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Supporting appealmobile on his world travels

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Valencia to Barcelona

I was hoping to tie up with a friend in Valencia for a beer or a coffee when I left Albal. Unfortunately communications went astray and it never happened, but I stopped there anyway for a little walk around the city. A wet drizzly Sunday wasn't the best time to get a feeling for there, so after dawdling till nearly twelve I set about heading for Tarragona. I was still cold and miserable but decided to take a look at the beaches North of Valencia which were all like ghost towns so decided to set off on the N340 as fast as the bike would take me.
I was flying and then I remembered Shanklys bar Salou which I hoped to make a stop at and have a beer.
I hoped really they may have been able to sort me out with a sleeping bag for the night and a warm cardboard box, but alas they had had a bereavement and were in Liverpool.
Half way there my little fairing and headlamp dropped off it's mounting due to the vibrations loosening the mounting nuts so I had a half hour stop to replace nuts and secure everything.
I was still going to call by Shanklys for a photo shot, but the darkness came in fast and it was still damp making visibilty poor as my glasses kept misting up.
I eventually stopped at a bar in Cambrils, where at last I was treated to a succession of tapas with every drink.
I was falling off the stool by eleven, not through alcohol but just tiredness, so I left to find a shelter. I eventually found a place by some offices, but woke with the cold as usual at 2 am. I went for a walk about and at three I found a garage entrance and got myself another couple of hours.

I was awake at 5 and walking around for an hour until the bar reopened at six and I was able to get my fix of coffee and toast.

A quick visit of the beach there which looked nice, even in the gloom of the breaking dawn and then off to Salou.

I found Shanklys fairly quickly near the small beach there and took the photo I wanted and then set off for Tarragona.

 Approaching Tarragona I was plagued by my chain
 jumping off it's sprocket. It had been doing this for a couple of days now as the chain had stretched so much and I had adjusted the back wheel as far as it would go.
There was only one solution and that was to remove a link. That is easier said than done without the proper tools, but I bludgeoned the link off in an hour with a screw driver and a ratchet spanner.
Chain back on and into Tarragona to clean up. Like much of Spain Tarragona was closed and after a warming coffee and a tostada I set off for the final stretch to Barcelona. The beaches to the east of Tarragona were very nice and clean and I was quite impressed.

Due to the nature of the roads I decided to follow the N340 which runs about a mile from the coast and ignored the roads down to the various locations, until I reached the turn off for Vilanova.

I was glad I did because the road down passed Castell which is as the name suggests is a castle village situated next to a lovely wooded lake. On down to the front at Vilanova where I stopped and made enquiries with the Madrid Reds for info on the Barcelona reds, besides taking a couple of beers.

It was still grey and cool at this point and I wasn't hopeful of a scenic route into Barcelona. However I was proved wrong as the road out, ran along the edge of the cliffs, with only a concrete barrier between myself and the drop below
. However I was proved wrong as the road out ran along the edge of the cliffs with only a concrete barrier between myself and the drop below. The road twisted and wound it's way east and more importantly the sun had decided to show itself for this final 25 kms. I stopped to get these shots shortly before the most embarassing moment I had had on the ride.
I was riding along when I suddenly started feeling quite dizzy and disorientated. I suffer from this condition frequently and it usually finishes with a sudden drop in sugar levels in the body, that leave me totally incapable of standing up.

I felt like I was going to fall off the bike at any moment, even on the straight bits. There was absolutely nowhere I could pull in, with there being no shoulder on the side of the road and I had to continue down to Garaf. As soon as I stopped I was off the bike and searching a supermarket to buy some food and a sweet drink.
All I could find was a Domino pizza outlet and I staggered in shaking terribly. I ordered a pizza, any pizza but then my legs went totally and all I could do was to lie down on the floor. These attacks usually only last for 10 minutes, but the manager got so concerned he immediately called the medics out. I scraped myself off the floor  to reassure him I would be OK but he was insistent and wouldn't let me have a pizza until I was seen to. He did let me have a bottle of Fanta though, which I drank in two seconds, which had an immediate impact and I was able to start talking coherently. Alas the medics arrived and immediately started taking blood and measuring my sugar level and blood pressure. Within minutes it was back up to normal and my Pizza duly arrived which I devoured in 5 minutes, a deep fill one at that.
God bless them at Domino. When it came for me to pay they waved the cost. I couldn't let them do that, as I thought they may think I had pulled a dramatic stunt to avoid paying. They insisted but I was more insistant and I paid although I'm not sure I paid for the drink or the full cost. I didn't care as I had paid them eleven euros to get me back running again and all I wanted to do now was enter the city of Barcelona.
It was a slow process getting through the suburbs to the west and avoid the rondas and the gaping tunnel entrance. I eventually finished up on the heights to the North West but managed to find my way back down to sealevel and pick a route in. Not without one final check from the police who pulled alongside me at traffic lights and after ascertaining that I was actually English and wasn't riding with illegal plates asked me if all was well. I nodded and off they went leaving me to ride the last couple of miles with smoke pouring from my exhaust due to overloading the mix with my two stroke oil at the last fill up.
I decided on reaching Placa de España where I would get my bearings before locating the viewing location of the match that night by the Barcelona Reds and arrived there at peak hour on a warm (at last) Barcelona evening, although more fitting would have been the Arc de Triomf

