Right, lets get straight to the point. Motorway driving/riding is boring, period!
It doesn’t really matter if the motorway is slicing through wonderful scenery, hugging a coastline or plunging through alpine tunnels, the basic truth is the same…it’s a motorway! Autobahn, Autoroute, Autostrada, Freeway, Interstate…all the same by another name and all boring.
OK, I know, they get you from A to B reasonably quickly, that is assuming that some idiot hasn’t rearranged the central barrier and several other vehicles at the same time on your carriageway, but in essence they are tedious…or am I being a little over the top?
Take yesterday as an example.
We rolled off the ferry in Santander and for once the Spanish Border Police were in pragmatic mood; no need to take off helmets or stop engines, just show the passport and off we go then.
Straight onto the Cantabria Motorway, which runs along the North Coast of Spain and into France. Speed restrictions and road works galore; added to which is the somewhat dubious pleasure of having to pay tolls for the privilege, oh and most of it is only two lanes in each direction!
Progress was steady, if only through gritted teeth and ever grittier eyes. Truck traffic was quite heavy and seemingly all controlled by aspiring Formula One drivers.
After two and a half hours of punishment we crossed the border into France where the motorway suddenly grew extra lanes! We turned off and headed into the hills. Bliss.
Hey, wait a minute…after that motorway punishment, here’s our reward! The most wonderful windy, undulating little road ever, plus a couple of hairpins and our first Col of the trip. My angel, or late little brother G, must have been smiling on me!
For the map watchers amongst you, the road in question is the D4 from Ascain to Saré and the pass is Col de St Ignace, which at 169metres isn’t going to set any records, but it’s the first this trip and that’s good.
We stayed in a nice family run hotel in Saré, Harls had use of the owner’s garage and I had a great night’s sleep.
This is Basque Country, which for very complicated reasons doesn’t really like to think of itself as either French of Spanish. Basques are Celts, like me, so I really am feeling quite at home; there’s a vibe that reminds me of parts of Wales, Brittany and Cornwall. I cant exactly put my finger on it, but it’s definitely there and I like it, a lot.
Many of the buildings here are painted in a traditional red and white scheme that is very smart and gives things a unified feel, without being overpowering or monotonous.
I’m making a note to come back here…
Catch you soon with more from down the road.