The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    After bustling Madrid, Toledo is nothing but eye candy.

    [​IMG]

    The inner wall of the city is said to have been founded in the 7th century by the Visigoth, the architecture, and the masonry are of Moorish influence. One of the most interesting aspect of the walled city, that sits on a rock above the rio Tajo is that from the 8th to 11th century, it was known as La Convivenca.

    [​IMG]

    Under Arab rule the city new a golden age of tolerance, and sitting in the center of Spain was the crossroad between Muslims, Jews, and Christians culture. I wonder what the Caliphate of Cordoba new then that the Muslims, Jews, and Christians have forgotten today, more then a thousand years later.

    [​IMG]

    Like all good things coming to an end, La Convivenca ended in 1085, when Alphonso VI retook the city, and begun an iron fist rule. This would later become the first concrete step taken by the Castilla y Leon alliance to initiate la reconquista by the Christian armies.

    [​IMG]

    For us the small city was a perfect resting stop. We spent two days visiting, and recuperating from the Madrid marathon. ST thought nothing of the 70 km that separates the two cities, and taking the autopista we made it well within an hour. We booked at the Toledo Eurostar with lastminute.com, and paid a very reasonable € 85.00 for 2 days in a **** star hotel.

    This is the view from the room.

    [​IMG]

    Wow what a feast for the eyes. On the subject of feast, last night we opted to stay home to enjoy the comfort of the room, and picnicked from a delicious home made snack. We discovered artisan made chips (fried in olive oil). Forget Lays.

    some of this, a bit of that, and add the -comosellama thingamagig- por favor, and don't forget the patatas fritas artesanas :dg
    [​IMG]

    :kumbaya
    [​IMG]

    And while sipping a glass of Rioja

    [​IMG]

    Toledo is also known for its craftsmanship in all things steel, but specially knives of all types, swords, and armours.

    [​IMG]

    For a collector, or someone like me who just likes knives, it was quite a treat, and I was lucky to received an authentic stiletto from Toledo. Hand made, with a blade of 420 stainless steel, and handle made of cuerno de torro (bull horn).

    [​IMG]

    Of course in return for the gift, I parted with a penny thus ensuring that the ties of friendship between Jackie and Valentino could not be severed.

    Dood where's my penny

    [​IMG]

    It was funny as we amble in the very confusing sinuous streets of the old city to witness other tourists looking haggard as they tried to figure out where they were, and how to get where they wanted to go. Loved every minute of it.

    [​IMG]

    We also took ST for a little city tour. It was great fun to ride around the paved streets, and around the city walls just wearing helmets and jackets.

    [​IMG]

    ST was happy not to be stuck at the hotel this time

    [​IMG]

    Valentino what are you doing?

    [​IMG]

    ... here let me try!

    [​IMG]

    The large square structure is the Alcazar

    [​IMG]

    A few more pics of this beautiful city, even this early in the season the roses were already in full bloom

    [​IMG]

    That Valentino he's so cooool!:crash

    [​IMG]

    We found this beautiful courtyard

    [​IMG]

    And this really tall tower

    [​IMG]


    The arcades and the streets were so charming and well decorated

    [​IMG]

    Amazing architecture

    [​IMG]

    What's behind this door?

    [​IMG]

    A mini street

    [​IMG]
    After sampling some local delicacies

    [​IMG]

    Of course we had to go see the cathedral

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Last one

    [​IMG]

    The weather has been ok, but not great, mostly cloudy with sunny breaks with the mercury barely reaching 19-20 C. tomorrow is forecasted to be similar even further south. Our ride to Cordoba planned for tomorrow is 340 km, with a stop in Ciudad Real...
    #61
  2. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    Although we left under cloudy sky, the weather progressively cleared up and the ride was beautiful, warm and comfortable.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Of course Torro was there.

    [​IMG]

    And a nice fountain to welcome us in town.

    [​IMG]

    I should have known that after circling around for more than an hour amidst the labyrinth of, under construction, streets that make up the Casco of Cordoba (old town), and Jackie noticed a sign the size of a postage stamp indicating the way to our pension El Portillo, that serendipity had cast its magic spell yet one more time.

    [​IMG]

    Things were just as they were suppose to be.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks to ST the 340 km from Toledo were seamless, and it was just a pleasant ride. As you can see unbearable traffic.

