Well, I thought for a minute there I might be doing this blog while clinging to a piece of roof, somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea! I was very surprised our little cabin was still standing this morning because the weather was WILD all night. It genuinely felt like we were experiencing a cyclone, because the noise was unbelievable, the wind was so ferocious and it was quite unnerving. It was still blowing like billy-o this morning and I thought we’d have to take it quite slowly and carefully on the road. So it was another time where I was very glad to be in a car and not on a bike and certainly not in a tent! Our tent has stood up to some wind but it hasn’t had anything like last night thrown at it and I don’t think it would have withstood it at all. After the wild and woolly night, we got packed up and made a fairly early start to make our last push in the car to our final motorised destination of Barcelona.
We actually arrived without any real wrong turns (apart from a couple of extra laps of the occasional roundabout due to being in the wrong lane again) and even when we got into the city and had the narrow streets and thick traffic to contend with, my map reading and verbal navigation to Steve and his skills behind the wheel both seemed to be on their game, because we found our apartment without too much trouble at all. After a short wait for someone to arrive to let us in and get the arrangements for the room sorted, we finally had our digs and could wander off for a spot of afternoon roaming to get our bearings in the city. It was a chilly 9C and for the first time since the beginning of Week 2, I had to put on my mega full length down coat to ward off the winter chill. I’m still crossing everything possible that things will warm up and calm down, weather wise, before we saddle up the bikes again in a couple of days!
We wandered towards Barcelona Cathedral and then the Old Town where there were some nice old buildings and the narrow back lanes and streets again. I do like roaming those back streets and I’m happy just to look up and take in the buildings, their ornate balconies and the general architecture of somewhere so old.
Speaking of architecture, we saw some really original and artistic buildings that we later learned were quite famous. They’re designed by Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish architect from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are quite something to see and very distinctive.
As we roamed I certainly got the sense that Barcelona is a city with a capital C! It is nothing like Seville. Barcelona is busy and crowded and fast and very much the big brother/sister to Seville. I know it’s a lot bigger than Seville and it certainly has that big city feel to it. At times it was like being in New York again, with just that tidal wave of people coming towards us (so far I much prefer New York though, although I’ve only just arrived here so have to give the ol’ Barcelona a fair chance I realise). So, of the Spanish cities and towns we’ve been to so far, Seville is still top of the list and way, way out in front. Loved that place!
We continued roaming and arrived at the marina and strolled around looking at the boats. The World Race starts and ends here, which is the first and only two-crew round the world regatta. The crews (all two of them on each boat) sail around the globe starting and ending in Barcelona, so there was still a bit going on in the marina around that event. Then we stopped for a cuppa and continued back to our apartment, dodging and weaving through the crowds. Where did all those people come from? This little Tasmanian country bumpkin gets city fatigue pretty quickly, since the whole concept of crowds and big traffic is completely foreign in my little part of the world! Nevertheless, I ducked and side-stepped and dodged as skilfully as I could. I guess on the plus side, there were so many people that I didn’t have to worry about my inability to walk on the right side of the street and avoid crashing into people, because there were people everywhere and all over the place. So my sheep dog trial / line dancing manoeuvres to boot-scoot out of people’s way didn’t have to be put into action at all because I just moved with the tide!
We have an apartment here that has everything we need and I tell you what! I am stoked! Guess what it has?! …There are certain simple little things I’ve been missing and those things are right here in the apartment! So apart from the big things I miss, like family and friends and our little dog Rosie, a couple of things I’ve missed are:
1. A proper cup of tea from a teapot and in a mug. Somehow it doesn’t taste the same in a silicon cup or even in the thermos, so I’ve been missing that proper tea in a real ceramic mug and none of the places we’ve stayed have had kettles or mugs or anything like that in the rooms. Until now! I have a kettle and I have a proper, real, ridgy-didge, fair dinkum mug! I obviously don’t have a teapot, but I can still make a proper cup of tea in a mug. Stoked!
2. Toast. Yep, I’ve been missing a humble piece of toast, my ultimate comfort food! I’ve tried making it by toasting bread in a dry pan on the Trangia, but I think that just wrecks the pan, so I stopped. Once again, nothing like a toaster has been provided in any room or cabin we’ve stayed in, so it’s been weeks since I’ve just had a basic, simple, nothing fancy, piece of toast. Until now!! The apartment has a toaster! It’s quite a strange looking little thing with just an open element and a thin piece of wire on the outside that holds the bread against the element, but the little gem works and turns my bread a magnificent shade of brown! So I went to the store and bought a pack of two slices of gluten free bread (yes I could get a pack of just two slices and that means I won’t clog up our panniers when we leave with left-over loaves of bread). Then I fired up the funny little toaster and treated myself to toast with peanut butter and jam! I am over the moon happy!
See how the simple things in life can be taken for granted! Just while we’re on the subject, these are some of the other things that I’ve missed, that I probably took for granted, but will no more!
1. A hot shower whenever I want with water that stays hot and doesn’t go cold or switch off every 12 seconds (showers on timers are very annoying, when you have suds on your head and both eyes closed and the water goes off and you have to reach blind for the tap to push it in and turn it on again and then count to 12, so you keep up with when it’s about to go off again).
2. A washing machine and never-ending supply of clean clothes. With a limited wardrobe as we travel and with limited space, clothes rationing becomes necessary and then we have to spend an hour or so just sitting in a laundrette, with nothing to do but sit, while we wait for them to wash and dry again. The whole activity of just reaching for something from my wardrobe and throwing things in the washing machine and walking away to do something useful or enjoyable, is a faint memory!
3. Toilet paper on demand, that is always located right there beside the facility itself and doesn’t have to be carried to and fro when using said facility.
4. A proper pillow. I don’t have a real pillow any more. Steve has a fancy self-inflating travel pillow, but it’s quite bulky and quite heavy and it almost didn’t make the cut when we were culling items to lighten our load, but it eventually stayed in, so he has that. I didn’t want to add more bulk and weight by having a similar sort of pillow, so living by my mantra of “adapt and overcome”, my pillow at the moment is a nylon shopping bag and each night I stuff Steve’s puffer jacket into it, tie it up and that’s my pillow. It does the job, but I kind of miss my real, actual, proper pillow!
5. Heat with the flick of a switch. I do miss that. When I’ve been bone-shiveringly cold and have every layer possible on and I have nothing left to add and still can’t get warm, I do miss just being able to go flick! and have some heat to warm me up.
So they’re just a few things that I know I can live without and I’m making do just fine without them, but I do still miss them occasionally and they’re such little things and really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but I will vow to never take them for granted again!
So we’re here in Barcelona again tomorrow, when we’ll also take the hire car back and drop it off at the airport before catching a train back into the city, recommencing our roaming and getting to know Barcelona a little better. Until then…what’s something simple, small and insignificant that you may not realise is something you really really like and think you would like it even more if it was taken away for a while? Can you think of anything? Maybe go and make a cuppa and a piece of toast, while the clothes are washing, while you ponder! Have an extra round of toast on me!