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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
Posts: 215
Location: London UK

2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:32 pm    Post subject: Pyrenees road trip Reply with quote

The planned highlight of the year for me was A Spanish road trip, just me and the wife in the GT3, not an organised one like last year. I have been planning it for a few months now, and had booked the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao so we arrived right in the good stuff and limited the miles I would be putting on the car ( Travelling down through France can be nice if you have the extra few days to make the most of it but time was limited and the mileage consideration was also important, having done 3500 miles last year when I drove all the way).
We had booked accommodation at the Paradors, different one each night. These are state run hotels, usually either in some historic old building or spectacular location and are generally reliable and very nice to stay in. The wife and I had also stayed in some of them on a road trip we did when we first met around 20 years ago, so we thought it would be nice to revisit some of them!

Unfortunately as D day arrived, on the 28th, it was clear from the forecast, that not only was it likely we would be leaving in the rain, but we would also be dodging it on my planned routes in the Pyrenees. This meant some frantic re planning of the route in conjunction with the Spanish weather forecasts and new GPS files etc for the garmin, which I did not need at the last minute! OK, its just a bit of rain, you say, but there was no way I was going all that way to drive in the rain on those roads!

I had originally planned to zig zag across up and down the valleys and cols from West to East and then back again, so factored in a southerly detour for the rainy day in the Pyrenees down to the Parador at Alcaniz and then back up into the mountains to carry on east to west back to Bilbao.

I had spent some hours planning the route, deliberately choosing roads that looked twisty and interesting and hopefully a good mix of fast sweeping stuff and more tight and twisty corners. I was not to be disappointed ! Curves Pyrenees by Stefan Bolger provided some inspiration, as well as some roads I remembered from several sorties on my motorbike with the lads several years earlier.

So everything was carefully planned, the car cleaned, checked and ready, with plenty of tyre repair get you home aerosols ( My main worry was a puncture out in the boonies...for which reason I fitted the standard wheels , figuring those sizes may be easier to get a replacement in) tools, small bags packed ( the scaffolding in the back of the GT3 means access for any rigid bags or cases is impossible) and we were ready to go.....

Wednesday morning, we were up at 5am, and off at 6 to Portsmouth, in the rain as predicted, which was a blow, but it did stop outside London, at least...The ferry trip was 24 hours , which we were dreading a little and sure enough, it was rough on the way and pretty boring, but we managed to sleep OK and woke up the next day excited and ready to leave. It was humid and slightly overcast in Bilbao, which boded well and we were soon on our way, only for it to piss down about 20 minutes in...ho hum...The road was also really busy and slow with lorries and roadworks as we headed southeast towards Olite, our first stop. However, as soon as we cleared the coast area, near Vitoria Gastiez, we were in decent weather, which put a smile on my face, especially as I could start to stretch Yellowbird's legs a bit. We were on the A132 from Vitoria towards Estella then the N132 towards Tafalla. A great bit of road, through rural farmlands of the Rioja, very little traffic ( which was to be a feature of the trip) and some great opportunities for some "spirited driving", so I let her rip...Here is the route we took:



We rolled into Olite around 4pm, which strangely , was not at all how we remembered it from 20 years ago ! I left the missus relaxing at the Parador and went to clean the car and fill up with 98 so we were ready for the morning. Then I got the car parked up:



Once back we had a walk around the lovely old castle and church complex the Parador was part of:







and then got stuck into some a couple of beers and very welcome massive " spanish measures" Vodkas and tonics in the town square,






While we waited for 8.30 to roll around ( generally the earliest you can head out for dinner in Spain..) We found a very nice Tapas restaurant nearby and ate very well on barbecued prawns, peppers, local cheeses and ham, all washed down some some very agreeable local red (14% !!)



Next day, we had a pretty intense day planned, as we had to get right across to Vic in the East, without using motorways and boring roads, so it was 280 miles of twistys and fast stuff, we needed to on the way by around 9am......

To be continued....
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Last edited by markturner1960 on Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:29 pm; edited 9 times in total
 
  
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T8
General
General


Joined: 29 Jun 2010
Posts: 15781
Location: Kent


PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic write up of a great trip Mark. thumbsup

Sadly, whilst you were away Photobucket decided to **** the world of blogging so we can't see your pictures !!!!!!!

See => How Photobucket have screwed us over.

I'm still looking forward to the next instalment though.
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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
Posts: 215
Location: London UK

2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

removed as not relevant...see below
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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
Posts: 215
Location: London UK

2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, Day 2. This was to be quite a hefty drive, as last minute re planning meant that instead of just getting half way across the Pyrenees, we had to make it nearly all the way. This was because according to the forecast, the second day in the mountains was going to be thunderstorms, so that day, I planned to head south, which meant getting to Vic, our destination in the mountains north of Barcelona in in one day instead and the route planned was the N260. This amazing road tracks across the foothills of the Pyrenees, occasionally straying into higher mountain areas, and cuts across several major valleys. There is a mixture of wider fast flowing stuff and slower, tighter sections, with several areas of switchbacks and tight curves, through some truly amazing scenery. I was really looking forward to the days drive, we had 285 miles approx to cover, so we were up and having breakfast at 8am, ready to leave at 9. Here is the planned route:





The first bit was a lovely minor road, the NA-132 out over the rolling plains to Sanguesa. From there we drove alongside the Yesa reservoir to pick up the N240, which runs alongside the A21 motorway. This end is not so special into Jaca, buts its still a decent fast bit of road with some interesting sections. As we got to Jaca, we were hit by a shower, much to my dismay, but it only lasted 20 minutes or so, but enough to undo all my good work at the car wash the night before!

Outside Jaca, we were on the N-260 proper, we hit another heavy shower and then a big tunnel, but emerging on the other side of the mountain, we came out in brilliant sunshine and that was it for the rain for the rest of the trip! The next section of the road was a corker, plenty of great tarmac and fast sections interspersed with twisties as we followed the river east towards Ainsa. From here we are getting higher into the mountains, and the terrain is steeper and there is much more tighter stuff. We aimed to stop at El Pont de Suert for coffee but when we got there, the road was closed through the town for a demonstration. We took the opportunity to find a little cafe and tucked into some tapas and it was over fairly quickly. I was somewhat dismayed to see what seemed like an endless convoy of articulated lorries streaming past the cafe, which we had seen hardly any of. A feature of the roads in Spain is that certain sections are basically HGV routes, so you need to avoid these! When we set off I was a bit concerned we would be at the back of massive queue of lorries, but to my delight, they were all going south on the N-230 ( so note that). We were in for a rollercoaster ride for the afternoon of approx 120 miles of countless corners and switchbacks. Here is a video of a few sections spliced together - excuse the squealing brakes, it's the Pagids, awesome pads with the Alcon discs, but a tad squeally at the start of the pedal push.... :


Open Youtube Page


You will notice the roads are not very busy at all, which is one of the best things about the Spanish roads. What traffic you do come across is easily dispatched by the GT3. And some pictures along the way:








It was hard work hustling the car around those corners for the last half of the journey and lesley's window of agreeableness was certainly past after approx 4pm, so it was a tired but happy driver and a slightly tetchy missus that rolled into Vic at around 5.30pm This Parador is unusual in that it's not in an old castle of monastery as many are, rather a purpose built hotel in a spectacular location, of which there are a few. It overlooks a lake in a gorge and the views are very beautiful.



After a nice soak in a hot bath and a little nap, we were ready for dinner, the restaurant overlooked the lake and we were treated to an amazing display of cloud colours as the sun went down, as around an hour before dinner, it rained heavily and there was a lovely rainbow across the lake.







The only complication came later in the evening, we got talking to an older english couple in the bar who were also driving around, bit more sedately in the Jag, and the Spanish brandies started flowing....Lesley could not finish her second one ( they were MASSIVE) so I ended up having 3. Dont really remember staggering up to bed.. Smile

Last edited by markturner1960 on Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:31 pm; edited 3 times in total
 
  
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

worship

Glad you got the picture thing sorted out.

Those roads look awesome. It's just a shame they're do far away. Taking the ferry across certainly seems the best option and when you take into account hotel charges, petrol and tyre wear etc probably isn't much dearer.

Thanks again for the write up. Thumb
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rhino-man
Monza


Joined: 17 Oct 2015
Posts: 235
Location: Kent


PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really like these threads as definitely fancy doing something similar. Keep it coming.
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madalaa
Fuji


Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 9462
Location: West London

2009 Porsche Boxster 987

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the roads in Spain are flipping fantastic and the lack of traffic is brilliant ....... people rave about Germany but if you have time and the inclination Spain far outstrips it in my opinion ........ I must do another trip over there soon ........ perhaps in convertible ....... I feel my days are now numbered in owning the 993.

p.s. Great write up Mark ....... I love road trip threads ...... they make me want to get on the road again ........ Smile
 
  
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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
Posts: 215
Location: London UK

2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys, must admit, after the last post , I had little or no additional views for ages and what with being busy, thought if no one was reading it, then why bother continuing...! But it seems to have picked up nicely recently!

However, as long as there is continued interest, I will carry on, leave it with me for the next installment!

It is a long way, but really only a days travelling and so worth it when you get there. lets face it, most of the good stuff in France and Germany is a days travelling as well.......
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madalaa
Fuji


Joined: 13 Mar 2008
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2009 Porsche Boxster 987

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark ...... Please continue telling us about your trip ....... Smile
 
  
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wh00sher
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Joined: 10 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone who suffers from seasickness, I can`t imagine the absolute purgatory you would suffer if that ferry had been a rough one. Surprised


Looks like a great trip and some stunning roads and views !

Please finish it Smile
 
  
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New997buyer
Fuji


Joined: 17 Oct 2010
Posts: 9150



PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

markturner1960 wrote:

However, as long as there is continued interest, I will carry on, leave it with me for the next installment!


I've really enjoyed it so far so please contunue! Thumb

It's a great reminder of the things we all have in common Grin
 
  
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911TEL
Albert Park


Joined: 29 Oct 2007
Posts: 1512
Location: Inverness & Kazakhstan

2011 Porsche 997 Turbo S

PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Mark,

just like the other lads have said , its a great to read ......great excuse for a coffee and stop work for a while ........!!

.. and ..................makes me realize that I have to do a similar trip ........ soon!!

Just have to work out what to do with the kids while me and Mrs TEL swan off on the trip .........

Carry on Scribe !
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Gazc2
Kyalami


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with above comments very enjoyable read and really must look into a road trip although just back from Madeira where the wife screamed her head off on some of the roads over their ! and your squealy brakes would drive me nuts cracking car though.
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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
Posts: 215
Location: London UK

2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day Three as promised:

Day three dawned with a fairly tender head due to the excessive brandy consumption the night before, but by the time I had had a shower and got the hotel breakfast down me ( lovely scrambled eggs, spanish ham and cheese, orange juice and plenty of coffee !!) , I was feeling much better. The weather was lovely and we had a fairly relaxed schedule which involved heading south towards Manresa, then Igualada and on towards Alcaniz which is west of Tarragona and about 50 -60 miles inland. so once we had packed up and left the hotel, first stop was a car wash to restore Yellowbird to the usual shinyness after the rain we got caught in the day before, a top up with 98 then we were off....here is the planned route first stage:



Once clear of Vic, it was a typical Spanish N road, the N141C across some nice country to Manresa, then the C37 to Igualada and southwest to El Pla De Santa Maria. This was a cracking road, almost deserted, that wound through lush wheatfields and some nice hills. We stopped in El Pla for coffee and then headed on. From there onwards, the road got really exciting, lots of it through woods and pretty twisty, but a touch too narrow to really let go on the throttle, most of the corners were blind and you never knew what might be coming. I deliberately chose the most windy looking roads I could find that went through any national parks and hilly / mountainous areas and thus we found ourselves driving deep into first the Muntanyes De Prades and then the Parc natural de la Serra de Montsant. These were beautiful smallish mountainy areas, very rugged and but quite heavily cultivated with vines and olive trees, with the occasional small town or village. Again, we were struck by how empty and quite the countryside is in Spain. First road into the mountains was the TV-7041, which we followed to Prades, then the C242 south and then the T-702 west to Cabaces. From there, the T-714 to Vinebre, where we were to get onto a faster road the C-12 to Mora d'Ebre then the N-420 to Alcaniz. Here is that part of the route and the final leg:





We stopped for a mid afternoon snack and rest in Cornudella de Montsant, a lovely little town, and had a very agreeable sandwich and salad, washed down with a cold beer after we had stretched our legs a little....









This was yet another day of brilliant driving, amazing roads and lovely scenery, with the sun belting down....After the twisty stuff in the national parks we had a nice fast blast along the N420 into Alcaniz, where the next parador was, in King Carlos v old castle perched on top of a hill in the town centre. The views were amazing out over the plains.





There was a wedding going on when we got there, so we decided to walk into town and eat there for a change. It was a pretty big town with a large cathederal as well in the centre, but for its size, not much going on and a surprising number of the shops closed up for business. I guess inland from the usual tourist spots, rural Spain is suffering still in the recession.

We found a Tapas bar down a back street that looked Ok and had some beers and ordered a what we thought was a smallish amount of food, however what we thought were Tapas sized dishes were main portions and we were somewhat horrified at the prospect of having to try and eat it all, with out late afternoon lunch not too many hours behind. We did the best we could and staggered out feeling somewhat bloated and walked back up the hill to the castle and bed!

No videos from today, but here is another from the previous day, one of the twistier bit up the Coll de Toses on the N260:


Open Youtube Page

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Alex
Le Mans
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome Mark......just awesome!!!!
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madalaa
Fuji


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2009 Porsche Boxster 987

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

........ my juices are flowing in more ways than one ....... viva Espana ...... Smile
 
  
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infrasilver
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing, looks like you crossed some of the same sections we did back in 2016 on our Spain road trip, awesome clear sections of road for most of the trip. The thing I did miss was the views aren't as great as in the Alps, the scenery is a little too brown for my liking in Spain.
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Alex
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

infrasilver wrote:
the scenery is a little too brown for my liking in Spain.


Are you sure it wasn't your vision misted by all the fumes puffing out the back of Jackal's 993? Grin
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infrasilver
Fast & Furious
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alex yates wrote:
infrasilver wrote:
the scenery is a little too brown for my liking in Spain.


Are you sure it wasn't your vision misted by all the fumes puffing out the back of Jackal's 993? Grin


I can't rule that out. Wink
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markturner1960
Monza


Joined: 26 Nov 2016
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2003 Porsche 996 GT3 Mk2

PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:48 am    Post subject: Day Four Reply with quote

On to Day four.....

The plan for this days driving was to retrace our steps from yesterday back along the N-420 until we crossed the River Ebro again, then a different variation of the same C roads across the Sierra De Montsant, then cut across the plain towards Tarrega, The C-63 to Balaguer and then we were well and truly back in the good stuff of the foothills of the Pyrenees.





I say good stuff, as if the first bit was not good, but that would be doing it a grave disservice. The N420 as mentioned is a stunning bit of fast snaking well surfaced main road that flows over the plains over some gentle hills and more open stretches. We were blatting along at a decent cruise of around 90 - 120 which felt perfectly safe and very easy and relaxed, with just the occasional car in front to dispatch, which the GT3 relished with a howl from the Mezger and the Kline exhaust. Once back in the Sierra de Montsant, on the smaller Croads, the roads were almost eerily deserted, sometimes we would go 10 or 15 minutes without seeing another car...The countryside was vineyards and olive trees, the sun blazing down from a clear blue sky. The mountains, although not very high meant there was a constant flow of corners, so it was second and third gear most of the time, and an occasional foray into fourth. This I think is really the cars sweet spot, 3rd gear with awesome acceleration right on tap and a good long spread of speed meaning you could run up to 6 or 7,000 RPM then roll off for the corner, with a dab of brakes. It was constant cornering and accelerating and beautifully enjoyable. Up in the sierras, we turned off onto the TV-7004 which started off great then about 2 k in, covered in freshly laid gravel.....We kind of thought it might be just a section and slowed to about 15 - 20 MPH, to save the paintwork and suspension components from a peppering but it just went on and on....in the end we drove about 20 miles and I was getting pretty pissed off when it suddenly went back to old tarmac. The next village we stopped for coffee.



The car as usual everywhere we went caused a stir as we parked up, bet they dont see many cars like that up in the mountain villages.

From there it was more open normal main roads as we headed north west towards Tarrega and Balaguer, where we refueled. The road out of Balaguer north is the awesome C13 which snakes due north following the course of a river which is dammed in several places forming some beautiful lakes. The C-13 is one of those super fast, wide sweeping roads up the river valley, with great visibilty, plenty of overtaking opportunities if needed, stunning scenery (which I was having difficulty enjoying, (having to keep my eyes firmly on what I was doing most of the time) and some great up and downhill sections. There are tunnels, dams to drive over and all the while the Pyrenees beckon from the north, getting ever closer...Driving heaven!! We were heading to the town of Tremp, and from there would cut due west up into the mountains on the C-1311, via the Col de Figols and pick up the N230 / N123 west before we again turned north to our destination for the night of Bielsa.

At the top of the Col de Figols we stopped to admire the view of Tremp and the surrounding hills and mountains.





The twisty road up the mountain was several miles of non stop hairpins and switchbacks and was hard work, but the GT3 lapped it up! You really appreciate the way it steers and turns in on roads like that. After that treat it was back to some more fast sweeping stuff on the N123 which was great for the variety, meaning I was never bored. At Estada, we picked up the A138 due north up into the Pyrenees proper. We could see jagged snow capped mountains looming ahead, the A138 was running through some amazing scenery, but was a little busier, although, busy for most of Spain compares to what you might find on a Sunday morning fairly early in England....We never got held up, Yellowbird blasts past in a matter of seconds.



A quick stop to snap the scenery and although we were making good time, Lesley was getting impatient to get there and kick back a bit, so we pressed on. Bielsa, our destination is a small village right in the middle of the Pyrenees, near the french border and the Parador there is built in the style of an old mountain hunting lodge, tucked away at the head of an amazing mountain valley with stunning peaks either side and Monte Perdido, or " The lost mountain" at its head. You turn off the main road into this valley up a small road which you could easily miss and the drive 16 kilometers right up the valley, which has alpine meadows and flowers either side of clear river, lovely alpine style buildings and the mountains all around. It was one of the most beautiful bits of scenery of the whole trip and it just kept getting better and better the nearer we got to the end, where the road stopped at the Parador.



Melt water streams from the glacier on the mountain feed scores of waterfalls that tumble down the almost sheer rock and scree faces to feed the river below. Amazing....I will let the pictures do the talking:











And here is a mix of the best bits of the days Go Pro footage so you can share the enjoyment of the roads.


Open Youtube Page


Once we had arrived we hiked into the forest along the valley floor for about 30 minutes, alongside the river and enjoyed the scenery. Then it was time to freshen up and hit the terrace to watch the sun disappear behind the mountains with a couple of large Spanish measure VaT's, beautiful......After that, some dinner and a nice wine before bed. What an awesome day.
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