win win win

16 07 2010

It’s not so often you can line up so many things in one day.

Smack on the stroke of midnight, Frankenbike was born. Auspicious timing, something I might have done deliberately especially if there was a storm brewing (maybe with the maniacal laugh playing in the background). But no, quite by accident as I snapped the chain on I glanced at my phone (would have been a watch if I owned one). Midnight. Poor Frankenbike. I had hoped for a better name, but this one seems to be sticking. Anyway, the chain is on, and I took him/her/it for a spin after midnight. Racks, Mudguards, lights, even a mirror – and a seat post finally. It’s all ready to go. Everything works! A few screws are still lose (suits the rider) waiting for me to find Loctite. Something that seems to just not exist here. There are a few things that need tidying up (including deciding what do do with the second handlebar and stem I have), but so far, so good, looks like everything is coming together as planned for a departure this weekend. I’m a bit concerned by the number of ‘spare parts’ I still have though.

extra bits for something

Today, I managed to get all the papers together that I need to prove that I am actually in Spain legally. My work permit was approved some time ago, but I didn’t have the paper with the stamp, and then there was the other paper (with the stamp), etc, etc. So in a frenzy of activity, I rode all over the city (on the city bike, Frankenbike isn’t ready to be left out alone just yet). Collected everything, got another stamp from the Police (after having to go back and get more photos, of a different size). In the end it wasn’t such a big deal, now I just have to wait for them to print my card and then go pick it up. This is better (as the lawyer said), because even though I wont be working here, I’ve no other document to say I’m here, as in, here in Europe, legally (the Passport doesn’t have any entrance stamps recently, and even if it did, I’m only allowed three months without this card – which would have expired some months ago). I was pretty happy, I had five hours to get everything together so I could leave this weekend – the police working day is, of course, 9-14, and I’d made it by 13:00. So the next question is: when will it be ready, when can I leave town? A month. No probl…
Wait. A month? To print a card? Guess I’ll have to come back for that (and hope no-one questions me in the meantime).

But wait, there’s more! Vaccination appointment today. They stuck me with needles from both sides. Apparently they like to hit you with a Polio vaccine over here. And I asked for the Rabies vaccine. And some others I needed. It’s obvious I can’t speak Spanish, but I thought it was going to be much worse when the Patient Information form was printed in Catalan. The Doctor spoke English, so I got what I needed (and some things I didn’t like several pages of tips and warnings, in Spanish and the Polio shot – but hey, it can’t hurt, right?). The nurse who injected me was patient, and repeated some things several times so I could work out what she was saying. After I had the injections, they asked me to wait outside. Ok. Then I was called back. This time, the person who called me (a young lass), said a number. Ok. Err, what would you like me to do with the number? So she wrote it down. Well, that didn’t help much, I knew what she’d said. Sometimes things take a few seconds with me, but I noticed the nurse standing behind me, and realised that they had talked about me and this girl was trying to help me by not saying too many things that might be confusing. But not saying anything doesn’t make it easy either! But I’m not completely stupid, that number was the cost of the visit. I needed a double take at the number before I asked if I could pay with my card. She said that was no problem, even for only just over 20 Euro. While she was doing that, with a beaming smile, I asked if that was the cost for everything. I got the universal one finger held up, “wait” (or maybe it was “Espera”, the finger was all that was necessary). My smile evaporated – this charge was just for the alcohol swipes or something. Then I got told that the second and third visits I needed would also have a charge (very helpfully, with minimal words and lots of pointing at the calendar, etc – it was very cute, especially since I’ve more than enough Spanish for a simple conversation like this). Of less than 10 Euro. Ridiculous. I’ve never had vaccinations that have been less than several hundred dollars (try it in Australia and see if you can get away with less than $30). My tax Euros at work.

But, the rabies vaccination needs to be given in a certain pattern, one today, one in a week, and one in a month. Great, so I can… wait. A month? Guess I’ll have to come back for that. A week? But I was going to be gone by Monday…

Hmmm, looks like coming back in a month is a definite, and it also looks like I’m going to have to be here in a week. I could go somewhere else for the second vaccine shot, but it took about 3 weeks to get this appointment, so I don’t like my chances (of rolling into a small town and trying to get a shot next Friday).

So it looks like I’m going to have a very slow start. Either way, I’m unemployed as of today (next week is the last of my annual leave), so the trip has now begun. And I’m already behind schedule. Lucky there isn’t much of a schedule.

