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Barcelona, at last

Day 17: Lloret de Mar to Barcelona, 75 km

We've been back from our trip for about a week now, and I never did get around to posting about its very lovely final days. So now that I'm procrastinating writing my thesis, I thought I would rectify the situation!

I have very fond memories of our ride into Barcelona from Lloret de Mar. Because we had covered so much ground riding into Lloret, we had only 75km to ride into Barcelona, giving us ample time to relax and enjoy the marvelous Mediterranean vistas.

The best part of this day was brought about by a somewhat frustrating incident. As we were cycling along a busy stretch of road, we overtook a quite elderly male cyclist. He wasn't going fast as we passed by him, but I don't think he liked the idea that two young women were outdoing him, since he immediately sped up and passed us right back. However, as soon as he did so, he slowed down again, so we passed him. This back-and-forth passing continued for a while, and was really starting to get on our nerves. This guy basically refused to let us be in front of him, even though he couldn't hold our pace. And he'd occasionally try to talk to us, even after it became apparent to him that we didn't speak any Spanish or Catalan. We became frustrated and decided to stop so that he could ride on ahead.

And this turned out to be the day's best decision: we happened to stop on a beautiful beach, where we hung out for the next couple hours swimming, drinking beers at the little seaside bar, and napping. This brought us tremendous joy: it felt like real--and well-deserved!--vacation.

The rest of the ride into Barcelona was easy-going. We entered the city on a bike path, which we followed right up to the place we were staying on the Av. Diagonal, a main road that, as the name suggests, cuts diagonally through the city. The setup of this road was great for cyclists and pedestrians: the two directions of traffic were divided by a wide pedestrian walkway and bike path lined with trees on each side. This street was packed with people; it was refreshing to arrive in such a lively city.

We stayed in Barcelona with Kieran, an old friend of Nicole's from New Zealand. We spent our time wandering the streets with Kieran and our native guío turistico Xavi, a friend of mine from school. Our stay in Barcelona was just what we wanted. We felt like we experienced what the city was all about without doing much of the touristy stuff which just tires us out. People sometimes wonder how a bike trip can qualify as vacation when it's so tiring. Right back at you, people: being a standard tourist is way more draining than cycling all day, trust me!

Some highlights from our stay included: eating at a restaurant where diners select their meals from a fresh seafood counter; having really yummy tapas and the best strawberry mojitos ever; and shopping! I'm usually not that into shopping, but everyone in Barcelona is so well-dressed that we felt a bit out of place. And the clothes there are so beautiful!

On our last night in Barcelona, Xavi took us out for a traditional Catalan meal followed by some bar-hopping that took us from the absinthe bar, to the dark forest bar, to the doorbell-only access bar, and finally a dance club with bad 80s music.

All in all, Barcelona treated us well and was the perfect ending to a super fun trip!

I've now uploaded photos from my SLR to my computer. I will post a link to them here shortly!

Thanks again to all of our hosts for making our trip so wonderful!

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