Spain

Chapter three: Brain Ache and Tranny Porn

My first mountain roads go well - so well that I end the day starved, buzzed and possessing an accidental tranny mag (sure...accidental)

After the initial shell shock of arriving in Spain it was still possible to feel like my brain has been shot blasted through a sieve.That’s what miles and miles worth of twisty mountain roads will do to you.

I departed my hostel in Gijon early in the morning having misunderstood my hosts instructions about check out times and breakfast times (ahh, hindsight). It did give me ample time to escape Gijon, the roads trapping me in a repeating, city-wide circular. Hungry and not used to being awake at this time I took a pit stop in the district’s capital, Oviedo, for a coffee and toasted chicken sandwiches. I spent an hour or so being your typical tourist, avoiding the morning motorbike chill.

Oviedo seemed nice. Classically Spanish. More so, I was sure I could smell the fringes of a youth culture (“¿Que?), something poignantly absent from experience so far. Nevertheless I was keen to move onto my next destination, Lugo, a Roman walled fort town just East of Santiago del Compostela.

Coming up to some twisties I experienced my first ‘hell-bent-on-tailgating’ Spanish driver, an absolute mess of car wreck and some mind bendingly good mountain pass roads. I hurtled along fighting the weight of the panniers in 100km/hr sweeping bends, tight and technical cut backs and quaint little villages. Bulky looking birds of prey, big eagles, were hanging out only meters away from the tarmac, scoping out roadkill. It was awesome.

Breaking out into open country I realised I’d ran the tank dry again and needed to stop soon. There are petrol stations every 10km or so on the main roads, so I wished myself down to civilization and took the next Shell garage I could find.
In the shade of the shop I got a free giggle. Disney collector magazines, TV guides and  hardcore anal pornography – all lower shelf stuff, next door neighbors. I’m guessing they don’t get many kids these parts. But with a pang of lonely open road I realised their tricks had actually worked and I hit the following dilemma:

Browse through for something more tasteful or dive in and take a lucky dip.
Tactfully navigating past hardcore anal pornography I grabbed a mag with fewer X’s on the front, looked kind of like FHM and paid up with a eyebrow raise, point and a “muy bueno, si?”. I got more of a grunt than a reply and left feeling embarrassed.

When I got to Lugo I wondered lonely as a cloud through the streets, tirelessly searched my phone for a hostel for the night and dropped into one way circulars (obviously a ‘thing’ in Spain…) for a couple of hours searching. The few hostels I uncovered were locked and filled with darkness inside (do hostels shut on Sunday??). I was bang out of luck. The nearest camp site was about 60km away in a district called O’Coruna, so I sped through fleeting light, cold and buffeted by high motorway winds to find it.

My Route through the Mountains

I pulled in front of the locked compound gates and deserted shell of a building in the pitch black. Whatever campsite had been there, it hadn’t been used for a long while. The barking dog in the farm next door was the soundtrack to my otherwise quiet fatalism – I was coming to terms with the idea of a night destined on the roadside. Expecting a bloody good murdering I wandered into the ramshackle farm with the dog and approached a couple of dark silhouetted figures. In broken Spanish I tried to convey submissiveness and humbly inquired as to the possibility of camping in their fields.  After a lot of back and forwarding they slipped me the address of another pension – great.

The pension was only down the road, so I reached it quickly. was clearly different to the one in Gijon. For a start there were lights on, whuuuut!? Without even a smear of difficulty I’d booked my room and sunk into the bed to flick through my recent lad purchase, which turned out to be transvestite porn with only an FHM style sleeve around it. And DVD. Horrified by the false advertising I thought about how creepy that “muy bueno” would have sounded to the garage attendant. I stashed it (you can’t just leave that hanging out in a bin you’re associated with) and went to find some dinner.

Up until this point I’d accidentally fasted since breakfast in Oviedo. I was keen to to avoid little fishes and bacon for a second night in a row, so I went through the menu slowly with the young hostess, agreed on calamari then changed my mind to her recommendation of Carne y Pattatas Fritas (Steak and Chips). When the squid rings arrived I shoveled the battered bundles of joy back, forgetting my manners. After squeezing the final squid ring down (there was SO much food!)… the steak and chips arrived. Ah shit. It looked like I’d ordered a set menu by accident… I forced mouth after mouth of the most delicious stake I’d ever eaten down my throat, sad that I was probably rupturing my stomach in the process. Safe to say I turned down the pudding. My hosts had been incredible, the bed was the comfiest ever and best of all the whole thing cost me less than 25 Euros. Not bad in an emergency. I was vindicated in my attempts to avoid bailing into a Lugo hotel. Worth-it. I hit the road for Santiago de Compostella, the final resting place of St. James

Since I got off the ferry from Portsmouth the only English speaking people I’d found were those walking the camino, a route across northern Spain that ends at Santiago de Compostella in the Cathedral of St James the apostle. Some were returning from failed attempts, others fresh faced, probably unready but wholly enthusiastic. All, from what I could see, were far more knackered than me, with my meager 3 days riding, good food and restful nights sleep. Fortuitously I breached the cathedral doors just in time to witness a bunch of men swinging a bellend around.

Alas, it was no end of bell, it was an incense lamp to vanquish the smell of those horribel pilgramz. What a load of thanks for walking there, right? I strapped on a virtual tour headset and wandered about the incensed vestibules…cue more religious iconography.

From there I went on one massive drive, but I’ll conclude chapter three here to save my poor thumbs from tapping another post out on a little tablet. But looking back, magazine and town escaping considered, I’m considering the need for an ADHD test if/when I get back. Maybe I could get a free laptop still? 

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