Getting ready to ride in Spain-again

On Sunday I sail on Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao for a couple of weeks riding in northern Spain. I'm leaving the tent at home for a change and have booked four rural hotels, all interesting, I hope, in different ways. Not camping means I can leave all this lot in the cupboard:

In fact this is a picture from Google Earth of my first hotel:

Hotel Real Monasterio de San Zoilo

I was feeling a little sad at missing out on the camping experience but this photograph of my first hotel looks like an intriguing place. Does its name mean that it is a real monastery, not one of those fake monasteries with fake monks who turn out to be actors? (actually, it did turn out to have fake, canned, plainchant.)

When you are immersed in the endless routine of working and living - as is too easy, these trips can come up out of the blue almost in a strangely unwelcome way - paradoxically - as an interruption to the numb and attractive mindlessness of routine. But getting out maps and packing the panniers does start to dissolve that. It will be interesting to see how that works after I stop work for ever in 2 or 3 years time. What routine will exist then? What identity?

Unusually, the sailing down to Bilbao will involve two nights on the boat, rather than one, and a chance hopefully to disengage and get into a new headspace.


Click here for the start of the trip