Global warming at work; the best weather ever in The Netherlands. With temperatures close to 90 and sunny skies we had all we could ask for , but for the locals it was way to warm. With averages temperatures of 70 degrees in July there was no need for air condition , but they sure could use it now. As always the flowers all around were beautiful and the cycling was a blessing on all the bicycle paths. We biked through the heart of Amsterdam all the way from the south to the north, without being on the road. Being 5 o’clock on a Friday evening we had to share those bike lanes with hundreds of other bikers, but we managed to get through.
Next July from the 11th trough the 22nd we will visit The Netherlands, the proper name for “Holland” as known by many. This trip will be highlighted by visits to Giethoorn, the Venice of the north; the cheese market in Gouda; all the windmills at Kinderdijk and Delft with it’s delft blue pottery. At the end of the trip we’ll spend a day in Amsterdam. The canals; museums , the Anne Frank home and the Heineken factory are all there to explore.
In the summer of 2017 our bicycle trip will lead us to Zurich, Switzerland from where we will start our riding along lakes and the Rhine river on our way to Austria. After a few days over rolling terrain we’ll end up in the Bavarian part of Germany where we will visit the famous Neuschwanstein castle. At the end of the trip we’ll get back to Zurich, where we will spend an extra day of sightseeing
Our last day in Spain left us to spend the day in Barcelona. We took a bus from our hotel to center city, Some decided to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus in hopes of seeing a lot of the city sights in the short period of time we had. Top on most of our list was to see La Sagrada Familia, the Sacred Family, church designed and built by Antonio Gaudi. Started over 100 years ago, it is still not completed. Gaudi’s architecture style was unique and perhaps too modern for his time. But now, people from all over the world come to see his works of art. Other examples of his architectural designs can be seen throughout the city. Some also were able to see the Barcelona Quatar Soccer stadium, the Olympic Village from the 1992 Olympics, the seaport,and beach area. Shopping was on the mind of some and Las Ramblas and other well know streets with many stores fulfilled their needs. Many of us met for our last Spanish dinner of Seafood and Chicken Paella. Celebrating our successful journey, Sangria was served and a variety of tapas. All in all, a great day!
It is our last day of riding as we head back to Barcelona. Leaving Sant Llorenc we cycled past some beautiful lakes with the bluest water some of us had ever seen. Spectacular! Mountain tunnels were a part of most days and sometimes they were one lane and non lighted. So the van tried to get through before another car started from the other side. It was another hot day,so as we entered the city of Barcelona, we did the truly American thing, and stopped for smoothies at McDonalds.
This was the longest day of our journey. We traveled 100 miles and climbed 10,000 feet. We thought we could adopt the theme song “Ain’t no mountain High Enough”! It was hot and the climbs were long. Our water supply was exhausted, but just in time we found a spring of refreshing mountain water. There was a CELEBRATION at the top of Col de Jou, after climbing 6 mountains that day. The town of Sant Llorenc and the El Monegal were welcome sights. The hotel was a farm converted into a lodging and although English was not spoken by the owners they understood that we were tired, thirsty, and hungry and they supplied our needs. Great day, but everyone was happy that the BIG climbs were over.
After another hearty breakfast of meats,cheeses,tortilla espanola, fruit, and a variety of breads we got on route N260 and we were on the same road all day. This road took us through some beautiful gorges and overlooks. We stopped at a little picnic area for lunch and tried to find as much shade as we could, because road temperatures have reached as high as 106 degrees some days! We took a quick break to capture some pictures of a flock of vultures. Huge birds who some thought were following us to see if one of the cyclists fell off so they could pick them up as prey! Maite, a bubbly,sweet senora greeted us at Hotel Cotori in Pont de Suert. After a little shopping and some relaxing in the courtyard, we had a wonderful dinner and again found our beds to be a welcome sight.
Today we head back to Spain by first climbing the beautiful Col de Peyresourde with it lush growth of green as we start the climb and the sparkling snow capped peaks as we reach the top. It was mini quiche for lunch today followed by delicious pastries for afternoon snack. Every stop for a break in the climbing was well appreciated today as we topped the Col d’ Azet andCol de Bielsa. At the top of the Col de Bielsa there was a two mile long tunnel that we needed to go through. BUT, when we arrived,we were greeted with signs stating that no bicycles or pedestrians were allowed to go through.Border crossings are very limited and we would have to make a 100 mile detour,so we tried to go through the tunnel despite the warning. That didn’t work! Sirens and alarms went off loudly and we resorted to making three trips with the van to get us through. The Pena Montanesa hotel was a welcome sight and the cooling pool and the buffet dinner made us all happy cyclists.