Day Five – Race Day

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Race Day

Not a breath other than the breeze caused by the heavy breathing in anticipation of what will happen with the race.  Ocean is like an oil slick and even I, who is feeling like a crash victim this morning thinks I will cope on the sea – its so flat!!!.  And the race is going ahead.  Coms with Rob in South Africa established and I am loaded onto a boat. The leaders establishing themselves almost immediately.  My stupid boat skipper decides to go to the beach to collect a “Referree”  who then ignored the fact that I was doing a live broadcast and proceeded to visit with all his buddies at various stations – this made my task really difficult.  Eventually I exploded and the skipper told me to change boats in the middle of the ocean – imagine – me, my camera, 3 cellphones having to hop from one boat to another  all the while running a commentary.  The South Africans dominated the race which was won by Simon van Gysen (he said it was the sunblock I made him put on his nose that did it) followed by Shaun Rice, Hank Macgregor and Jeremy Cotter from Australia.  Dale limped home in 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds –

By the time we got home I went straight to bed with some of Violettas miracle drugs 1200mg of Ibuprofen plus quarter bottle of heated whiskey mixed with juice of six lemons and a whole bunch of honey…….  I did not stir till the following morning when we left Sella en route to Barcelona

We spent Sunday morning driving up from Villa Joyosa to Barcelona. The freeway was great but the scenery so similar to home that there s not much to comment on save to observe that it boggles the mind to see endless rows of skyscrapers at the resorts frequented by British tourists.  The fact that Brits can travel from Birmingham to spend their summer holiday on the 23rd story of an apartment block in an overcrowded resort says a lot about Birmingham!

The scenery became a lot more interesting as we approached Barcelona with the Montserrat being the most spectacular (my crude grasp of Spanish translates the name a “Sawtooth Mountains” and they certainly look the part.

One again we were astounded by our navigational abilities (or shear dumb luck) Barcelona is huge and one enters the suburban sprawl at least 15 km before the city centre but despite numerous arbitrary choices of freeways and off ramps we wound up within 500m of where we wanted to be. Sal went online and quickly found us a hotel and, after checking in an offloading our luggage we went in search of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Driving through Barcelona is interesting to say the least with a most unusual road system consisting of a centre road of 4 lanes, a green verge with trams and then outer lanes on each side.  This coupled with the fact that robots appear to be discretionary amend one is driving on the wrong side of the road makes for an interesting driving experience (hopefully Sal does not insert a comment here!).

At any rate we found our way around without a problem. The Sagrada Familia turned out to be even more spectacular in life than pictures.  I can say without reservation that it is by far and away the most spectacular architecture I have ever seen.  I have only one more building on my bucket list: Frank Lloyd-Wrights Falling Water in Pennsylvania in the US.

Monday morning we caught a train along the beautiful coastline from Barcelona to Montpelier. One of the striking features of our travels and along this route is the large number of giant wind turbines, which line the hilltops.  Sal took lots of pictures and I got into trouble for reading my kindle the whole way.

We picked up our hired car at midday and drove to Nimes, which is an old Roman town at the centre of the Provance region.  The biggest structure in the centre of the city is a Roman coliseum, which has survived almost fully intact (largely because it was used by princes and king through the ages as a residence). After a bit of searching we found a hotel in the middle of the old city.  If you heard the price you would think we were living in luxury but the pictures will show otherwise (one of the hotels we gave a miss charged Euro 40 per night which included 2 liters of water – presumably for bathing!).

We had supper in what we took to be a French provincial restaurant which turned out to be ok but not quite as good as MacDonald’s (this is a dig at Sal because she stopped me entering the MacD!).

My version of the drive.  I am sure we lost the deposit on our car as there was a deep depression at the front passenger foot area.  In fact I think it had worn through – there were also teeth marks on the dash board and the edges of the passenger seat were ripped where I had gripped too hard.  All jokes aside the problems that we were faced with were:

1.     I cannot see without my glasses – and I could not take my dark glasses off as my eyes were too sensitive from the fever and cold – so clearly I could not see to navigate – this meant the driver had to navigate as well as drive as well as figure out the wrong side of the road driving.

2.     Our traveling speed through the city was in direct proportion to the anxiety felt by the driver – the more anxious the faster he went – (remember he had to navigate as well)

3.     We had to avoid at all costs trams coming at us from all directions and some what we thought were roads were actually tramways – but we solved that problem we just waited for a tram to come past and then rode up its backside – that way it could not plow us over in our cutest little Fiat 500cc

But guess what we did make it safely and unscathed and we do have an extremely brave driver!!!! And a poep of a passenger navigator who I must say has now recovered from the flu and is only left with a snot kop.

Nimes is just beautiful and I am itching to set about walking – and exploring and then we are off to Apt.

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