Thursday 8 December 2011

On Two Wheels in Spain

Just got back from a fairly long trip which included a few days in Barcelona, Spain. While 4 days isn’t enough time to get to “know” a city, my first impressions are that Barcelona could easily become one of my favourite places to visit. How can you not like a city that celebrates graffiti as being part of its art scene (and some of it is very good indeed), that brought the world Antoni Gaudi  and his magical Park Guell and piece de resistance, the Sagrada Familia, started in 1882 and expected to be completed in 2026 (although some claim 2050 is more likely), a city where ancient Roman walls blend seamlessly into modern shopping districts, and a city that has so totally embraced 2-wheeled travel?
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While I didn’t have the opportunity to experience two-wheeled travel first-hand on this trip, it would be impossible not to remark on how the scooter is such a integral part of the culture. Whether it’s the young lady in a skirt and high heels commuting to work or the older fellow out doing some shopping in the market, the scooter is a major method of transportation for many city residents and the full-face helmet a popular fashion accessory.
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Lane splitting is common at traffic lights where car and bus drivers leave a little room up front for the scooters to move to the head of the line and be the first off the mark when the light changes. Parking appears to be wherever there is space, however riders are careful not to block the sidewalks but position their bikes in such a way that pedestrian traffic is unimpeded. Overall there appears to be a sense of accommodation that is sorely lacking here in North America. I guess it’s partly the car culture we have here and the sense of entitlement that seems to come with 4 wheels and a roof. It’s also likely related to the economics of owning and operating a car versus the cost of scootering. Or it could just be that drivers realise that it could very well be their own wife/son/daughter/neighbour on those two wheels in front of them. But whatever the reason it was very refreshing to see.
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  1. I visited Barcelona a few years ago and fell in love with the city. I hope you visited the "Sagrada Familia", it's a beautiful place.

  2. @George - I sure did visit the Sagrada Familia. It's one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Barcelona and it sure didn't disappoint. What an amazing structure. Unfortunately we didn't get to attend a service there, but I expect that would be an incredible experience to hear an organ and choir singing in that venue.

  3. Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona is on my bucket list, you lucky, lucky person! My wife will be there in May as part of a Mediterranean cruise, with a mate of hers as neither the girlfriend's husband or I like the cruise bit!

    Any photos of Gaudi's works?

  4. @Geoff - Sad story there. Just before we left Barcelona I bought a new memory card for my camera and put the one with all the Barcelona pics in "a safe place". Well it was so safe I have never been able to find it, so I expect it (along with all my Gaudi pictures) is still somewhere in Spain, or came out of the suitcase some time during the cruise. So now I have to go back. :)

  5. Canajun:

    What Luck ! I could free up some time Just for You. I could do you a BIG favour. Just send over some funds, you know . . . enough for airfare, accommodations and some meals and I will reluctantly go to Barcelona and "retake" all those photos that you "lost", with my dSLR. If you loan me that Dana lens I could give you smeary, OOF ones too.

    I mean, what are friends for ?

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. @Bobskoot - That's a pretty tempting offer. Give me some time to think about it, okay? :)

  7. I am very envious....Barcelona on my list of things to do...been to Madrid a few times on Business..and absolutely loved it...the ambiance, the people, the you went out to dinner after 9:00 pm...and the food Oh so delicioussssss...I think I am willing to carry Bob Scoots's Cameras and bags for him on this trip if you provide the tickets....

  8. Sshhh... Listen carefully.... Hear that? That's the sound of me exploding with jealousy! One of these days, thou... :)

  9. im with irene! lol... fabulous canajun!


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