It was time for my friends and I to do our annual motorcycle ride! We are a band of brothers from across the world including India, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Ireland and England and we have been riding our motorcycles around a different country each year for the past six years. The freedom of the road, the sense of camaraderie and the sheer joy of discovering a new country compel us to don our riding gear year after year and leave our hectic lives and dear ones behind. Over the last six years we have watched each other’s backs and ridden across Ladakh, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Peru Turkey and Iceland.
For this seventh year, after much debate and discussion, our group chose warm and vibrant Spain! With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq. mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe. By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and its capital and largest city is Madrid. There were ten of us on this ride and we would be riding BMW 800 and 1200 CC motorcycles over ten days. Our ride would start from Barcelona and meander along the Mediterranean coast before climbing up into the Pyrenees and through the Basque country all the way down to Madrid.
We left Barcelona early in the morning and cruised along the glistening stretch of the Mediterranean as we slowly eased into the ride soaking in the scenery. Lunch was a simple yet delicious fare of tapas and sun-kissed tomatoes drizzled with the finest local olive oil. The day ended at Aigua Blava, a small bay on the Costa Brava, in Catalonia with us soaking our weary limbs into the Mediterranean and feasting under the stars.
The following days saw us climbing up into the Pyrenees. Sharp curves , misty green forests and quaint little towns like La Seu d’Ur, Bielsa and Valle de Tena. greeted us along the way. Spain is a motorcyclers paradise and we saw many riders along the road. We were greeted along the way with friendly smiles and waves. We criss-crossed between Spain and France often riding on the same route popularized by Tour de France.
We soon crossed the Pyrenees and made our way into the Basque country – A region famed for its hospitality, distinct culture and food. The Basque Country is an autonomous community of northern Spain and is the home of the Basque people and ranks high in terms of per capita income. Our first stop was Pamplona, made famous by Ernest Hemingway for its annual running with the bulls during the festival of San Fermin. We were in the city a week before the festival and got to enjoy this quaint little town before it got inundated with tourists. It’s cobbled stone streets and fabulous restaurants were a joy. The next stop in the Basque country was the city of San Sebastan which boasts of having the highest per capita Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. We were not disappointed as we were treated to a tour of an apple cidery and got to sample some fantastic local cuisine.
The Spanish are a warm, hospitable lot and we were treated to fine Spanish hospitality throughout the ride. The freshness of its produce, the quality of its wines, cheese and olive oil all leave a mark on Spanish cuisine which is fresh, healthy and delicious. We ended our ride in Madrid a week after we left Barcelona. Our ride through Spain left an indelible impression on us. Its sun-kissed coastline, verdant mountains, quaint towns, delicious cuisine, friendly people and its long history and culture make it one of the great tourist destinations of the world.
Gracias Espana for a memorable time!
— By Griffith David, Owner of the Habanero chain of restaurants.