In 1998:
Route Map
01 Extremadura
02 Cabo de Gata
03 Mallorca
04 Ronda
05 Madrid

In 1999:
06 Sevilla
07 Mojácar
08 Towards Norway

Rocinante the Tiger:
On the Road
An accident

And some more:
The Short Story
Bars in Andalusía
Nerja and Axarquía
Photo Gallery
The road home 2001

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Long Trip 3, Mallorca

After spending Semana Santa or Easter in Nerja among thousands of tourists, we finally got ourselves on the road again. This time the plan was to visit Mallorca, an island were Bente worked for almost a year nine years ago. We crossed the mountains into Alhama de Granada, turned back because of a lapse of memory, drove through Sierra Grazalema to Valencia and spent a week on Mallorca. The trip lasted 14 days.

Farmer in Frigilliana

Brains of Teflon

We left on Wednesday the 15 of april with three days to get ourselves across southern Spain to Valencia and the ferry. The distance is no more than 650 km and hence we had the opportunity to make a longer vuelta into different sierras along the way. The aim for day one was the town of Cazorla, headquarters of the Parque natural Sierra Cazorla north east of Jaen.

First stop was Alhama de Granada, 80km into the mountainous region of southern Andalusia. The weather was cold and windy, as it had been for a few days(northern Spain was covered in snow), but being norwegians and all we headed straight for the mountains. Sixty clicks into the sierra, Bente suddenly shouted 'Oh shit - where are the ferry tickets!!'. 'Eerr, say what!? I hit the brakes, we looked at each other. None spoke! All you really need for a trip like this is passports, a credit card, registration documents and of course any tickets you have purchased. The rest can be bought along the way. It's not too much to remember, but enough to forget some of it when the brains are made of teflon, the kind of material that rejects anything you try to stick to it. Anyway, after a couple of telephone calls from Alhama with the depressing result that nothing could be done other than return and pick up the damned papers, we turned around and headed back home. We were singing along with the bike, probably from a need to forget the stupid mistake. At three o'clock on the first day we ate lunch three kilometers from the house after 153km of driving. What a start!

It was too late to go back up to Alhama, neither did we want to drive the same roads for the third time on the same day, so we drove to Motril and straight up to Granada. We did not really believe in reaching Cazorla before nightfall, because of the weather, and decided to drive as far as we could before freezing dead cold. The beautiful road from Motril to Granada was extremely windy and after no more than 50-60km I was getting tired in my arms and neck from fighting mother nature. I must shoot in that the Tiger was modified for this trip with stiffer rear suspension and lower front end and was like riding a new bike. This made the drive a lot easier.

Sierra Cazorla and the cold

We passed Granada after a quick coffee brake, headed north still along N323 towards Jaen. The area is higher in altitude and temperatures decreased slowly as day changed to night. After a while we took off the main road towards and through Guadalhortuna and further to Jodar. By this time of night we were freezing but saw no reason to spend the night in this dull town. A short discussion later we were on the road again and drove straight to Cazorla. We made it after 430km of cold driving which was, so far, the longest distance we had covered in one day.

Cazorla is situated in the mountain side of Sierra Cazorla and is a beautiful town with steep and narrow streets and at least four plazas despite its size. Temperatures were no more than 5-6 degrees Celsius and we were not dressed for it, again traveling with minimum luggage, i.e. only the top box. This was the night of the semifinal in Champions League between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and we went to find a bar that showed the match, not too difficult a task in a country were soccer is everything and television sets are always on in any bar. So we spent the night in a local bar were the mood was high after R. Madrid played a draw and therefore went to the final on a total victory of 2-0. We hurried back to hotel Guadalquivir, were we had a nice double in a totally renovated hotel. Above all, for the first time during the stay in Spain, we had central heating. What a great feeling. The room was warm - WARM. It may sound like exaggerating, but in Spain the houses are generally very cold during the winter and for us, being used to norwegian houses with temperatures never below 20 degrees Celsius, this was heaven.

