Spain part 3: The driving tour

Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
Trip End Feb 15, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lee: I don't know why I have been allocated to this blog. It's not about climbing. It's about - not climbing. This will be a challenge.

So a couple of weeks ago when our friends Alex and Magali headed off to Kalymnos, they took our psyche for climbing with them. I was pretty burnt out from climbing non-stop for...I don't know how long. A long time. It was starting to feel like work rather than fun. And it was starting to show in my climbing too. So instead of packing up and heading to Terradets like we had planned, Sam and I decided to retire from climbing and go touristing. So we packed the Peugeot and hit the road.

First stop was Spain's capital, Madrid, which was about a five hour drive from Rodellar. First stop on arrival was 'El Rastro'. These are the biggest street markets in all of Europe. We were there for hours and I know we didn't come close to seeing it all. They're only on once a week, so we were lucky to be able to catch them. Shops, walking, monuments, more shops, sore feet. Tourists love this stuff! It honestly doesn't hold much magic for me. It all blurs together. But - body needs time away from cliffs! One of the Madrid highlights was the Renia Sophia museum of modern art. They had a couple of pretty cool exhibits including one where the "artist/monkey with scissors" had compiled all the front pages from the world's newspapers on the day of 9/11. It was pretty interesting to see how different countries portrayed the attacks. Another of this guy's pieces was 101 black and white photos lined along a wall. The first was of a newborn baby, the second of a one year old, all the way to a 100 year old. I've since determined that art can simply be a bunch of similar things presented the same way. Like tins of soup. That is art.

After a couple of days, we headed off to Toledo. I guess this is the place where "Holy Toledo!" comes from. Didn't seem that holy. I would have gone with "Holy Vatican!" as a catchphrase, but there's no turning these things around once they've caught on. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a major tourist trap. It's also the region where "Don Quixote a la Mancha" hailed from in Miguel de Cervantes novel of the same name published in the early 1600s. I actually just finished reading this beast of the book before we arrived, so it was nice to see the place with that in mind. The place trades heavily on this great/crazy work of Spanish fiction, with most shops stocking a large array of swords, muskets and suits of armour. Damn my 20kg luggage limit. I suppose I could wear the armour on the plane...hmm...

We then punched it out to the coastline to Valencia. I was later dissapointed to discover that the Valencia orange was actually developed in California. What a rip! Anyway, Valencia is known for its oranges (there's miles upon miles of fertile orange plantations around the city, particularly to the north). It's also known for the super quality of its agriculture in general, and a lot of the fruit and veg around Spain comes directly from here. The 'Central Market' was absolutely awesome. The quality of the stuff on display was amazing, check out the pics. Sam bemoaned that we have nothing even remotely approaching this in Queensland.

We continued up the coast with a night in Tarragona and then on to Sitges, which strikes me as the Gold Coast of Spain, being only a short drive south of Barcelona. The 20 people with money in Spain all have mansions here and moor their superyachts in the harbour. And if you're gay, this is also your place. Party town. No surprise then that Sam's online research indicated that the best place to get her hair done was - no, not in a salon - in the back room of a house near Sitges owned by a UK expat hairdresser. He had lots of small dogs. Sam had requested I come in with her "just in case babe, you never know!" Let's just say she had nothing to worry about.

We're now cooling our heels in Barcelona before flying out to Vietnam via Amman, Jordan tomorrow. Sam loves it as Barca is her fave city after Paris. I'm told it's the new fashion capital of the world and Sam seems to concur. You could go pretty nutty in the shops here.

So this is our final blog from Spain. We now begin the final leg of our world tour - Asia. Bring on the spicy food and cheap knock-offs!
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Dad on

Well it's bye bye Europe. Sounds like you had a blast. We are with you Sam as we love Barcelona too. Such a vibrant city. Enjoy the next episode.
When you come back we might have moved to Surfers as "may" have bought management rights business there.
Stay safe, keep loving every moment, you guys are the envey of everyone back here. Proud of you both.
Love Dad and Rob

Michelle on

Wow, you guys are amazing. So many adventures ... I'm so impressed! Missing you heaps and can't wait for a mega catch up when you come home. Have a blast in Asia! Hugs. Shell xxx

Mum on

Photos are amazing - thanks for taking us with you.
Your next leg brings us closer together - take care of each other, love you xxx

Matty on

Not too shabby guys! Looks like you're having a pretty sweet little trip. Looking forward to seeing you both soon.

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