I might wonder around Barcelona for a few days. See if I can’t buy something else that will weight me down further.





Frankenbike

12 07 2010

The saga of the bike continues.

Firstly, the old bike has gone. Flogged it off. I think that the first plan of riding it to Germany, and buying a more sturdy bike for Asia (from a shop, built and ready to go) just might have worked. But here I am.

I managed to get the spokes for the rear wheel last week again via mail order from England (special length spokes just don’t exist in Barcelona). But half the order didn’t arrive, so now I’m waiting on someone to do something about that. Rear wheel has been built and is pretty much true (it’s at a stage where perfectionist in me thinks I can do better, and the engineer can see it is close enough. Hopefully it’ll work.

I’m currently waiting for a box of bits that should arrive today. This would be the final parts, if the box that came last week actually had everything that I ordered. It didn’t, so the bike is still upside down. A week or so until I leave and the bike is far from rideable. When it does all go together, there’d better be no show-stoppers.

So soon I’ll have to start looking out for a bolt of lightning to bring my Frankenbike to life. Queue maniacal laughter.





Spain. Winning.

8 07 2010

So the Spanish just entered their first semi-final, and to my surprise dominated the Germans (err, 1-0) to come out the other side into their first World Cup Final. This is the German team that trounced Argentina, killed England and positively thrashed Australia. I mention this because I’ve changed allegiance that many times this World Cup, my head is spinning. Germany beat them all, until today 🙂

Anyway, to the point.

How to celebrate the win in Barcelona – remember Barcelona is not Spain, but they’ll not argue the point, tonight:

If you’re in the city centre – stumble out of the bar into a street devoid of cars (the police are terribly efficient at keeping cars out of the streets when they want to). Wave a flag around, doesn’t matter which, but it’d be better if it was red and yellow, but without too much black. Blow your whistle, vuvuzela, etc. Dance around in a small group with people throwing water at you from the balconies – all in good fun to keep you cool. Sing about how great Spain is, and say “Olé, olé, olé” quite a lot.

If you’re not in the old town, gather your mates and jump in a car. Drive around, spending roughly equal amounts of energy moving the car forward and beeping the horn. For hours. There are still a few doing it.

Since Barcelona is not in Spain, it’s in Catalunya, the celebrations are really quite low key. I can only imagine Madrid. But it’ll be better next week, when we beat the Netherlands… 😉





Christmas and…

30 06 2010

It was like Christmas again today! Another box of bike bits arrived. The less glamorous, but actually quite important bits, like bottom bracket, crank, head set, etc. Couldn’t help myself – most of them are on the bike now (the head set I got fitted at the not-so-local bike shop, because the local bike shop turned me away at 10 to 5pm – because they hadn’t opened after siesta yet). While I was at the not-so-local bike shop, I tried to buy the spokes I need for the rear wheel. They sold me the spokes for the front wheel, so I thought it was a fair thing to get the second set there. They didn’t have the length I needed. Didn’t even hint that they might be able to get them.

Nor did the next shop. Nor the next. Actually none of the shops I know about (since I visited them all) seem to carry this length of spoke, or anything even close. Only one shop (the only good one across town, who I should have gone to first) took my name and will get back to me. I only have a handful of parts left to buy, could it be a pile of short bits of metal that causes a ripple in this otherwise impeccable plan?





Poor fishies

27 06 2010

I was sent a taunt by Sabine today. Stefan and Sabine had bought me a fish, and then since I wasn’t there, they ate it for me as well. So I’m responding with my fish. And prawns. Pity you can’t smell the garlic from there. Maybe you can…

Look out little fishies, I’m gonna eat you…

Toooo slow little fishies. Too slow for this black cat. Apparently who-ever I support in the world cup is doomed to fail. Go Germany?





New Bike update

26 06 2010

The number of boxes I’m accumulating is beginning to get frightening.  I am going to be able to turn this pile of stuff into a machine that will take me around the world. Right?

Pile of bits waiting for a builder

Still waiting on the single part worth €1000. Anxiously…





Self justification

25 06 2010

I was thinking of updating the about me page. When I wrote about my current situation, I had a flash – I’m crazy to be giving this away! But then this week reminded me why:

  • I travelled to France with a few days notice on a week that I thought I would be in BCN.
  • The summer solstice was this week – music festivals in France – I was at work.
  • Summer has arrived, every day in France and Spain was lovely – I was working night shift – sleeping all day and in a daze all night.
  • The Sant Juan festival was celebrated in BCN – fireworks, parties, etc. I missed it. Again. 2 from 2.
  • Spain played their last group world cup match, I wasn’t here to revel in the win.

