Friday, September 7, 2012

Planes, cars & finally bikes

21 hours on a plane, followed by a 3hr drive down the Spanish coastline and we are finally here in Valencia
The flights worked out perfectly as planned, both bikes made it in under the checkin weight with a little bit of leniency with my box coming in just over the 23kg limit at 24.5
The first leg was over in no time, 1 movie a couple of rounds of 3D golf and 3 meals and we were in Doha. Running 30mins late, we rushed back to the terminal on a connecting bus, then got straight back onto another bus back out to the next flight. Just hoping the bikes were doing the same!
Getting in the theme, Movida bar at the Melbourne airport
Bikes at the the end
The next leg was only 7hrs. A much smaller plane being short haul. But much quieter as well so time for a bit more sleep.

Arriving in Barcelona, driving wasn't really something I was looking forward too, first task was to find the car hire place. Relatively easy, right in the international terminal. Rishi's Spanish comes in handy of the first time on the trip with no English option at the checking counter. We pickup our Citeron Nemo, but it's got giant back seats and no real boot space, so we have to cram into the backseat.
With not much idea where we are heading we opted to pickup the car with GPS, first attempt at getting out of Barcelona we end up on the No Toll roads option which takes us down the winding coast road towards Tarragona. GPS calculates our 280k trip will take over 5hrs!
After 25k of great scenery we figure out we can take the inland route on the tollroads. The estimated time resets back to 3hrs... Phew
120k per hour speed limit is nice and cruisey, except trucks at doing 90kph and anyone with a Audi or BMW seems to be doing 200kph which makes for interesting overtaking, and I have to keep remembering to keep right not left!
Eventually we make it down to Valencia, but the fun is not over, first we find the checkin office for our apartment, find the apartment, navigate out of the old town through the narrow medieval/roman/medina streets then find the car hire return place. By the time we finish it's 8:30pm. We had now been in transit for close to 48hrs
So back to Valencia again, we were last here 7years ago, and we're keen to try the things we missed last time.
We have hired a fantastic central apartment right in the old town
Having a kitchen we made use of the fridge & juicer. Breakfast is one of the hardest things in Spain with most options being only a pastry and a coffee. So when a kitchen is available we always try to pickup some fresh cheese, jamon and juice. The Queso de Cabra (sheepskin milk cheese) we had here was delicious with some local peaches
Getting the bikes back together was the first priority, and we were anxious to open up the boxes to check everything made OK. We planned to run tubeless, and had called ahead to a local bike shop to have them seal up the tyres. We arrived at the store called "Crazy Biker" to a freindly guy who was very helpful. Turns out I somehow lost a spacer from the crankset which he also replaced for us.
It was quite amusing listening to Rishi trying to explain what was wrong with my bike in her best Spanish. We also learnt a few Spanish words for tubeless tyres in Spanish. Apparently they don't just call it Stans.
In between our chores we managed to fit quite a bit of food, above was a small lunchtime snack. Aptly called a maxi salad.
We also sampled the local beer, and checked out some of the local plazas, which are on almost every corner.

Hunting around for bike shops was also a great way to see some of the Architecture
After getting the tyres setup we later realised, Rishi's front brake had lost quite a bit of brake fluid. I hadn't even packed a Phillips head screwdriver small enough to open the brake reservoir. After already hassling the crazy biker shop enough, we found another local store who were happy to help us out. 1hr later they charged us 10euro to bleed the brakes. Which included another language lesson in Spanish bike terms very amusing.

Exiting the bike shop we realised next door was the exact restaurant (cau Rall) we had eaten at 7 years ago. Remembering how good the food was we planned to return for lunch the next day


We had talked about this place quite a few times since our last visit. It was a bit of a stretch of the budget at the time. We had got the seafood Paella last time and after finishing we saw the chicken and rabbit and knew we should have got that. So our choice was already made, along with a good bottle of tempranillo and a mixed salad.

The paella didn't disappoint, delicious

The waiter even arrived just as we think about scrapping out the crust. And then pulls put a spatula and scrapes the crust thoroughly for us, leaving the delicious crunchy bits.



With only a day left we have a bit of time left to see some more sights, and to test out the bikes. So we rode down through the gardens to the Santiago Calatrava designed science museum. A spectacular array of buildings and gardens. Best at night, but rolling around the outside on our bikes gives a great aspect as well.

Now onto the real part of the trip, our first stage tomorrow. 60k which will most likey be slow going through the outskirts of Valencia.

We picked up a phone card but still haven't got it working at this stage so wifi in the local bars is the only option at this stage.


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