ADVrider (
-   Ride reports (
-   -   Moto Catalunya (

dougrender 07-10-2010 10:47 PM

Moto Catalunya
A Week Between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.

This is Columbus, the guy who sailed to the new world. Many claim he was not a native to Genoa, but rather to Barcelona.

I spent 9 days in Catalonia because my wife wanted to eat at El Bulli.

If you are not a foodie, this means nothing to you--but it's
arguably the best restaurant in the world right now. It's like taking a hot-lap in a KoenigsEgg at Nurburgring or jumping in the Redbull Romaniacs. Unfortunately it's more restrictive than either and if you are after the fairy tail ending you will be disappointed--it has a 16 month waiting list for reservations and we visited but did not get to eat there. But we still had a great time and many moto adventures on this trip.

First, jump a Lufthansa flight to Barcelona. They serve you Warsteiner in a bottle.

Find accommodations in the "Gothic" district. We are at the Catalonia Port, just a few blocks from the water.

we don't have streets like this in Boulder.

Get yourself a meal--the food is great everywhere. Lots of fresh fishies.

And ham, or Jamon, in a variety of dishes.

This guy was running the green bike rental shop across from the breakfast place, and had just settled down when he had to get up on the curb to avoid the street cleaner.

This place has serious street sanitation, probably because the drunken tourists piss in the streets, while the locals' dogs crap on the curb.

Scooters abound, but in Barcelona they have some unique anti theft mechanisms to disable the front end. Never seen that before. I think there is a market for this world wide--possibly starting with bicycles with an appropriate braze on.

Don't dick around in a big city like this, get out and see it, see it all. The best way to see a congested city, is to be free and rent a scooter.

This Honda or whatever else they have will do. Park it on the side walk if you want.

You are in a foreign land, so take this shit seriously and wear a helmet. And secure your Crocs. ATHSATT! Shout out to my friends at the CB1 list.

This one is for sale and I am tempted to make a purchase--the hand drawn illustration gives you an idea of how free you can feel on a scooter.

This is Barcelona's Arce de Triumph, and while very cool, has nothing to do with either of the big wars as Spain sat them out, embroiled in civil war.

We don't have fine old buildings like this in Boulder.

We scooted up to the town's western limit, and took in the 1992 Olympic Stadium. This was the first time Germany sent a unified team. Evelyn Ashford won her fourth Olympic gold in this stadium. You go girl. This was also the first time basketball allowed pros, and the USA fielded the first "Dream Team". Screw you Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

View over the city is amazing.

It's an international city, so feel free to get some ethnic treats like Indian food.

dougrender 07-10-2010 10:52 PM

This town feeds on ham. It's everywhere. Mostly hanging from the ceiling, waiting for you to enjoy it.

Tastes so great. "The other white meat" lobby should visit Barcelona.

We're on the Mediterranean, so dont' slight the seafood.

We're at the Hook bar, a Pirate themed place where I enjoy a Piraat.

dougrender 07-10-2010 10:58 PM

Typical breakfast of bread and jamon. And coffee like no Starbucks ever served.

No photography inside the Picasso museum. But he was clearly a crazy drunk SOB.

Lots of dogs in Barcelona. They piss on the streets. This guy was chilling.

Massive waterfront. Beaches beyond.

We stumble upon a specialty beer bar where the selection of the day was, get this, Great Divide Titan IPA from Denver, CO. Rock on Brian Dunn!

This was potato something pate with a lovely presentation.

dougrender 07-10-2010 11:06 PM

For 11 Euro each, hop the train 2 hours east to Empuriobravo. This big Merc pusher for the final stretch.

Empuriobrava is the largest "marina" in the world, built some 40 years ago by the Dutch and Germans on what was formerly swamp land. It's a subdivision with sea access. If you had bought here 40 years ago, you'd be doing pretty well. Apparently, holidayers drive here from all over Europe, and "wrinklers" are bussed in daily.

We rent a moto of a different flavor and tour the canals.

For dinner, we have one of the best Thai meals we've ever tasted. And we've been to Thailand twice.

