Used to schedule and plan my solo trips for Hype in Tokyo, this time I let that work to my dad and his friends and joined his party for a weekend. Purpose of the trip? Good tapas in Logroño and observe the Stars at night on top of Laguna de Cameros, a small village in La Rioja.
With the big guys on the road
Departure from Barcelona after midday on Friday, it took a bit more than 6 hours to arrive in Logroño, in northern Spain. My Nightster was the smaller bike of the Harley Davidson group, so we had to stop to refuel more often than they expected. On that trip, my dad tortured me making me use until the last drop of fuel to make it to a gas station. That came to be a small problem on the second day. After leaving Logroño, using secondary roads we checked on gas stations around the area. The mission, I had to ride 200Km on a go, and my tank only gets me to 150Km. Before our stop to lunch, I saw a gas station, but we passed it. At our stop for lunch we checked on the gps for gas stations, and saw one on the next village. To be more sure, I asked at the restaurant for advice, only to get more worried. Some of the gas stations of the area were closed on weekends. What’s a trip without a bit of trouble, right? After debating the best solution, and improvising which road to use to get to Laguna de Cameros, the group decided to go back on the road we previously came to fill up my tank.
If you want to know more about my road trips, take a look at my last journey through Central Japan.
Tip for road trips: Check before and during the trip the stops you’re going to need. Schedule your timing considering at least 15 minute/stop. Enough time to fill the tank, check your schedule and next stop, and take a break.
Logroño and tapas
We arrived to Logroño a bit after 9PM, with our stomachs roaring for the promised tapas of Laurel street and surrounding alleys. Left our rides at the hotel and headed down to the center. Laurel street is the gastronomic center of Logroño. Check for the whole list of bars. For generations, bars have opened in the area to become the place that is nowadays. A social and friendly area to enjoy tapas. The first bar to open in the area was the Blanco y Negro, still active. The ambience was a typical friday night in a major city. People everywhere trying to squeeze for a spot in a bar. An inconvenience if you come in larger groups. We made our first tapas in the bar Pasión por ti. Our deserved drink to celebrate the road trip and few tapas on their way. Here we had the most gourmet experience, kudos for the secreto ibérico meat tapas with pineapple. A bit before midnight we made our second late dinner stop at Bar el Soldado de Tudelilla. This place was the perfect place to finally put an end to the group hunger, and showed us that local traditional food is the best. With our stomachs satisfied after the last Gin Tonic, went back to the hotel and got some sleep.
Laguna de Cameros, searching for the Stars
Second day started as it finished the last night, eating to my heart content, this time at the hotel breakfast buffet. During the morning, we visited Logroño center on foot, walking around the old town area. Checked on the history of every spot and church on our way, learning a bit more about the story of Logroño, and finishing our short route at Logroño’s cathedral. We couldn’t wandermuch more, as our lunch was scheduled and had to get our rides ready for the trip. As I mentioned before, this was the part of the trip on secondary roads. Despite the fact of my fuel concerns, the scenery of La Rioja is stunning. As we were told by a friendly local we encountered “Many tourists thing La Rioja is only vasts areas of vinyards” He couldn’t be more right, I had the same image on mind, but what we saw was a lot of natural mountain areas and canyon roads. And when we went even deeper into secondary roads up to Laguna de Cameros, even some encounters with huge cows and herds of sheep right in the middle of the road.
Once we arrived to Laguna de Cameros, we were warmly welcomed by our hosts at the rural hotel Camero Viejo. During the whole stay they attended us like family and cooked for us a delightful dinner. They even offered one of their cars to go up the mount later that night, place for the main purpose of my dad’s planned road trip, observing the starry sky.
The main event and dad’s excuse for the road trip, taking photos of the starry sky. He’s been obsessed with the sky for a while, and wanted “for once” for me to join. It was time to do so, with one condition. Not going to bed after 3AM, as we had to wake up early and take the road back home. 6 hours ride is no joke and better to be fresh and awake. Still, the photoshooting was more interesting than expected, and I got absorved by the Stars. Staring at the sky was so peaceful I could’ve been there the whole night, just laying there in the nature. Now I understand why he’s so obsessed about it. Growing up in cities, there’s not many chances to see the stars as clear as up in the mountain. My best experience watching stars was when i climbed the Mount Fuji, in 2013.
Pro tip for star photoshooting: Never forget a tripod. Now the tendency is to create a photo timelapse and then editing on computer, so one doesn’t use that much time exposure, but still, a tripod is compulsory on your inventory for this occasion.
Pro tip for “painting” photos: With long exposure on your camera, use a flashlight covered with a piece of colored clothe. Then “paint” the object with the flashlight to get a highlighted colored object.
The third and last day, return trip, and the hardest. We started with some mechanical problems with two of the big bikes, and delayed our departure. We made our last tourist stop at Leza canyon, popular for being a bird observatory. Large vultures and eagles fly real close to the road, an impressive view. Then it was all day under blazing sun. Over 40ºC on the road when we crossed the Monegros area made our bikes and bodies overheat. That wasn’t expected. Dehydration and heatstorke is a serious matter on bike road trips. Covering your skin is important, as one can get sunburned easily without noticing on the road. Even though it was already September, the temperature didn’t drop a bit. The long and hot road, marked the return back home.