    [​IMG]

    A lot more on this stretch

    [​IMG]

    The country side was beautiful, with fields of red earth where the olive threes abound. We made a couple of stops in Orgaz, and later in Ciudad Real just to admire the moorish cathedral, and indulge in a quick cup of coffee.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    BTW, the further south we get the better the coffee seems to become. Rich, dark, thick, but smooth with a faint touch of acidity, what a perfect blend. I usually like a long expresso, in Spain it’s called ‘‘cafe cortado’’

    We arrived in Cordoba by mid day to our sunniest, and warmest day yet.

    [​IMG]

    It felt good to be in Andalucia. The streets of the city are decorated with flowers harboring the colors of Spain.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One of the most amazing things are the lemon, and orange threes lining up the avenidas. We could smell their citrus odor perfuming the warm, still air.

    [​IMG]

    After a quick meal of fried Bocarones (species of anchovies), una ensalada mixa, and a pedazo de tortilla, y dos cañas fresquita, in this courtyard restaurant.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Nothing puts a smile on your face quite like a cold one on a hot day.

    [​IMG]

    We headed to visit the Mezquita Catedral (the mosque cathedral).

    [​IMG]

    An oxymoron by name, from the outside, the building looks like a large fortress,

    [​IMG]

    easily identified as a Moor building by its typical arches, and minaret.

    [​IMG]

    But then you start to notice the bells, and crucifix that annunciate the rites of Christianity.

    [​IMG]

    Toledo was at a religious crossroad, the Mezquita-Cathedral is embedded as a Muslim-Christian icon.

    As soon as you enter its massive portal, and witness the intricate ceramic, and mosaic designs of the inner wall, and arches that surround the orangery, you know you are in for a threat.

    [​IMG]

    But the amazement really start as you step in the mosque itself. You cannot help but be humbled by its beauty, and the meticulous precision of its design. Each pair of black, and pink marble columns holding the arches are in perfect symmetry with one another.

    [​IMG]

    Yet if you close your eyes, and let the place seep through your inner being, you can almost hear the hooves of arabian stallions echoing through its vaulted walls. It was magnificent.

    [​IMG]

    From the Muslim side

    [​IMG]

    To the Christian side

    [​IMG]

    Lets try this again, from the Christian side

    [​IMG]

    In between

    [​IMG]

    To the Muslim side

    [​IMG]

    A view from the top

    [​IMG]

    Jackie in the box

    [​IMG]

    After a well deserve siesta, we ended the evening strolling through the dedale of narrow sinuous streets,

    [​IMG]

    we saw this

    [​IMG]

    and unknowingly made our way to the plaza de la Corredera,

    [​IMG]

    just a little before 2200, where a Flamenco spectacle was just about to start.

    [​IMG]

    We sat down under the stars enjoying a glass of Rioja while being entertained by the dramatic cantor of AuroraVega.

    [​IMG]

    As I sipped the wine, and allowed myself to be bewitch by the melodious lingering voice, I could not help but notice how far from anything known to me this was, yet the faint smell of garlic, olive oil, and citrus ladening the air made it oh so familiar.

    I closed my eyes for a moment, taking Jackie’s hand in my own, and felt like I belonged nowhere else but here.

    We made our way back to El Portillo licking the Turon ice cream of a waffle cone with a huge grin painted on our face.

    Thank you Cordoba for sharing your magic with us. Tomorrow glorious Sevilla awaits...

    [​IMG]
    #62
  3. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    May 21, we have been on the road one month today, and I believe it took us at least that long to really get a rhythm going. We now feel we could go for a long time.

    We have our packing unpacking routine down to a science, I now really feel comfortable piloting ST among European traffic, and we are going from beautiful landscape to amazing cities. A trip of a lifetime. For all who hesitate, don't wait. Find the time, save a bit of money, do a bit of planing and go, make your dream happen and take that trip that you've always dreamed and talked about. Regardless of your age, it is never to late or to early, just do it. It's the perfect thing to heal your soul.:rayof :wings :rayof

    Not much to report from the road, it was a nice easy comfortable ride to Seville, the landscape is mostly flat, with long curves, ST is really a great bike, and a pleasure to ride.

