It wasn’t an early start but it was before 10am that I got DJ from the garage. My morning ritual involves firstly ensuring I am clean and ready to go, then coffee followed by a tech check. Any emails, messages etc, is the spot tracker on and tracking, is the nav monitor on the phone turned on. Has the route loaded to google maps. Are all the batteries charged and cables stowed away. The charger, as useless as it is, is packed and a final check of the room. Then to the garage to get the bike loaded. Clearly staff at Hotel H2 have never seen me get the bike ready because half way through the garage door shut. As luck would have it there is an emergency handle and even better it is not linked directly to an alarm. I set off looking for one last glimpse of the castle. I didn’t bother deviating to find it as I knew there were plenty more to see. It was colder today and at first I even contemplated putting another jacket on. I began to ride up into the mountain on the same road as last night’s excursion to gypsyland. The miles ticked off and the heat started to build. The roads, an endless ribbon of smooth tarmac twisting its way through the rugged baron landscape. I had loaded the destination as Ciudad Real Airport and that was three and a half hours away. The bike was happy at a steady 60mph and we effortlessly rode the glorious winding route. Soon enough it was clear that the sweeping bends, climbs and descents were coming to an end as the plains of Spain opened up before me. Mostly flat and straight they are just laborious riding. On a sports bike you’d stick your head down and give it a fist full, I tried honestly I tried. At 70mph I thought DJ may throw a con rod so we wound it back and settled in for the long haul. The sat nav said follow this road for 110km, as that came to an end it said continue on this road for 93km. Eventually, sick of Olive plantations and arrow straight roads, the countdown was on and Ciudad Real was getting closer. I began to wonder if the choice of location for an airport was not the best as I was clearly in the centre of the town. Stopping to check it appeared that I miss typed the location and had indeed requested the centre of town. Another 37km of reasonably straight road and I was starting to wonder again, but then a sign ‘Aerpeurto’.
You have to be wondering what my interest is in this place. I first saw it on an episode of Top Gear and wanted to visit it. I’m a huge plane and airport geek. So here’s the story. Constructed in the early 2000’s it was to be an international hub for Spain’s booming economy. It is located about 1 hour from Madrid and has the high speed railway passing very close to it. It opened in 2009 at a cost of €100 million and closed in 2012. There are many theories as to why, including the whole thing being an insurance scam. Currently it has no owner but there are reports of it having been sold for as little as £10,000. Also there is rumour that a Chinese consortium may buy it as a Euro hub for all their import goods. For now though it stands empty, like a ghost town. Empty car parks, terminals and conveyor belts. To stand there alone is quite a weird sensation. It really is like a scene from a movie apocalypse. You cannot get air side as it is still closed off, so a 60+ mph blast down the mile long runway was out of the question, but in fairness we had done that all day. But I did have a right laugh riding in places that, done in terminal 3 at Heathrow, would have you staring down the pointy end of an MP5 with an angry short man at the other end. What else do you do when you have a whole airport to yourself? I ate my lunch and chuckled at my abandoned rucksack leaning against terminal 1’s entrance door. Eventually I attracted the attention of security and had to put my clothes back on. It was time to get back on the road and head for Cordoba.
The previous night I had looked at camp sites and saw the only one was the one I used last year, which was expensive. Back to those Booking.com people. I got a room in a hostel in the old part of town for €11. It was another few hours riding to get there but I was a happy chap. Riding into Cordoba I realised I know nothing of this city. Well I know there is a move in Red Bull X Fighters called the Cordoba flip and Seat once produced a car with the same name but no more.
I got to Cordoba reasonably early and quickly found the hostel. I booked in and was shown to my shared room on the sixth floor. There were no lifts and I had already decided the bike and I are too heavy. I was seriously worn out by the time I lugged my kit upstairs. I met an Australian back packer. Steve was on week five of a three month trip round Europe. He had done Ireland, UK and was now starting Spain. He liked Ireland but said nothing of the UK, only that it was colder and wetter than he thought. I grabbed a shower and came back to the room to meet two charming Spanish girls, both mid 20’s, who were also starting a European vacation. I went to park the bike in secure parking, but at €15 it was more than I was paying for my room so she was wrapped in her invisibility cloak and locked to a bin in a nearby street.
On returning to the dorm’ I met another Ozzy, Ken was at least 10 years older than me and had lived in Oz for 39 years having left UK for a holiday and never came back. Everyone liked the sound of my trip best and then we all went our separate ways for the night. I walked the town and saw castles, bridges, more castles and a mosque called Mosquita. Its unusual feature is that it has a Christian Cathederal inside the Mosque. There was a roman bridge across the river Guadalquivir leading to a castle. It was all very pretty (pics to follow).
Making my way back to the square nearest my hostel, it was filling up. Being Friday the place was busy with families enjoying the warm evening. I liked that families all go out together, children as young as 4 through to early teens enjoying time with their parents. The older teens still embraced the family aspect but also went off in groups huddled round their phones. I found a small Italian pizza parlour and sat down to enjoy pizza, cheesey bread and a bottle of water. As I ate I recalled that lunch was cheese based and now both courses were cheese. I resolved to eat more fruit. I then resolved to have a beer or two. Now quite why I did this I don’t know, I don’t drink much anymore and it was a hot night. I had already taken headache tablets, but none the less beer seemed a good idea. I remained in the square writing this very blog. Well, not all of it as its now at least 24 hours later. Anyway I enjoyed people watching and had an ice cream before checking the bike was still in place and headed back. As I climbed the endless hostel stairs my head was pounding and my stomach churning. I went straight to the bathroom where I was promptly sick. A veritable cheese fest emitted from my stomach, lubricated by beer and ice cream. Then I collapsed on the bathroom floor before having another shower and going to bed. I think most hostels expect that!