Posts Tagged With: Showing off my knowledge

Day 10/164: Rest Day in Medellin

Even though we could sleep in I was awake at 5am. It rained heavily again during the night. The hotel is built around a small courtyard, when it rains you can hear it pouring down through the floors.

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The inner courtyard of the hotel (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had been told that the hotel had organized to get our washing done at special rates but we had to bring it down at 9 pm. When we bought it down the people at reception knew nothing about it and wanted to do it at usual hotel rates which would have cost approximately $100 NZ, so now we have to get it sorted today on a public holiday. It’s national Independence Day today in Colombia. Lesson learnt from this is that unless something can be done right away, don’t count on it.

I went down to breakfast, had cereal and fruit, and strawberry juice – that was a first! Interesting but not a convert.

Last night we went out to eat, I forgot the name of the place but it was Colombian food. I ordered a dish that came with a spicy vegetable soup, beans, rice, a potato cake (which was like a bread cover with potato inside), dried beef (it was like beef dust) and pork crackling, set off with a fried egg and quarter of an avocado (which is three times the size of NZ ones), cooked plantain (which is in the banana family), and a banana. It was interesting but way too much. There were 6 of us and we shared a jug of sangria. The bill was 35 pesos, which is approximately $16 NZ.

Today we had to meet in the lobby at 10am to go to a bike shop. It had been organized in advance for us to stay open today. A number of the riders needed to get various parts. One rider Eric could not get the parts he needed and ended up having to get another bike to be able to continue.

I needed new cleat clips for my new biking shoes, a magnet for my speedo, drink bottle (I bought a spare also), some bike lube and more chamois cream. I also bought a tube which is something you can wear as a hat or as a scarf around your neck or over the bottom half of your face. I figure this will be useful as we go further south. Nothing worse than having a frozen nose.

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The bike store that opened specially for us (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Ended up doing the washing by hand in the bath. I hung it up on the roof, and no sooner had I done this than it started to rain again. Hopefully the sun will come out again soon.

Trying to dry stuff ip on the roof ((Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Trying to dry stuff up on the roof (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia. It is located in the Aburra Valley, in the Andes Mountains. Situated 1,500 meters above sea level it is cooler than some other parts of Colombia.

As it is close to the equator it has pretty the same temperature all year round – an average of 22 degrees. The climate is tropical rainforest, so lots of rain and sun. Not great to keep a tent dry but excellent for growing.

The population in the city is 2.44 million, and with the surrounding areas it comes to 3.5 million. I have not seen any stray dogs in the inner city, but have seen some homeless people on the ride in.

The poor people live up high in the hills and there are a number of chair lifts operating so they can get to and from work. Whilst Medellin is considered a safe city it is not considered safe to wander around in the poorest areas.

We spent the rest of the day getting sorted for the next 6 days riding, before the next rest day in Bogota. My clothing is 95% dry. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner, I had half of a very nice bottle of Cab Sav from Chile – only my second wine on this trip – Colombia does not produce any wine, and some excellent ribs.

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

View from the roof (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Day 64: Barcelona to Tarragona – 103k

4,995km down: 1,230km to go 

Yay no fire alarm at 1:30 in the morning so I had a better sleep last night. We had a slightly later start today as the hotel restaurant was not open until 7:30am. We were also delayed by one of the riders – Scott – who had his bike bag stolen from the lobby while the group was there!

At the time it was stolen the group was listening to the day’s instructions. I am not sure how many of you have seen the video where you have to watch and say how many times the ball was passed between people on the screen. At the end of the video you get asked how many times the ball was passed – but also if you saw the moon-walking bear. Of course nobody sees the bear moon-walking across the screen because they are so busy counting passes. Well that’s pretty much what happened – the bag was taken from right in front of us and none of us can remember seeing anyone other than a rider at the time!

Stealing is rife here, when we were having lunch Brett had his phone on the table, and the waitress told him to put it in his pocket so it would not be stolen. When Scott went to the police station there was a full time interpreter on site that spoke English and French. There was an English couple there who had been at the railway station, a person had sprayed the man’s coat so he put down his bag to inspect the damage, and bang – his bag was gone!

The first 12k today was a convoy, we went out of the city past the art museum, it was an amazing building from the outside, plus we saw the outside of the football stadium that seats 99,000.

Interesting building on the way out of Barcelona (it’s a hotel)

Then we had a climb over a hilly range of hills then back to beaches again. Unlike the French beaches the Spanish beaches were humming (although today of course was Sunday so will be interesting to see if this is the same for the rest of the week).

Coastal hills on the way from Barcelona (we were on the smaller road up the top)

We went past another huge deserted amusement park – maybe they only open in the evenings? Or maybe the economic downturn is taking a toll? The campsite we are staying at looks pretty quiet, so far no students or people who look like they will party until the wee hours, so fingers crossed (no sign of dogs or roosters either) and there are no large overhead lights over the tent area.

Henry (who is the owner of Tour d’Afrique Ltd), his partner, and his mum came to see us in Barcelona, and catch up with the tour guys. Tonight they had dinner with us at camp. Henry told us the history of the start up of the African ride in 2003 – fascinating stories. Plus we heard about how he was attacked by an elephant on the Indian ride in 2011, he was very lucky to still be alive. Luckily the elephant stopped when the helmet cracked, but by that time he had cracked ribs, a badly broken arm, and a broken back. Henry is back riding now but only about 8k a day, but is hopeful of making a full recovery.

Tomorrow we leave the coast and head inland, we don’t see the sea again until Lisbon, and then it is the Atlantic not the Mediterranean! We have now done 4,995k since we left St Petersburg. We have 12 riding days left until the end of the ride, plus 3 rest days.

Late addition: I meant to say in my blog yesterday: in the market there are lots of people selling this very annoying whistle toy, but I couldn’t think of anyone I disliked enough to buy their child one. Clearly people buy them as they were selling them about every two metres along the boulevard.

 Test Your Awareness Video:

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment