2016: Europe trip – Part 3/4

The Pyrenees and Spain

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After leaving the French Mediterranean coast I continued my trip south passing by small quaint villages and vineyards while climbing my way into the Pyrenees mountains. After crossing the border to Spain I had the first puncture of my trip, and also experienced a pretty bad crash. From the Pyrenees I headed out to the coast around the city Rosas, and then went south towards Barcelona, where the loss of my bike would turn my adventure upside down.

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Riding in the Pyrenees at sunset

Encountering wild dogs!

In the evening of my first day in the Pyrenees I was looking for a place to set up my tent. I dragged my bike down some tightly grown paths, and found a great spot to put my tent, which was right on the side of a vineyard and with a great view of the Pyrenees. After setting camp I realized that not too far away was a trailer campsite, which I could tell from the sound of some barking dogs and people shouting and playing music. While having a late dinner just before dark, I had a quite unpleasant surprise: I was approached by 4 dogs that came running out of the tall grass field, which separated me and the camping place. I’m not really a dog person, and after being chased in flip flops by a pack of 7 wild (barking!) dogs in Costa Rica 3 months earlier, I particularly didn’t enjoy encountering dogs by myself in the wild. I immediately jumped up and got my knife, ready to fight if necessary. It turned out that the dogs were just exploring the area. After sniffing me and my stuff, 3 of them ran off. The last dog – a black labrador – stayed, despite my attempts to shush it away. It ended up keeping me company through the night, laying right up against my tent and stayed until I left the next morning.

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The dog that kept me company while camping in the vineyard
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Morning view from tent while camping by the vineyard

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Visited the Catalonian Fort de Bellegarde right on the French-Spanish border
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View from the Fort

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Looking into Spain from the Fort de Bellegarde

Crashing on the Spanish border

I rode on a nice and newly paved greenway all the way up to the Spanish border. According to my host, from the night before, there were suppose to be a greenway continuing into Spain, but at the border there were several greenway signs contradicting each other. Rather quickly I made up my mind and went in the direction of one the green signs. The road quickly went from a smooth asphalt surface to a slippery and dusty gravel trail. At first it didn’t bother me much, but as I continued, the trail got extremely bumpy and started descending at a rapidly increasing gradient. As I was riding downwards my speed was increasing fast, and trying to brake I realized I couldn’t stop, because the gravel was so slippery and my slim road tires couldn’t get a grip. The only thing that would slow me a bit down, were the big holes in the road. Eventually I was riding so fast, that I couldn’t make it around in a sharp turn, and crashed the straight into a big rock and fell off the bike into some thorn bushes. Gathering myself after the crash, I got up, a bit shaken up and bleeding several places on my arms and legs. I decided to walk the rest of the descend, but the surface was so slippery that I fell several times even when walking the bike. On the last and steepest part of the descend I had to get my bags of and bring them down first, and go up again and get my bike.

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Encountered some pretty steep climbs in the Pyrenees

Exhausted from the tough riding, and doing so in plus 35 degrees Celsius, I almost collapsed when I reached the beach close by the town Roses. After lying on the beach for most of the day I decided to ride to a less crowded place to setup my tent. Since entering Spain, the biking conditions had changed for worse, and as I was riding on the side of a busy road going south along the coast, I ran over something sharp and immediately felt the puncture on my rear wheel. When I stopped to look, I saw a huge hole in my tire, caused by a blade from a utility knife. Although the puncture just added on to a very lousy day, I was still quite impressed, considering the cheap tires I was using: This was my first puncture, and I had travelled over 3.000 kilometers! I was lucky to find a nearby bike shop that was still open, since my patch kit couldn’t repair the hole and I didn’t have a spare tube. With a new tube and air in my rear wheel I found a quiet spot on the beach, with a great view of the Pyrenees mountain chain meeting the ocean.

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Woke up to this amazing sunrise, when camping on the beach south of Roses

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A bit stressful riding on the N-11 highway on my way to Girona and Barcelona
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Inside the Arab baths in Girona
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From the Triumphal arch in Paris, to the one in Barcelona
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Sunset from the Tibidabo mountain

Loosing my bike in Barcelona!

Once in Barcelona I met up with the friends I stayed with in Amsterdam, whom had moved to Barcelona while I was under way on my trip. I was enjoying having some time off the bike to relax and explore the city, but on my second day in Barcelona I woke up to an awful surprise. Looking out the window of my friends second floor apartment I saw that my bike wasn’t by the bicycle stands, where I had locked it the day before. I quickly put on some clothes and ran down to the street to look for my bike. After searching the surrounding area for almost an hour I gave up, and accepted the fact that my bike was gone. I was bummed out to have lost my faithful companion, and decided to end my trip in Barcelona and get a plane ticket home to Copenhagen. Looking for plane tickets I discovered that all the tickets to Denmark were extremely expensive, and the only affordable ticket to somewhere near home was to Berlin, which I decided to buy. It was frustrating at first not being able to get directly home, but it would turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave me an opportunity to continue my adventure for while longer before returning home. I spent my remaining days in Barcelona exploring the city and surrounding areas by foot, before getting on a plane to Berlin. You can read about part 4 of my trip here: 2016: Europe trip – Part 4/4

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Exploring Barcelona on foot after my bike got stolen
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View over Barcelona from Park Güell
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4 thoughts on “2016: Europe trip – Part 3/4

    1. Thanks Alex! I wouldn’t worry too much about it outside the big cities.

      Part 4 will be up on the 9th. I can see that you’e riding around Europe this summer. Let me know if you need any advise or pass by Denmark. I’m planning to ride in the Balkans or Alps this summer 🙂

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