A strange White Powder on the ground

The next day started slowly due to the fact that we knew pretty well that temperatures would be very low in the morning, and why leave a paradise before you have to. At twelve o'clock we mounted the bike and set off for Sierra Cazorla. This is Spain's largest protected area and supposed to be excellent for watching wildlife and for driving a motorbike through dozens of mountain roads. When I say supposed, I mean we never really got to know. On altitudes above 1300m the ground was covered by some white stuff that we believed we had left back in Norway. So we climbed up to the 1200m pass, freezing like hell once again and declined into the valley that separate the main mountain chains in the sierra. On the valley floor we met the outspring of river Guadalquivir, Spain's longest river. The climate was slightly Hornos better down here, but still wet and cold. If it had been better we would have stopped for two days and explored the whole park, but this time we had to say hasta-luego, another time. We drove along the valley floor to the village of Hornos, situated on a cliff that sticks out of the mountain side, built for defense back in the days when it was needed. Another coffee brake and warming next to a stove, and we were on the road again.

Due to the cold weather we decided to head straight for Valencia and spend two days in town instead of freezing our butts off in the wild. The road lead us out on N322, the main road that goes from Jaen to Albacete,. We had very strong winds, but finally it came straight from behind and was fairly stable. This was a new sensation, we drove easily in speeds around 160km/h with no wind pressure. The bike was stable as a rock, and on a long stretch of road with no crossroads and no cars I twisted the accelerator and reached 180 with no problems, not too bad with two people on and 43 liters of top box loaded to the limit. The bike even wanted more, but I faked out. We passed Albacete in an area so flat that you don't see the end of the stretch of road ahead of you. After Albacete we went east on highway N430 and followed this road all the way to Valencia. Close to nightfall we finally declined from the higher plains into the coastal region of Valencia, with the temperatures rising again. What a nice feeling. A quick stop in Moixent gave us the cheapest glass of wine so far in Spain, 50 pesetas each, or close to 20 pence(UK). We finalized the day and ended up in Valencia at 7.30pm after 450km, another record in one day.

Valencia and a great Irish

We found hostel Rincon in the old part of town after getting lost a few times, as we always do in big cities. The hostel claims to be more than 500 years old, which makes it by far the oldest hotel we have ever visited. The standard is simple, but the price was good and there was a indoor parking for the bike. We were pretty tired after a long day and walked the neighborhood for a few hours before we retired.

After a good night sleep we went to explore the town center during daylight. The town center is nice, but we did not find the same intimate atmosphere as Granada, a town we have come to favour in Spain. Valencia I had started to feel a pain in my stomach which should come back to me later, enforced and mean.

In the evening we brought the bike out and took a trip out of the city to a village called El Palmar, situated near a lake in the region were Paella supposedly comes from. We had not had this famous Spanish dish yet, and this was as good an opportunity as any. The restaurant that caught our attention is called Restaurante Valero and served us an excellent dish with excellent service.

When we returned we relaxed for a while in the hotel room and dressed up for a night out. Again 'dressing up' meant nothing more than trying to get rid of the worst stains on the only pair of trousers we had and pick a clean T-shirt while we still had some. But Valencia is famous for the nightlife and we looked forward to exploring it.

We headed for a bar called Johnny Maracas, a place mentioned in Lonely Planet as a good salsa bar. We entered, saw a clientele far beyond our age, and sat a little while amused by the sight of the bar girls, who tried with minimal dresses and movement to cheer up a dull audience. The efforts wasn't to impressive, but finally they came over and we ordered a single Glenmorangie whisky for sharing between us. We started to get the feeling that this would cost us when all the girls joined around a list to calculate the price. One girl asked of the age of the whisky, and hence managed to produce a price, 1200 pesetas, almost six pounds, or about the same as in a norwegian bar. We drank it up very slowly, even chewed the ice and left the place never to return. I must add that the music was far from what we expected either, they played disco music with salsa rhythms, not exactly our cup of tea.

