Santiago de Compostela
September 19 – 26, 2022
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
Dan and I still think fondly of our motorcycle trip through South Africa in 2020. We loved the tour itself, of course, but our tour guides from MotoAdventours were a big part of that enjoyment. They are based in Spain, so when Dan and I talked about taking a small holiday, we figured why not do something a little more local, and let someone else do all of the planning? So we signed up for a six day motorcycle tour of northwestern Spain – our favorite part of Spain.
I felt so clever when planning this trip. EasyJet flies direct from Basel to Santiago de Compostela, the starting place of the trip, but they only fly there on certain days of the week. While the tour started on a Monday afternoon, I arranged that we’d fly in on Friday evening and have two full days to explore this most famous and historic Spanish city. We could even take a train to the coast and have some fresh seafood on the Atlantic. It all sounded great – until we plopped our checked bag onto the scale at the airport and the clerk looked at our tickets and simply said “This flight has been cancelled.”
Um, excuse me?
Apparently there was a French Air Traffic Controller strike on the day of our flight and the notification of our cancellation went out after we had already left the apartment and had gone unnoticed. It was beyond annoying. We had our cat sitter already set up in our apartment, I had three nights booked at a hotel in Santiago de Compostela, and we were going to miss out on two extra days of our holiday! And remember how I said that there were limited flights? The next one wasn’t until Monday – the day of the tour. Granted, we would still arrive in time, but… well, I felt very much cheated.
We sat on the floor of the airport, frantically searching our phones for another flight and discussing our options of alternative transport. We considered taking a train (22 hours!) or even riding our own motorcycles, but the time it would take to do it “right” (i.e. not sit on the motorway for 14 hours) was too much – and one of the reasons we didn’t plan to ride them there in the first place. Instead, we dragged our bags back to the apartment, much to the surprise of our cat sitter, and rearranged our schedules. Talk about a false start.
My friend and her brother (Mac and Micah) had signed up for the tour as well and they had already planned on taking the Monday flight. Dan and I met them at the airport and we flew together on the only flight that day. Our tour guides, Hana and David, had everything set up and the four of us shared a taxi to the hotel. We had a couple of hours before we would meet up with the guides and the other guests, and Dan, Mac and I decided to go for a walk.
I love having the airport just a 20 minute bus ride away – especially convenient when I have to go there twice for the same trip
Nothing is cooler than looking down on the landscape
Checking out the Alps through the window on the other side of the plane
Now that is a meandering river! (near the town of Luzech, France, if you want to look it up)
The Pyrenees Mountains
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France on the Atlantic coast
Our bag has arrived!
It was warm, and it was beautiful. The streets were full of people and the shop owners were friendly and inviting.
Our hotel, the Hotel NH Collection
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
After a whirlwind run through some of the main streets, we returned to the hotel for a short break before the planned meeting of the guides and the rest of the group. Just like in South Africa, the group gathered together for a pre-dinner Meet ‘n Greet, and then Hana and David ran through the bike distribution and the general plan for the next few days.
There were five additional riders on this tour and they all knew each other from their homes in eastern Canada. Typical of the Canadians I know, they were friendly and outgoing and excited about the upcoming riding. In total, our group was larger than I expected and I mentally divided it into two: “the Swiss” (even though we weren’t all Swiss) and “the (French) Canadians”.
After the introductions there was the distribution of motorcycle keys. When Dan and I first signed up for the tour, we had noted our preferred bikes from the MotoAdventours’ selection of BMWs. The BMWs ranged from the F750 GS up to the 1250 GS cc, and some had lower seating configurations. David wrote us back, asking if we’d be willing to take a “free upgrade”, as they didn’t have their normal allocation of stock on hand. Now that we were all sitting around the table it was easier to make some last-minute adjustments and assignments. I ended up with the bike that I had wanted (850) and Dan was happy with his lowered 750. The Canadians all seemed quite happy with the 1250s, which we’d heard numerous times that they are easier to handle than the smaller-but-taller bikes. For me, it was convenient to have essentially the same bike as I ride at home (F800 GSA) and Das was pleasantly surprised to be able to flatfoot while sitting on the 750. Once the keys were handed out and the paperwork signed, we took a field trip to the parking garage to look at “our new bikes”.
After ensuring that everyone was happy with their motorcycles, we took a few minutes to get ready and then we all walked into the city center for dinner. David had found a nice restaurant tucked away in a narrow street, and for the life of me, I have no idea what it was called nor any details of where it was. It was, however, very good.
And as would be typical for this Spanish tour, dinner started late (always after 8 pm) and finished very late, usually well after 10:30 pm. It really is a different lifestyle!