Barcelona - Nice 2006

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This year's cycling tour went to Barcelona on 6th okober. We arrived late in the afternoon, and had therefore ordered a hotel near the airport. After having established ourselves at the hotel we went to Barcelona to experience the nightlife..
1.dag. Barcelona – Blanes
IMG_0101.jpg (337754 bytes) We started biking around 09:30 and had decided to try to avoid the center of Barcelona. GPS showed a straightforward route along the waterfront. First, we almost on to the highway that runs along the coast. We had to turn on the entrance road and ride against traffic. We met, of course, a police car, and they didn’t exactly look happy with our choice. Maybe the alarm went off already at that point…
The only chance was to ride through the harbor area, but it was fenced. We asked if it was possible to cycle through and out on the other side. We were waved in and continued satisfied
ahead. After a short while a motorist stopped us and said we were not allowed to ride there. He promised to contact the police so we could get through. We continued on, but were quickly overtaken by "Uncle" police on motorcycles with sirens howling. Franco police was not of the soft kind so we quickly realized that a discussion about the route choice was futile. We turned and cycled to the center of Barcelona. Our first "shortcut"!
The trip went well on through Barcelona, but by 1:00 p.m. we had not gotten further than 30 km. Cycling big cities with lots of traffic and traffic lights is a slow process.
IMG_0131.jpg (285987 bytes) From Bacelona we followed the coast up to Blanes in sunshine and about 22 degrees. Flat area. Headwind. Distance 110 km
2.dag. Blanes – Roses
 Costa Brava: Day 2 we started in overcast with some drizzle, but good temperature. The landscape changed in character to more hilly until Palamos, with nice small bays and beaches. The rest of the leg until Roses was less hilly and was a great nature experience. In Spain there weren’t many bike paths, but the motorists took good account of us, and it was usually a good area outside the white line to ride on. We arrived 7:30 p.m. in Roses after a day with a lot of headwind.
3.dag. Roses – Barcares
IMG_0157.jpg (274781 bytes) From Roses trip started with a relatively easy cycling. We avoided the mountainous northeast of Roses, despite the fact that it would have been great experience. The area was recommended in SAS's magazine. In Vilajuiga it started to be get more hillier again, pacing over to Lanca. The weather was relatively nice until we started the real climb from Colera over to Porlbou, and up in the mountains we got rain. We had a stop in Porlbou to wait for better weather, but then we certainly must have been waited for a long time. The town is positioned between steep mountains. Because of the rain we couldn’t see much, but it certainly must be a great view in better weather. We started on the hills towards the French border which are only 3 km from Porlbou. On the French side, there are a lot of great bike paths and trails. It’s clear that they have invested heavily in cycling tourism. From Port Vendres terrain flattened out and we had a relatively easy cycling until Barcares, despite the headwind. The tour Barcelona - Nice was determined from the estimated of likely wind direction, but we missed badly.
4.dag. Barcares – Sete
IMG_0174.jpg (145258 bytes) The day started cloudy and we had some rain. The temperature in the morning was around 15 degrees, but got later up to around 20 degrees. The terrain between Bara Cares and Sete is almost completely flat. There are beautiful beaches in the area, but because of the weather swimming hadn’t been an issue.
IMG_2119.jpg (293535 bytes) There is beautiful tree-lined avenue along the canals on the way to Sete.
IMG_0178.jpg (235916 bytes) Bicycle paths in France go many places completely undisturbed from other traffic.
5.dag. Sete – Arles
IMG_0306.jpg (241449 bytes) From Seat we followed the canals along the coast. Completely flat area and in La Grande Motte, we went inland. The weather remained stable, overcast with periods of rain, but comfortable temperature. We arrived around 19:00 in Arles. Spent some time trying to find a hotel, but found at last a pleasant hotel in the center.
IMG_0565.jpg (41633 bytes) Pelicans on the road to Arles.
IMG_0218.1.jpg (177820 bytes) Stretching legs.
6.dag. Arles – La Ciotat
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From Arles we went through the outer parts of the Camargue. If we had had more time, we had cycled on more quite roads further west down to Saintes Maries de la Mer. The road that was selected was a four-lane road. Much noise and heavy traffic, but motorists still take account of cyclists, unlike in Norway (Narvik). They wait patiently behind until it’s safe to overtake, and there is no horn, no finger or trying to force you off the road. Here, Norwegian motorists have a lot to learn or it’s maybe something with the attitude.
We got a puncture in the middle of the area, and soon became aware of the amount of mosquitoes that were there. Replacement of the tube went quickly! In Martigues sun peeked out again after 4 days. We went on after a short break south toward Marseilles. The city is surrounded by mountains, and after a brief lunch in the harbor, we headed to La Ciotat. La Ciotat was another fine French town, but without exception, showed signs of being of season.
7.dag. La Ciotat – Saint Tropez
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The stretch from La Ciotat to St. Tropez is topographically diverse, and has a wonderful nature. The sun was with us again and we had a great experience of nature along the cliff coast. We had to search a bit to find a place to stay that was not too expensive in St. Tropez. We asked a person if he knew where we could find a cheap hotel, but he thought that the beach was most suitable for us. I am a bit unsure of what he really ment ....
The prices here are significantly higher than the lesser known places, and in retrospect we could with advantage have stopped somewhere else that was at least as good. However, it was nice to have seen jet-set place St. Tropez where rich people try to outdo each other in boats and expensive cars. The thought struck me that they might not be any happier than 4 people on bikes cycling the French Riviera.
8.dag. Saint Tropez – Nice
IMG_0326.jpg (304316 bytes)  After a short visit to the port of Saint Tropez and a photograph of the "rowboats", we were heading to Nice. Rock formations ranged from various gray colors to rust red and the road goes close to the rocky beach. In my opinion, this area together with Porlbou were the finest area on the entire tour.
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Beautiful countryside west of Cannes
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BT's next investment?
With this kind of boat at home we were convinced that even BT should manage to spend his monthly salary.

IMG_2167.jpg (233077 bytes) Break
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Arne with his French girlfriend!

IMG_2186.jpg (203763 bytes) On the road to Nice
9.dag. Nice – Monaco – Ventimiglia
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We should have had a rest day in Nice, but decided to take a trip to Monaco and across the border to Italy. We ended up in Ventimiglia, where we had a great lunch. Sabbath ended up with 90 km biking.
IMG_0430.jpg (291120 bytes) On the border between France and Italy
IMG_0387.jpg (264322 bytes) At La Geneve. The name sounded promising, the standard was not quite in style. The area indicated that we should take the bikes into the hotel room and the floor was so lopsided that I face strait back into the bed, when I tried to get up in the morning.
Return Day
IMG_0449.jpg (292835 bytes) After a night out in Nice, in despair searching for a bike shop, we gave up and went to the beach instead. The temperature of the water so late in the year, is around 22-25 degrees. We had a refreshing swim and some sunbathing, before we went to the airport. There is a bike path all the way out to the airport. The airport is just 7 - 8 km from the center.
 

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On the way to the airport

Total: 1030 km