When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

The Route to Valencia

We left Frankfurt in 33 F. temperature but with roads bare and wet.  We took the Autobahn south and entered France, spending the night at Besancon (Bess-san-son).  This is an ancient town that sits in a bend of the river Doubs, with a citadel overlooking it.  We woke up the next morning to 25 F. temperature.  There was 10" of old snow.  The roads had been plowed and were wet when we arrived but were now ice.  We took the bus downtown and walked around the small lanes and streets.  We walked up to the citadel and looked over the town, and back down.  The tourist office was closed when we arrived, but was now open.  We asked about the famous astronomical clock, the one with 30 faces and 30,000 parts and made a couple of centuries ago.  It was up near the citadel but was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday for it's weekend.  This was Tuesday!  

The next day it was 33 F. and we headed on south toward Orange, France.  The weather warmed into the low 60's and the snow disappeared.  Here we met with a French GWRRA member and talked about bikes, trips, food, etc.  



We had a good visit with Phillipe and Cathy and the next day we headed into Spain.  We are still on the freeway type roads, but in France and Spain they are toll roads, and expensive.

We arrived in Barcelona and went looking for our campground.  We found it without too much trouble, but then things started to go wrong.  The airport was expanding and all the campgrounds along the coast were closed, permanently.  We went to what we thought was a cheap hotel.  We found it after dark and found out it was 106 Euros for the night.  We took it anyway.  We couldn't face looking for another one after dark, tired, and disgusted.


The next morning we headed south 25 km. to Sitges, a beach town with more campgrounds.  This worked out well.  The campground had a bus stop at the entrance and for 2.85 Euros each, we rode into Barcelona.  We spent the day (Saturday) touring the sights, looking at the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi.  He was more weird than Frank Lloyd Wright.  We walked the "La Rambla", the large tree-lined boulevard that has street performers, kiosks selling various things, sidewalk cafes, and of course, pickpockets and con artists.  This street is famous worldwide for them.  Being Saturday all of the town is out.  We enjoyed watching the people.  There were the elderly Spanish couples with their gray hair, heavy coats and bent backs, carefully walking along, very slowly.  And then there the groups of American (and other) teenagers doing their graduation tour of Europe at mommy and daddy's expense.  We also walked through the "Barri Gothic", the old part of town.  This part was started by the Romans, but was completely rebuilt after the Black Plague, so it only dates from the 13-15 centuries.  The buildings are the original with little lanes wandering through them, some only wide enough for one person at a time.  The shops on the ground floor are very modern, in the old buildings,  with the latest goods for sale.  It is an interesting juxtaposition.  

On Sunday we went to the Beach in Sitges and enjoyed the sun and sand, the palm trees and beer.  Then we wandered into a tapas bar.  Tapas are the snack/finger food for bars.  I consists of small 2-3 bite portions of meats, cheeses, breads, and various cooked things each speared with a toothpick.  They were set on plates on a shelf along the back edge of the counter/bar.  The bartender gave you a plate and you walked up and down the bar choosing what you wanted, reaching between other patrons to take them.  Then back to your seat to eat.  When you got done the bartender counted the toothpicks on the plate and charged accordingly.



On Monday we drove to Valencia, where we will spend a week enjoying the Las Fallas festival.  We started out on the back roads, winding up into the hills and past lakes and castles.  But after a couple of hours we took the toll road, we were running late.






We found out hotel and in the evening we went out to find something to eat.  We walked down the block, around the corner and found our first Fallas, of Laurel and Hardy.  The Fallas are often satirical or make a political statement.  These are statue-like creations made of wood and paper-mâché and set in plazas and intersections all over town.  On the last day they are all burned in a night of fire and fireworks.


On to La Mancha country.