    [​IMG]

    There is absolutely no traffic until we hit the cities

    [​IMG]

    Of course Torro was there again

    [​IMG]

    A closer look

    [​IMG]
    Since we are on the bull topic

    [​IMG]

    I have always known corridas not to be for the faint of heart, but faith of the bull set aside, what a grandiose spectacle to be witness in the birthplace of the sport. We were well advised by the security guard who was both gracious, and friendly enough, to tell us that since it was not a grand corrida, but a novillada because the matadors were still fairly young, it would not be worth it to buy the tickets from the scalpers to get a better seat. Instead he told us: get the ones at this gate, and that row, and at this time of the year don’t even be concern about sun exposure... So we ended up with great seats for €11.00. We parted with our adviser, corrida tickets in our pocket, ST parked across the street from the Plaza de Torro.

    Plaza de Torro
    [​IMG]

    Getting it ready before it starts
    [​IMG]

    The area inside of the circle belongs to the Torro, the horseback Picadores may not enter to stab the bull, they must coax the animal out of the circle so that they may stab it in order to weaken it.

    The actors are introduced

    [​IMG]

    The star of the show 9 bulls were put to death during the evening, as the night progressed the bull became darker. The last one was the largest, a huge black beast.

    Olé

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yup count yourself lucky to be behind that thing

    [​IMG]

    The Picadores on horseback, these do the most damage to the bull, weakening it for the Matador.

    [​IMG]

    The Picadores on foot, there are two each sting the bull with 3 picks

    [​IMG]
    Indeed not for the faint of hearts.

    The next day we went on to discover the largest city of Andalucia. More than 2000 years old, Sevilla is a cross road of Roman, Arabic, and Christian cultures. Fourth largest city of Spain in terms of density, we felt a lot more comfortable then in stuffy dirty Madrid. We were blessed by the Andaluncian sun as we went about admiring the purple threes, and other exotic palms that ornately decorate the avenues.

    Here's a few pics

    [​IMG]

    There was a rowing race on the Guadalquivir

    [​IMG]

    It was for me the southern most European city I have had the pleasure to visit, what a feast for the eyes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The older buildings, and other architectural treasure were extraordinary.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The cathedral in the center of the city is impressive just by its sheer size. The total area covers 11,520 square meters and new calculations, based on cubic measurements, have now pushed it in front of Saint Paul's in London and Saint Peter's in Rome, as the largest church in the world.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But for us that now have seen a few Spanish cathedrals we still have to give the lead to Santiago de Compostela.

    We were flabbergasted by Plaza de España, with its intricate mosaic designs relating the history of the Christian Reconquista.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Jackie

    [​IMG]

    and Valentino

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We also visited the Alcazar, a former Moorish palace with gardens lined with citrus threes laden with oranges, and edges of red and yellow Hibiscus. Truly beautiful.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We were again lucky with our sleeping arrangements, we stayed in a four stars condo resort type complex, with reservation made on lastminute.com, and paid € 165.00 for the 3 nights instead of the advertised € 330.00 a night.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The resort was 7 km from the city center in a very upscale residential suburb.



    Very comfortable and quiet. We had a full kitchen, and were grateful to be able to eat a home cook meal, I made pasta with Iberic ham, and Spanish salcichon fried with garlic in olive oil, added some, Oveja vieja, cheese, freshly baked bread, salad, and a bottle of Rioja. Perfect!

    As certain things happened when you travelled, I forgot my Serengeti sunglasses in the washrooms of a busy tapas bar while we were enjoying some croquetas, and cold cañas. It sucks because they were my favorite glasses but, what are you going to do? Sometimes you win some, sometimes you loose some.

    So far I have forgotten one pair of gloves and a pair of shades, not too bad after a month on the road.

    After Sevilla we head further south to Granada to visit the famous Alhambra.

    Till then... hasta luego.

    [​IMG]
    #63
  4. Ted Bell

    Ted Bell I want that one!

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Springville, UT
    What an AMAZING adventure!
    #64
  5. V-rock

    V-rock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    East TN
    Thanks for sharing, I grew up in Spain (Galicia) and the pictures bring back memories. That is my dream vacation.
    #65
  6. TrappedAtWork

    TrappedAtWork No Longer Trapped!

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Pan American
    Subscribed... :lurk
    #66
  7. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,536
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    Amazing photos. Thanks for sharing your journey.
    #67
  8. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    Glad I was able to bring back those memories, Spain is truly beautiful.
    Great that you are onboard.