This is a shout out to my friend David who works for Mercury Marine. Sorry, David, but the best outboard ever seems to have been built long ago. You guys should just drop that 2 stroke, diesel, direct injection business

dougrender 07-10-2010 11:11 PM is the reason I am in Empuriobrava and not Roses, the next town up the Costa Brava. Brit expats Ian and his wife Julie run an enduro tour company. On our way out of town.

The route towards the Pyrenees runs through rolling farm country.

Karen and Ian looking towards the Pyrenees. We are on a WR 450 and WR 250 respectively. After two days on the 450, I understand why people like them so much! I'm shocked at how much more nimble it is than my XR600 (though not as much as my 300EXC).

dougrender 07-11-2010 05:16 AM

Shoreside of a reservoir in the Pyrenees.

Ian, our guide, a tough Englishman, pointing in the direction we're heading. He and his wife gave up the rat race to have a lifestyle where they could spend more time with their young son.

Mix of double and single track. Some very tight.

Small town for lunch.

With what you may call narrow streets.

Bread and toast always comes rubbed, or ready to rub, with fresh tomato.

Lovely salmon pate.

I have the rabbit.

The dining room is like a cave. I have no idea how old it is. I think the staff refuses to speak anything but Catalan, but Ian's Spanish is enough to get us what we want.

Just before lunch, Karen took a tumble on a steep decent, getting caught in a rut, and hurt her ankle. 7 days later we determine with X rays that it's actually a break. But she is hard as nails and rides out the day. 9 days later she'll get a plate with 7 screws. Here Ian stops to check in with her.

Some of the narrower track.

I don't believe we have enlisted, but we have been issued Army tires. Sweet.

The soil is much like Colorado--decomposed granite--but the foliage is heavier.

Not a bad view from our hotel's balcony.

dougrender 07-11-2010 05:20 AM

Karen's ankle is the size of a melon the next day, and she bows out to let me and Ian wick it up for day two. More sweet single track.

Much of the terrain is thru cork forests. The bottom 6' is harvested every 8 years or so.

There is a peculiar bamboo that resembles corn. Not sure if it is native or not.

Lunch stop for Doug and Ian.

I'll take the wild boar. Yes, there is evidence of wild boar on the trail.

Talk about foliage.

Coming up next, the Honda twins.

dougrender 07-11-2010 05:27 AM

All days start like this.

The Honda twins.

I've communicated to Ian's wife Julie our intention to see El Bulli. It's 40 minutes by cab each way. Why shit, I could take a boat for that. Exactly. I might know a boat who could take you. And with that I am introduced to Michael. He has a boat for hire and will take us where we please. Karen's ankle is broken in two places, but you can't tell so much.

Special love to our friends Richard and Charlotte who own Oakland's Tip Top Bike Shop on this one.

It's the Mediterranean coast. It's fabulous.

This is where Salvador Dali lived. More on him later.

This is a great place for lunch.

We've yet to have any Paella, so we'll take it now.

Our moto.

Hey, this is El Bulli and it really does not look like much. Because it does not look like much.

Back in the boat.

Doug and Michael

Michael the pirate



Michael has decided that we're the coolest hires he's ever had, so he asks if we want to head over to the "sunset point" later in the evening with him and his wife, Monica. Well yeah, of course.

Doug and Karen as the sun goes down.

Sunset, one composition.

Sun setting behind my beer.

Sunset, second composition.

Sundown reflected in the marina.

Michael and Monica.

dougrender 07-11-2010 05:42 AM

The next day, Michael drives us up the shore for an on-site visit of El Bulli. The gates are locked and they are not serving lunch. We tresspass a bit for a closer look. Some remains of last night's pleasures. One of these bottles was dated 1969. I suspect it may have cost a few Euros.

Before we hop the train back to Barcelona, Micheal drops us off at the Dali museum in Figueres.

Brilliant and clearly mad.

