4 March Barcelona

It’s a late start for us today, only getting up and out of bed just before 10am!

We catch the bus to Casa Vicens, the first house Gaudi built when he was in his early 30s.

He took his influences from Moorish, Islamic and Oriental design.

A patio balcony on the first floor.

The loo!

A small enclosed balcony. This would be lovely to sit in on a hot summer day

The interior has an abundance of different designs and colours, on both the walls and ceilings, but is overall quite dark inside.

The rooftop

On the second floor is an exhibition about the house, it’s restoration ( it only opened this year) and the decorative influences.

Tbe original architectural drawings.

After our visit we catch another bus, hoping to head back to the Gothic Quarter.

The bus is detoured, it looks like there has been a demonstration, lots of people around with Catalan flags and placards.

Luckily it all seems to have finished by the time we stop!

We realise we are near one of the restaurants our Air Bnb host recommended, Casa Delfin.

The interior is lovely, but as it’s such a nice sunny day we choose to sit out in the square and are lucky that a table is available almost immediately.

Sue and I pick similar items from the menu so decide to share plates: small fish, scallops, and lamb. All delicious, although we are suprised that the bread we ask for comes up toasted and dry!

We don’t share pudding! I opt for a pistachio cheesecake, with Sue choosing a strawberry mille-feuille. Both delicious.

The weather has changed to rain, which luckily eases off whilst we have coffee.

We take a quick look in El Born Cultural Centre housed in a restored city market building with excavated ruins from 1700’s before heading back to the apartment.

Many of the information boards are about how the Catalunyans lost their independence during this time.

A few streets further away we come across this memorial with an everlasting flame in memory of those who lost their lives.

One can only hope that lives aren’t lost in the current political unrest.

A glittery steel artwork outside a gallery catches my eye as we walk back.

As well as some more graffiti.

Its hard to believe my long weekend is nearly over- I fly home in the morning.

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3 March Barcelona

We start the day with breakfast in the apartment. Sue, being the star she is,runs down to get the bread from the shop next door, whilst the cheese and meats are from earlier shopping trips.

Today we are going to visit the Sagrada Familia. Building work started in 1882 and still continues today.

If you are planning a visit, it us worth booking your tickets online, and try to choose a sunny day- as you can see from the photos below the light through thestained glass windows are amazing.

It is difficult to explain just how stunning this Cathedral is. It is pretty impressive on the outside, but the inside is just Wow!

These photos can only give you a small idea of the light and airiness of this magnificent building, which is so modern in feel.

Just stunning!

We catch the Metro back to the centre of town.

This shop window makes me chuckle.. The place to buy your not so trendy underwear!

After enjoying a coffee in the sunshine, we walk to the food market, which is buzzing with people and lots of food stalls.

We decide to have some seafood for lunch at one of the small bar type stalls. Our timing is perfect as we get stools to sit on almost immediately ( after Sue has a little tussle with very rude Japanese guy who doesn’t want her sitting next to him!)

First beer of the holiday. .

…is followed by some lovely garlic prawns, and some not so nice soggy Calamari.

Walking down Las Ramblas, I spot Marilyn, advertising the Erotica museum…At No 69 of course!

We also see more political statements on the side of the buildings.

We walk to the Gothic Quarter, where we partake in a little retail therapy.

But unfortunately no shoes , as the sparkly ones I like are not available in my size.

There’s quite a lot of graffiti around. Here’s a selection of my favourites from today.

We end up walking down to the harbour. Sue tells me we have hit 10,000 steps and my bad knee knows it!

We pass some stalls selling the usual and not so usual crafts.

Freaky leather mask anyone?

It’s all top end restaurants along the front, but a row back we find somewhere that is happy for us to sit and just have a beer…as it turns out for a price!

As I look on Google maps to see if we can catch a bus to take us back, I spot a post about Gaudi designed lamposts, so we decide to walk and investigate.

Turns out I’d taken a photo of these when we were on our bus tour, despite the audio narration not mentioning them!

The photo doesn’t show it well, but there are three beautiful blue salamander Dragons on the top

This turns out to be an expensive detour, for Sue anyway, as we take a look in a jewellery shop The Fusio Collection.

How lovely is this? But I resist, as it doesn’t quite fit right and at 165 euros it needs to be perfect.