    Making this ride report and sharing with the inmates of the forum, is allowing me to re-live the trip, and ponder on what an incredible time we had. How truly lucky we are to be able to do things like travel, ride motorbikes, meet and experience other cultures.

    I will add another installment tonight...
    #68
  9. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    We arrived in Granada early in the afternoon, the weather was perfect for riding and ST hardly used half a tank to cover the 267 km that separated us from Sevilla.

    Again as you can see the roads were really busy.

    [​IMG]

    What a beautiful ride it was.

    [​IMG]

    Jackie is really starting to get the hang of taking high speed pics.

    [​IMG]

    Some nice landscapes -olive threes galore-

    [​IMG]

    And really cool shots.

    [​IMG]

    We are now in the south and really, really enjoying it. Leaving from Amsterdam at the end of April was a bit early in the season to be riding with mesh jackets, but we are now loving it. Hopefully we will not pay for it too dearly on our way back north following the Mediterranean coast.

    Our first view of Granada.

    [​IMG]

    We are now on the habit of stopping just before entering our destination and plotting the address of our next dwelling in GP, so far it has not fail, really easy. Gotta love technology, might not be the same if we were traveling in rural Africa but for Europe it is as easy as it is back home.

    So we found this place, it was actually a back-lane but look at the intricate design on the street.

    [​IMG]

    Our hostel Costa Azul was well located in the busy university neighborhood, and just walking distance from all the sights, and a short hike up the old town. Granada felt like the youngest city we visited yet. Buzzing with the sounds of zooming scooters, and decorated with all sorts of graffitis claiming justice for this, and justice for that.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    It was not until we made our way to the Albaicín, a hill located on the right bank of the river Darro containing the old city, that we felt transported to Granada’s unique world: the site of the ancient city of Elvira, so-called before the Zirid Moors renamed it Granada in the 8th century. Granada remained under Arabic rule until the end of the 15th century when Isabel de Castille and Ferdinand d’Aragon reclaimed it for the Christians.

    [​IMG]

    Of course the cathedral leaves nothing to be desired.

    [​IMG]

    It’s history is actually quite old, prehistoric settlements have been uncovered from the city’s underground, before the Moors it was a Celtic settlement who traded with the Phoenicians, then the Roman city of Ilibris, until the Moors gave it its current name.

    [​IMG]

    The flora is definitely changing cacti abound everywhere.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With Salamanca and Compostela it is one of the 3 most coveted cities in Spain in which to study.

    Yes yes trust me I know where to go.

    [​IMG]

    See I told you we'd make it.

    [​IMG]

    It was a pleasure to stroll through the Moroccan neighborhood, albeit touristy, the shops were colorful and selling all kinds of knickknacks from the Maghreb. Lots of cool typical eateries, it was great fun.

    The canvas over the streets are there to protect you from both the sun and the rain.

    [​IMG]

    La Lechera (milk bearer).

    [​IMG]

    Typical southern Spain architecture.

    [​IMG]

    The city was getting ready for semana sentima.

    [​IMG]

    Tea vendors just outside of the cathedral.

    [​IMG]

    Plaza del Torro.

    [​IMG]

    Then we found this place.

    [​IMG]

    And Valentino got some ham once again:dg

    [​IMG]

    At night the city was just as pretty.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Where is everybody going?

    [​IMG]

    Perfect another free outdoor concert :drums and time for cañas :beer

    [​IMG]

    Wow! Today was a full day, time to catch some ZZZZZs.

    Tomorrow we visit the Alhambra.

    Just a tease...

    [​IMG]
    #69
  10. lefteris

    lefteris fat daddy

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    284
    Location:
    Athens, Hellas (Greece)
    Thank you very much!
    Keep it up...

    Lefteris
    #70
  11. RDJEff

    RDJEff Lost in Alaska

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,009
    Location:
    Los Anchorage, Alaska
    Thanks for all the great pictures! You had the opportunity to look more closely at things than I did when I was there. I barely had time to wave at lot of those places, let alone get off the bike for a closer look. I can't wait to see more!

    I'd forgotten about the drip cups on the jamon.
    #71
  12. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    Slowly making our way to your part of the world:clap




    We made a conscious effort to savor every minute, looking back on over 3 months spent on the road, it feels like we zoomed past everything, it went by so fast.
    #72
  13. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    [​IMG]

    Granada is above all known for one of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture that is La Alhambra.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th Century.