Next stop was a bar around the corner called Sherlock Holmes. The prices were quite different and so was the atmosphere. I ordered another whisky and Bente found this a good time to order her favourite, an Irish Coffee. We had been watching the bar staff here as well, and I commented on the bartender, a woman in the thirties, that she had a very stiff attitude and wondered how she could manage to keep such a straight face a whole night, never a smile breaking. The Irish came and Bente exclaimed that it was excellent, so I tasted it and it was the best we had had ever, really. This had the natural result that I had my share and then some, and also, and more interesting, when we told the lady how much we liked it the missing smile broke and was kept for the rest of the night. We had to have another one, and so we did and went happy and smiling back to bed at about four o'clock. The lady behind the bar was still smiling when we left. We did not exactly explore the clubs and discotheques but were satisfied and tired and a little drunk too.

On Saturday we checked out of the hostel at twelve and spent the rest of the day waiting for the ferry. We found a park outside town and cooled off last night, drinking water and reading.

Mallorca and the german invasion

On the ferry terminal we met an Italian on a Suzuki off road 650cc who had driven from the Canary Islands, hitched with a carrier from Tenerife to Cadiz and crossed Spain along the coast in two days. He was going to join his brother on Mallorca and then cross the Atlantic in a peculiar manner. They worked together running a 32 meter wooden two mast sail ship for some rich fellow, and had been doing this for the last 3-4 years. The owner wanted to carry the ship to Bahamas where he had bought a lot of land for the purpose of starting a marina and a holiday resort for the rich. The last captain on the vessel claimed the ship was in no condition to cross the Atlantic, so the owner decided to send it across on a carrier. The carrier is a huge floating dry dock, and is lowered in the water so the sixteen ships can be sailed straight into the dock. Several divers are ready to fit the keels into prebuilt cradles for each ship. Then the carrier is raised up in the water again and the crossing can start. This is not the cheapest method of crossing the ocean with costs of around 50-60000 UK pounds. Months ahead of the crossing, hull drawings are sent to the company so they are able to build an exact craddle for each ship. The Italian looked forward to crossing the Atlantic, with his ship onboard the carrier and his bike onboard his ship. He also looked forward to a few years in the Bahamas on this beautiful wooden boat, with a owner who visited a couple of weeks each year and a bike to explore the islands. We understood his expectations and got, you might say, a little envious.

The trip over to Mallorca was eight hours of dull waiting so we tried to get some sleep. When we could see the island we went on deck to enjoy the sunrise and the beautiful colors this created on the rugged west coast. Finally we rounded the lighthouse on the south-west point and could see Palma and the thousands of masts in the marina. The Italian was on deck trying to spot his ship among the rest. He missed it even though it was docked on the far end of the pier and no boats were in front of her. The reason was an enormous big yacht of more than 120 meters that was docked on the other side of the pier. This vessel made the 32m wooden boat look like a small rowingboat with sails in comparison. The boat was really small compared to most ships in the marina, and we looked in awe at this collection of multi-millionaire toys.

Cala D'or and getting lost

At about nine o'clock in the morning we said good-bye to the Italian and set off heading east for Calad'or, a small holiday resort on the east coast were Bente worked those nine years ago. An hour later we entered the town, and Bente did not recognize anything at first. A lot has happened in nine years in a place were the safest job you can have is in constructions, as new edifices has popped up regularly and everywhere. We found a hostel called Hostel Bienvenidos and settled in for one night. A new feeling crept slowly into us and should grow stronger over the next few days; The island had been invaded slowly and steadily by Germans. The Germans have bought holiday homes all over the island and for a couple of days we heard more German tongue than Spanish or Mallorquin, which is the local language. We also heard that the German population wanted to raise their own political party. Everywhere signs were in German and people on the street said 'Guten Tag' and 'Sprechen Sie Deutsch'. What a shock!

