Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Down to Barcelona

Like I suspected, I did not get up at the crack of dawn and cycle on. I took Kike's offer of another day as I was enjoying his company and still felt quite exhausted and slightly hung over. We had a leisurely start to the day and I went and bought some lunch, I was hungry so I went and got lots of tapas style nibbles, remembering not to buy eggs as they were abundant back home. I appreciated another day of doing very little, writing the last blog, reading and hanging out with Kike. I was amused to see him watching his hen coop pensively, and my guess about what he was thinking was right as he watched the cockerel scornfully. Since getting him he has had no luck with any of his hens incubating their eggs, and the cockerel reciprocates the scornful look at him, attacking him when he goes to feed them. He's given the rooster an unlimatum, no fertilisation by April and he will be Sunday roast. Time passed swiftly and after another filling pasta I was feeling recharged and ready for another day. We got woken very early by the cockerel's call and I imagined Kike was thinking what sauce to cook him in. I said my goodbyes and thank yous and got on my bike, with a route planned to go inland and miss out the next 20km of coast as it was very up and down and twisting and turning, though it looked longer on the map the main road inland was less distance and climb. The weather was glorious with little wind, and I climbed gently up out of St Feliu and cruised downhill to the inland junction, only to find it was a busy dual carriageway and cycles weren't permitted. With no means of cutting across to the coast I had to trek back to my starting point with ten unnecessary kilometers on my clock. I found the coastal road, and despite crawling up a lengthy hill I began to realise this way was going to be much more worthwhile, with the beautiful coastal views and next to no traffic I was glad to have been made to go this route. The first ten kilometers were uninhabited, the road snaked its way around the contours of the steep wooded hillside, carving a line of red earth in and out of the bays. It was bliss, the smooth tarmac and no traffic meant the downhills could be taken with a wide racing line, and the uphills were taken at walking pace while admiring the stunning scenery. Gradually modular cubes poked out of the vegetation, little holiday resorts terraced into the bays like honeycomb, all of which were almost empty. The bays got bigger and more developed, and after Tossa de Mar The road became busier, finally mounting one last big hill where the long straight flat beaches of the Brava could be seen vanishing into the blue haze of the horizon. By now the wind had picked up, and to my annoyance it was directly oncoming. I had to pedal to descend the last hill into Lloret de Mar, a considerably sized holiday town and my first experience of proper Spanish seaside tack. Mc Donalds, casinos, full english breakfasts and R&B all day all nite lined the big streets, couples and groups of girls I could tell straight away were English. Still I was hungry so stopped at the most local looking place with the provision of having the bike close by. Ok I failed on this one, I got a kebab.
Back en route and the going was really tough with the headwind. I got off the main road and went coastal again, down past repeated views of high rise hotels and apartments, fancy little plazas and tightly packed caravan parks. I thought to myself how different humans can be, how little this environment appealed to me as a holiday destination.
Eventually my tired old legs got me into Calella, I knew my host Yam was at work so I passed the time calling people and reading. He said he finished at 6, but then that became 8pm so I killed some more time and got some food. Yam came and met me, a Cuban chap with a mischievous smile. We went up to his apartment and about five minutes after meeting me he left me with keys and his little laptop saying he's off out for a couple of hours. Throughout the trip I've been awe inspired by the level of trust people have in me, but Yam takes it to a new level. I shower in his marble lined flat, not too dissimilar to Joaquim's. Yam works on computers, but is also really creative, making music, photography and video. Three and a half hours later the elusive host returns and I buy him a Guinness at the Irish bar below his flat. Here he is obviously a local, the barman treats us all to a shot of Jagermeister and we talk about Ireland as Yam drools at the young (and I mean young) Italian girls. I like Yam, he's funny.
In the morning we have a Cuban breakfast of Papaya, hot chocolate and eggs and yet again he leaves me to let myself out. I did 80km yesterday, so the 50 to Barcelona mean I don't feel the need to start too early. Besides, yet again I feel a bit rough.
Still I get on my bike and am pleased to see the wind has reversed. Once the legs are warmed up, the gently undulating road passes by at a super pace, little effort uphills and racing down them. The road is busy though, and every now and again I try and take a path between the beach and railway. Sometimes this proves to be a chore, with a dead end or road closure and a bit of a detour back. One time I carry the bike down a subway onto the ststion platform, only to find I can't exit without a ticket.
The landscape is a busy one but residential and industrial rather than touristic. The traffic feeds off to the motorway leaving me more relaxed as I take in the views. Gradually the hinterland of industry grows and the pillars of the metropolis can be seen on the horizon. Before long I'm on the outskirts, a monstrous beast of a power station marks the end of functional ugliness and the beginning of sleek creative architecture, big tower blocks and apartments glistening in the sun. I'm confronted by endless grids of traffic lights, all seeming to go red on approach. I go right into the centre and then pass the time for my host to finish work, wandering through the streets amidst the hoards of guided tours and young couples wandering about. I go to find Rupert and Bettina's flat near the central station. They are the first people I know from beforehand since day 1, so it is refreshing to have some familiarity at last.

1 comment:

  1. Just a little jealous. Not of the rooster - of you in Catalunia!