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Old 04-06-2013, 10:53 PM   #31
PukaWai
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Really enjoying your RR. Great commentary, and your pictures look like the ones I would take. A couple of mine might even be as good as yours.

This passage had me laughing:

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Originally Posted by jbar28 View Post
You know, one of the things I like about traveling a bit outside my normal comfort zone is those interesting little interactions you have with people. Like this morning, I went into the bar / breakfast area of the hotel, and the nice (and distractingly pretty) woman behind the bar said something to me in French while turning to the coffee machine. There wasn't anyone else around at the moment, so I assumed she was asking what I wanted to drink. So in my best massacre of that language, I said "a large black coffee". She looked at me with something between pity and disdain, and said "I need to know your room number". Oh. 203. See, aren't languages fun?
Last summer I rode across France for three weeks and although I've been working on learning some French for some 20 years now, this was the first trip where the locals didn't automatically try to switch to English upon hearing my (probably horrible) accent, and I managed the whole trip without using English. It made for a lot of the "interesting little interactions with people" and was probably the best part of the trip. Alas, the "something between pity and disdain" was still there - I think it's classic French, and the amount of disdain is proportionate to how pretty the girl is.
France is a great country to travel in, especially on a bike!
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Old 04-07-2013, 12:39 AM   #32
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Best story

My best language story happened in Italy. My wife and I were on our way back to our hotel in Orvieto when we came across a Carabinieri checkpoint. I knew I hadn't done anything (or thought so) because we came around a curve and there he was, resplendent in his uniform, helmet, sunglass, looking like Apollo about to swat a bug. I pulled over and rolled down my window. He said something which, of course, I didn't understand, so I told him "No hablo Inglés". He looked at me for a moment, stepped back from the car, his head sank to his chest, and he pointed for me to go on. I thought this worked pretty well and drove away. As soon as I got the window back up my wife busted out laughing.

"What?"

"Do you know what you just said?"

"Yeah, I told him I don't speak Italian."

"No, you just told him in Spanish that you don't speak English!"

Well... it worked. And I bet he still tells that story, too.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:22 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by jbar28 View Post
But on the way to Lisbon I want to make another stop. Cabo da Roca, the easternmost tip of land in Europe.
(...)
But MAN, was that wine good. Both glasses of it.
(...)
All of which explains why I'm writing this at 1:15 AM.
It also explains why a seasoned ADV Rider like you can't tell his East from his West

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Old 04-07-2013, 04:10 AM   #34
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This had me laughing, what a great line:

"Eventually it was on the way towards Pamplona, where despite the weather the bike was running great, no bull."

Fantastic pictures and great writing. Really enjoying your ride report. Doesn't seem like spring is showing up here any time soon either.

Best wishes for a continued great adventure.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:37 AM   #35
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I m enjoying your pics . Nice ride , beautifull bike, thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:33 AM   #36
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This is my first time ever commenting on a RR, and I comment now to say how much I have enjoyed reading and seeing your pictures! I am a Spanish teacher in Tennessee with my main interest and focus on Spain and its culture(s?). So, clearly I have enjoyed your experiences and funny stories negotiating the language barriers. Also your cultural comments about tapas, etc I have enjoyed. What a neat anecdote catching eyes with the pilgrim enroute to Santiago de Compostela! Keep it coming.
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Old 04-07-2013, 02:12 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faded_Glory View Post
It also explains why a seasoned ADV Rider like you can't tell his East from his West

fG
Uh, yeah. West. Sorry. I plead that it was 1:15 AM.
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Old 04-07-2013, 02:16 PM   #38
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Music is a funny thing and has a way of sticking in our memories. I challenge any American born between 1960 and 1975 to spell bologna without singing the Oscar Meyer ad song. See what I mean? And as I've mentioned my new iPod, this is my first ride with musical accompaniment. It's interesting.

