Friday, August 30, 2013

Yesterday I woke to a serenade from outside my window.  It turned out to be a navy ship preparing to leave dock and they had a full band on the deck playing something inspiring but I know not what.  It was nice to see the ritual of sailors in dress kit, including the ones hauling in the ropes who had rather nice dark tunics over their dress whites.

Later I wondered how people ride Harley Davidsons and actually get them to go round corners.  Today I rode a sort of townie bike on a guided tour of Barcelona.  The bike had big high bars on it, not like the Baum at all!  It's a great way to cover some ground, see things you wouldn't on your own and to see more than you would on a walking tour.

But steering those bikes!  I confess, I struggled.  When allocated my bike for the half-day tour I immediately spotted a few things wrong with it and wanted to fix it up.  If I had a multi-tool in my pocket, I probably would.  I restrained myself which is probably good because later on it became apparent that most bikes were less than perfect.  I guess a full-time job in the hands of randoms means large amounts of wear and tear and probably not much love.  Enough about that though.

Barcelona has excellent cycle infrastructure. The hugely successful Bicing sharebike scheme is a great example of how to do it well.  Only locals can use them but you see them everywhere parked in their special bays or, mostly, on the road.   

The tiny little laneways throughout the old city are just made for active transport.  Any cars that go there have to inch along, mostly ignored by the pedestrians and cyclists. 

We spent 4 hours on the bikes, average speed something like about 6 kph I reckon.  But really worth doing and so much better than walking because you can go further.  Coincidentally I met an Australian couple, Ros and Warwick.  Ros was at the same ER conference in Prague as Marian Lee and they know each other.  And he's a cyclist.  Had a nice time chatting to them.  

Here's our little group listening to the history of the Cathedral which is rather an impressive structure and contains 13 white geese and a bunch of crypts and far too much gold leaf. I'd been inside the day before.

And here's some other sites we visited.

Those of you who have been here before and hoping that La Sagrada Familia might be finished.  Not for a while yet.  Or possibly not even then.

Will it look like a hodge podge of styles or be true to Antony Gaudi's original vision.  Anyone's guess.

Here's some of Barcelona's excellent cycle infrastructure.  The fact that people walk on the bike paths and bikes in both the pedestrian and main roads doesn't seem to matter too much.  Although a helpful car driver did point me to the bike path next to the main road I was on - to point out that it would be much quicker for me.  Nice!

Things I learned on this tour:
- Anarchists are stupid.  They keep trying to burn down stone churches and stone doesn't burn.
- Fascists are evil. 
- Antony Gaudi may or may not have had Asperger's.  He certainly was obsessed.
- Never get a Harley Davidson.

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