Motorcycle Spain & Portugal – sunshine & warm roads. Part 7.

Motorcycle Spain & Portugal – sunshine & warm roads. Part 7.

This is the last part of the series of blog posts that chronicle my 2023 Spain and Portugal trip.

In Part 6 I wrote about leaving the Pias Guesthouse in Portugal and heading for Andalusia.

This final section has information about my trip after leaving the hotel in Setinel where I had stayed for a couple of nights.

My next stop was to be Guadix, in the province of Grenada, then Cuenca in Castilla–La Mancha and then on to what was to be my last stop in Fromista in the province of Palencia, Castile and León.

None of my stops were to disappoint me.

Pias to Guadix

A comfortable night’s sleep, a decent breakfast and what looked like a decent route had me set well for the day. I was heading for Guadix in the province of Granada.

The first part of the day’s journey seemed to be through endless miles and miles of olive groves set in the mountains above Malaga. After the olive groves it was miles and miles across the empty plains that stretched off into the distance as far as the eye could see.

Spectacular and routine

For the most part the journey was good – spectacular in parts, routine in others.

I have to admit I did make some wrong calculations for this route and mistakenly found myself on about eight miles of unmade road/gravel type road which is something I would never have planned to do.

The road made for pretty slow progress.  I stopped to check my maps/directions and whilst it’s true I could have turned back and rode on properly paved roads, because I had got things so wrong it would have meant quite a substantial amount of additional miles (you can see the road surface I mean in the picture gallery below).

Maybe it was meant to be

It’s strange though how things work out.

My unplanned trip on the unmade road that had taken me on a huge cut through of the mountain and there had been a few moments whilst on that road, that for the first time on the trip had left me feeling a little vulnerable, but the feeling soon passed.

As I reached the end of the unmade road, at the same time as breathing a sigh of relief to be on better surfaced roads I compounded my error by making another wrong turn as I reached the paved road.

I tuned left instead of right. But  before I realized my error I came across a road side bar named the Venta San Rafael … and it had familiarity written all over it.

Deja Vu?

I knew that I knew this place.  As I pulled in and parked up to get a drink I realized this was the same bar I had stopped at back in 2018 when traveling on my RnineT. On that occasion I had stopped to borrow a spanner to fix a mirror that had worked loose.

When I was writing this blog piece I looked back at the pictures from that 2018 trip and sure enough there is a picture of my bike parked in almost the same spot as I parked on this trip. Check it out when you look at the picture gallery below.


I had headed out towards Penarrubia, Col De Santa Ana, then on towards El Frontil.  Normally I always aim to avoid motorways (or their equivalent).

Typically the convenience and sameness of a motorway compromises the pleasure of a journey. Due to some significant road closures that took me a while to figure out I opted to join the autovia so as to skirt around Granada.

In Spain an autovia is normally an older road that has been improved rather than an autopista which is normally a new road. In practice this can mean that an autovia may well have tighter curves, shorter acceleration lanes and generally less safe access.

It meant a period of maximum concentration for about 10 miles or so due to the amount of fast moving traffic I encountered. Once through that the road opened up into fast sweeping curves that sliced through some superb scenery as I dropped into Guadix and made for an enjoyable end to the days riding.

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Overnight in Guadix

My accommodation in Guadiz was perfectly located almost in the center of the town.  It was easy enough to find although I had been slightly intrigued to receive separate postcodes for the parking and the hotel. It turned out the secure parking was just around the corner and just a two minute walk from my accommodation the YIT Abentofail.

I received a warm welcome at reception and it became immediately obvious this was a decent place to stay. The building actually dates from as far back as the 16th century and has been restored and decorated with thoughtful and tasteful expertise.

And it’s another place I’d recommend

A look at the picture gallery below will allow you to make your own mind up about my accommodation in Guadix.

My stay also included a complimentary glass of wine, which of course I was happy to accept later on in the evening.

My accommodation at the Abentofail really was very good I would have no hesitation in staying there again or recommending it.

My 16th century accommodation in Guadix – picture gallery

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Wandering around Guadix

The city of Guadix is pretty much in the middle of something called he centre of the Hoya of Guadix. 

The Hoya of Guadix is a natural plain in the northern part of Granada

The plain covers almost 200 square miles at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In previous times and around the end of the 19th century the city was famous for the cutlery it produced. More recently and currently Guadix produces fruit (mainly strawberries), cereals and vegetables. Although I rate is as place to visit and stay it isn’t a major tourist location

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

I didn’t get to see more caves

I had seen the impressive and unusual caved town at Setinel where I had stayed for a couple of nights (see Part 6).

