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RETRO POST: Motorcyle trip across Spain in the rain, 2007

In 2007, I was set to graduate college.  That Spring, I filed into each of my last courses before I was a college grad.  On the first day, my Theater in Spanish class, the professor told us that some, (including me) didn’t have the proper prerequisites and would need to drop the class.  I’d heard it all before, so I stayed in, knowing it shouldn’t be a problem.  3 sessions later, he read 5 names aloud, mine included of the students who needed to exit the class that moment.  As I grabbed my things, I started to realize… my plan failed.  It was too late to add another class this semester, and it was my last semester.

I searched my options, and realized I could study abroad for one month in June and it would count as that last Spanish class I needed, and I would still walk in June.  Andrew and I had only been married about a year, and a month apart might as well have been a century, so we decided that he would come out and stay with me after the first week to break it up.

It was amazing.  This is a post I wrote after he arrived in Spain, and we decided to explore the country a bit…little did we know what was in store.  Now for the journey back in time…

{Monday, June 18, 2007} 

BUENO! Bienvendios otra vez!

Salemanca. That is where my whole school was going on Saturday. All day. 100% chance of rain. Famous for a couple historical sites and their abundance of discotecas. I imagined classmates scurrying around in soggy groups from place to place to escape the rain. We were basically over it as soon as we heard about it, so Andrew made other plans last minute while I was in class.
      Friday after school, we hurried home and quickly packed what we would need for a weekend in one backpack; two shirts each, one book each, one extra pair of pants, socks, toothbrushes, two apples, one plum, 9 cherries, the two sandwiches Visi made for us just before we left, and we strapped our big jackets to the back of the backpack. After a quick, but LARGE lunch, we excitedly went to the estacion de autobuses, and hitched a bus ride to Madrid. We were already late to get to the little shop, “Alquila motos,” (motorcycle shop) so we ran to the metro, then ran through the city, asking hurried directions when we could. Finally we found it, and we entered into the little basement full of motorcycles and two tough looking guys. Walter pulled out our motorcycle for the next two days; a silver Honda with a trunk to pack our backpack and semi-comfortable seats. We were really excited and the men helping us were very nice, but it was already almost 9pm, and we needed to get on our way. We had one night booked in a hotel in Andrew’s favorite Spanish town Toledo, which was one and a half hours away. We told them where we were going that night, and that the day after we were going wherever there wasn’t rain, we just didn’t know where that was yet. Walter looked up the weather online for us, and the little map of Spain that popped up was covered in little glowing rainclouds, except one spot, Valencia.  On the Mediterranean coast, six hours from Toledo. We decided to make our plans later, because we needed to get on our way. (Plus, six hours on a motorcycle? That would be too long in a car!) The tank was empty, and we didn’t know where any gas stations were, so Walter said we could follow him to one. After we filled up, he told us to follow him and we would go our separate ways once we were on our correct road. We tried our best to keep up with him, but Andrew was still trying to get used to the moto, as well as the crazy streets of Madrid. At our first red light, Walter looked over at Andrew’s bare hands and exclaimed, “NO TIENES GUANTES!?” Andrew shook his head. Walter immediately took the gloves off his OWN hands and pushed them into Andrew’s hands while still on his motorcycle. We were so thankful for all his kindness! Finally we came to the street where we needed to part ways and Walter sped off towards Andalucia while pointing us down a different road, and we took the tunnel towards Toledo. I couldn’t help but to blow him a kiss as he left because he was so great. It was just past nine and we sped down the road with the last remaining 20 minutes of orange light in the air. Once it got dark, it got pretty cold, especially with the wind gushing by you on the moto. We made one quick stop at REPSOL gas station and I put on every piece of clothing I brought; three shirts, one sweater and my jacket.

About an hour after our stop we arrived in Toledo and drove around up and down (WAY up and WAY down) the narrow and wet cobble-stone roads. I couldn’t believe how narrow they were, I felt that if I stretched my arms out on either side I could touch them. The city is ancient and beautiful, and we found our hotel easily by the impressive Catedral. 

Our hotel was a dream come true, so clean and nice, and we even had a small wooden balcony from which you could see the Catedral tower. Our room looked like a little hobbit room with a small carved desk and chair, and little round wooden door. A perfect rest after an hour hunched on a moto, your body freezing into that arched position.

