On the Road: Motorcycle Touring Madrid to Lisbon
1,650 miles from Madrid, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal and back
Jerry and Ann Larsen share their experience of motorcycle touring 1,650 miles from Madrid, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal and back.
It is impossible with words and pictures to convey the feeling of sitting on two wheels, with an 110 horsepower motor propelling you and your wife through the twisting mountain roads, passing deep valleys and magnificent landscapes. We were on our third motorcycle touring trip with IMT starting in Spain during the last 14 months. For those who are unfamiliar Lisbon, it is the capital of Portugal and was the destination of most of the characters in the movie, "Casablanca" because of its status of neutrality. We stayed in the Paradores Hotels about half the time, which are hotels with luxury accommodation in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. Many are over 500 years old and it is amazing seeing the beautiful architecture and unique construction of each hotel. I am a 50 year Master Mason and a Knights Templar, so this trip was really interesting because of the many Templar churches and exhibits. As we stayed in ancient walled cities, you realize that war isn’t a new thing. The Templar exhibit pointed out that pagan Christianity was against war and war wasn’t acceptable until the church sanctioned it.
On our first day, we rode toward the Guadarrama Mountains on our way to Segovia. After passing through Nanacerrada, which has several ski stations, we rode through the "seven turns" (switchbacks) that zigzag down through the verdant foliage. In Segovia we saw the Roman aqueduct that was built around the second half of the 1st century Classical era and the early years of the 2nd century. It is 90 feet high and still carrying water as of two years ago. We spent the night in the walled city of Avila, whose wall was started in 1090. Parts of "El Cid" were filmed here. We continued on to the Portuguese border passing cork trees with their red trunks that had been stripped to make purses and jewelry.
The ride continued through the Sierra de Gredos Mountains with their tight turns and spectacular scenery. We arrived in Ciu dad Rodrigo, a walled medieval town just 16 miles from the border. Then it was on to Porto, Portugal via the Serra da Lapa and Serra de Leomil Mountains and along the Douro River which is beautiful, but very busy with traffic. Here we had a rest day and got to finally see the Atlantic Ocean. Leaving for Obidos, we headed into the Serra da Estrela Mountains, which makes Deal’s Gap seem like a straight line. We had to take a detour which lead us up a 45-degree narrow road with three switchbacks, until we hit a stop sign at the top, which I flew through and the road dropped 45 degrees in the opposite direction and 90 degrees to the right. WOW! I was feathering my clutch with the engine running over 4500 rpm’s; this was my skilled riding course for the day. These roads are famous motorcycle routes.