Spain 1, Sept 2004
September 23, 2004 GMT
Spain. It's really great.

Sept 16 04

Blimey - I'm in Spain. And Ow! Ouch! Ooyah! I'm in pain. The pain in Spain falls mainly on the neck. Some sorta trapped nerve or something which no doubt will go away soon. Please.

Anyway - Espana! Another day of uninterrupted blazing sunshine, now with added mountains. Up at 7am (in Bordeaux) with a rough plan to get to Bayonne, which in the event I sailed straight past, in order to have lunch by the sea in Biarritz. Very fancy, but not somewhere you'd want to stay the night without a platinum Amex tucked into your slacks. And Spain was beckoning.

I was expecting some sort of border post; last time I drove this way (in a car) I was practically strip-searched by the side of the road. But there's nothing. Not even a "Bienvenido" sign and a picture of a comedy bull.

Suddenly there's much more traffic and the driving is a whole lot worse. Mine included. I nearly say "Hola" to Senor Tarmac when a gentle right hand bend decides on a whim it would really rather be a hairpin. Otherwise it's all "Wow - the Pyrenees" and "Ow - my perineum", past San Sebastian and on to Zarauta (sp?) and a very nice hotel with CNN.

I really need to get rid of some more weight, either from me or my belongings. There's no way I'm getting rid of my mini-electric guitar though. No way. Do you hear me? Maybe all that camping shit...

Later I'm in the hotel bar. It's me and two impossibly old women, and it's clear they don't fancy me. "Crash" by The Primitives is playing. "Slow down you're gonna..." etc. Wise words. And what a blooming great song.

Where my appalling French is solidly rooted in fine, decent British O-level, my Spanish is built on a foundation of half-truths and misconceptions garnered from
(a) hispanic characters in US cop shows of the 70's and 80's,
(b) Sesame Street, and
(c) an erroneous belief that all European languages apart from German can be conversed in using a home-made, distinctly personal form of Esperanto based on a mixture of the user's mother tongue and some mumbling.
"Donde esta", I believe, means "where is"; unhappily I don't know the word for whatever it is I need to find.

Aaaaaaah! I really need to have a conversation in English, with jokes, soon. I once spent four weeks working in Tokyo, and when I came home I could not only not speak Japanese, but had also forgotten how to speak English. And think it. And, er, write. It.

Tapas! Ain't that just the greatest thing ever? A little bit of mystery food with every beer. And - Oh! sweet Jesus on a penny farthing - that Spanish ham...

Decision time - west, across the Northern coast of Spain, or south-west, into the probably-drier interior? The rain in Spain falls not on the plain. That's exactly where it's least likely to fall. Mountains - bring an umbrella and a kagoule. Coast - better off staying indoors.

Five days into the trip, and a bunch of annoying doubts have finally gone to sit on the back seat of the psychological bus. They're now just staring out of the window, and look as though they may nod off soon, leaving me to get on with the business of doing whatever the hell it is I'm doing. Quiet at the back!

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 05:26 PM GMT
September 24, 2004 GMT
Extreme Manliness.

Sept 17th '04. La Puebla de Argazon.

A roadhouse, somewhere between Vitoria and Burgos.
Christ I feel manly! I've just spent an hour in a dusty truckstop in el centro de nowhere, oiling me chain, pumping up me tyres to near-roadworthy pressure and checking me lubricants. Missus. A great Sopa (soup) de (of) Pescados (fish) for lunch and a very clean, cool room for 32 euros.

It's about 85 degrees. Sodding fantastic mountains on the way here, marred only by jabs of neck pain which is now thankfully on the way out. People continue to offer help out of the blue. A young studenty chap came up to me in Vitoria to talk about motorcycles and and offer directions. Thanks buddy! I suppose I do look a wee bit like a refugee, with my whole life packed into bags and boxes on the back of the moto.

Having checked into the roadhouse - man that's cool - I dumped several kilos of luggage and went in search of fags (Hey there Mr Yankee Doodle Dandy! Quit sniggering!). The quest took me to a village called Trevino. With the bicycletta almost back to racing weight and just a t-shirt on, it became one of those perfect 10-mile round trips. You know what I mean. Spunky throttle! Windy road! Sunny Blue! Ooofff.. nearly scraped me boxes on that last corner... and then roll into a dusty petrol station, where a lone nipper on a moped gawps wistfully at my throbber - stop it madam - grab the fags; and can't get onto that fantastic 5 mile return stretch quickly enough. Whaaaaaa! That's what it's all about. That, and ice-cold Cruzcampo in a dusty roadhouse, somewhere in Spain, at a time of day when anyone with any moral fibre AT ALL is in an air-conditioned office, straightening paperclips and making rubber-band spheres.

This is the best thing I've ever done, ever. In my whole life. It's even better than when I had it off with a minor TV celeb. And that was a moment of shimmering glory.

I'm having love thoughts towards my moto. Naturally, it aspires to be an animal that, while slightly fat, can dart off quickly if the need arises. A wild pig, if you will. I am forcing it into donkey mode by loading it up with tons of crap and expecting it to cope with minimal food and water... and I feel sorry for it. Sometimes, though, it seems as if it's enjoying itself as much as I am. Spurting past a Czech juggernaut on an uphill Pyrenean bend, for example.
Mind you, the moment it becomes an obstinate ass and refuses to comply with my every demand, I'll have the bugger shot and made into glue. Only joking darling! Love you! xxxx

Last night I had a dream I was going out with Britney Spears. And she was the most incredible pain in the arse.

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 10:25 AM GMT
No Sleep 'til Valladolid.


18th Sept '04. Saturday Night.

Young women of Valladolid, I salute you! I can only stand by, mute, and feebly applaud, as my chin hits the pavement *CLANG* and my eyeballs spring out onto my cheekbones *SCHLUP* for the hundredth time tonight.

19th Sept '04.

Oh holy mother of sodomy! The smell coming from my trousers as I sit down to breakfast in my room suggests - and it's rather a firm suggestion - that my legs and related areas have died without me noticing. One could mould the air like ice cream with a scoop.
Thank the Lord! It's not me. It's some outrageous German cheese I bought yesterday. Whatever will the maid think though?

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 10:36 AM GMT

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