Yeah, so maybe that’s not as convincing as I’d hoped. The upshot is, put a few weeks like that together and you wonder what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I have, I did, and now it’s time to go. Someone back home – take note and be sure to remind me of this when I next decide to settle down. Whenever/wherever that is.

On the positive side, after this week there will be (more than likely) no more night shift, no more flights (no more airports!), and 3 weeks until I’m unemployed! Again.





Problems

16 06 2010

I found a great way to make myself feel like a complete idiot today – go to the local tax office and try to work out how to pay taxes around here. No only do they not speak English, they speak Spanish (or Catalan?) so fast that I can’t even make out where a sentence ends and the next starts. I managed to work out that the last day to have it finalised is the 30th June and I am missing a crucial bit of paper (of course). To get the paper I need to make an appointment, but the relevant office is all booked up until well into July. At least I think that’s what she said.

I guess this is bad.





New Bike

10 06 2010

I’ve been looking at a new bike for a while now for the upcoming trip. Since it looks like work may peter out quicker than I first thought, I decided to do something about it.

Buying a touring bike off the shelf here in Barcelona is not all that easy – despite there being a more or less dedicated bicycle touring shop here in town http://www.bike-tech.net/. If I could have found a way to use them I probably would have (and still probably will for some things), but on the last visit they diverted me to the Koga website which wants me to spend a thoroughly rediculous amount of money, since the bike has no engine. So I’ve thrown my credit card number at a few websites, ordered a frame and whole pile of small parts (and one stupidly expensive small part), and with the full knowledge that this may not work out as I hope, and also that several critical small parts have not been ordered, I’m going to do the Stephen thing. Wait and see what happens. It’s a fair bit of money, so I hope it all arrives and I can turn it into a bike and not just an expensive pile of parts.

This could be my first custom bike. And the first I’ve built from the frame up. If I can find the right spokes. And handlebars.





Michiel

8 06 2010

Was here. After getting back from Italy, I found Michiel in Barcelona. So I had an excuse to tour the sites again 🙂

He’d just spent a few weeks touring around in Spain, again. Sounds very pleasant. (We met, in Patagonia, on the side of the road).





Costa Brava

16 05 2010

Went for a wander up the Costa Brava a few days ago. Reminded myself that I was supposed to be a cycle tourist.

Caught the train from Barcelona, then rolled along the quite terrific coastal road for 100km. Overnighted, then descended (after climbing) into Cadaqués. Quite pretty, but would have been nicer if the weather wasn’t so bad. Bit disappointing for the middle of May. The summer solstice is only a month away, and we are in 10°C and rain. Lots of rain.

Anyway, gave me a chance to play with the GPS.

See why this place is popular with the Northern Europeans?

Ok. So there was some sun. It is Spain after all.

No broken spokes. A miracle, although I did have to spend some time truing my wheel. It might be slightly disappointing if one day the bike just worked 🙂 I’m on the lookout for a new bike, one to got a bit further on.

Next week: France. Work. Nightshift.

Week after: Holiday in Italy. More bikes. This will be good. Even if there will be lots of ‘bock’ 😉





Bike Ride

2 05 2010

I shocked the hell out of my bike today. Last week I finally got round to fixing the spoke that I broke last time I rode it. The bike shop charged me a whopping 10 cents for a new one. And then actually rode it. Further than one block. Maybe not much further, but it was “a ride” (any time the Lycra comes out, it’s “a ride”).

I just happened to be look at my diary / blog and noticed that I broke that spoke at the end of January. Yeah. I gotta get out and ride more. I guess it doesn’t help that I’ve been at ‘home’ for about 4 out of 13 weeks since then (and it was winter until last week).





Quitting time

2 05 2010

The name of the blog may be more appropriate again in a few months.

I just quit my job. Again. The first time didn’t work out so well – as in I’m still here. This time I am a little more determined to leave. It’s a difficult situation though – I am quite happy with the job and the people I work with. In fact, if I was to only think of my career, I really should stay here for a number of years yet, learn all I can and then return to Aus. But I am in a bit of a conundrum, the major benefit is also the major drawback.