We walked the wet streets and stopped by to have a glass of wine from a quiet little place called, “Entre Vasos.” It was the best wine I had ever had and for only two Euros.
We were so tired afterwards, so we went straight to bed and fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

The next day, we did a little touristing and sight seeing.  We paid six Euro each to visit the world famous Catedral which was constructed in 1222, and obviously at the height of Catholic power and prosperity. It was the most elaborate place I have ever visited, every minute detail attended to with the utmost care, superfluous attention paid to each small attribute. We spent about an hour in there because there was so much to see, but after a while I started getting annoyed and was ready to leave. I was sick of seeing Jesus hang on intricate golden crosses, embedded with jewels, and havin the faces of ordinary men exalted on the walls of a church just asking to be worshiped. It made me sad to see the troves of tourists from around the world learning that Christianity was about things that don’t matter. I wanted to tell them, ‘Jesus hung on a WOODEN cross, no jewels, and he doesn’t want money to be wasted on this kind of crap when it could actually be used for his will in HELPING PEOPLE!’ So we left, me feeling irritated.

We toured the amazing city, bought a couple souvenirs, and decided to be on our way before it started raining again. We packed up all of our few possessions onto the back of the motorcycle just in front of

the front door of the hotel, and it began to sprinkle, which doesn’t quite matter if you are in a car.  But not only did we not have a car, but we also didn’t have rain jackets. The lady at the front desk was so worried about us, and told us she had an idea.  “Espera, espera,” she said and quickly, her hand waving, came back with two large, gray, plastic trash bags and scissors.  She sliced up a few holes, and we slid them over our heads.  By the time our new jackets were made, it had begun to rain pretty hard, already little streams racing down the cobblestone valleys–and we still didn’t know where we were going, but we knew we had to leave.

The center of the hotel right outside our room.

Our stylish rain jackets, hecho por la mujer de la hotel.  Gracias mamita.

The first fifteen minutes on the moto are always the worst.  You feel like you have been on there for 3 hours, but after that your body adjusts to the extreme conditions of wind, cold, posture, and deafening noise. Thirty minutes outside Toledo, the buildings started melting away, piece by piece, replaced by expansive grassy meadows and fields gliding past us as we zipped by.  Eventually,  it stopped raining and the droplets began to stream off our helmets like long stringy streams, and our clothes began to flap dry in the wind, which felt great. Somehow my rain jack started coming apart bit by bit and shooting off into the wind behind us. Chunk by chunk, pretty soon it was all gone.  We thought it might be due to the intense winds–birds weren’t even able to fly in a straight line, but jet around like a kite, not immune to the winds (I spent a lot of time watching these birds, my only entertainment through the plastic screen of my helmet.)

The proud and happy owner of this designer jacket.  Thank goodness it stopped raining.

After an hour, we stopped at a field and ate the food we had smuggled from the European Breakfast buffet. (One shared sandwich, an apple, a pack of crackers and a piece of cheese.)
pWe didn’t really know where to go, so we decided to attempt Valencia, but decided to stop if we saw someplace better on the way, knowing that six hours on one moto would be very difficult.  Could my back take the hunched position that long, or my skin the biting cold wind, or my talkative spirit confined to my helmet, silenced by the howling wind engulfing us?

Well, i am going to have to get back to you about what was in our fate, but its really exciting, so check back soon as to where we ended up!


{So that was the end of my post.  If you are interested, I may post the second half of that story, just let me know.  Looking back, it truly was very hard and difficult, but one of the best adventures we’ve ever had!  Reading this made me realize why I am so glad I am blogging.  Andrew and I just had the most amazing time reminiscing about our first years of marriage, carefree and adventurous, not knowing where we would end up, but just charging along happily.  I love you, Andrew!}

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  • Life as Leah June 14, 2011, 1:53 pm

    I bet it was fun reliving that trip and writing about it. Thanks for sharing…maybe my husband and I will make it to another country one day, sigh…

  • Jayma Malme June 14, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I want to read part 2! So fun to read this. Those pics made me reminisce about my trip to Spain too 🙂

  • Renee June 15, 2011, 6:12 pm

    You brought back memories from my trip to Spain, although I did not have any motorcyle experiences! We visited almost all the major cities in Spain, including all that you mentioned. The only place we did not go was Barcelona. Regardless, it was a trip of a lifetime. BTW, you are a beautiful writer. I wish I was as gifted as you are in that area. I love to write, but I need to be more descriptive in the beautiful way that you are. Keep it up!

  • Lozzz123 June 22, 2011, 1:46 am

    I’d be interested to read part 2 also! Sounded like a very memorable trip. And how lovely all those people that were so helpful to you both 🙂