We searched Calad'or for places Bente could remember after all these years, and managed to find the hotels were she had worked. They were run by Scandinavians nine years ago, but was now overtaken by .., exactly, needless to say. After driving the streets for a long time we also found what Bente believed was were she used to live, but it was difficult to say, since the houses were long gone and replaced by new and modern homes. Bente had her favorite beach along the stretch of coast, and the beaches are beautiful here, located in hidden places between rocks and stretches of fjords that leads into them. We searched and found it, now there was a road leading down to it and a small restaurant where they served..., yes, German food.

Please get us a room

The next day we left Calad'or and headed for Palma with some deviations, among them the famous Cuevas del Drach. This huge cave contains a lake where a small concert is held for visitors. We joined a few hundred more tourists and entered. It's beautiful, but unfortunately partly destroyed by all the visitors over the years. The little we know about caves is the sensitivity of stalactites and stalagmites to human touching and perspiration. Many of the best looking constructions where discolored or chopped off. This besides, it's still a very impressive natural construction. When finally the whole bunch of people had settled in the auditorium the concert could start. The acoustics were brilliant and the musicians played violin and piano in a small rowing boat, performing classical music which we unfortunately don't remember the names of. It was extraordinary, and only partly destroyed by people TALKING and SINGING along. In a closed cave the acoustics carries any whisper and small talk very well and the musicians played without any electrical amplification. How can so many be so ignorant. All in all we managed, at least partly, along with most of the audience, to ignore the few talkers and enjoy the concert.

When we came into Palma that evening things started to go wrong for us. We did not find any hotel, even though we had raised the budget to be able to live anywhere. A funny episode happened though. We stopped at Plaza España by the tourist office to find the address of the headquarters of Bentes former employer. We got the address but could not find it on the map. A police car had stopped ahead of us and I went over and asked them for directions. The response was beyond my imagination; 'You drive the Tiger, right. Why don't you follow us, we'll lead you to it!'. Hence we got police escort across Palma and straight to the address we wanted. We thanked them thoroughly and said good-bye.

The visit at the headquarters did not result in anything so we decided to skip Palma for now and left the city heading west past Palma Nova and out into more German settlements. Now it was late in the night and we started to panic a little, fearing we might have to sleep outdoor. A series of telephone calls resulted in a reservation on a small hostel in Port Andraitx. They had cheap rooms and promised that we could park the bike in the garden behind the building. When we got there they claimed this was a misunderstanding and that the bike had to be parked in front instead, despite their having a huge private parking. It was not that I was very worried about robbing, but I hate when people do this. It was a trick just to get us there, and claiming misunderstanding is pure b..shit. We said so and left. The only other hotel in town cost 10000 pts, but at this stage, at 10pm, I did not care and we took the room. In town that night we hardly heard any other language than German, a language we now had started to call new-Mallorquin.

Deia and some stomach pain

Hotel in Deia - We were unsatisfied with the ending of the last day, and we started the next day by driving straight up to Deia, the most famous village on the island. The village is famous for the beautiful settings with old Mallorquin building style, brown stone houses with green doors and windows, for the green and lush gardens and for all the famous artists that have settled here over the years. Nowadays the most famous celebrity in the village is actor Michael Douglas, who has a house and spends a lot of time here. We got a room in hostel Villa Verde, a newly renovated old and charming hostel with great views of the hills. In a bar that night we heard that the hostel, until the year before, had outdoor toilet and the softest beds in the history of hostels. All in all, it was a very nice and cosy place, a place with atmosphere. The town of Deia was at it's best at night time, after all the hords of tourist had returned to the main holiday resorts. At nine in the evening, the town were quiet and nice.

I had by this time started to feel the stomach pain for real, and the first night in the hostel was spent freezing my butt off in fever. The next day was gray but still we wanted to explore the mountain region. We dressed lightly, believing the weather would improve. Luckily, a few raindrops in the morning made us bring the rain suits, just in case. I still had stomach pains, but felt in control and we set off. After we had crossed the mountain pass on the road between Soller and Inca, the rain had started for real and when we came to Inca, I was freezing my butt off again. I had over estimated my condition and we decided to return by another road. It was a pity, because of the beautiful scenery on this very diverted island. We drove the 70km back to Deia in one go, not too far maybe, by I was so cold that it was a real nightmare. Half an hour under the shower and two hours under all the sheets and blankets we could find, dressed up in warm underwear, brought some heat back in my body. By now the stomach pain brought me to my knees from time to time, and that night it made me visit the toilet on numerous occasions. This stage was to last a few days, and here ends the tale of it!

