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Old 11-04-2012, 11:15 AM   #22
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,768
4th November 2012 – Continued


The breakfast buffet was disappointing. Whereas the dining area was much more pleasant than yesterday’s, there was no hot food on offer (normally B&B supply scrambled eggs and ham). Never mind – I pack the bike and set off at the crack of ten o’clock.

It is Sunday, after all…



It’s a muggy, mild morning with a high overcast beginning to break up to the southwest - which is the direction I am heading today.



About ten minutes into the ride, I get my first view of the Mediterranean and pull over to the side of the road and take off my heated jacket. I hadn’t had it plugged in, and was wearing it more out of habit than anything else (I haven’t got a thermal liner in my jacket). But this morning it’s already 60° F and humid – so the liner is banished to the pannier. It feels good to be riding in lighter weight kit – if the cloud will just burn off, there is the making of a lovely day’s weather…

Bettie has directed me - again - down the old highway, which was here before the AutoRoute. To the right, beyond the vineyards...



...is the AutoRoute, whilst to the left...



...are the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse - high speed train) lines, then saltmarshes and the Mediterranean.

It's a pleasant, but unengaging ride - but probably a lot nicer than being back in the UK...



I keep the speed pretty close to the limit and saunter along, enjoying the warmth (and dryness)...



Bettie steers me through a number of small towns...



I stop at the roadside to get a better look at the horizon...



...where the Pyrenees, swathed in cloud, are coming into view.

The temperature is slowly climbing through the mid-sixties and - quite suddenly - a large proportion of the cloud burns off and the day starts to realise its potential...



It's glorious. I can feel the sun hot on my face and all's well with the world...



Time to tackle the Pyrenees, I think...



I come across this road sign. I have no idea what it restricts (unless it means no car bombs or cars that are on fire - the numbers of which, I would think, would be unlikely to be greatly reduced by the posting of a sign). Anyone?



There's a bustling Sunday market...



...but it doesn't hold me up for long...



They have very stylish streetlights.



I start climbing. Traffic is fairly heavy and generally slow moving...



The AutoRoute is elevated way above us...



Ultimately, the traffic comes to a virtual halt, as we enter the border town of Le Perthus...



Border towns the world over have the same feel - a bit seedy and scruffy. We've passed several stores at the roadside offering stuff for sale that is more expensive the other side of the border - this will undoubtedly be mirrored on the Spanish side...



La Perthus is heaving, though - business is good...



Like most European borders, the posts are unmanned...



I notice my phone - plugged into its new cable in the map pocket of my tank bag - isn't charging. I check it and find that the new cable has failed...

There are trucks parked everywhere for the next few miles. Like all other border towns, the local economy adapts to exploit its transitory customers...



I wander what train of circumstances led to these girls plying their trade in a (deserted) rest area this Sunday morning? They were at least more subtle than the last truck stop, where one of the girls was just wearing underwear...



I am approaching Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dali. I spent a few days with Jorge & Sheila (ADVrider’s Rubber Cow & Rubber Frau) here a few years back. I turn off and ride trough the town, but can't seem to find the main square...



I re-join the highway and continue to press southwest...



I notice some movement behind the grill on this trailer - he has three small dogs in there...

One thing I have noticed in France and now in Spain - Sunday is definitely not a business day. In the UK it's almost the same as a weekday (but with slightly shorter opening hours), but here I pass through huge lines of retail warehouses, all shut.

Unfortunately, all the restaurants are shut too...

I am contemplating doing the unthinkable - going to MacDonalds - when I spot a cafe open for business...



I am served with a delicious pizza...



Whilst I wait for it to arrive I notice that it's not just the Brits who seem besotted with the British Royal family...



I am also forced to have this...



...which tastes better than it looks. And it looks pretty good...



...I spend a few minutes contemplating life, the universe and my expanding girth, before someone lighting a cigarette at the next table spurs me into getting kitted back up and making tracks.

The thermometer on my bike reads just over 80° F, although it's in full sun. It is warm though - in the low 70s I'd think...



For several miles, I ride through a series of retail parks, industrial zooms and town centres - they all merge together...



Traffic is heavy and road users are not paying as much attention as they might...



...so I have to keep my wits about me. No easy thing when you're digesting a large lunch. Perhaps that's why they invented the siesta...



Eventually I'm on a (slightly) more open road and looking with concern at the build-up of cloud ahead. I chose today's route specifically because there was no forecast precipitation...



Autumn colours are everywhere - beautiful...



Onwards!



I get routed through a couple more town centres, some of which have some interesting architecture...

I fill up at 1415. The guy behind the counter had to swipe my card twice, as the first time he couldn't get a connection. When this has happened in the UK, I'm generally given a slip showing the transaction was void - not so here. I ask and he suddenly doesn't understand English nearly so well. I think it's legit, though...



Random Dali-sequel sculpture on roundabouts...



There were lots of stands of these trees (birch?) - so many that they must be grown as a crop - any idea what this timber might be used for?



You didn't think you were going to get away without a picture of a bridge today, did you?



They have speed cameras here too, although these all seem to be signed. They look like this...



Pretty soon I'm entering the northeastern extremes of Barcelona, passing more deserted retail areas. Bettie directs me to...



...the Sidorme Hotel, which I booked online last night. It's a chain that's a partner of B&B and similarly offers free Wi-Fi and good rates. For my €40.50 I get a double room...



...with view of my bike...



...breakfast, Wi-Fi and free tea and coffee. The latter is from a machine and I will not be revisiting it...

As I unload the bike, a few spots of rain start to fall...
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