The Derbi FDX (near left) with fellow mopeds and scooters at the Pl de España

I got the directions to two pubs where the game may be watched and having arrived at Michael Collins Irish pub at the Familia de Sagrada found that the venue tonight was to be the Philharmonic at the Carre de Mallorca.

 It seemed a fitting venue for the bike to reach and so off I went again racing with all the other mad scooters of Barcelona to arrive there in good time to see the game with Los Lads.

After the game I took up residence around the corner and christened this new home, which I would inhabit until I managed to get a flight out, 
Hope Street
The Rough Side of Life

I had arrived. Six weeks after I had set out from England with a short intermission for my sons wedding. It had been a long trek and apart from three nights in a hostel, I spent the whole time living rough, including the last 5 nights without a sleeping bag.

This guy had made a decent home for himself and even managed a laundry room
I was offered the cost of a hostel in Barcelona by Neil from Madrid, but I didn't see why someone should be paying to get me out of situations I had chosen to be in. It was my test of endurance and mine to overcome. That's not to say I haven't accepted help along the way as the Brachos of Estepona will verify, but that is when there is no other alternative.

The living rough side is an eye opener for myself as homelessness is is an issue close to my heart. There were many homeless in Barcelona and there doesn't seem to be many hide holes for them. I don't know how a homeless person manages to find the will to engage with the day ahead. Creating simple routines is the only way I could do it and I had a certain amount of financial backing to help me through. I would usually be turfed out of any corner I had inhabited by six to seven in the morning and then go for a walk for half an hour before heading to a cafe for ancoffee and a toilet opportunity. Start walking again for a couple of more hours taking advantage of plazza benches just to observe life before heading to the cheapest Internet cafe to spend a couple of hours updating the blog.. Repeat two or three times in the day till mid evening and fill up with alcohol in order to sleep.

Reflections of Spain and the Ride

 The one thing that struck me about Spain during this ride was the immenseness of the land and how diverse it is. I went to Alicante once and said I had been to Spain, but that is like going once to Miami and saying you had been to the States.
The changes not only in scenery and culture, but the different languages even makes this a most extraordinary land. And add to that the country of Portugal sandwiched between Spain and the Atlantic. The one thing that is common throughout all the regions I passed through is the warmth of the people. An instinct and desire to assist, which I had already experienced on my Valencia to Liverpool ride. The language I struggled with, especially in the deep south where I not only had trouble understanding but also being understood. I think that was mainly due to my problems understanding causing a lack of confidence in how I structured my sentences. Even Barcelona threw me and especially the Chiunese bar owners who couldn't decipher my cerbetha, then cerveza then cerveca until a Spanish national translated for me. I was totally confused after three days there and lost all confidence in speaking what little Spanish I knew.

The damage reflects the worse weather I encountered. Galacia and Andalucia
All in all it was one absolutely fantastic experience, although due to being stuck in a couple of places I over-ran my budget by two hundred euros. That will take some clawing back before venturing onwards, but the plan is to continue

The Plan

I was playing with the idea of continuing along the coast of the Mediterranean in the New Year and after seeing the Atlas mountains and Morrocco across the Straits of Gibralta,  I was convinced.

I haven't worked out the mileage and how long it will take me on this little, but immense moped, but I am planning on two week shunts, increasing to three weeks as the weather warms up and a two month stretch in midsummer. All with a three week spell back home in between.

I intend to pick the ride up again at the end of January and do a two week skip to Genoa. I also intend decreasing the rough sleeping to an 'only when necessary'. I will be using camping facilities as well as the occasional hostel in emergencies.

The bike at the moment is parked in a street under lock and key, awaiting my return. I am hoping that safety in numbers will help it survive, as it is parked amongst a row of mopeds and scooters, with the promise from the Barcelona Reds that they would keep an eye on it. I am also scouring the web to have a spare engine at the ready in case anything fatal happens to the one I have. I think I may have found one already, but just waiting for a response from the advertiser

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