I love to travel. As you may have noticed. To be able to do it when someone else is paying is great, to get paid to do it is even better (although I don’t exactly visit the tourist hot spots for work)! The problem comes when it’s time to go home. I just don’t want to. Every trip away I’m reminded that I don’t have a home, just a place to be, and although it has taken me a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that Barcelona just isn’t going to be home for me. So far, Australia is. So the sensible option is to up sticks and high-tail-it to Australia.

Right, step one of upping sticks has just been completed. Will take several months to complete.

Will more than likely high-tail-it out of here. But there may be a bike involved.

Let the adventure continue.





Easter 2010

6 04 2010

Stefan and Sabine came to visit. I had a hair cut.

One was great, the other necessary.





Pyrenees. Skiing

22 03 2010

I found myself with a few days and not a whole lot to do, back home. I was meant to be working in Belgium, but something happened and I ended up in Barcelona. Someone reminded me there was still snow in the Pyreness. No need to say much more.

I remembered the fun I had last year on the snow board, and so decided to use the planks this time. Boarding is fun, but at my level I end up on my arse with a sore head too much of the time. Not so on the skis. I can spend all day and only have the odd embarrassing ’emergency’ stop.

Where is everyone?

Snow and sun + mountains

Ok, so there were  a few people, but for two days I might have spend a total of ten minutes waiting for the lift. Not quite what I was expecting from skiing in Europe. Trick is to go during the week, toward the end of the season. I was still around on Saturday, and it got significantly more busy.

Getting braver

Spring is definitely coming. The sun was out – despite sunscreen, I may have got a bit burnt 🙂

The snow was melting at a frightening pace, but I was lucky enough to have plenty for me. But in the afternoon it was a mix between water and snow skiing. Maybe that’s why no-one else was there…

The hordes descended, or rather ascended, from Barcelona on Saturday. I’m pretty happy falling down the mountain when it’s empty, but with too much traffic I’d rather go up, so I took some snow shoes and walked around for a day. I  I found a bunch of people over to one side, hurtling down a track or the half pipe on their boards. Last round of the snow boarding world championships. Couple of Aussies. Surprising how much air they get on the track and pipe.

He's just practicing





Snow

8 03 2010

I thought it was cold yesterday. Today it is snowing. Yes, I am in Barcelona. That place that is on the coast of the Mediterranean. The one that is meant to be always warm and sunny.

Edit: The weather service now tells me it’s ‘Heavy Snow’. It’s heavy enough that its sticking, trees and roads are covered. A few more days of this and I’ll get some skiing in this year after all!





Barcelona Marathon

7 03 2010

Just finished. 3:44. Might lose a toenail, and walking up stairs is fairly entertaining, but otherwise no dramas.





Bikes

27 01 2010

Managed to drag the bike out for a spin on Sunday. Nothing too stressful, I’d blown up the legs going for a longish (time) run on Saturday. I went to the top of the only hill around here – there’s an amusement park (Tibidabo) and a church on top (actually a couple of churches, and a radio tower a bit to the side as well). I should drag the camera up there next time, you can see the whole city. It may help if Adeladians were to think “Windy Point”.

Got to the top (still going quite fast I might add), went round the first corner on the way down. Got about 20 meters, then – Ping. Clatter, clatter, clatter.

I didn’t even have to look down, I’m getting good at recognising that noise. Another spoke had let go. It was cold and dark, so I ignored it and rode home (clatter clatter clatter).

Bike is now back in the corner of my room. I guess I could fix it…

One day I’ll again ride on good wheels. Like the set I have in Adelaide.
*Scratches head and wonders what he’s doing here when toys are back home*





Aussy Day in BCN

26 01 2010

Apparently it was Australia Day today.

The Catalans need to put more effort into the celebrations. So I worked, then went for a 2+a bit hour run. The usual problems – no idea how I’m going to make less than 4-5 hours for this marathon.





Distant memories

18 01 2010

Australia is again a distant memory. A pleasant one.

On to more important matters.

Today, for breakfast, after coming back to the hotel from work, I had watermelon juice. I’m sure something is wrong with that sentence. Who would bother juicing a watermelon? I wonder if there is a kitchen appliance that will do it for you? Is it something they teach at “how to juice everything school”? At least but some ice in there so give the blender something to chew on.