Yesterday as I was riding through the Duoro Valley the song La Mer came on my iPod. I don't understand more than a word or two of it (in French) but like it anyway. I like lots of things I don't understand. I thought it was kind of funny looking at all this rock and humming a tune about the sea. The next song was by Louis Prima, Five Months, Two Weeks, Two days, about how long his baby has been gone. Of course being away from my wife, I thought about that, and was glad it will only be three days until she joins me in Spain.

Anyway, this morning I was route planning and nothing seemed to work out. I wanted to get out of Lisbon, but a museum I want to go to is closed Sunday before I can get there. I couldn't find a hotel I liked in my next planned stop.

So I'm sitting eating a great breakfast at this boutique hotel I got a great internet price on, when I notice the HUGE red gerber daisy on my table, a foot from my face. My wife's favorite flower. She'd love this hotel except for the late hours people in Lisbon keep. And then I'm reading the little paper the hotel printed and left on the table about Sunday in Lisbon, and what to do, and I realize I'm in one of Europe's great cities, a capitol that once ruled a global empire, and maybe I shouldn't just run out of town so fast. The weather for tonight isn't good, so I'll get out today, but maybe I'll relax and walk around a bit, take things a bit slower today. All my stops will work out better that way, too.

The minute I decide this, I can feel myself relaxing. I have another cup of coffee, and the next song on the radio is... Beyond the Sea, a remake of La Mer by Bobby Darin. Somehow it now seems appropriate, looking out the window at the great harbor of Lisbon.

Somewhere beyond the sea
somewhere waiting for me
my lover stands on golden sands
and watches the ships that go sailin'


The next song is Peggy Lee's Alright, Okay, You Win, which to my ear sounds just like Louis Prima's Five Weeks. (In fact Louis Prima recorded both). Strange to hear those two songs back to back today on a radio station in Lisbon (it was a radio station, I checked) after what I heard on my iPod on shuffle mode yesterday. Like I said, there are lots of things I don't understand, and I'm ok with that.

So I had a nice walk around Lisbon's downtown and walked up to the castle. I only recently learned of the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, one of the most devastating natural disasters ever in terms of human loss, wrecking the capitol of a world power in a single day. The effects went so far as to lead intellectual thinkers around Europe to question if God could allow such a thing to happen, and often the conclusion they came to was that the earthquake disproved God's existence. I'm sure this wasn't the first time many of them had thought about this, but it was even stranger to think about this standing on the hill and overlooking the city. I find history very interesting, and I hope I'm not boring you.

Marble cobble stone sidewalks all through downtown. This one particularly appropriate for the capitol of a sea power nation.




I love the tile pictures that are all over Portugal on the outside of buildings. It's an art form I can relate to. I don't find iPod's cool, only useful, but tile pictures are cool.

This is the city from the harbor, about 1915 judging from the style of ships.


This map was on the wall outside my room in the hotel. I found it inspiring.


Now I've been to the WESTERNmost point, and the southernmost is just down the road, I'll be there on my way to Morocco. I don't care about the northernmost, too darn cold way up there. So...did I mention I'm seriously thinking of a ride from Germany to Istanbul (and back through the Greek islands on a ferry to Athens, them up through Croatia) in July? My bike and I go home to Ohio in September, and I will likely never get the chance to do this again. Anyone want to come along? I say Istanbul is the easternmost (it's only 11pm!) point in Europe, but my wife disagrees. She says parts of Russia, like Moscow, are in Europe and farther east. I say Moscow is in Asia. In any case, if you're interested in a 3-week ride from Germany to the southern coast of Turkey from about July 8th to about the 28th, let me know. Good company is valuable.

I never did find the souvenir my friend wanted. Oh well.

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Old 04-07-2013, 03:54 PM   #39
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I took the freeway out of Lisbon, glad to find the big bridge over the harbor is toll free going away from downtown. This part of Portugal is flat and boring for riders, and other than seeing a 1954 (I think) Cadillac Fleetwood on a car carrier it was pretty routine. No safe way to take a photo (should have bought that GoPro last year) so I can't share it, sorry. My first stop was lunch in Evola, a world heritage site with a cool 15th century aqueduct, cool cathedral that was closed on Sunday and a vendor making ham and cheese sandwiches without the cheese. Cheese was all gone 5 minutes ago. But the ham was good, I love European air dried ham.