We also paid a visit to Cala Deia, a small rocky beach close to the village. It's set beautiful between huge rocks and we spend an hour sunbathing and swimming. Quite a few people were on the beach, and at about 3pm several boats came to pick people up. We were told that in the summer season up to 50-60 boats come in in one day, bringing up to one thousand people or more. The thing is to visit the beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

Palma and great music

We finally got a room in Palma, at hostel Apuntador, run by English and Swedes, and drove in from Deia early in the day. We parked the bike in a parking house for the night and walked the town a little in the evening.

Due to the stomach story, the first night ended early, and we woke rested and ready for Palma the next day. But first we wanted to take the bike and drive to the beach of EsTrenc, south east of Palma. This long stretch of beach was unfortunately attacked by strong winds on the day of our visit. We laid sheltered by sun beds for an hour, reading an relaxing. The closest villages was full of deserted summer houses in perfect condition. This is what have happened to a large part of the coastal region. Germans have bought houses, set them in perfect condition, and left for the larger part of the year, leaving the villages as ghost towns.

Palma We returned to Palma for a short siesta and went shopping in the afternoon. At this stage, after nine days on tour, we were sick and tired of the one set of pants we brought that got dirtier every day. So we bought a new set of Levis each, new T-shirts and new set of socks. We had not yet encountered a laundry, and desperation for clean clothes were high. We enjoyed a few hours of walking in the maze of narrow streets north of the Cathedral before returning to the room. A shower and dressing up in clean clothes later we went to eat dinner. Bente remembered a small restaurant that we miraculously found, with a swedish owner that served excellent food nine years ago. It's called Petit Rebost and still does. The swedish lady that runs the place had the same background as Bente and some time went by exchanging information about the 'old' days of tourism on the island. Both agreed that things had deteriorated

Lonely Planet recommended a small jazz club called Bar Barcelona close to our hotel, and we went there, hoping for some live music. We did not leave disappointed. Ten minutes after we entered the bar, a quintet consisting of two drummers, one piano player, one saxophone/flute player and a gitarist/singer, started to play. Great it was and the atmosphere rose even higher as three more joined in for a long jam session. The music was great, spirits were high, and we left happy and a little drunk a couple of hours later. We also wanted to visit the famous mega-luxurious/mega-expensive bar Abaco before calling it a night. The bar is set in an old style courtyard, with ten meter below the roof, fresh fruit floating down from fountains, flowers floating everywhere and classical music filling our ears. An Irish Whisky cost us 2000 pts, so we kept drinking to the minimum, that was one each, and just sat there for a while, enjoying the outrageous, decadent style. It's worth it if you can afford it.

Alcudia - meeting friends and misunderstandings

On Saturday we left Palma and drove up to Alcudia, one of the big tourist machines on the island. This is the place were all the hotels in the world gather, covering several square kilometers of land. The settings are perfect for this, with a stretch of beach of several kilometers in a big bay. We got a room for three nights in Hostel Puerto, in the old part of Port Alcudia, with good prices and good standards.

Now we set off to find the hotel our visiting friends from Norway was to stay in. This was not too difficult. They had told us the name of the hotel and the travel agency they came down with, easy to remember since Bente had worked in the same hotel. Now, that was what we believed, but actually it was a different hotel and a different agency. We were about to get a little pissed off with our friends who did not show up, and did not call us to say why. A phone call to Norway gave us the correct names and we found them. Did I mention teflon-brains earlier?

