Alan and Jonna's Edelweiss Motorcycle Tour in Spain

After our motorcycle tour with Edelweiss Bike Travel in Italy in 2004, we decided to do another tour with them in 2005 for Jonna's 40th birthday. We decided on their Andalucia tour which does a big loop around southern Spain. We first spent three days playing tourists in Barcelona, then headed to Malaga to start the trip. The first day's ride was zig-zagging into the mountains and down to the coast before ending in the town of Granada where we checked out the Alhambra. The second day was more mountain riding ending in Antequera. The third day was again spent riding great roads and ended by climbing up the steep, narrow and slick cobblestone streets in Arcos de la Frontera. We had a day off the bikes where we went to Sevilla to check it out. The next day was down to the coast and then back up into the mountains to the beautiful city of Ronda. The final day's ride was back down to the coast for lunch then a loop up in the mountains before ending back in Malaga. I rode a R1200GS and Jonna rode a F650GS.

Here are some of our photos from the trip.

1) Jonna and I both love art and Barcelona has plenty to offer. In addition to museums for Picasso and Miro, we also visited some of the houses designed by Antoni Gaudi including this one called Casa Batllo.

2) Another Gaudi building, this one is his masterpiece called La Pedrera (or at least his completed masterpiece...the church Sagrada Familia has been under construction for over 100 years). La Pedrera was built in 1905 and has an amazing attention to detail...ceilings, door handles, railings and, most famously, the chimney pots are all individual works of art.

3) Jonna leaning up against one of the mosiac walls on the roof of La Pedrera. There were a lot of students on the roof all drawing the strange shapes found up there.

4) A picture of some of the chimney pots on top of La Pedrera.

5) Jonna enjoying her second ice cream cone (in a row...this one cafe flavored) in one of the many small plazas in Barcelona. We wandered across this one in Bone district and found, but didn't enter, the Chocolate Museum next door to it.

6) We found a really nice textiles and clothing museum right next to the Picasso museum. They had a special display of clothing designed by a woman which each piece influenced by the process of creation in the birth process. This is Jonna standing next to the "sperm" dress.

7) Jonna is walking down one of the narrow alleys in the Gothic district of Barcelona. There was a lot of smoke and mist in the air, probably from cigarettes and laundry machines, which gave an ethereal feel to the place. You'll have to imagine the sound of water dropping from the laundry hanging from the apartment balconies above this little alley.

8) Ah, Jonna in her element at the beach. The hotel we stayed at just outside Malaga was right on the beach, so this is Jonna relaxing to the sounds and smells of the beach in Guadelmar.

9) This great little section of road near Colmenar winds through some cherry orchards. Many of the cherry trees were in full bloom and covered with white and purple flowers. The road had been freshly paved and it didn't have a straight section for about 20 kms. What a way to start our riding in Spain!

10) The whole group got together for lunch at a little seafood place just outside Nerja. The water was crashing just at the base of the cliff below the restaurant. Werner, owner of Edelweiss, was joining us for a few days and actually went for a swim before lunch. Sadly, the flash on the camera didn't go off, so its a big dark...

11) Jonna enjoying her seafood soup. The salad in the foreground was the first of many I would eat in Andalucia. While the food appeared to be fantastic in the region it is definitely not vegetarian friendly!

12) Really now, what motorcyclist wouldn't drool over this road? The SO-2, from Almunecar to outside Padul is just a wonderful road. It goes through the a National Park and is just a solid hour of flip-flopping the bike from one side to the other. It also gains a thousand or so meters of elevation over the course 15 kms.

13) Another shot of the SO-2, this one further up in altitude. That section of "S" shaped road is typical of 90% of the roads we were riding in Spain.

14) Yet another shot of the SO-2 and of the highest parts of the National Park it goes through. In the hour we were riding through this Park the only vehicle we saw was one massively overworked scooter struggling up the steeper of the inclines.

15) This is the view of the town of Granada from the window of our room in the Paradore Alhambra Palace.

16) A photo of a hotel bathroom is rarely all that interesting but when the place is as incredibly decorated as the Alhambra Palace, I think its justified. The incredible Moorish styled tile work and general decor was everywhere in the Paradore. It was my favorite among the places we stayed.

17) This is the front of the Alhambra Palace. Jonna is standing in front next to the barrier, behind which are safely parked all the Edleweiss motorcycles. The hotel is designed very much in the style of the Alhambra itself and is located right next to the Alhambra walls.

18) In addition to the Moorish buildings of the Alhambra, a more recent 16th century palace was built for the Spanish Emperor Charles V. These rings decorate the outside of this medieval palace and despite on of the traditional symbols of power...the Lion.

19) This is one of the rooms in one of the Moorish palaces inside Alhambra. It shows the three predominant forms of decoration: At the bottom, lots of inlaid color tiles. Near the top, plaster reliefs. The roof itself, carved and painted wood. In some parts of the Alhambra the original decoration is in place and in others it has been restored to show the original brightness of the colors. Most of this room is original.

