Bbbrrrr it's getting cold! Yesterday it snowed.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Wow what a beautiful city from the winding streets of the gothic neighbourhood to the shimmering Mediterranean sea.
Our first day and we go on a Gaudi bender. First a trip to the Güell park for a picnic and to see the famous mosaic lizard and a panoramic view over the city. Then to his famous church la Sagrada Familia after which my neck was sore from looking up at the intricate towering spires surrounded by cranes. Then to Casa Milà and finally Casa Batlló what a day.
The next day we visit the sea. I rolled up my pants an plunged my feet into the icy water. Walking in the sand bare foot on the deserted beach i feel like I'm back at home walking along Bondi on a crisp winters day.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Goya works in the the Prado were another highlight especially the black paintings, unfortunately I got into trouble for photographing them so no pictures I'm afraid.
I did manage to get a picture of Picasso's Guernica though which was quite a sight.
Complete with egg, bacon, tinned pineapple, beetroot, cheese, tomato and lettuce.
It is without a doubt also the busiest city by far. Everyone seems to out and about or packed into one of the thousands of smokey bars.
On our first day exploring this crazy city Miriam was craving seafood for lunch if you still call it that at 4.30pm? We found a bar serving plates piled high with assorted crustations. The inhabitants were munching noisily on crab heads and scampi. When they had extracted meat they just tossed the empty shells on the floor. We decided this was a bit to interactive for us and settled for empanadas and some toasts with a selection of anchovies, baby eel and jamón.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The streets of the old town are packed with bars laden with legs of ham hanging from the roof and plates of pintxo.
Visiting the Mercado de la Bretxa underground market was an eye opener. There was a huge array of alien fish and strange crustaceans. These were displayed in crushed ice with shells and autumn leaves as decoration. One butcher had a cabinet full of hanging rabbits still in their furs next to dusty pigeons that looked like they came straight from the town square. The selection of hams and meats was mind boggling.
But not as impressive as vast array of nana shopping carts they even have a lock up area.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
When we finally arrive in Hendaye it started hailing!
Fortunately it passed quickly and we rode across the Spanish boarder to Irun. We took a local train to San Sebastian and decided to stay there instead of Bilbao as it was already 8pm.
Having no map, no Spanish skills, no accommodation and no Internet we wandered around in the rain pushing intercom buttons of the pensions apartments until after many unsuccessful attempts we found a room.
Numerous pintxo later we asked for something more substantial and ended up with a huge slab of steak carved straight from the carcass.
The steak was then presented to us raw on a plate for a nod of approval before being seared and sliced. It was sensational!
What a way to start our Spanish adventure!
On to Bordeaux and we had to catch a bus some of the way as the rain was flooding the small roads and the wind was close to gale-force.
Hugues who we stayed with in Nantes had organised for us to stay with his friend Pierre in Bordeaux. We had such a relaxing time at his house sitting on the couch sipping tea as it rained all the next day. We went out for dinner at a restaurant called cassolette cafe. The menu had lots of small dishes and you could choose 5 you wanted. One of my choices turned out the be a wedge of Camembert coated breadcrumbs then grilled so the inside was melted and the white rind was crispy. Cheese dreams here we come!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I think that's also why he fed us so well.
The first night we all sat down to a meal of Raclette which was basically big globs of delicious melted cheese smothered over potatoes, tomatoes, various sliced meats and olives yum!
Then the second night Hugues served us another french speciality galette (a savoury version of crêpe made with buckwheat flour). They were "compète" with eggs, tomato, ham and cream.
What a host! he even contacted a friend in Bordeaux for us to stay with.
After having a look around Nantes in the evening we discovered there was plenty to do with a swag of different bars along the foreshore. Unfortunately we couldn't get in to the cultural centre, a converted shipping warehouse that now contained some giant mechanical animals. One of which we could see over the fence, it was a 4 meter high elephant that had a hose in its trunk to shoot water and a place to ride on its back.
Saying goodbye to Hugues the next day we took the train to a quaint coastal town called La Rochelle.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
We have been using the Warmshowers website to meet and stay with fellow cyclists now that winter is approaching and weather is unpredictable.
Our initial plan was to only follow the river for 2 days then head directly south to Bordeaux. But after staying with Sebastian and lille in Tours and discovering his job was to organise rides along the Loire we changed our plans to follow the river all the way to Nantes, an old harbour town. The best day was riding from Tours to Saumur. There was one amazing sight after another including 2 historic chateaux's, rolling vineyards, tiny winding old towns built into cliff faces, amazing troglodyte caves and to top it off the beautiful river with autumn colours everywhere we looked.