It just won't stop raining in the south of France. We wanted to see a little bit more of this country before heading to warmer climates. Neda had researched a great medieval town called Carcassonne, not too far away but the forecast showed heavy rainfall for the next few days. Not good weather to explore castles or go riding around. It'll have to wait for another time.
Preparing to leave France. In the rain...
I feel like we're just single-cell organisms responding to stimuli. Too cold? Too wet? With no sentient thought or plan, we just swing our flagella and move somewhere drier and warmer.
Pit stop in Perpignan
On our last night in France, someone stole my motorcycle cover. Or so I thought. The next morning, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the border. We were immediately kicked around by strong cross-winds that threatened to blow our motorcycles off the side of the road. I was hit worse than Neda because of how much luggage I've piled on the back of my bike: my side-profile looks like a giant sail. It was so bad, we had to get off the highway and putter ahead on the backroads riding 20km/h under the speed limit with our 4-way flashers on.
I realized then that my motorcycle cover wasn't stolen. It was the wind that whipped it off last night. I felt really bad about blaming some random French person for something that didn't actually happen, meanwhile some tree is probably wearing a really expensive rip-stop nylon winter jacket right now... :(
I hate losing stuff, especially the things you can only get online. Where do we even get it shipped to when we're on the move all the time?
Skirting south of the foothills of the Pyrenees
Once we got west of the Pyrenees, it was like someone waved a magic wand and the skies cleared instantly. It was a colour that we hadn't seen for a very long time. Neda's mood was visibly improving. Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps the Nutella mourning period was over. Maybe it was because her stomach is feeling a lot better and she doesn't have any more washroom emergencies, but the instant we crossed the Spanish border, it was like she came back to life. Like she was reset. Re-animated. Rebooted.
She radioed me: "I can speak Spanish again!" Ah, that's the real reason.
I think with all the Français she was feeling a bit removed from everything. Now she was finally able to break out of her cocoon and be herself. Time for me to relax and let her drive the bus once again.
A new tankbag hobby
Neda gave all the seashells she was collecting in her tankbag to her niece. She's moved on to collecting leaves now. This one is from Switzerland. Somehow, I don't think her collection is going to survive intact as long as the seashells did...
We've stopped in a sea-side town of Calella, about half-an-hour outside of Barcelona
And just like amoebas, the minute the conditions start becoming favorable we stop moving and enjoy the sunshine and lack of rain. Calella is a weekend beach destination for a lot of Barcelonans, and is absolutely packed with tourists in the summer, but now we're in the off-season and it's a ghost-town during the week. Nice and peaceful, just the way we like it.
Can you imagine this beach packed to gills in the summer?
Too cold to suntan
Although the sun is shining, the temperatures only climb to about 15C during the middle of the day. Still a lot of people wearing thick layers walking around town. It's not raining so we really don't care.
Namaste on the boardwalk
Some rock climbing on the outskirts of town
Better view of where the rock climbers were hanging around
Calella has about 3kms of beaches, some open, some secluded. There's even supposed to be a nude beach around here somewhere!
Either Neda is really enjoying the sunshine or she's spied the nude beach...
The cold and wet weather makes for a very draining ride. It's not just having to bear through the elements while on a motorcycle, but all the gear you have to put on: base layer, protective layer, waterproof layer. I really missed just throwing on a riding jacket to go out for a spin. Everything seems like such a production when you tour through these conditions!
This guy has the right idea
Birds eye view of the coast
Parallel to the beach is a nice tree-lined promenade where families go for a stroll during the day
We've rented a small apartment in Calella with a nice kitchen so we can make our own food once again. I think we're going to stay here for a while.
This is the market that Neda goes to every morning to get fresh groceries
This is our fish lady. Neda buys fish from her every few days so we're regulars now
She's cutting up something called "sepia". Neda knew what the Croatian word for it, but couldn't tell me what it was in English because she's never prepared it in Canada. A quick SpanishDict search: It's cuttlefish. Very tasty! Our fish lady asks what the English word is and we tell her. Apparently "cuttlefish" is really hard to pronounce for Catalans... :)
Calella and Barcelona are in a region of Spain called Catalunya. The people that live here don't really consider themselves a part of Spain. They've been trying to separate for a long time. Kinda like Quebec in Canada. Catalan is also different from the Spanish spoken by the rest of Spain. Same as Quebecois being a different kind of French that's spoken in the rest of the world...
We're having to get used to different phrases here. A "Buenos Dias" will automatically give you away as non-Catalan. Here it's "Bon Dia". "Hablas español?" Nope, it's "Que parla català?". "Please" is "Si us plau". It almost sounds kind of French! More Quebec parallels!
Checking up on our bikes one evening
The apartment complex we are staying in wanted €10 for underground parking. A night! Whatevs! We'll just park for free on the streets like the rest of the Europeans do. I get a bit nervous and peek outside every couple of days just to make sure the bikes are still there though...
On the weekends, all the Barcelonans come into town to wander around the stores here
We're staying in the old part of town where 14th-century buildings are mixed in with modern storefronts on a pedestrian-only street called Calle de l'Església (street of the church). The lights are all up for Christmas and we mingle with the weekend crowd one evening.
One night, we spied Roman Centurians marching down the street!
They were part of a Christmas parade. The Catalans must really not like being Spanish...
No Conquistadors here!