Sue manages to find a ring and a bracelet that are perfect for her though and treats herself.

We spend a couple of quiet hours back at the apartment before dinner back at L’antic Forn where we had lunch on Thursday.

We are here to try the Calcots, which we had unexpectedly come across- a local delicacy of grilled giant Spring onion type vegetables.

And yes, everyone gets given a bib, as it’s a messy affair, dipping the Calcots into the Romesca sauce and then eating by dangling into your mouth.

The evening spawns a new phrase for Sue and I of ” at least the spring onions were good” as the rest of the meal disappoints us by not living up to our expectations. Shame as lunch was so good, but I would still recommend a visit.

But it still has been a great day, with  amazing architecture and being able to wander around in shirt sleeves in March being an added bonus.

2 March Barcelona

We start the day with a coffee and a ham and cheese croissant in a local cafe.

Then it’s down to the Metro where we buy a T10 ticket- which appears to be the cheapest way to get round, as its valid for multi persons and 10 journeys.

Our first stop is Sagrada Familia, but the next timed ticket isn’t valid until another 1.5 hours, so we decide to book online and come back tomorrow. Top Tip: Do what the guidebooks suggest and book online. You don’t need to print the tickets out and can show them in your phone.

So we hop back on the Metro and head out to Park Guell.

Our route brings us inform the North if the park, which turns out to be a bit if a result as only one small hill, with the rest if the route downhill.

We also have amazing views across the city. The building in the middle is the Sagrada Familia.

Much of the park is free entry, but if you want to see the famous buildings and mosaic you have to pay.

The queue is quite long, as we get nearer to the front we realise it is cheaper to book online which we do…but The tickets do not come through on my phone.. Grr.

Luckily I screen printed my order and the man on the ticket desk is really helpful and print of our tickets, which are valid from 2pm.

He also recommends somewhere close to eat Bar Terra Mia, where we sit outside in the terrace and enjoy this platter of meat and cheese washed down with a jug of red wine.

After lunch it’s our timed entry to the Park and the Centre Monumental.

What can I say…Mosaics, Curves and lits of Japanese tourists

One of the “gingerbread” houses.

Ceiling mosaic.

The undulating curved seating areas are fab.

The famous dragon- much smaller than I imagined.

Blue ceiling

View from one of the gingerbread houses

We leave the park and catch a very busy no 24 bus back into the city. It’s not until some locals get on the bus afterwards us that I realise that wr should have validated the tickets…oops next time.

I realise that the bus stops near one of the Gaudi’s houses that I’d like to visit Cassa Batllo so we jump off the bus.

Once again we buy the tickets online, as its 4.50 euros cheaper.

Wow! What a wonderful house. Like Renée Mackintosh, Gaudi’ designed everything in the house- door handles, ballastrades, even a font for the floor numbers as well as the building itself.

The tickets are quite expensive at 24.50 euros but include an audio visual guide which is very detailed in the information given, with the mobile phone type handset showing you what the house looked like in its day as well as some rather silly references to battle like these turtles.

The house interior:

The rooftop is stunning.

I loved this place, my favourite visit so far.

We walk back to Place Catatalunya, where I spot another one of those yellow ribbons high up on a statue!

Then it’s time for a sit down and a coffee and donut, before heading back to the apartment.

1 March 2018 Barcelona

I am ticking a Bucket List item this week by visiting Barcelona.

I’m not on my motorbike, but I am here with Sue Wade, one of my “silver lining” motorbike friends from California.

I flew out with Vueling, a budget Spanish airline.

We were held up on boarding the plane when they had to remove 6 people who had been checked in on a row of seats that didn’t exist on this plane- quite bizarre!

The flight is about two hours, and with the hour difference I arrived at about 11.20pm.

The aerobus into town was easy to find, with a return ticket costing only €10.20, which I purchased from the vending machine.

Despite quite a long queue it didn’t take long to board and it’s only a 30 minute before we reach Place Catatalunya, where Sue is waiting for me.

It is a short walk to our airbnb.

Luckily, the listing prewarns that it’s up 3 flights of stairs!

Sue and I sit and catch up over a couple of glasses of red wine, before going to bed at 2am.

We wake up at 9am, and having got ourselves together grab some breakfast at a nearby cafe.

We have decided to give the Touristic Hop On Hop Off Bus à go.

