I'm going to Spain (Valencia) for a conference at the end of October, and I'm taking advantage of the free plane ticket to plan my first tour and my first trip to Europe. However, I'm struggling a bit with the logistics, and I'm looking for advice!
I'd prefer to tour in France, primarily because I can sort of speak French, and therefore it seems less scary than Spain. I also have the impression that France is a "safer" country - I'm only about 110 lbs of girl, and not at all confident in my abilities to defend myself if need be.
I've got two major issues:
1) I'll have a bunch of conference gear that I'll need to ditch somehow prior to setting off on the bike (a poster, fancy shoes and clothes, laptop), which means starting and ending the tour in the same location (somewhere with a major airport).
2) The Spanish train system seems to be not very bike-friendly, and as far as I can tell, none of the border-crossing trains will take bicycles.
I'm planning on spending the first ten days of November on the bike, so I'm fairly time-restricted. I realize it's going to be on the cool/wet side, but according to weatherspark.com, Novemeber in the Pyrenees is like September in the (Canadian) Rockies, so I think I'll be happy with the weather.
Here's what I see as my options:
a) Ship my conference gear home, take the media distancia train as close to the French border as possible (e.g. Zaragoza), then bike across the Pyrenees to France, tour around the countryside, and fly out of Toulouse.
b) Somehow find a way of getting myself and my bike and my conference gear to Toulouse or Montpellier, leave the conference gear in a luggage locker, and do a loop.
c) Forget about France, leave the conference gear in a locker in Valencia, and do a loop in Spain instead.
I'm planning on camping wherever possible and hosteling if need be. I'd prefer quiet countryside and cool landscapes over big cities and museums, and my number one priority is safety. I'm leaning towards option a), mainly because I like mountains and I want to be able to practice my French, but I'm open to suggestions and advice.