The influence of his sea side home is evidenced in many of his pieces

On the metro from the train station towards our hotel, Karen gets her wallet stolen out of her (zipped closed) purse in what must be the classic 5-person job. Why the hell would that guy on the metro think to ask you, an obvious tourist with suitcase in hand, a question in Spanish or Catalan about where the metro stops? Two stops and 4 minutes later, it becomes obvious to us. Oh right, that's the diversion. Oh well, they get less than 30 Euros and some credit cards that we cancel within half an hour, nothing critical like a passport. I hope they used it to buy food for their children.

Back in Barcelona, it's scooter time again. I'm some kind of simpleton who never tires of these self portraits. Hook that heel strap! This one is for my friend Jeff (a new rider now in Rochester, NY, KingJeff on this board), who ran the finest crossfit gym in Boulder for the past 2.5 years. Thanks for keeping me fit, Jeff!

A different perspective on the Colum statue, our landmark for locating our hotel.

dougrender 07-11-2010 05:48 AM

This is not Ferran Adriŕ, the chef of El Bulli, but rather his brother. After an hour's long wait, we've managed to get into his restaurant, Inopia.

We're seated at the bar and rely on the recommendations of our server. Here's a can't-fail tip: If you're at a restaurant and you don't know what to order or can't decide, ask your server for her/his favorites.


Ground pork mixed with yummies and fried in a ball of light dough.

Enjoying our meal. Shout out to our friend Abe Drabkin in Corvallis, OR. I wore this damn shirt in Thailand and Vietnam, too.

White anchovies.

Mini burgers. An "American" dish.

Seasoned rare beef and a plate of grilled peppers with garlic atop toasted baguette.

These may be the best cherries I've ever eaten, and I worked on a cherry orchard for three summers. They've been lightly sprayed with anis.

This was our most expensive meal of the trip, and I think it only ran us 72 Euro, with drinks. That's bloody cheap by US standards.

Karen has run a culinary school for 14 years, and a number of our friends have asked, why, with her culinary connections, could we not get into El Bulli? The answer is that there is no pull with El Bulli. We met this nice couple honeymooning from Vegas likewise waiting to get into Inopia. Allen is an executive chef and had formerly worked for Thomas Keller, and had asked Thomas if he could get him in. No, not so much.

dougrender 07-11-2010 06:08 AM

One of the more prominent features of Barcelona's "skyline" is the Gaudi, or more specifically, Gaudi's La Sagrada Família. He started work on it in 1883 and the damn thing has been under construction ever since. It still looks only abut 60% complete but is slated to be finished in 2020.

2020? I've got a solution for you--5,000 Chinese. Because the 300 contractors working on the thing clearly are not enough. They’ll have it done next year.

Here, I've been consumed by a giant conch.

We have another outstanding meal or two before it's time to head home. Here, it's grilled shrimp at the Cervezeria, which unfortunately is not a brewery, but a great restaurant with a large selection of beer. Check out the presentation on the asparagus.

Eggplant, peppers and I couldn't tell you what else, but a wonderful presentation.

A little more excellent ham for your pleasure.

All great adventures come to an end. Thanks for joining us. Special thanks to Julie and Ian, and Michael and Monica for sharing their corner of the world.

We don't get out nearly enough, we had a great adventure in Thailand and Vietnam two years ago (ride report here, if you like my style Two Take Thailaind), but that's been it for travels afield in the last ten years, I'm afraid.

We'll need to try harder--as Team FTB said in our Thailand report, "for chrissakes don't let 8 years pass by before your next holiday".



KingJeff 07-13-2010 08:05 AM

Awesome trip Doug!
Great RR! I'm glad you got out and enjoyed. Still waiting to dig out the bike from storage.

Marta-GS 07-13-2010 03:39 PM

Great trip!!!
I got hungry by reading the report! :D

tricepilot 07-13-2010 03:47 PM


:freaky :clap :nod :wave :wings

toddler 07-14-2010 02:23 PM


Originally Posted by dougrender

While your shirt says "HELL", I think this was far from it. Very nice!

Times are GMT -7.   It's 01:48 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015