Spain

Dates: 13 – 21 May 2019 (9 days, 4 of which were in Barcelona)
Distance cycled/climbed: 204km / 1,850m
Regions covered: Catalonia
Cities visited: Barcelona
Blog posts: One – read it here


Highlights

  • Getting a glimpse of Catalonia outside of Barcelona.
  • Tapas and cañas after a long day in the saddle
  • Milla surprising her friend Charlotte for her hen party
  • The stunning coastal cycle ride from Platja d’Aro to Tossa de Mar.

Route

We had to be in Barcelona by 17 May as Milla had a hen party to catch; we had some distance to cover, but enough time to still enjoy the coast and the beautiful countryside further inland. We followed the main road along the coast to get to Barcelona, but there is a cycle route that starts about 20km outside the city, making it super easy and safe to get there.

Our Warmshowers host in Toulouse, Max, actually plotted our whole route from Toulouse to Barcelona for us. What a legend! He used Ride with GPS, and we then uploaded the routes to Komoot. You can see all the stages of our ride on Milla’s Komoot profile. We ended up a lot on the Pirinexus cycling route, which took us through some beautiful countryside and farmland. Their website is a bit pants, but it’s well sign posted and easy enough to follow.
(Note: the Google map shows roughly all the places we stopped, but not the exact route.)

Borders

France-Spain
We wanted to get in at least a little climbing through the Pyrenees, so we crossed the border at Perthus, although the Perpignan border is very popular with cyclists. Perthus is less a of town and more of a crossing with lots of duty free shops, and there is nowhere to stay – you have to carry on to La Jonquera if you want a bed. We stayed in a good hotel, but discovered some lovely-looking wild camping spots just on the other side of town the next day. Alternatively you could stay in one of the many campsites on the French side in Estagel and cross the border the next morning.

Spain-Peru
We flew with Iberia to Lima, via Madrid. We were lucky enough to get a £40 upgrade to premium economy, so it was a dream of a journey and we didn’t need to pay extra for our bikes with the extra luggage allowance. The only stress was packing and transporting our bikes in boxes – it’s a bit of a pain, but there’s not really any way around it. Make sure to book an extra large taxi to take you to the airport. On entering Peru, we were given a 90 day visa.

Sleeping

We were fully in the campsite mindset once we got to Spain, so didn’t even really think about wild camping. As we had a bit of a deadline to get to Barcelona we were just very focussed on covering as much distance as possible, without having to worry about where we’d sleep each night. We also found that as we were following very resort-y routes it was quite hard to find a decent spot. Safe to say though, along the Costa Brava there is no shortage of places to stay.

Quite a few campsites hadn’t yet opened for the season, but we never struggled to find somewhere. In terms of setting and atmosphere, the quality was nothing like France, especially at the higher prices we paid – generally between €20-€30. Most of these places were geared towards camper vans, and we would often just get a dusty or gravelly pitch in the corner somewhere. However, they were clean and we always had a good hot shower.

Once in Barcelona we stayed in a studio flat booked through Habitat Apartments. It was serviceable and in a good location, but vastly overpriced. We would have preferred AirBnb, but everything decent was gone, and that was booking over a month in advance.

Food

Much like in France, we stuck to bread, cheese and meat for lunch and pastries for breakfast. You can find plenty of small supermarkets on the way, although we have to admit the bread we found paled in comparison to the consistent deliciousness of French baguettes. Not much camp cooking here – in the evenings we went a little flashy and ate at restaurants – the usual coastal food, tapas and pizza.

Bike shop

We got our bikes serviced at Green Bikes. The guys in the workshop were lovely and did a great job. They also provided us with bike boxes and dismantled our bikes for us for the flight for €25 each. We kept our bikes with them during our stay in Barcelona. Picking them up and taking them back to the apartment was a pain; no taxis were big enough, but we eventually managed to get them on the bus!

Water

You can find drinking water in public taps in towns and villages.

Weather

This felt like a really nice time of year to cycle in this region; it was generally hot and dry, but not unbearably so. Some sea breezes once you’re on the coast. We had a horrific headwind cycling from La Jonquera to l’Escala and light rain all day going into Barcelona.

Useful phrases

Podrias llenar nuestras botellas/mi botella con agua por favor?
Please could you fill up our bottles/my bottle with water?
Pod-ree-as yen-ah noo-ess-tras bot-ay-as/me bot-ay-a con ag-wa pour fa-vor?

Estamos buscando un lugar para montar nuestra carpa. Puedes ayudarnos?
We are looking for somewhere to pitch our tent. Can you help?
Es-ta-mos boo-skan-doh oon loo-gar pa-ra mon-tah noo-ess-tra car-pa. Pwe-dez ay-ooh-dar-nos?

Donde esta [la panaderia/el campamento/el supermercado] mas cerca de aqui?
Where is the nearest…[bakery/campsite/supermarket]?
Don-day ess-ta [la pan-a-deh-ree-a / el cam-pa-men-toh / el soo-per-mer-cah-doh] mass ser-ka day a-kee?

In summary

Our time in Spain was fleeting but fun. We gave ourselves an easy ride, so to speak, with straightforward routes, campsites every night, and even eating out! We’d love to come back to explore more of rural Catalonia and the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Got any questions for us? Drop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you

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