Although I gather that Guadix and neighbouring towns have cave-dwelling communities I dint get to see them.

But interestingly in that area it’s grown into quite a traditional way of life.  So much so that Guadix is considered to be the European Capital of Caves and all inhabitants have legal permission to live in their caves. It is estimated around 4,500 people take up that option.

If you want to know more

You can read more about the cave dwellers here. I’d have loved to have visited and seen more but I just couldn’t fit that in on this trip.

Heading for Cuenca and it feels like the trip is coming to an end

For the first time since leaving the boat in Santander my route for the day was very much in a northerly direction. I had chosen my destination of Cuenca as  a location that would allow me to make one last stop after Cuenca and one that would give me options for the final journey to Santander.

Not for the first time on this trip the decent breakfast offering left me well set for the day, and I was packed and on my way for about 09:20 or so.  I think this was the day with my longest distance of the trip. I covered 265 miles and although the temperature was cooler it was still decent and ranged between a low of 14c and a high of 26c.

The weather forecasts were ominous for later in the day though.

Another day of mixed riding

My route took in quite a variety of roads as I made my way towards Jodar, Ubeda, Robledo and on towards Cuenca. Some roads were a little dull but with magnificent scenery, some roads were decent roads but with nondescript scenery and others were just superb on every count.

Although the journey for the day was the highest mileage count of my time in Spain and Portugal it also took me the least amount of time.

That was due to hardly stopping at all – just a couple of times for a few pictures and for petrol.

Picture set from the jounrey to Cuenca

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Overnight in Cuenca – great parking but brutal 1970s architecture

My overnight stay was at the Hotel Torremangana in Cuenca. It was a bigger hotel than I would normally stay at.

I had chosen the Torremangana mainly for the convenience of its location and I knew I could walk to the ‘old town’ from the hotel.

The hotel itself was fine with great underground parking along with decent service at reception and in the bar. The building itself reminded me of a typical 1970’s concrete construction and architecturally I suppose could be described as pretty brutal.

But to be really clear there was nothing wrong with the place, it was perfectly fine and decent accommodation. It just had a sort of 1970s dated feel which probably stood out more because of the other properties I had stayed in on this trip.

Accommodation picture set

Cuenca old town

I went for a walk into the old town of Cuenca and it was just superb. It was yet another place on this trip that I have could have happily spent more time wandering around.

Cuenca itself is in east/central Spain, sort of half way between Valencia and Madrid and in the province of Castilla–La Mancha.

The city has quite a history, having been initially founded by Moors. There are houses that look like they are hanging or clinging to cliff edges, way way above the Jucar and Huecar rivers, it really is quite a sight.

There are some very steep cobbled streets and some medieval castle ruins in this walled town, so there is plenty to see. My time in Cuenca only allowed me just a taste of a small part of it.

The pictures below are just a small selection of this fascinating place.

Old town picture gallery

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Heading for my final overnight stop in Fromista

My final full day of the trip had arrived. The weather had taken quite a change and the forecast had been accurate with what I gather had been a fair amount of rain overnight.

It was still raining as I enjoyed a really nice breakfast.

Enjoyable partly because the breakfast offering was decent and also because the breakfast room was busy with what might be described as people on business/travelling for work. The people watching opportunity was superb and I enjoyed it.

Work/life balance

I think it was Dolly Parton who is attributed as saying not to get too busy that you forget to make a life, and I think there’s something in that.

I’d been in that endless routine of travel for work, with overnights in hotels and so on. Travel for work and it’s asspciated hotel life doesnt have much going for it. The novelty soon wears off but to be honest I quite enjoy watching folk in hotels pursuing that routine.

Whilst sat having breakfast I reflected on my decision to dismantle the notion of a work/life balance when I walked away 10 years ago.

Not having to balance work with life has unquestionably been the right option for me.

Away early and needing to take extra care

I was packed up and away early. I took extra care on the damp roads including the roundabout that had cars parked on it whilst folk were dropping youngsters off at what seemed to be a college type place!.

Once out of Cuenca and within less than 20 minutes or so the roads were once again gloriously empty. As I got onto dry roads I switched the bike settings from rain mode and made good progress.

Overcast but dry

Temperatures didn’t get much above 21c for most of the journey but were around 24c when I arrived at my destination.  Other than an occasional light shower for a few minutes the weather stayed decent.

I was heading for my final overnight stay in the town of Fromista a small place in the province of Palencia, Castile and Leon. As far as I know the population is less than 1,000 or so but is reasonably popular with pilgrims on the Camino trail to Santiago – a place Pat and I have visited in Galicia in the north west of Spain.

