- Easy Rider
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Get your motor running. If you’re not one to clock up the miles on cruise control, we say sign up for a little Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
Philosophise while you ride pillion in Spain, or make tracks on your own treads on an Enfield Bullet in India… Tour these Smith-endorsed destinations Che Guevera style for a trip you’ll never forget.
Bang in the middle of Italy, these hills, peaks and plains between Florence and Rome comprise the country’s only landlocked region, ripe for touring by motorcycle. Gubbio, a two-hour drive from Norcia or Orvieto, is an incredibly well preserved mediaeval town on the lower slopes of Mount Ingino. Unravel its coil of shaded narrow streets, admire its historic architecture, and crane your neck at its crenellated castles. For lunch, pause at Taverna del Lupo, at 21 Via Ansidei, an attractive, arch-ceilinged, stone-walled trattoria. Order something with truffles, a speciality of the house (+39 075 927 4368; www.tavernadellupo.it).
Needle-thin towers, slickrock domes, narrow canyons and miles of deep chasms – you won’t find more dramatic landscapes to ride through than amid the eye-popping formations of the American Southwest and the Glen Canyon. Be sure to seek out those unique sandstone slot canyons: the most famous is Antelope Canyon. Have your photo taken just as the sunlight shines down like a spotlight (usually in the mornings); light filters down into its curved formations, casting mesmeric shades of soul-stirring pink, red, purple, grey and yellow.
At last the completion of 250 miles of uninterrupted walking paths along the spectacular Welsh Coast means you can trot from Llandudno and Prestatyn via mediaeval castles and nature reserves (www.visitwales.com). But if you’d rather rev your way through Mid Wales, it has lots dozens of ideal routes. We are especially tickled with the A roads around Aberystwyth and Abergavenny. Vistaholic? Get thee to Offa’s Dyke which runs along the border with England and down to the Brecon Beacons, offering 168 miles of mediaeval rampart and beautiful views.
Since the word ‘Essaouira’ means ‘image’ – it’s appropriate to keep your eyes peeled as you whiz towards this Moroccan coastal city two hours from Marrakech. When you reach the medina, park up at the port and walk along the ramparts along Skala de la Ville for a spectacular sea view, particularly delightful at sunset. For an extra-adrenalising motoring experience, trade up forto a 4x4 quadbike from Ocean Vagabond on Boulevard Mohammed V (+212 (0)561 135644; www.oceanvagabond.com). Then spend half a day on the beach traversing the miles and miles of sand.
With such a fascinating history that’s had influences from so many cultures, southern India’s offerings are rich, architecturally and artistically. Spend a day sightseeing around historic Fort Cochin; see the famous Chinese fishing nets, the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and Jew Town, St Francis Church where Vasco da Gama was buried. Alleppey is another Keralan city worth an ogle. Once a bustling trade capital, and known as the ‘Venice of the East’, it is centred on two canals, and a good place to see artisans at work. Take a trip too to Kanyakumari, the tippy toe of India, or Cape Comorin, where the three seas meet: the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
Archaeology-on-sea, with crystal-clear Caribbean shores on its doorstep, the Yucatan Peninsula features on any discerning traveller’s holiday list. Marked by temple-pyramids, sacred ball courts, palaces and sacrificial altars the Mayan’s reclaimed-from-the-jungle cities are scattered throughout this mystical part of Mexico, the most famous of which are Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and, down towards the Riviera Maya, Cobá and Tulum. Savour the magnificent coastal views from the ruins at Tulum, which are a three-hour drive from Mérida and a must in the day-trip department.
Andalusia’s Atlantic coastline is a fit-for-a-film setting for would-be wind-tousled easy riders. The beautiful sandy coves at Los Caños de Meca, southwest of Vejer, were once a hippie hang-out and maintain a laidback air. Or park up at El Palmar to hit one of the best surfing beaches around. For more adrenalin a, head for El Porro beach, northwest of Tarifa. The ramparts of Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno in Tarifa offers fine views across the Straits to north Africa. Need to refuel? The white-sand beach at Atlanterra is perfect place for a picnic. Even at the height of summer it’s rarely crowded.
A 90-minute drive from downtown Sydney, it won’t take long to grasp why the Greater Blue Mountains received a World Heritage listing in 2000. The name for this sandstone plateau is in fact derived from the bluish tinge the landscape assumes from the eucalyptus forests. Drive to Hassans Wall Lookout on the west side, 10 kilometres south of Lithgow, and you’ll be at the highest scenic eyrie in the area. From here you can see Mounts Wilson, York, Tarana and Blaxland, as well as the Megalong Valley, Kanimbla and Mount Bindo to the south. Recharge batteries with a pitstop at the Candy Store (02 4782 5190; www.candystore.com.au), Shop 6, 178 The Mall, in upmarket Leura village; here the walls are lined with jars of old-fashioned treats such as rock candy, saltwater taffy and eucalyptus drops.
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