    [​IMG]

    Part of the city wall is still standing.

    [​IMG]


    This mighty compound of buildings includes the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens, it towers at the top of the city, standing at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range.

    The Sierra Nevada.

    [​IMG]


    You could see your enemies from far and wide.

    [​IMG]


    Visiting the site was however IMHO very poorly managed, como se dice: un poco a lobirlongo.

    The site opens at 0800 but we needed to stand in line for tickets as early as 0700, so we were there waiting in line with only 4 booths open for several hundred tourists waiting to get in.

    The thing is we had to wait if we wanted tickets for the same day visit.

    We where lucky enough to get tickets for the morning visits, only available for the first thousand, including reservations(the thing is you don't know while your waiting when that thousand if reached). So by 0845 we had our tickets, but with a scheduled time of 1300 for the Palace visit, which meant that even if we took 3 hours for visiting the grounds we would still have at least another good hour to wait.

    The whole thing was a bit odd, but what can you do the further south you get, anywhere in the world, the more may I say disorganized life gets.

    "Eh iss okay wee got notheen bot time" :bore.

    The gardens were magnificent.

    [​IMG]

    Gotta smell the roses.

    [​IMG]


    And make sure you don't get lost in the maze.

    [​IMG]

    Or you just might end up here.

    [​IMG]

    But I like better the view from here.

    [​IMG]

    Nice crib.

    [​IMG]


    Wow! Who does your ceilings? I'd like to make an appointment.

    [​IMG]


    Just let me rest 5 minutes please.

    [​IMG]


    There is so much more to see.

    [​IMG]

    At the end of the day the visit was well worth the wait.

    [​IMG]

    And a view from this side.

    [​IMG]


    And that one.

    [​IMG]

    One of the courtyards, were the serfs use to live.

    [​IMG]

    Last one of the city.

    [​IMG]

    We were sure glad we found this place.

    [​IMG]
    By now Jackie was thirsty, Dos Cañas por favor.:beer

    What a day this had been, we revised our packing strategy a bit, and sent some of the stuff we had not used yet and did not think we would at a friends place in Paris.

    Jackie and Valentino are shedding some weight.

    [​IMG]

    Granada is your last southern Spanish stop, tomorrow we head north along the coast to Barcelona with at least a 1000 km to go.

    Its about time we got some ridding done. :ricky
    #73
  14. lukachuki

    lukachuki Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Aiken, SC
    Subscribed! Great thread and incredible trip. Thanks for taking the time to do this, i know it is a lot of work. The pictures are incredible.

    Luka
    #74
  15. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    [​IMG]

    We left early from Granada wanting to avoid the parade for Semana Sentima, beautiful sunshine, perfect riding conditions.

    [​IMG]
    A closer look at the windmills.

    [​IMG]

    The mountainous region of southern inland Spain was just amazing, and the sun was shining, the twisties were challenging but not death defying, it was perfect.

    [​IMG]

    A small village nestled on the mountain slope.

    [​IMG]

    Spain's largest dam.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The plan is to only make one overnight stop along the way. A 1000 km is really not that much, we have taken much longer rides but, since we want to again avoid the superslab as much as possible.

    [​IMG]

    We hugged the coast all the way to Barcelona, going through Almeria, where we stopped for breakfast. We found a lady that was making churros, and we over-indulged. I must have gotten a bit excited at the thought of breakfast because I made a slow speed U-turn, and ST answered back by laying on its side, no harm done thanks to clever Honda engineering and the well positioned wing-tips (pisses me off :dog though, this was drop number 2).

    Then we headed north to Murcia, the coast line was beautiful, this was our first glanced at the Med that we would follow completely around all the way to Sicily.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We zoomed by Alicante and Benidorm. Once you have been to California, seen the Florida beaches, flown to the Caribbean and Hawaii, Dove in the warm water of Fiji and Australia, Benidorm is just the European version of Waikiki: Outrageously expensive shop and a miniature beach overshadowed by high-rises. At least in Hawaii you can escape to the north shore.

    [​IMG]

    Needless to say we did not stop long. The road along the coast was marvelous, lots of twisties and very little traffic.

    [​IMG]

    Valencia, where we saw very modern architecture, very cool buildings.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Midway between Valencia and Barcelona, we stopped in Amposta. We spent the night in a road side motel, slept poorly, it was hot and there was no screens on the windows, so we got devoured by Spanish mosquitos.

