ride back along the west coast of France and get the ferry from St Malo. No need to decide that for weeks yet – I’ll see how I feel when my time in Benalmádena was nearly up.
Next was planning the route from Bilbao to Benalmádena and especially where I would stay on the two overnight stops. My web and app based tools of choice for making such decisions are Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
In no time I’d chosen to stay at Segovia and Valdepeñas and the hotels were booked. Too easy!
Still more to do though before the ride to Portsmouth in late March.
More destination Spain trip preparation in the next instalment …