Stopped for gas and these two guys in the late 40's or 50's were hanging out at the gas station, watching the world go by.


Pretty soon a third guy shows up on a bike, and they all chat together. I wonder if they've been doing it just this way for 35 years. And I can't decide if that sounds stifling or appealing. In the center of town was the group of 60's and 70's guys, and on the east end another group in their 40's and 50's. Biding their time 'til they can move into the main square, I bet.

Then I wandered the two lane roads through the countryside, stopping for pictures of wildflowers and things. The fact that I took no pictures of roads today says enough about that. Not very interesting riding, no roads marked green for scenic, but lots of relaxing scenery. Just what I needed today.



Rode by seven or eight castles, too.




First day I've needed my sunglasses on this trip.


Arrived in Merida to find this, could be right out on Route 66.

My first vehicle-centered road trip was driving a Honda S2000 from LA to Ohio, mostly along Route 66 with Pete (TT100) back in 2007. Great times. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

Merida is home to tons of Roman ruins, something both readers of my first ride report back in 2011 will notice. I meant to come here then but didn't get here.





Great example of Roman building techniques. Dressed stone exterior, interior filled with rubble and mortar, a course of brick every five to ten feet to help bind it all together.


No mortar in the joints on the dressed granite.


And you know what I'm going to say here...




I was riding by fruit orchards and vineyards all day today, and got to thinking about trees and vines.



My wife's Uncle Drew is a botanist with a specialty in urban forestry, and he is bothered by people planting trees that are going to grow big and then are constantly cutting them back. He would prefer they plant small trees in the first place, and let the tree be true to it's nature. That's applied to urban tree growning. But that isn't how fruit farming works at all, it seems.

Fruit trees and vines are constantly being pruned to become what the owner wants them to be. Sometimes a little off the top and sides, sometimes a buzz cut, but the object is for the plant to put it's energy into producing fruit for the owner.



Left to it's own, the tree will produce a little fruit, but not much. Most of it's growth goes into making itself bigger. Which makes it more susceptible to wind damage or even being blown over by a big storm. And makes it less useful to others. The owner cuts it back, cuts off stray branches so they don't waste the plants energy, and so the plant directs most of it's energy into producing fruit.



And this happens different ways. Some of the vineyards I saw had vines trained along wires very strictly. Some others looked like a giant brush hog mower had been set at two feet high every month for twenty years, so everything above that got cut off, but what was below that was hard and solid. And scarred and knotty.



No matter how you think we got here, created or evolved, we share at least some of the nature of these plants. What makes me think I'm best off being left alone to do my own thing, to become what I think is in my nature? Wouldn't I benefit from some pruning of wasted branches, too? Be it my God, my wife, my boss, my friend, there are people in my life that see things in me that I do not see, and can probably help me produce more and better fruit instead of wasting most of my energy on making myself bigger.

See what happens when I spend a sunny Sunday afternoon riding through vineyards and listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos!

Tomorrow lots of Roman ruins, then south to the capitol of ham (one of them anyway) and some more sunshine. I hope.

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Old 04-07-2013, 03:57 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peripateo View Post
This is my first time ever commenting on a RR, and I comment now to say how much I have enjoyed reading and seeing your pictures! I am a Spanish teacher in Tennessee with my main interest and focus on Spain and its culture(s?). So, clearly I have enjoyed your experiences and funny stories negotiating the language barriers. Also your cultural comments about tapas, etc I have enjoyed. What a neat anecdote catching eyes with the pilgrim enroute to Santiago de Compostela! Keep it coming.
I rode to Spain back in 2011 and wrote about it then. Link is here if you want to see. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=697976
Glad you're enjoying riding along, thanks for letting me know.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:28 PM   #41
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There is an even funnier language story, but rather than relate it, do this:
think about what you think the spanish word embarazada means, then when you meet up with your spanish speaking wife, ask her what it really means. You can guess the story from there...

