Photo Gallery: Compilation of 2nd half of the Bonn-Barcelona Bicycle Tour 2014

Barcelona Impressions -1

Dear friends,

after we arrived 10 days ago in Barcelona we noticed how incredibly lucky we have been in with respect to the weather on our bike tour. While we reached Barcelona on Saturday enjoying the lovely weather the entire region suffered from heavy rain and flooding. It would have been a real challenge if we would still have been cycling under those conditions.

But instead we were able to focus on relaxing our tired muscles and take a rest.
It is an interesting experience that after cycling 4 weeks we almost felt bored when in Barcelona. During the bike trip we were busy with planning the stages, looking for accommodation, packing and un-packing the panniers. Then followed hours and hours on the bikes and the daily washing of sweaty cycling clothes – our days were filled and followed a certain rhythm. All of that disappeared reaching the finish line. The learning for future bike trips is that we will not plan to stay at the final destination for that long again

On the other hand we have by now reached a more “normal holiday rhythm” and roam around the city by foot. This weekend we went to visit the “Cavatast” in Sant Sadurni (Penedés) which takes place every year on the first weekend of October (and is very easily to be reached from Barcelona using the R4 train from Plaza Catalonia). Some 50 Cava producers present their cavas (which is a bubbly wine produced like a champagne) and you find all kind of local delicacies typical for the region.

Cava Tast meal 2014

Cava Tast meal 2014

Sant Sarduni de Penedés

Sant Sarduni de Penedés

In general we have the feeling that there are far more tourists in Barcelona than a couple of years ago. Park Guell was so overrun by visitors and streetsellers that we fled from it as soon we found the next exit. That’s been an entirely new experience… New as well was that both Park Guell and Hospital Sant Pau are asking entrance fees now.

Hospital San Pau, Barcelona

Hospital San Pau, Barcelona

One of the things that can be seen all over Barcelona and Catalonia these days are posters and flags which demand the independence vote on November 9th. It keeps surprising me how different press announcements and reports on the topic are by Catalan or Spanish press. The polemic and almost disgust in the news from Madrid are impressive and from my perspective not helping to find a solution or bridge the gaps. For me being allowed to give an opinion is a basic right in a democratic state – and that is what is behind the vote that people ask. It is getting people’s opinion on the topic of a Catalan independence from Spain – which as well those Catalans want who are against indepedence. What will happen as a result out of the vote is still completely unclear. Yet the vote as such has been forbidden by the central government, the language used is rather provoking. It will be a tense time coming up and I hope that there will not be further escalation…

"It is normal to vote"  Catalans advertising for independence vote on 9th November 2014

“It is normal to vote”
Catalans advertising for independence vote on 9th November 2014

Leg 25: Barcelona!

Dear Friends,

starting today`s last stage from Blanes to Barcelona we were as exited as we have been when we started the Tour back in Bonn… It is something really special to come close to a goal which you have approached for almost four weeks.

The leg did use the N-II from beginning to end following the sea. As we shared the road with cars we were a little nervous if it would be a nice final stage or not. But we actually found out that there were more cyclists on the road than cars. Many of them greeted and cheered when seeing us – Olli and I just could not stop smiling! One of the cyclist on a racing bike joined us for some 10 kilometers and chatted with us. It was an honour for him, he said, to have shared a few kilometers of route with people who had done this kind of journey. One day he would love to do the same.

Arrival in Barcelona with Sagrada Familia in the background

Arrival in Barcelona with Sagrada Familia in the background

I remember that we have once said the same when our friend Lars told us about his Bonn-Barcelona bicycletour… (thank you so much Lars! We will both never forget that!) It is simply wonderful to be able to make a dream come true!

Adeu from Barcelona my dear friends and thanks for all your support

Claudia & Olli

Leg 22, 23 & 24: Mountains!

Dear Friends,

leg 21 finished in Argeles sur Mer with a lovely dinner and in the morning we had a great breakfast and like pseudo-athletes we ate as many scrambled eggs as we posssibly could to prepare ourselves for the mountains.

