Friday, July 10, 2009

Last days in Europe....

8 July

We took off on our bikes into the mayhem of the Tour Village and headed for the center. The Press Caravan was well underway. The Caravan drives the entire Tour route for the day, leaving 90 minutes prior to the start of the Tour. They are major sponsors etc and throw out schwag. We met up mid stream and decided to ride ahead and get ahead of it so JD could see firsthand what it was like. John says “let’s go” and off and JD go. Riley’s bike was stuck and suddenly they were gone. We waited about 10 minutes and the rode a bit and came back to our spot and nothing. Within 30 seconds of losing John I realize my phone is locked in the car so now we have zero communication. Another 10 minutes and we give up and decide to proceed on our own.

The streets are closed and packed with people as we try to navigate our bikes. We are up and down curbs and finally just start riding along the tour route and soon people are clapping and shouting for Riley and me as if we are tour riders. It was quite hilarious with me on a Mtn Bike and Riley on a big ol beach cruiser. Riley was embarrassed and I soon started ringing my bell and waiving and the crowds loved it. It was great fun for 3K and then the Gendarmes (police) made us get off and walk which we did for a bit and then would ride again until we were yelled at again. After about 5K expected to be at the official start but got lost on a major roundabout and could not get back on the right road. We decided to get some water and café for me and chill a bit on the route. Within minutes the peloton came through. They did a 5K ride through town and then hit the official start line.

It was great, we are old hands now and knows the riders, the peloton is not as thrilling, and we are not taking pictures but just watching they whiz by. We then ride back and enjoy the show. The road was still closed and we were not supposed to be on the road but well, we played dumb, no comprend??

We soon were back at the hotel and found a note from the boys and figured they too would make it back. Riley was starving, 10K bike ride so we ordered a pizza, which is everywhere in France. Very, very thin, no crust and quite delicious. JD finished the pizza and was still hungry so we loaded up on baguettes and water and hit the road. Baguettes are the best 80eruo and usually hot and fresh and we eat 2-3 a day. That with some local cheese and we are good.

We took a leisurely drive and decided to take JD to meet Andreu and Turin at El Vinya Nova. We had a great day in the car, touring the coast and working out way back into Spain, where the people are nicer and everything is priced more reasonably.

9 July

Our last full day in Europe….we awoke with the Roosters on the property at 5am but thankfully was able to fall back asleep. We enjoyed another delicious meal at El Vinanova last night. Dinner was served around 10:30 so it was another late night. We have all taken a liking to the toasted bread, with olive oil and a sliced tomato rubbed over the bread to give it some juice, touched off with salt. Absolutely delicious. Next we enjoyed some wonderfully fresh salad with berries and vegetables all from the garden. Roasted peppers, goat cheese and pastry, a delicious scallop soup and a few other items we are not quite sure of but certainly tantalizing to the palate. Cava was the beverage of the evening and the kids had a bottle of their wine, no alcohol, but very nice tasting. Monk fish was my entrée and was grilled to perfection with seasoning and so tender and juicy lain over beautiful vegetables. Andreau had the chef grill chicken for Riley; he knows her preferences now, steak for JD and Braman. Topped off with ice cream and we fell into bed stuffed and John joined Andreau and the local businessmen for talk of the current rise in Socialism in Spain, the 18% unemployment and the fear of theft that landowners have with so many unemployed. It’s not that I was not welcome to join the men; I was tired and had enough Cava and liquor that surely followed.

Unsure of plans for our last day we decided to sleep on it and awoke to a significant drop in temperature and rain. It is simply delightful and 65-70 degrees. Finally I pull out the rest of my clothes that I had brought. After a few café’s con leche I headed out for a beautiful run in the rain through the Montserrat National Park. All trails and quite hilly and with a steady falling rain. I intended on 45 minutes but took a path I thought would circle back and well let’s just say I enjoyed a 1:15 run. Shorted out my iPod but was all worth it. Arrived back to the cottage soaking wet to find the kids and John and Cherub (the boxer puppy) curled up on the couch watching an old movie.

The idea of heading to Barcelona for a day in the city and following the Tour was soon abandoned and we settled in for a relaxing day with falling rain outside. Andreau assured us we were welcome another night so we are staying.

Barcelona is less than an hour and our flight is 10:15 (JD and I) and RM and Braman fly out at 12:30. We will meet up in Boston, rent a car and head to Middletown, RI to John’s sisters house for the last of our trip. The annual Braman reunion is Saturday and I fly home Sunday and the rest of the family on Tuesday.

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