On sunday we met with Snorre, Monica and their two kids, We spent an hour with them by the hotel pool before setting off to find a claimed deserted beach on the north-east point of the island. We found it, after half an hour driving on dirt roads. The now very accustomed winds were with us again and the beach did not meet our expectations. We ate the brought-along bocadillos and headed back to Alcudia for a night with our friends. This was something we had missed, being social of nature and used to having good friends close by back home in Norway. We found a restaurant that served kebab and even though the place was mega-touristic, with a playback solo artist and all, we decided for it. Not exactly the smartest decision. The food was excellent, but it took almost two hours to get it, mainly because the waiter forgot to pass on the order. They fixed the impression a little by serving us a free mug of sangria, but since this was on our request we decided not to tip anything. This aside, the night passed with a few bottles of wine in a good atmosphere.

Sa Calobra

The next day was our last on the island, and our last chance to visit Sa Calobra. This famous little place is enclosed by very steep mountains with a small beach and a sort of hidden garden behind, excellent for sunbathing. It has the roughest access road of any beach on the island which leads you down from the main road in a never ending series of curves and twisties. On the way down we met all, or most, of the tourist buses that were returning from that day's excursion. They must probably arrange this in such a way that buses don't go down while others go up. This was the first time I had to back the bike in order to let Sa Calobra them pass. When we came down after 10 km of twisties most people were gone and it was nice and tranquil to walk around. A path is built along the mountain side that leads you through the rock in tunnels and along the rough and turquoise waters, hitting the rocks somewhere under us, sometimes in caves so we could hear the sound from the inside. The final tunnel lead us into an open area, where the river meets the sea. This was a huge place, excellent for picnics and sort of hidden, at least once upon a time.

We drove back for a new and last night with our friends and Mallorca. We went early to bed to be prepared for a very long day.

The trip back home and more rain

On the ferry we met a bunch of other motorcyclists, all of them heading for Jerez de la Frontera, where a huge road racing and mc-concentration was to happen the coming weekend. We'd love to go there as well, but visits the same weekend stopped it, it had to be another year. The boat was also filled up with Mallorca soccer fans, going to Valencia to watch the final in the national cup, called Copa del Rey, against Barcelona the following night.

The ferry ride was during daytime this time, and after eighth hours plus the regular delay, we docked in Valencia at nine in the evening. We had decided to push on as much as possible to get home early and headed for the inland route towards Jumilla on N430/N433. But first we took the wrong road after excellent directions from a guy who stopped his car and came over to us after seeing us standing confused at a crossroad. What level of service you can expect in this country, and it wasn't his fault that I misunderstood and denied Bente her right to give me directions.

We lost half an hour on my navigational error, but finally hit the correct road and moved fast westward towards home again. One thing that puzzled us a little was that we saw none of the bikes from the ferry. Now, Spain is mostly high plains, ranging from 6-700 to 12-1300 meters and weather forecast was bad. Why consider this when you can head straight on, do not listen to the locals who rather drive the longer route along the coast and therefore get away with temperatures around 20 degrees. We hit bad weather on the second day, having about 450km left to drive. It started to rain and got colder and colder, until it was steady around 4-5 degrees Celsius with heavy showers and strong winds. We put on all the clothes we had, which wasn't much and froze for hour after hour. The spring had not been this cold in Spain for as long as could be remembered and we're here to see and feel it, lucky us! We pushed on and after Granada the road declined towards the coast with temperatures increasing. The last part of the trip was done in nice weather once again and we came home tired but happy in the afternoon.

Back in Base Camp

The Tiger had covered 8000 km by the time we got home, and no problems have occurred except an annoying sound from the left side that developed during the last part of the trip. This turned out to be a loose screw close to the generator and will be fixed as a guarantee job.

Mallorca was somewhat disappointing in that the island is totally invaded by Germans who has bought most of the island. There's nothing wrong with Germans in general, but when hordes of people invade a small island, the island looses it's soul. This is what might happen to Mallorca in the future.

The island is still beautiful and still has, at least partly, a good atmosphere. If you travel inland away from the tourist spots you'll find villages fairly untouched by foreigners.

We made 2500 kilometers in two weeks, not too far but enough considering that we spent ten days on a small island. All in all another excellent trip.

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