"Le  Cottage" in Argeles sur Mer

“Le Cottage” in Argeles sur Mer

Coullioure

Coullioure

The first steep uphills were not far away and up we went and after that down until we reached the sea again in the gorgeous Collioure. After a short break dedicated to photos (Claudia) and navigation checks (Olli) we continued in the best of moods. The stretch we had just completed would have been one which I would not have been able to do only four weeks ago without pushing the bike. Now we both happily roamed across the hills.

Last views on France

Last views on France

And so it went on all day: Up and down in an impressively steep manner. The landscape was spectacular and I really did not expect to hear myself saying that: It was an unbelievably beautiful bicycle day! On one of the highest points of our journey we entered Spain. After some 1700 kilometers cycling from Bonn.

Spain!!

Spain!!

To reach Llança, our destination for the day there were another 20 kilometers of hills to do, but we were over the moon what a wonderful day we were experiencing! If anyone ever visits Llança please do not forget to go to the restaurant Fornall Mari. It is an excellent little place with caring and knowledgeable service and brilliant food – a real highlight.

From Llança we started stage 23 to Palamos – overrall a rather flat stage compared to the day before. Well… it started actually with a last steep climb of which ended the Pyrenees for us. Then there was flatness…! In Castello Empuria we had a brief stop to admire the mediaval village centre and the church before we continued our journey. Our route joined the Pirinexus ever so often which runs through the Pyrenees away from cars and other traffic. Whenever we met it though the route was in really bad condition and it became our hobby to actually try to avoid this bikeroute which has been awarded the bicycle route of the year 2014!

Castel with Catalan flag

Castel with Catalan flag

Castello de Empuries - Church

Castello de Empuries – Church


With Palamos we eventually reached that part of Costa Brava where mass-tourism feels at home. Looking from the positive side on it mass-tourism means that you easily find a place to stay in off-season and restaurants are prepared to feed you at times no local would ever think about eating (in Spain: between 5 and 7 pm … at that time we are just freshly showered and a bit rested and REALLY hungry…). Therefore… no complaints – it all has its own advantages!
Old bridge on day 23

Old bridge on day 23

Palamos was the starting point for our leg 24 and there we went further south and approached the second hill-stage. While Olli seemed to hardly sweat I had a hard time on this leg. We had to do more breaks to get over the Costa Brava hills – and yes… there is a very good reason to call it Costa Brava. It is a very wild coast! We met a Swiss lady on her bike tour as well – Maja. She has just become a pensionist and decided to take on her bike and cycle to Malaga from Zürich. Impressive. Despite of tired legs it was a great day again – over and over we were rewarded with excellent vistas after a climb. The stretch between Sant Feliu de Grixols and Tossa de Mar is known as well as the “Road of the Year”: 365 curves each presenting impressive vistas! Today`s destination is Blanes and tomorrow it will be Barcelona!

Vista from "Road of the year" - Costa Brava

Vista from “Road of the year” – Costa Brava

So it is Good Bye from us – Bye Bye (and Adeu!)

Claudia & Olli

Tag 22, 23 & 24: Die Berge rufen!

Liebe Freunde,

der Tag 21 endete in Argeles sur Mer mit einem schönen Essen und wir haben morgens ein tolles Frühstück genossen und uns pseudo-sportlermässig Rühreier in den Bauch geschlagen, damit wir auch in Sachen Essen auf die Berge vorbereitet waren.

Die ersten Steigungen liessen auch nicht lange auf sich warten und es ging hoch auf die Anhöhe und dann runter bis ans Meer in das wunderschöne Collioure. Nach einer kurzen

Pause für Fotos (Claudia) und Kartenkontrolle (Olli) ging es mit bester Laune weiter. Schon diese Strecke hätte ich noch vor vier Wochen unmöglich geschafft ohne abzusteigen und jetzt zockelten wir beide beinahe gemütlich über die Strecke.