    Let's blow this popsicle stand.

    [​IMG]


    Barcelona here we come.

    [​IMG]

    I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...
    #75
  16. BlueBuell

    BlueBuell Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    421
    Wow, what an incredible report!:clap
    #76
  17. Sixx

    Sixx n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    9
    Thanks for taking the time to post this excellant RR.
    #77
  18. V-rock

    V-rock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    East TN
    :lurk
    #78
  19. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    [​IMG]

    If someone, sometime ago left his heart in San Francisco, he was surely struck by something ethereal, maybe mystical even. Indeed, Barcelona surreptitiously, during the few days we were there, took a piece of mine.:raabia

    Through all my travels in many years across the world, this sentiment had happened only twice before, hence my familiarity with the symptoms. I am forever torn between my love for Paris and Amsterdam, and now further irresolute, I must add Barcelona to my vacillations.

    [​IMG]

    This feeling of familiarity, if hard to describe is impossible to forget. A sense that you belong... you belong even among strangers speaking a language that you don’t fully understand.

    La Rambla

    [​IMG]

    These cities are anything but homey, yet unexplainably they each grabbed a little part of my heart, and every time, no mater after how long, after how many times, under this or that conditions, when I go back, and find myself amidst their streets, I feel like I belong. I can now call Barcelona my home.

    [​IMG]

    If cities have such things as soul, Barcelona's is embodied in the legacy of Gaudi.

    La Casa Batllo
    [​IMG]

    His forms permeate the city in so many ways, just look at the tiles that you unthinkably step on, as you wander among its streets, be it in La Rambla, the Gothic quarter in la (Ciutat Vella), the port, Plaza Catelunya, and so many other spots.

    La Pedrera.
    [​IMG]

    The ceilings of the entry.

    [​IMG]

    There are no angles in this building, all is pure fluid arches and smooth curves.

    [​IMG]

    The roof top.

    [​IMG]

    Of course many come to Barcelona for Gaudi’s masterpiece; La Sagrada Famillia. You cannot escape her spell, just think about this for a minute:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Is there any other city in the world that is currently erecting a building, scrupulously following the plan of the original architect, more then 80 years after his death (Gaudi died as a result of injuries caused when he got hit by a tram), the construction of the Cathedral started in 1882, and is not scheduled to be finished for the next 30 to 50 years.

    [​IMG]

    It is sheer madness. This allegoric temple was originally built by unpaid labour, and volunteers, now entry fees, the city, private investors, as well as other illustrious unknowns finance it.

    [​IMG]

    A church that would belong not only to those who build it, but to all regardless of faith.

    [​IMG]

    A temple for the people, it depicts 3 periods of the life of Christ, the nativity, the crucifixion, and the glory, it has 12 towers, the highest mast, representing Jesus, one for the Virgin Mary, four for the evangelists and six more for the remaining apostles.

    [​IMG]

    For if Gaudy dedicated his masterpiece to the memory of Christ, his true love was with nature, as is reflected in his encompassing legacy.

    [​IMG]

    Jackie was having the time of her life

    [​IMG]

    I am far from religious, but who ever said that spirituality has anything to do with religion? This is a debate that we would be willing to wage at anytime, but right now I would rather keep on talking about Barcelona.

    [​IMG]

    The Ciutat is easy to get around in, only the old quarter will make you look at the map a few times, it is largely build on a grid system of many one ways, crossed by very wide diagonals.

    [​IMG]

    Its amazing how despite the chaotic traffic how fluid it is to get around the city.

    [​IMG]

    There are very little stop signs. Large areas of the city are dedicated to pedestrian only.

    No matter what you like you can find it at the market.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The egg stand.

    [​IMG]

    Oups! Caught with her mouthful.

    [​IMG]

    Many street corridors are dedicated to taxi, and buses only (scooters and motorbikes use them without interfering). All types of motorized two wheel vehicles are omnipresent, from the old fifties' Vespas, to custom made choppers, and everything else in between. There are a lots of people traveling on two wheels in Barcelona. Many streets have dedicated parking for two wheel contraptions with an engine.

    [​IMG]

    Even when not parked in designated spots, their sheer static magnitude, seem to respond to one of the law of chaos, or some other mythical universal order.

