Friday, August 08, 2008

Bicicleta

Having woken up, later that day I meet a Mexican girl from Albuquerque, who is quite annoying but her Spanish is handy, so I reason manipulating the situation is worth the headache, at least until after the tapas menu has been deciphered.

Evening starts to draw in, but the city continues to radiate the heat that has been beating down on it during the day. The Netherlands are playing in the European Championships, and I make an attempt to watch it in a bar, but have to step outside every quarter of an hour to escape the baking interior. An Australian is doing the same, and soon we are discussing the matches that have gone by in the previous weeks, and whether the Spanish could manage to beat the Italians. Our conversation ranges, and soon I ask him where he’s from.
“It’s a little town, called Colac. I always say I’m from Melbourne, but really it’s a good a hundred and fifty ks from there.”
“I know of Colac,” I nonchalantly mention.
“You’ve heard of Colac!? How come?”
“Yeah. The Timmons. You know, Neighbours.”
“The Timmons! Alright! I’ve been on the road for 5 months, and not a single person has known Colac.”
And so, we chat into the night and stay out drinking beer and eating crisps and bread until dawn. That’s when good Neighbours knowledge makes good friends.

The next morning, I meet Alex – for that is the Victorian’s name – over some breakfast, and we discuss what our respective days potentially involve. I mention I’d fancied that I might hire a bike, which he seems keen on too, so we decide to double up.

An hour later, we are winding our way through Granada’s streets, on a couple of bikes with baskets on the front. Slightly girlish you may think, but handy for a litre bottle of water. We weave our way up to the Alhambra, as Alex hasn’t seen it yet and just wants a quick peak, and then we launch our bikes down Cuesta de los Chinos, the steep rocky pathway that runs down alongside the fortress walls to the river and town below. Our bikes aren’t really built for this sort of thing, and they clank loudly in protest as the mud guards nearly rattle off. It is rather satisfying to this sort of thing on a bike with a basket though, I decide.

We then climb up through the winding streets of Albaicín, pausing more often now that the sun is getting hotter, beating down relentlessly.
“42°C!” exclaims one signpost I pass. I begin to wonder whose bright idea all of this was. We then sail back down into the city, enjoying the breeze as we pick up speed.

We’re thirsty by now, and have both easily chugged down our respective litres of water, and plaintively complain to one another about our dehydration. At that point we notice we are riding down an avenue which is lined by trees sporting bulging oranges. A plan hatches.


A few moments later, I am heaving Alex up into a tree, from which he can pluck us a hopefully juicy orange. He drops to the floor and tears in to the fruit, and we each bite into a sizeable segment. The orange is indeed juicy, and sends juice splashing down my shirt as I bite into it. But something isn’t quite right.
“Gross!” Alex retches, tossing the remaining orange to the ground and spitting the contents from his mouth. We hadn’t realised these were Seville Oranges, only good for making marmalade with. I really am thirsty though, so suck away on my piece regardless of how acidic and bitter it is.

We give up on going back to nature, and park up at a café and ord
er lunch. They add 5 euros onto your bill if you choose to sit outside on the terrace, rather than in the air-conditioned interior, which seems a bit of a no brainer. Inside, Leona Lewis sings of her ongoing menstruation problems and I eat anchovies to get my salt levels back up.

We mull where to next, and find ourselves glancing eastwards.
“Mountains,” we agree.

We buy extra water, and wobble our way through the traffic and out of town. It doesn’t take long before the inclines begin, and people stop and stare, open-mouthed, as we pass by in the heat of the day on our bikes with baskets on the front. One man leans out of his car window as it overtakes, and cheers “King of the Mountains! King of the Mountains!”. In his excitement, he fails to negotiate a bend, and plunges off the road and down the side mountain, but he doesn’t really.

A few hours later, we drop the bikes off, and, somewhat unsteady on our feet, agree we should retire to our respective beds: Spain are playing tonight, so we will need to recover some energy. My scalp is feeling funny, and, as I drift of to sleep, I wonder – correctly as it turns out – whether I have managed to burn it.

Güiza is denied, but so is Di Natale, and then Fàbregas tucks away the final penalty, and the city goes ever so slightly crazy for the next six hours or so. As the sun sets, car horns blare, Chris Columbus is scaled, and flags are everywhere.


We meet some girls from Houston, who insist we have to see a bar they are going to, where ladies get given free drinks for dancing on the bar.
“The sluttier your dancing, the larger the shot!” they excitedly tell us, and we are bemused by their unconcealed willingness to be part of such exploitation. I mean, how expensive is a shot? The bar is predictably horrific, and the girls glory in the unwholesome attention they are getting. As we watch them gyrate, Alex ventures that it is probably best, for their welfare, that we stay and look after them, as soon enough they will be extremely drunk and won’t know what they are doing, or with whom. He says something along those lines, anyway.

4 comments:

deanne said...

You know, you had me going there, with the whole 'car plunging off the mountain' thing. I was thinking "...[that's me reading, them dots]..goodness..oh, oh ok...so gullible..."

Monica said...

I hope those girls were well looked after. I'd like to think I gave you lots of practice over the years to hone that particular skill.

Shane said...

Predation... (((shudders))).

Will said...

"Inside, Leona Lewis sings of her ongoing menstruation problems and I eat anchovies to get my salt levels back up."

EXCELLENT