"Le  Cottage" in Argeles sur Mer

“Le Cottage” in Argeles sur Mer

Coullioure

Coullioure

Und so ging es auch weiter. Immer wieder hoch und runter mit knackigen Steigungen und ebenso knackigen Abfahrten. Die Landschaft war entsprechend spektakulär und ich hätte wirklich nicht gedacht, dass ich das sagen würde: Es war ein ganz toller Fahrradtag! An einem der höchsten Punkte kam dann der offizielle Grenzübergang und wir waren in Spanien. Nach etwa 1700 Kilometern Fahrtstrecke von Bonn.

Last views on France

Last views on France

Spain!!

Spain!!

Bis Llança waren es dann noch etwa 20 Kilometer – die wiederum mit Steigungen und Abfahrten gespickt waren. Falls jemand mal nach Llança kommt – Ihr solltet unbedingt versuchen im Fonall Mari zu essen. Ein tolles kleines Restaurant mit liebenswerter Bedienung und ausgezeichnetem Essen – ein absolutes Highlight!

Von Llança ging es am Tag 23 nach Palamos – die Etappe war eher flach. Allerdings mussten wir dafür erst einmal ein letztes Mal eine Steigung eines Pyrenäenausläufers erklimmen. Aber danach war es flach. In Castello Empuria haben wir kurz angehalten um das mittelalterliche Dorfzentrum und die Kirche anzusehen, bevor es dann weiter ging. Die Stecke ging immer wieder in den Pirinexus über, einen Radwanderweg der abseits der Strassen durch die Pyrenäen führt. Da der Belag wann immer wir auf ihn trafen wirklich schlecht war, wurde es zu unserem Hobby diesen als Radwanderweg 2014 ausgezeichneten Weg zu vermeiden. Unter allen Umständen zu vermeiden!

Castel with Catalan flag

Castel with Catalan flag

Castello de Empuries - Church

Castello de Empuries – Church

In Palamos erreichen wir auch ultimativ den Teil der Costa Brava, in dem sich der Massentourismus zu Hause fühlt. Positiv bedeutet Massentourismus natürlich: Man findet in der Nachsaison einfach eine Unterkunft und Restaurants sind auch zu den Zeiten geöffnet wenn kein normaler Einheimische auf die Idee käme zu essen (in Spanien: zwischen 5 und 7 am Abend… dann sind wir gerade geduscht und ausreichend ausgeruht um RICHTIG hungrig zu sein…). Also wollen wir mal nicht meckern – es hat alles seine Vorteile!

Old bridge on day 23

Old bridge on day 23

Palamos haben wir dann am Tag 24 weiter Richtung Süden die zweite “Bergetappe” in Angriff genommen. Und während Olli kaum ins Schwitzen zu kommen schien ist mir die Etappe eher schwer gefallen. Also mussten wir ein paar Pausen mehr einlegen um über die Berge der Costa Brava zu kommen. Jaja – die hat ihren Namen aus einem guten Grund… es ist eine wilde Küste. Wir haben auch eine Schweizerin, Maja getroffen, die ihre Pensionierung dazu nutzt jetzt erst mal von Zürich aus aufs Rad zu steigen und nach Malaga zu radeln. Hut ab! Es war trotz schwerer Beine eine tolle Tour – die Anstiege werden eben immer wieder durch wunderschöne Aussichten belohnt. Die Strecke zwischen Sant Feliu de Grixols ist im Volksmund bekannt als die “Strasse des Jahres”: 365 Kurven und jede mit beeindruckenden Aussicht! Endpunkt heute ist Blanes und morgen geht es nach Barcelona – wir sind auf der Zielgeraden!

Vista from "Road of the year" - Costa Brava

Vista from “Road of the year” – Costa Brava

Bis bald und Adeu!

Claudia & Olli

Leg 20 & 21: Indulgence-Rides through Rouissillion

Dear Friends,

our last 2 stages have presented the South of France in all its beauty. We have enormously enjoyed the cycling which might mean as well that we eventually got used to the sometimes slightly imperfect road surfaces (if there is a surface to speak of) and that we have to stop rather a lot now to double check the route. In addition to the map we keep looking into an offline-App for French cycling routes and Google-Maps to keep us on track. Leg 20 went from Sete to Gruissan. A lovely, peaceful stage which allowed us to get over the pain of leaving Chez Francois….