    ST made lots of friends.

    [​IMG]

    A funky office tower.

    [​IMG]

    Another cool structure

    [​IMG]

    The city is also bicycle friendly, not like Amsterdam, but Barcelona, as Paris with “le Velib” allows you, for just a few cents to grab a bike from one of the many distribution stops, use it to get to a short distance and drop it at another pick up point so it may be used by someone else. The bikes are in good repair with a light for the night, and an adjustable seat to fit any rider.

    [​IMG]

    The subway grid is as complex as the tube in London or le metro in Paris, lots of tracks with many junction points. However, the system is idiot proof, the cars are equipped with maps; TV’s continuously scroll the next stop at the bottom of the screen as you watch the news, or a commercial. The stops are also announced over speaker, and there is an electronic display of the track you’re on lighting up a red LED over the name of the station, as the train leaves for the following stop.

    [​IMG]

    If you can't figure it out, I suggest you stay home and watch another episode of the Trailer Park Boys.

    There is even a cable car suspended high above the city that gets you to Mount Monjuic. Yet Barcelona is so much more, just take a walk to Barceloneta and you can enjoy several beaches, the waterfront has been cleaned up. And even under grey sky it was perfect.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The average high temperature in January is 13 C and 27 C in July. The city receives about 73 days or rain per annum. We got to enjoy 0.5 of one BTW, so we decided to go to the movies and we saw the last Indiana Jones.

    Jackie and Valentino playing in the rain.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Barcelona is also parceled by hills, and surrounded by small mountains. There are lots, and lots of threes in the city, and even more green-spaces. It is one of the greener cities in Europe with green spaces expanding by about 25 acres per year. It is also clean and pampered, as in other smaller Spanish city we visited, we saw garbage being pickup everyday, even late at night, city personnel constantly sweep, and pick up detritus.

    [​IMG]

    Yet Barcelona is so much more (or did I say that already).

    So, forget all I’ve said so far, what truly defines Barcelona IMHO is its culture; think about Montreal, or Brussels on a good day. Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya, a cultural island of Catalan amidst a sea of Castillano.

    [​IMG]

    Catalan is at time closer to French than it is to Spanish, it is the prime language of the province, street names are written in Catalan, and official services are offered in both Catalan and Castillano. Most Barcelonian speak both languages, and many have fought feverishly, at times violently to preserve, and maintain their cultural uniqueness.

    [​IMG]

    If it remains profoundly divided by the singularities that form it, both cultural identities rejoice in proud common Spanish plurality. Despite Madrid been the international metropolis it deserves to be, in my mind it pales in comparison to the true cosmopolitan nature of Barcelona.

    [​IMG]

    My only disappointment is that I only got to sample it for a few days. But I know we will be back.

    [​IMG]

    On the road again.
    [​IMG]

    Can you tell I loved it.... See you in Italy. We ride for another 1000 km or so through the Pyrenees, France, Monaco, and I feel the Stelvio getting closer and closer...:super

    [​IMG]

    Hasta pronto Barcelona, muchissimas gracias.
    #79
  20. snowbilly

    snowbilly Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    Western NC
    Hey Rene,

    Reading your RR was a perfect way to spend the day yesterday. We had Winnipeg weather here in Rochester (as you may recall, I know whereof I speak). We had 12" of snow and high winds. But I got to stay in my cozy den and travel through Europe thanks to you and your RR.

    God I love Europe!! :clap :clap France in particular has become my favorite country in the world: Paris, the Alps, the Dordogne, it goes on forever and you can find whatever you love. Lucky for me my brother has a place in the south in a small town just outside Beziers. It's only a few hours from there to Barcelona and now you have me aching to see that city and more of Spain. (As an aside, did you happen to learn some of the history of the Cathars from that part of southern France and Spain? A fascinating but very sad story. They were a heretical religion - not too bright I think. "Let's see, why don't we follow a religion that is opposed to the Catholic Church AND the Feudal System - that will win us some powerful friends!" They were wiped out in a series of crusades and the Inquisition actually began as an effort to weed out remaining Cathar faithful. I never learned any of this until I visited the region.)

    Anyhow, I'm loving this report, learning lots of things as I read, and finding new "must visit" places.

    When will you be moving and able to say "Winnipeg is a great place to be from!"??

    Thanks a bunch and have a happy holiday!

    rw
    #80