They run two routes at this time of year, Red and Blue.

We start with the red route.

Obviously we sit up top so we can take photos, but it doesn’t a little chilly in places.

One of our fellow passengers has gone fir the full “drag Queen” make up, with turquoise shiny eye shadow and the longest false eyelashes!

We feel quite underdressed!

Here are a few highlights from the trip:

Case Battlo

La Pedrera

There are flags hanging from many of the apartment buildings. I think these are in support of Barcelona’s bid for indépendance from Spain.

This former bullring is now a shopping centre.

National Art museum of Catalunya

Olympic stadium

There is a lot of graffiti around the city- most of it just name tags, but sine more colourful.

Love this giant lobster Gambrinus on the sea front.

Slightly further along the road is this funky Lichtenstein Head Statue

Columbus monument

Our round trip finishes at 1.30- the perfect Spanish time for lunch.

We walk to l’antic forn one of a few restaurants recommended by our air bnb host.

We have the very reasonably price set menu consisting of salad buffet, two savoury dishes- I chose a delicious Aubergine bake followed by pork knuckle; a pudding- Crème Catalunya.

Our meal also includes bread and wine and all for €14.50.

We only noticed thus sign on our exit- a seasonal speciality if giant Spring onions, which we spotted a diner on an adjoining table eating. We may have to go back anothet time to try it. Watch this space!

In the afternoon we take the buses Blue route, which as we guessed from the map is a less interesting route, except for the first stop at Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Famlia, which us famously still being built.

In addition to the flags, there are many yellow ribbons around the city.

These Yellow loops have appeared all over Catalunya and are worn by separatist politicians and residents as a show of support for the high-ranking public figureheads currently in prison or under arrest warrants for their role in the ‘banned’ secession referendum on October 1, and for the regional government which was sacked en masse by the State.

They have been deemed illegal although the ban does not appear to be working!

Sue and I are not big football fans, so we found it quite amusing that the Barcelona FC stadium is deemed an attraction.

Loved this statue.

Two surfer dudes and two surfboards on one moped winding their way through rush hour traffic.

We are chilled through by the end of the ride, so stop for a Cappuccino at Café Zurich.

Having stocked up on a few essentials at Carrefour -more wine and some nibbles, we walk back through the back streets to our apartment.

It is quite a suprise coming out of the dark alleyways to this beautiful, white modern building, which unsurprisingly is the Museum of Modern Art.

The graffiti Street Art is of a better quality in this area.

At about 8.30 we head out for some Tapas. It is raining, so instead of going for a wander we head to the place Sue ate last night El Jardin Eden for some Tapas.

The decor is quite funky.

We decide to forego puddings and instead enjoy a couple of Expresso Martinis- decaff for Sue of course!

Its been a great first day in Barcelona, and with the weather forecast improving I’m really looking forward to the rest if the trip.

Friday 19 Jan 2018 – Seaford

I haven’t been out on my bike since the Xmas Toy Run at the beginning of December.

Before getting togged up I check that the bike starts ok-which thankfully it does.

Then its inside to get layered up. The sun may be shining but it’ a pretty chilly day.

First a pair of tights, then thermal leggings , then kevlar Go-Go leggings , then on my top half ; a vest top, long sleeved T shirt, thin thermal base layer,  then my Gerbing Heater liner topped off by my bike jacket and fleece neck warmer.

It might sound like a lot, but it works to keep me toastie on even the coldest of rides.

And whilst on the subject of cold rides I’d like to share this wonderful bit of prose with you “Season of the Bike”, by moto-blogger and excellent writer Dave Karlotski.

Those of you who do ride will be nodding your head in agreement and those that don’t-well hopefully it will give you some idea of why we do it!

There is cold, and there is cold on a motorcycle. Cold on a motorcycle is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind’s big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don’t even feel like water. They feel like shards of bone fallen from the skies of Hell to pock my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that’s just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for highway speeds. 

Despite this, it’s hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you’re changed forever. The letters “MC” are stamped on your driver’s license right next to your sex and weight as if “motorcycle” was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition. But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a summer is worth any price. 

A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time, entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets. 

On a motorcycle I know I’m alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of light that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than Pana-Vision and than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard. Sometimes I even hear music. It’s like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind’s roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock ‘n roll, dark orchestras, women’s voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed. At 30 miles per hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree- smells and flower- smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it’s as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it. A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. 

Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It’s a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It’s light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it’s a conduit of grace, it’s a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy. I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I’ve had a handful of bikes over half a dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn’t trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride one of the best things I’ve done. 

Cars lie to us and tell us we’re safe, powerful, and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, “Sleep, sleep.” Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride. 

My original plan was a quick round trip down to Uckfield, turn right and head back via Sheffield Park.

But as so often happens , once I’m out and enjoying my ride , I continue on at Uckfield, heading south , towards the sea.

I have ridden this road (A26) so many times- it isn’t a particularly challenging road but has a few nice little twistie bits and some  straights where you can open it up and of course – a great tunnel at Lewes, where one always has to rev the throttle to fill the air-its the rules as any biker knows ;o)

Just before I enter Seaford I take a turning right to take me to the seafront.

As its out of holiday season I sneak onto the promenade for a photo opportunity in front of the beach huts.

The sign said no cyclists-it didn’t mention motorbikes!

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Looking out across the English Channel.

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A kind passer-by, an ex-biker himself, offers to take a photo of me on my bike.

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The temperatures are starting to drop, so I head home , taking the route back via Alfriston.

It feels like 9 times out of 10 on this road I get stopped at the level crossing.

But on the plus side, it does mean I can filter to the front of the queue so that I have the twisty country roads clear in front, not getting stuck behind much slower cars.

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I arrive home, just as it starts to spit with rain-perfect timing.

But, annoyingly I realise that I had forgotten :

  1. To take a photo of my starting mileage for the year
  2. To put on Rever to record my ride

but I reckon it was about a 60 mile round trip and make a note to myself to remember to log my mileage at the start of my next ride.

Here’s to many more rides in 2018.

 

 

Monday 3 Oct

It’s a beautiful day, so it seems wrong not to make the most of it and go for a ride. One of the silver linings of currently being jobless.

The A272 calls to me. I think I will head to Loomies at West Meon for a fry up brunch, but might continue on to Winchester.

As other bikers know – It’s about the ride not the destination.

At Midhurst I stop to get petrol.

As I get off my bike I notice that the side of the seat looks damp…but its not rained?

Then the realisation hits me.

Can you spot what’s missing in the photo below?

Duh! I’d topped up the oil before leaving this morning and somehow had forgotten to put the oil cap back on 🙄

There is oil all down the side of the bike.

So it’s into the garage shop to buy a roll of kitchen towel,to clean up and a roll of insulation tape- the short term answer to so many problems.

I use the scissors from the first aid kit, that lives under the pillion seat, to cut a circle from the tape’s plastic packaging. I then tape this on, criss-crossing the tape to ensure coverage and hopefully enough stickiness to get me home.

It works!

Here is my “repair” when I get home.

The oil cap is where I left it on the shelf in my shed.

Now why I put it on the shelf and not on the bike seat, which is what I normally do, will remain a mystery. I hope it won’t happen again.

Anyway, despite being shorter than planned, it was still a good ride, the A272 rarely fails to deliver.

Friday 22 Sept 2017: Newlands Corner

I have arranged to meet Jenny Linn Cole, another lady rider who blogs, at Newlands Corner today. We are both also members of the Facebook group Motorbike Women, so as it’s such a beautiful day I also post up a general invite, and message Christine, a biking friend, just in case she has today off.

My wiggly route over:

There are about half a dozen bikes there when I arrive, but quite a few more by the time we leave.

Motorbike Women:

L to R Jenny, Christine, me

Jenny has brought her Round Britain Rumble photos and her sketchbook to show us. I love her sketches.

Paul, Christine’s brother has bravely come to join us too,

He very kindly buys us all a hot drink, whilst we sit and natter.

When a nasty big black cloud obscures the sunshine we decide that maybe that’s our cue to leave.

This rider obviously has a good sense of humour ” Not On”

Paul openly admits that he does like to try and fit a new box or bag wherever he can on his bike !

Christine getting ready for the off .

If you want to see Jenny on her bike, please take a look at her blog Round Britain Rumble as unfortunately the photo I took didn’t come out.

My Garmin Zumo took me home the curvy way, down lots of little wiggly wooded lanes.

On a day like to day, being out of work has its compensations!

#life is good