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Published: July 24th 2009
Wednesday 22nd July - Vernet to Barcelona
Two or more hours had gone by and no matter how many times I looked at it - I'd well and truly f*cked it up. I was at the docks in the Transmediterranea ferry terminal, using an internet terminal coupled with my PDF lonely planet guides and maps of Europe and Morocco.
It had been hellishlly hot getting here and I struggled to keep myself hydrated. My camelbak had been errantly left in Cath's fridge whilst I watched Harry being Robin Hood in his end of year play before setting off on a rain soaked evening for the ferry. I am sure the camelbak is deliciously chilled by now but not much effing use to me out here. It was 32C when I set off but quickly rose to 35.5C as I left the Pyrenees behind. On the bike it was like standing in front of a furnace blast door but with fan assistance. I was also damn tired. The hike yesterday had taken its toll. All of which contributed to an inability to think clearly and plot a course of action.
My internetless days in Vernet had come at a price. My original plan to get the Barcelona -> Tangier ferry on Sunday (20th) had long been abandoned, but I vaguely recalled there being another crossing on Wednesday. I also (wrongly) assumed that with so many ferries from Barcelona I would at least be able to get on one to Malaga or similar. All roads led to Barcelona and so I set off for the docks. The good news was that there was indeed a ferry on Wednesdays, the bad news was that unlike the Sunday crossing time, which was mid-afternoon, the Wednesday departure was 11 am and I had well and truly missed it. Arse!
Now as I consulted the maps nothing seemed to fit. The ride to Algeciras to get the Tangier (or probably Ceuta) ferry was 1200km and there was nothing between Barcelona and there that interested me. I quite fancied Seville and Cadiz, but they were right at the destination end so not exactly useful stop-off points. Given the heat and 2 days hard ride to get there I didn't fancy that much. Alternatively I could shave 300km off the journey and take an overnight ferry to Melilla. Seemingly a good plan until I realised that the sights I wanted to see in North Morocco (Chefchaouen, Tetouan and the Tangier-Ceuta coast road) were 100's of miles of poor roads away. I just did not have time. Flexible schedules but with fixed goals are fine with flexible end dates, but don't work well for finite timelines. I went round it again and again.
Did I get on the bike and head south or go back up north towards the Pyrenees. After some time I decided I was exhausted (and I was soaked in full riding kit) so I headed for the Tourist Office to stay the night in Barcelona and hopefully look at it with more clarity in the morning. The GPS is great for things like this. Well normally when it isn't underground - which it was. Eventually I parked the bike and went looking on foot. But hearing all the tales of theft at the terminal, I carried all luggage that wasn't locked to the bike with me - and I was still fully kitted up and now in the boiling sun (although it was a more manageable 30C here at the coast.) After half and hour and a few litres more lost fluid I found it and sorted out a hotel. I ended up staying in a nice hotel on La Rambla (presumably named after one of Baz's stories) which is the main drag down to the old town.
These trips are all about highs and lows. Yesterday had been a soaring high, but today I had crashed back down and I really didn't know what to do next other than sleep, Something I managed for 10 hours straight. My first time in a bed in over a week. No pictures today - I will take some of Barcelona tomorrow and put them up with tomorrow's blog.
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