Lugging all of our soft bags on and off the bike is a bit of a pain, but at least in Barcelona, Iva and Tajana didn't have to wait for us since they parked so far away. We ended up leaving at the same time, and headed south on the coastal road. It was a very scenic ride, here's a short video:
Barcelona to Valencia
Although the sun is shining bright, it's still a little chilly. Neda and I are bundled up in all of our layers, meanwhile the Pula Girls are sweltering because of the greenhouse effect inside their car tailing behind us. It's that sunny! :) They tell us that we look very synchronized in front of them, with our staggered positioning. Cool!
Enjoying the twists and turns along the coast
The girls wanted to stop in Tarragona, which is about an hour south of Barcelona. When we arrived, I realized why: there's a Roman amphitheatre right in town! Tajana paid the admission price to go inside, since she is a historian by profession. Neda and I looked over the railing because we were too cheap to pay. Iva said she'd keep us company.
The Tarragona Amphitheatre could house 15,000 people!
After walking around for a while, Tajana yells up to us: "Neda! Iva! Ours is better!"
I'm starting to sense a pattern...
Because we left a bit later, we arrived in Valencia after dark. This is going to be a problem for us because while the girls like to pack in as much sightseeing as they can during the day and arrive at night, Neda and I prefer to ride while the sun is still shining. It's a bit safer for us, and at this time of year, it's also a lot warmer. We were freezing when we arrived!
Valencia oranges outside our apartment
Valencia is known for its sweet oranges, but the orange trees that the city planted as decorations must have been genetically engineered to taste bad. There were a few half-eaten oranges lying on the ground under the trees - a warning to other tourists not to pick them. Neda seems to think there aren't enough nutrients in the soil for them to grow properly on the streets.
They did look juicy enough though...
Iva brought decorations from home so every apartment we're staying at can feel Christmas-y!
Neda found us a great apartment in Valencia, it was even cheaper than Barcelona and it was way nicer. We're discovering that Barcelona is a bit of an expensive outlier - that the rest of Spain is actually priced quite fairly. Also this was the off-season, so I think we were getting very good deals.
New Years Eve Dinner in our very swanky apartment
It is soooo nice to be celebrating the holidays with friends! The meals are more elaborate and we help lighten the girls' stash of Croatian alcohol. I tell Iva that we're actually helping because now she will have to carry less on the way back to Pula. She replies no, she is slowly replacing the Croatian booze with Spanish ones to bring back home! :)
The green "flowers" above are made from artichokes, compliments of Tajana. Delicious!
So you wonder why I am not in a lot of these pictures...
We thought we'd go into town for the New Years Eve countdown, so being responsible adults, we planned to catch a streetcar. In our drunken haze, we didn't notice that we were waiting at the wrong side of the bus stop and that these streetcars were going *away* from the city.
Nice face, Neda. And yes, we brought glasses with us to the bus stop, because we're classy that way...
So by the time we realized we were on the wrong side of the bus stop, we were too late to make it to the city, but at that point we didn't care too much. We took our bottle(s) of wine and champagne and merrily made our way to the beach (did I mention our apartment was right on the beach?). This was a waaaay better idea.
As midnight approached, there was much drunken Croatian singing and dancing on the beach! :)
With the clocks on our iPhones counting down the last seconds of the year, we popped the cork on the champagne and made a toast to 2015! Wow, 2015. I know people normally say that time speeds up as you grow older, but so much has happened in the last two and half years that it actually seems a lot longer than that!
Time seemed to have rushed by faster when we were back in Toronto. As each carbon-copy-day stacked up on the tray of the Xerox machine, I found that I ended up skimming through every sheet because they were filled with the same details of the same commute, the same job, the same routine, and before I knew it, pages of half-read years piled up behind me.
Time moves normally now. Every day is different for us now and we're eager to greet each new day, devour its pages like a good book.
I may not know how many years I have left in my life, but I'm going to try to put as much life as I can in those years.
In the distance, fireworks were going off in different parts of the city. Happy New Year, Valencia!!!
We are going to kick off the first day of 2015 with a ride! I really thought Neda would be hung over, but she pulled it together and managed to get onto the bike okay. We figured with January 1st being a holiday, it would be a great day to cruise around the city with no traffic. The girls went off by themselves to do their own sightseeing and we made plans to rendezvous later on in the day.
There's a familiar sight! I had to get Neda to stop at this roundabout for a quick picture.
We've actually been to Valencia before by motorcycle. On our European tour seven years ago, we passed through the city like a hurricane but one of the few pictures I took was off this statue, because the hotel we stayed at before was right here!
I'm so glad we're keeping a record of all our travels because there's absolutely no way I would remember all these details.
Valencia train station
And guess what? Neda found another Arena in Valencia...
She said we had to ride around it to get a better look
Later that day, we met up with Iva and Tajana and I told them we saw another arena in downtown Valencia. Iva replied, "Yes, we saw it too. Ours is better."
Haha! Right. Of course.
Our rendezvous point with the girls was the City of Arts and Sciences. This is what it looks like as we rode towards it
The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge, sprawling tourist attraction composed of a bunch of buildings that look like they were purpose-built for a Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica movie. When the girls suggested we meet there, I had no idea this even existed. How the heck did we miss this the first time around?
Oh yeah, because we were riding to a different country almost every other day...
Unfortunately the buildings were closed for New Years Day, but that didn't stop us from frolicking around
These buildings house different exhibits, loosely related to science. Most of them remind me of a giant Darth Vader and his Samurai friends buried up to their eyeballs, with only the tops of their helmets poking above the ground.
L'Àgora, pictured behind the bridge, is a covered entertainment and sports complex
Tajana takes a breather from her hectic sight-seeing schedule to check up on e-mails
More sci-fi statues. This one reminds me of the aliens in A.I.