Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Escalade in Santa Gadea, Spain

Back to Spain again for 4 days of Bouldering in Santa Gadea, a very very tiny town in the north of Spain about 5 hrs drive from Bordeaux. The climbing area was only discovered a few years ago and has been kept a nice secret by the spanish - but maybe not for much longer! Over the three days of climbing we only managed to see a very small part of the area but you could easily spend a year there and not see everything :)

....and Marty's bestest climb of the trip, a fantastic dyno - boom! unfortunately that meant I was in charge of the camera so the photo doesnt full capture his flying moment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter in Spain

With spring setting in now, we thought we might escape France for a bit on a mission to find food with flavour. So we hired a shitty little lawnmower/car (Citron C2), which really struggled on the 130 km/hr autoroutes, and headed to the north of Spain for 9 days. Barcelona was definitely the highlight of the trip, but all the other smaller cities had something interesting too.

First stop San Sebastian/Bilbo which despite the freezing cold and rain (...ah yes it does rain in Spain on the Plain) are definitely on the top of my return-to-when-its-nice-and-warm list. Truely amazing tapas in these places!!! Bilbo is home to a much talked about Guggenheim museum which doesnt really fit with the rest of the towns architecture but it does have the cutest little red 'Bilbobus'...

Next stop Pamplona - home of the Running of the Bulls. Randomly on our drive there, in some small town which remains nameless, we were told to pull over by a bunch of locals - and a few seconds later billions of cyclists zoomed by. I appeared to be standing at the piss-here zone which was rather entertaining! After much searching we discovered it was a professional race the 'Klasika primavera' a one day race...pretty cool, Marty managed to pick up a food bag they droped full of protein bars which taste alright the first bite but after a whole bar are a bit difficult to get down.
Pamplona is a pretty nice place, was very empty though so hard to imagine the atmosphere with the bull running (even with El Torro Marty reenactment)...although we did stuff ourselves full of the bestest Tapas for the entire trip here! the Spanish ham is amazing.
Next we stayed at Zaragoza - known for "Our Lady of the Pillar" a church where St James saw a vision of Mary, bus loads of tourists turn up here to kiss the pillar...did really want to catch some random disease from all the tourists so steered clear of there. We had a pretty cool hotel here right opposite to the church (see the building on the left thats our hotel), great view, but I really didnt enjoy the ding-donging bells every hour of the night - that was a very long night ahhhh!!!

And onto Barcelona - what a fantastic city, I cant wait to go back again for more days...the markets are just amazing I could literally spend all day in there, the Tapa's superb, parc Montjuic has the best atmosphere overlooking the city where the 1992 Olympics were held, La Rambla and the Sagrada Familia 'monstrosity' that is still not finished after 100 years. 'La Rambla' is just crazy at night, the funniest is the thousands of indians standing around with six packs of the cheapest beer you can find trying to sell you one for 1 euro....I still dont understand why, you can go into any bar and buy a real beer for cheaper.

Last stop in Spain was Girona - known (and Im not sure if this is a good thing) for Catalan mullets like you have never seen before, on men and women. Apparently, their towns animal is the donkey and to pay tribute they all grow mullets to look like the tail...there are whole families of mullets walking around! This was really just a stop over place on the way home and to meet up with a mate of Marty's but it turned out to be a really beautiful town (if you ignore the mullets with legs).

We spent the last night back in France again...just to break up the drive (yes we are getting the European mentality that 2-3 hours drive is too much in one go). We stayed in Carcasonne - known for the La Casoulette - a meat and white beans stewy type thing, which is really yummy but as Martin found out is not so good if you eat it for lunch and dinner on the same day....amazing castle city but a bit too full of touristy-type stuff and tourists.

The End

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Australia Parc - version French

if you want to laugh at what the french think of Australia check out the website for 'Le Parc Australien' which we passed by on the way back from Spain for Easter....the representation of Aboriginals is particularly entertaining.