20) A photo of the floor in one of the Alhambra rooms, showing that even the floors have intricate decoration. The amount of work required to create the beautiful decoration of the Alhambra, not to mention the skill, is really amazing. The Alhambra was built over a three hundred year period from around 1000 AD to 1300 AD and was probably in a constant state of ornamentation.

21) This is the most famous view of the Alhambra and the first view of the King's palace that visitors would have seen in ancient times. The water perfectly mirrors the facade of the palace. All the water is piped into the Alhambra from a nearby river that was diverted in to power the fountains, fill the ponds and water the gardens.

22) Jonna enjoying the view of the reflecting pond in front of the palace. These tile walls are restored, they are still that brightly colored because of how the pigments in the tile don't fade despite over 700 years of sun!

23) This garden is the Patio of the Lions, one of the most famous places in the Alhambra. Normally, the twelve lions spit water but one of the lions was being restored so the water was blocked off. Still, the rooms surrounding this Patio are stunning and all have a wide doorway looking onto the lion's fountain. Very beautiful!

24) These windows originally looked out over the Albaicin, the old portion of Granada that was the main town during the 12th and 13th century. It is said that the King's mother would gaze down upon the town from these windows. During the 16th century addition of Charles V's palace, a courtyard was added below these windows so they no longer look out onto the city.

25) Jonna standing in another of the many courtyards of the Alhambra.

26) We also walked up to the Generalife, the fruit and vegetable gardens of the Alhambra and beyond that to the Comares Palace (the King's summer palace). Here is Jonna standing in one of the "gates" formed from carefully pruned juniper trees.

27) This is the patio of the irrigation ditch (how is that for a literal name!) in the Generalife. We were assured by our fantastic guide Carlos that in just a few weeks this whole place would be in full bloom. A recent cold front delayed the spring bloom so we just missed the peak viewing time.

28) While Jonna enjoyed walking around Granada the next morning I went out to play on the bike. The road from Pinos Genil through another National Park to Guadix was another great road and went along side this lake near Quentar. I liked this 15 km section of road so much that I went back and road it two more times just to take this picture.

29) Another section of that same road, this one further north of Tocon. Its hard to see in the picture but this road just keeps on with these little curves for another few turns. The whole road was just a constant weaving left to right.

30) Jonna on the mighty F650GS among the olive groves just south of Tiena. We had been on a crowded, industrial section of A road near Pinos-Puente. Frustrated, I headed out on some little hint of a road and stumbled into these wonderful olive groves. It definitely pays to get off the main roads!

31) The view from our picnic site near Tiena. Its was too hazy to capture the real view with a camera but the olive fields just continued on for miles and miles into the distance. This roads was also a joy, climbing up from the floor to this panorama in just a few kilometers.

32) Now I've seen some scenic towns in my day. But this view of the town of Moclin is incredible. You come around this corner, after climbing the rest of the way up from valley at Tiena and all the sudden you're looking out over another valley at this town. Wow!

33) This arch decorates a roundabout in front of the Plaza de Toros bull fighting arena in Antequera.

34) This is the 500 year old Church of San Sebastian in Antequera. Its sad to say but after a week you get sort of numb to the age of these kinds of buildings in Spain. Nonetheless, the square in front of the church was a nice slice of daily life in Spain: Some little cafes serving tapas, a friendly police officer and a lot of people strolling around the main streets. Oh and lots of kids. Those Catholic Spainards sure know how to make babies!

35) This is a beautiful man made lake (the porous limestone in central Spain means lakes don't form naturally) just north of El Chorro. The water was just a brilliant emerald color. The little one lane road going from the A road around to El Chorro ran along a railroad track over and past some 100 meter cliffs. It has also been recently paved but our only morning of rain slowed the pace despite the fun road.

36) This is a shot showing the mountains around El Chorro. The morning's rain clouds were already breaking up making for ethereal vistas with the mist and rising clouds making the thick pines look like a rainforest.

37) This is El Chorro itself, a 150 meter deep cliff carved by the river. A walkway was built into the cliff wall back in the 1920s called the Camino Del Rei so the King of Spain could inspect the dams used to create the nearby lakes. It is closed now but you can see it up on the cliff walls in the picture just to the right of the railway bridge that spans the gorge.

38) An almost aerial view of Arcos de la Frontera from the bell tower of the Santa Maria church. Our Paradore (state run hotel) was next door to this church and just a few meters away from a breathtaking view over the cliff. The roads leading up to the Paradore were very steep, very narrow and paved with cobblestones. Then it started raining. An exciting ride for sure!

39) An almost aerial view of Seville, this time from the Giralda bell tower of Cathedral of Seville. This is the third largest Christian church in the world, behind St. Peters and St. Pauls, so its pretty impressive. The Giralda was the minaret of an earlier Moslem mosque and the climb to the top is via ramps rather than stairs.

