Spain

Chapter Eight: Big City Breaks

Multiple nights in Valencia and Barcelona offered some well needed time out of the saddle. And some long overdue time on the beach. Spain wanted to see me strut in my Icelandic rental bathing suit, I could tell.

Valencia:
Riding into Valencia you can sense something new and alive.  It hasn’t devoted itself unconditionally to its historic monumental buildings like the rest of Spain and the Science Museum built just as the motorway spits you out is proof enough. I wove my way through the old quarter on the pavements and locked up right outside the hostel, checking in with hours of daylight to justify heading to the roof terrace to make friends. So it was long mountain motorbiking days turned into lazy days wandering around enjoying good food, good home-made sangria and good company.

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Valencia Market
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Just your typical Valencian doorway
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One happnin' square near our hostel
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From the bell tower. Copyright Rhianne Williams
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Building sick sandcastles? Check.. Copyright Cassie Rossall.
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Dream dinner after a day on the beach. Copyright Rhianne Williams

Barcelona:
There wasn’t much need to take a route through the hills. I’d left Valencia late and seeking out twisties would just guarantee a late night, especially considering how I get carried away. After a night dedicated to catching up home on Skype I met up with Jack again, who had been in Barcelona for a couple of days. Repeat cycle of meeting interesting people, dicking about and getting drunk.

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Main market just off La Rambla
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Casa Batllo, one of them there Gaudi 'ousez
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More arcs. Everywhere arcs.

Getting drunk at a beach side nightclub till 7am aside, I think our time in Barcelona was pretty sharp on the cultural junk. Namely Gaudi, he seems to be a hot shot down here. Picasso too, but he’s too popular and the queue was more than tolerable the 3 times we checked. So Gaudi, via a walking tour, entry into La Sagrada Familiar and a trip to Park Güell.

La Sagrada is almost unfathomable, not least because the biggest sections aren’t even finished. The space, use of light and shapes and hidden-but-waiting-to-be-found statues and characters are a million worlds apart from anything you’ve seen in a church before.  No more gold, just fine stonework and red, green and blue light cast from the many stained glass panels. Didn’t quite make me turn to religion for hope in this dystopian world, but I was a sucker for all the craftsmanship.

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Parc Güell is another Gaudi project, meant to be private accommodation for the rich while modernism was winning big. Problem is modernism crashed before the park was completed and Güell was left with a park with only three of four houses on it. They’re pretty cool houses though and the park, gifted to Barcelona, is a pretty cool park.

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The last 9 or so days had been great, but I was itching to get back on the road and coming down with a cold. So the night before I was due to leave I sent the following message to Sarah.

My twist on a Sarah Barber classic chicken noodle soup (just supernoodles in chicken soup for those not in the know; a cop out, sure, but its actually quite tasty..) has perked me right up from my cold. That, or that I’ve made a conscious decision to ride through the pyrenees into the night without accommodation or spare food (because I’ve just eaten it).

I’m a bit fed up of sight seeing, city people, drinking, smoking, prebooked hostels, having it easy. This seems like a good enough plan to solve that right?

Cue more mountains. Cue accidentally ordering tounge on toast. Cue FRANCE. Cue having to take your contacts out at the road side because they’ve dried onto your eyeballs . Cue starvation. Cue #novisibility. Cue forcing yourself to stop.

Seems about right, but that’s next time…

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