Gruissan

Gruissan

Gruissan Village live

Gruissan Village live

Gruissan is a pretty and charming little town. I fell hopelessly in love with its surrrounding landscape (direction Port la Nouvelle) which we crossed on the morning of stage 21. On the horizon the Pyrenees, the marshes and brilliant cycling roads – what an indulgance! I did not want to leave.

Between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

Between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

Beautiful bike road after Port la Nouvelle

Beautiful bike road after Port la Nouvelle

Behind Port la Nouvelle we found ourselves in a road closure: they were filming for a movie. The friendly security guard asked us to be fast to do the closed strech. “Well” he said when looking at the bikes and the full panniers “as fast as you can…” And so it came that we had the street we thought might be the busiest of our leg all to ourselves.

All day the Pyrenees came closer bit by bit and and reminded us that tomorrow we will have the first of our two mountain stages. We will try to cross them with as little inclination as possible following the coast – we will see how that will feel in real live. But as our legs have improved a lot by now the feeling of panic when thinking about the Pyrenees has vanished. What we feel now is respect – which seems adequate, somehow. It will work out somehow!

So tomorrow we will be in Catalunya and this is the last blog from France from this journey. So it is Au revoir from us from here and it will chant Benvinguts fromCatalunya tomorrow!

Claudia & Olli

Tag 20 & 21: Genuss-Radeln in Roussillion

Liebe Freunde,

die letzten beiden Etappen haben Frankreich`s Süden in all seiner Schönheit präsentiert und uns 2 Tage Fahrrad-Hochgenuss beschert. Vielleicht haben wir uns auch – im besten Sinne – inzwischen daran gewöhnt, dass der Radweg eben meistens keinen guten Belag h

at (wenn er welchen hat…), dass wir jetzt oft anhalten müssen um neben der Karte noch die Offline-App für Frankreich und Google-Maps zu prüfen, ob wir denn wirklich richtig fahren. Die Etappe 20 führte uns von Sete nach Gruissan. Eine hübsche ruhige Strecke bei der man den Abschiedsschmerz von Chez Francois langsam verdauen konnte…

Gruissan

   Gruissan

Gruissan Village live

Gruissan Village live

Gruissan ist eine hübsche kleine Stadt mit ganz viel Charme. Zum verlieben schön ist die direkte Umgebung, die Richtung Port la Nouvelle, die wir am Morgen der 21. Fahrtages durchfahren sind. Am Horizont die Pyrenäen, die Marschlandschaft, wunderbare Radwege – was ein Genuss! Ich wäre am liebsten gar nicht mehr weg.

Between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

    Between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

Marshes between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

Marshes between Gruissan and Port la Nouvelle

Nach Port la Nouvelle fanden wir dann eine Streckensperrung – Filmdreharbeiten! Wir wurden vom freundlichen Streckenposten gebeten schnell zu fahren “na ja” meinte er dann mit Blick auf Räder und Gepäck, “so schnell es halt geht…” Und so hatten wir die Strasse von der wir den meisten Verkehr zu befürchten hatten ganz für uns alleine. Olli vermutet eine französische Tatort-Version – er hörte Schüsse (und ist definitiv auf Tatort-Entzug)!
Die Pyrenäen rückten die ganze Zeit immer näher und kündigten uns an, dass wir morgen den ersten von 2 Bergtagen haben werden. Wir versuchen die Pyrenäen mit so geringer Steigung an der Küste entlang zu überqueren wie möglich – mal sehen wie sich das dann in der Realität anfühlt. Da die Beine inzwischen deutlich besser geworden sind, ist die Panik verschwunden und Respekt gewichen. Das wird schon gehen!

Beautiful bike road after Port la Nouvelle

Beautiful bike road after Port la Nouvelle


Morgen also werden wir in Katalonien sein und damit ist das jetzt der letzt Blog dieser Reise aus Frankreich. Au Revoir von hier – morgen heisst es Benvinguts aus Catalunya!

Claudia & Olli