Friday, October 10, 2014

Begur - Oct 10

The weather today was much like the other days, although there was a bit of fog this morning that quickly burned off.  There was a bunch of us that pedaled the one mile to the coffee shop at Fornells De La Selva.  After that, Kay, Jeff and I did a 26 mile loop that was the same as the other two days.  The one change was a pedal up to the top of Llagostera.  They have a mushroom festival this Sunday, and one bar owner there said it will be very busy. Here is Jeff at the top of the hill in Llagostera.    

After the ride, Kay and I took a drive to Begur.  Begur is an old medieval town with a tower at the top. The tower offers great views of the coast and the area.  We arrived during the siesta once again, so the shops were closed.  Unlike Cadaques, Begur did not have a lot of tourists.  It was a cool place.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Figures & Cadaques - Oct 9

We took another ride this morning, same route as yesterday.  We see a lot of cyclists here.  There is a network of gravel trails that run through the area, and the road riding seems to be good.  The trails are in decent shape, although it rained a lot here last week and a few areas are just a little rough.  The trails get a lot of use by locals and tourists alike.  We have the Brompton bikes and they are adequate.  A hard tail mountain bike would be a good way t roll, even a 32x16 single speed would work.

I should add that the weather has been fabulous.  Sunny, lows around 60 and highs around 80.

Figures is where the Salvador Dali Museum is located.  I did just a little studying about Dali before the trip.  His art is odd and to my liking. The museum tour took about an hour.  The place wasn't very crowded today.

After the museum we took a drive to Cadaques.  The road goes up and down the mountain, and to the coast.  The mountain road is pretty tame, it has a guard rail the whole distance (maybe 15km).  Cadaques is a stunning costal town with white buildings... and a lot of cats.  I will post pictures later.  There was a certain tourist vibe to the place, but it wasn't overt tacky.  I am glad that we made it to Cadaques.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Barcelona - Oct 7

Our entire group of 13 people took the train to Barcelona today.  The people who own the villa advised us to drive to Caldes do Mallavella because (1) the parking is free and (2) all of the RENFE trains stop at that station.  After a bit of road construction we arrived on time, purchased 13 round-trip tickets and were on our way.

Barcelona is a place that feels alive.  There are people walking around, bicycle infrastructure and a good feel about the place.  I had heard about pick-pockets, but we didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

Our tour guide Luanna Riccardo from Unicabcn Tours met us at Casa Mila.  UNICABCN Tours is run by Luanna and her husband.  They conduct tours in Spain, Italy and Germany.  She did a great job and is a good contact.  Other stops included Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia.  Luanna kept referring t the group as "family", it was pretty cool.

We decided on Tapas at a place called Cervecería Catalana.  Jessica and Andrew were given this place as a recommendation, and they went there earlier during the trip.  It is at Carrer de Mallorca, 236, 08008 Barcelona. It is near Passeig de Gràcia train station.  It was really great, would recommend as well.

Bike Ride and Girona, Oct 8.

We got up, found coffee and rolled out for a 25 mile rural bike ride.  From the villa went south to Sant Andreu Salou, continued on to Caldes De Mallavella, east to Llangostera, north toward quart and then west to the villa. The route is something that I found on, and I saved it here.  I would be ok with repeating this ride another time.

I have this Garmin Edge Touring GPS unit that I purchased for this trip.  I have a love-hate relationship with the damn thing.  After tying to use it to get through Girona I was committed to selling it.  Today - I am good with the device.  It is probably my impatience, incompetence or the fact that I am accustomed to iPhones/SmartPhones and how easy their maps are to use.  Net-net - I am keeping it until the pendulum swings the other way.

After the ride we drove to Girona. The mission was to park without getting towed (someone in our party did get towed in Girona, it cost 98 Euros to get the car back) and eat Tapas that were nearly as good as last night in Barcelona.  I googled for Best Tapas Girona and found Bubbles Gastrobar i Restaurant.  There was free parking available nearby, very near the bus station.  The food did not disappoint. We were the only tourists in the place. The Nachos with Guacamole was especially good. I will post a picture; it was unique.  

After tapas it was a walk around the wall.  I read a few travel blogs and other sources about Girona.  It was nearly unanimous that Girona was great.  Not terribly crowded, good weather and interesting things to do.  I like the place too  It is like a small scale Barcelona. The wall offers great views of the city and the area.  We did a little shopping after coming down front he wall.  One of the interesting shops was a place called Polakos, a clothing shop run by Alicja i Michal Jankiewicz, a Polish woman.  They sell clothing from Poland made from natural fibers. I even got to work on my Polish language skills with Alicja.  

The rest of the tour included a walk through The Call neighborhood, back the car and then a drive back to the villa.  

Monday, October 06, 2014

Amsterdam - 2014

We are our way to Girona, Spain to celebrate our friend Rich's 60th Birthday.  On the way we decided to take a few days in Amsterdam to take in the bike culture and other things that Amsterdam has to offer.

Our stay was at the Time Hotel in the Jordaan area.  We stayed near here before.  The Jordaan is quiter than many other places in the city.  The first stop was at Pott Change to exchange our USD to Euros. I read where the exchange rate here is far better than probably anywhere else.

We spent much of our time bicycling around the city.  We went mainly south and west and we almost always had particular agenda or course in mind.  We did take in Vondel Park, the Albert Cuyp Market, and Waterloopien Market while on the bikes.  There were two museums that we visited, Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, both worthwhile.  ProTip - buy your tickets at your hotel.  It was the same price, but we saved about 30 minutes getting in.