40) Part of the main altar in the Cathedral of Seville. This wall of gold goes up about five stories and is blindingly bright. Other than this altar, though, the inside of the Cathedral is pretty sparsely decorated with the just the gothic stone pillars. It does contain the crypt of Christopher Columbus but my camera "lost" that picture.

41) We were in Andalucia during Semana Santos, the holy week that preceeds Easter. There are nightly processions where large pasos, or liters, with images of Christ and Mary are slowly carried through the streets, each lifted by 40 men. Two of the liters were on display in the Cathedral since it takes too long for out of the outlying churches to parade their pasos to the Cathedral and back to be done in one day. This picture also shows the soaring Gothic pillars and domed arches and the top of the altar in the background.

42) This shrine, with this life-like statue, was located at the rear exit to the Cathedral of Seville.

43) Jonna the bull, in front of the bullring of Seville.

44) A view of Acros de la Frontera that shows the cliff upon which the town was built. Our Paradore was located next to the fortress on the lefthand side of the picture and overlooked the cliff.

45) A view of the farm and pasture land just south of Andalucia. In these big open fields, the bulls of Andalucia are raised. As one of the guides said, "The bulls have a wonderful life in these lands with the exception of one particularly miserable day". What is amazing is that even in this flat land, the roads are still curvy.

46) Jonna back at the beach, this time at Zahara de Los Atunes.

47) Nearly every square foot of the southern coast of Spain is covered with windmills. (Gee, a country that invest in alternative energy...ahem, now where was I?). This large wind farm was located just north of Zahara de Los Atunes but continue on for about 10 kms dotting a whole valley and the mountains behind it.

48) Despite being a country of motorcycle and scooter riders, some roads offer very little run-off in the event of an accident. Most of this day's riding included roads lined with huge hedges made from cactus. That's some serious motivation not to crash!

49) Near El Lentiscal is an excavation of a Roman town called Baelo Claudia originally built around 200 BC. While the stone has been harshly weathered being on the coast, that wear made for some beautiful shapes like this pillar.

50) A photo of the main forum area of Baelo Claudia. The site also contains the ruins of two temples, a main commercial area, a theatre and some outlying dwellings.

51) Another part of the roman walls, this one probably part of a dock complex right next to the beach. We had a relaxing lunch right on the beach surrounded by feral kitties. We could look out across the water and see Africa.

52) Which leads to this photo of the mountains of Morocco, taken from the southern most point of Europe in the town of Tarifa. Tarifa is also the windiest city in Europe, meaning the place is crawling with wind surfers and para-surfers (and surrounded by more windmill farms).

53) There is a small causeway that juts out into the Straight of Gibraltar at Tarifa. With big waves crashing on both sides, I was able to get this photo of the big GS just as a wave broke behind it.

54) Jonna does a little virtual wind surfing. The real deal was happening just a few feet away with guys streaking across the water at frightening speed. The para-surfers were even more amazing as they were dragged along getting major air off the top of waves.

55) We got the impression that Gibraltar is a nightmare of traffic, tourists and military blockades so we decided to skip riding out to "The Rock". Still I did get this picture for the port of Algeciras so I could prove I'd seen it.

56) At this point of the trip, Jonna and I are having major cat withdrawals. We visited with this cat at the restored castle/village of Castillo de Castellar. The road up here was a lane, super twisty and wonderful views down onto a large lake.

57) The main courtyard inside Castillo de Castellar. This place was apparently squatted by a bunch of hippies who started restoring the place. They did such a good job, the government eventually started funding their restoration with the proviso that they had to allow visitors. You can just park and walk around in the narrow streets to see the restored buildings.

58) One of the narrow streets in Castillo de Castellar. The families of the original squatters still live here along with a menagerie of dogs and cats.

59) While staying in town of Ronda we got to watch one of the Semana Santa processions from the balcony of our room in the Paradore. The procession members from this church are all wearing black robes, so they are difficult to spot among the crowds. In an act of penance, some have wrapped their bodies in coarse rope and are dragging wooden crosses.

60) Some of the best riding of the trip was a morning loop we did outside Ronda. This coffee stop was in the little village of Jubrique which was ground zero for perfect GS riding. Dirt roads winding off in every direction, a National Park nearby to ride in and lots of super twisty roads going up and down the valleys.

61) This is a photo of the terrain around Jubrique. Any roads through here have to be good and all the ones we sampled were fantastic. The only issue was that the road surface was slick in many areas. Its fun to spin up the rear tire with all the torque of the big Beemer but front end slides are *no fun*.

62) Much to our surprise, there is a Tibetan Buddhist stupa in the town of Benalmadena. We actually passed and had to come back later to find it. The Spaniards working at the stupa were thrilled to learn Jonna was a Buddhist. I guess in a country that is 98% Catholic they aren't used to running into other Buddhists!

63) This is the view down the coast from the stupa. Not only can you contemplate the majesty of the sea, you can also mediate on having that twisty little road for your driveway. Whoo hoo, I am at peace!

Return to Alan and Jonna's Travel Page

Return to Alan's Home Page

Alan Fleming