My route took me to Canaveras, Tendilla, Aranda de Duero and onto Fromista. About 30% of the roads were average – the rest were generally better than good. There was one stretch of around 40 miles or so that was just pretty much perfect with endless curves that constantly flicked from left to right to left – it was just enjoyable.

Heading for Fromista – picture gallery

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.



My final night was at the Hotel San Martin a family run hotel right next to the church of San Martin des Tours. I think it would be fair to describe it as good value/basic accommodation. The staff were helpful, the hotel was well located and the bar was decent.

Additionally the staff invited me to bring my ‘moto’ into the hotel grounds and into a covered patio area which was just ideal.

Picture set from Fromista

I had a superb view from my hotel window – check it out in the picture set below

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Last ride in Spain

It was no surprise to get up on my final day in Spain to dark sky and atrocias weather – I had heard the rain and wind during the night and knew there was just aboue a zero chance of getting to Santander in the dry.

My stop at Fromista had been based on giving me options for the final leg of the journey back to the ferry port at Santander.

If the weather was good I could head through a part of the Picos and have some fun on the roads (the N621) .

If the weather wasnt so good I had the option of making a direct route on the A67 (an autovia).

Horrible weather

The weather was just dreadful for the first 45 minutes or so. For the first time on the trip I opened the bag on the back of my seat, for waterproof gloves and trousers and hi-vis vest.

Thankfully the roads were quiet and I was able to make steady and safe progress. Once through the tunnels that bore through the mountains the sun was out and temperatures were at 23c. I stopped for petrol, packed my wet gear away and completed my trip to the ferry port.

Fromista to Santander was less than a 100 miles and as I was queueing at the check in/passport control I considered how fortunate I had been to be away in late October and have less than an hour’s rain during the trip.

I was very aware that I would soon be experiencing a dramatic change in the weather and would likely have Storm Babet to contend with at some point during my journey from Plymouth to the North West the following day.

Simon and Neil

Remember early on in my trip I had met Simon and Neil at the Hotel Infantado?

They were the guys who were biking down to a chiropractor’s conference in Malaga. You might recall I recommended that if they had the opportunity they should try the A700o –  the road that runs from Malaga to Colmenar.

I had also said I thought the road so good that if they didn’t enjoy the road I’d refund the cost of their trip.

As chance would have it they had arrived back at Santander a few minutes after me. Once parked up in one of the various waiting areas prior to boarding the ferry, I saw them and wandered over hoping that if they hadn’t enjoyed the road they wouldn’t press my light hearted offer of a refund.

And the verdict was?

Happily both Simon and Neil (who are brothers) confirmed they had ridden the A7000 and said it had been the best road of the trip. We chatted for a short while, swapped a couple of stories and then I didn’t see them again until we were getting ready to leave at Plymouth and you’ll see a picture them in the final picture set.

I was glad, and a little relived they had enjoyed the road.

Back to Santander – picture set

Click on any image to open the picture gallery to scroll or click through.

Almost the end of another fine trip

The crossing back to Plymouth was uneventful. The Bay of Biscay was a little rough at times but nothing overly awful, and I’ve experienced worse on the Dublin/Hollyhead crossing.

I think it’s normally a 22 hour crossing but on this trip the boat docked a little early in Plymouth.

As ever bikes were off last, but by chance where my bike was parked and strapped down meant I was about the second or third bike off, which in turn allowed me a pretty quick exit from the port.

Stormy ride home.

The first couple of hours of the journey north was really good, the section after the Midlands was just absolutely awful.

I was at the mercy of Storm Babet and it wasn’t a great experience – wild wind, torrential rains and incredible levels of surface water made for a tricky trip.

Safe and sound

It had been a long trip home; at times I had struggled to do more than 40mph. To make progress at times I had to filter through miles and miles of traffic.

I arrived home safely to a warm welcome, magnificent home-made giant almond tarts, a good meal and a decent bottle of wine.

It’s always good to travel and it’s always good to arrive home

It had been a good trip

I hope you have enjoyed reading the posts and seeing the pictures from this trip as much as I have enjoyed looking back and putting the words and pictures together.

I’ve travelled a lot on my motorbikes and this trip will rank highly on the list of bike trips – by any measure it had been a good trip and the BMW F900XR had been a fine bike to travel on.

Where to next

Who knows where next?

Pat and I have a couple of trips scheduled together before the biking season kicks in again so thoughts of where next on the bike are on the back burner for now.


Coming next: some thoughts on what the F900XR was like over a long trip; what gear did I use and how did it function and some late reflections on the trip

Note: if you notice typos or erros do feel free to contact me and let me know. Thanks Tony