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So...did I mention I'm seriously thinking of a ride from Germany to Istanbul (and back through the Greek islands on a ferry to Athens, them up through Croatia) in July? My bike and I go home to Ohio in September, and I will likely never get the chance to do this again. Anyone want to come along? I say Istanbul is the easternmost (it's only 11pm!) point in Europe, but my wife disagrees. She says parts of Russia, like Moscow, are in Europe and farther east. I say Moscow is in Asia. In any case, if you're interested in a 3-week ride from Germany to the southern coast of Turkey from about July 8th to about the 28th, let me know. Good company is valuable.
I would be so up for this as I am returning to Europe this summer for another 3-week ride. Was thinking about the England, Ireland, and Scotland this year. Kinda questioning my sanity about going to a place known for its shitty weather and um, mediocre food though. The ride east to Istanbul was for next year. Anyways, my trip and flights are already booked for September, so your timing sucks! Mine, of course, is impeccable

Looking forward to the next installments on your RR!
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:25 AM   #42
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Is is Route 66!

Turns out that Repsol gas station I commented on yesterday is just off the A-66 Autoroute. How funny. And like much of the old stuff on US Rte 66, it was closed.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:33 PM   #43
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Complete attention?

Something I've realized on this trip that is true in most of Europe bet seems to be even more true in Spain is the attention a customer receives. In the US, if I just need to know where the bathroom is, I can often approach a customer service person, get in a quick question no matter what they are doing, and be on my way. Not so here. If the person I want to talk to is helping someone else or doing something else, like stacking plates, then they will almost never acknowledge me until they are done. This can be frustrating, obviously, if you're used to 'butting in' like we do in the US. But I've discovered the past few days that it can also be pleasing when eventually you are the one being served. I never realized how seldom we in the US have someone's complete and undivided attention. Here you will have to wait a while, but when that person comes to help you, then it's your turn and the hounds of hell could be doing their thing on the carpet, but they would have to wait until you have been served.

But enough about that. I spent last night and this morning walking around Merida. Last night looking for a restaurant that was open. Town full of places to eat, and the one I see open is selling American Hot Dogs. And it's PACKED with locals, mostly young people. I can't do it. I don't even like hot dogs, especially not when I'm in Spain. I end up at the only other place I can find open, get a suspicious calamari boqadillo, and don't end up poisoned.

Turns out the Roman art museum is closed Mondays, I didn't read far enough. But I got to some of the monuments.





Another tile advertising wall.


In the arena this morning they had signs talking about the different kinds of gladiators and what they did, who they fought.


I never knew there were assigned roles and styles of fighting, I figured it was a free-for-all to the death. But no, in fact they got paid, between three and fifteen years wages for a soldier for one fight. Of course if you lose...

then you never get to see this, the roof of the winner's exit tunnel.


Later builders took lots of material from old Roman buildings, as happened almost everywhere.


and look how they built with it! This wall was built in the 800's by the Moors. Compare the workmanship to the picture above.


Another angle of the Roman bridge, showing most of it's 750 meter length.



and they're still diggin' more stuff up!


Not many riding pictures from today and what I have will get posted tomorrow when I've had more time to go through them.
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:51 PM   #44
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[...] So...did I mention I'm seriously thinking of a ride from Germany to Istanbul (and back through the Greek islands on a ferry to Athens, them up through Croatia) in July? My bike and I go home to Ohio in September, and I will likely never get the chance to do this again. Anyone want to come along? I say Istanbul is the easternmost (it's only 11pm!) point in Europe, but my wife disagrees. She says parts of Russia, like Moscow, are in Europe and farther east. I say Moscow is in Asia. In any case, if you're interested in a 3-week ride from Germany to the southern coast of Turkey from about July 8th to about the 28th, let me know. Good company is valuable.
Tempting. We're torn between Iceland and the Balkan countries, the latter being on your route to Turkey.
On the other hand, your report stands out due to your interaction with the locals - one thing which is usually special for solo trips.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:04 PM   #45
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Great Photos

Great trip! Brought back memories.

Merci, Danke!
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