Friday, April 11, 2008

Whether the weather

The bike and most of my luggage has been found -- one camping mat is missing, everything else was returned. (For the record, NEVER fly TAP Portugal airlines). The weather, which is Spain is normally sunny, has been chilly and rainy since we arrived. It's expected to clear up tomorrow, which is when Kim and I will bike south, chasing sunny skies.

The plan is to leave Madrid tomorrow on our bikes, head to a farm run by a guy named Alejandro, stay there for a week, spend two weeks ambiguously biking through the south (maybe pedal to Cordoba and Seville .... we have no solid destination for that time). After that, we'll return to Madrid to greet my parents when they fly in on May 7, spend a week with them, and then return to the south, by bus, to spend four weeks on a Spanish-speaking-only farm in Málaga. We'd leave the farm June 10, bus to Germany, and spend a few days there before Kim flies out June 15 and I fly out June 17.

In the meantime, we're staying with Kim's friend Matt and his two Spanish roommates, Juan Carlos and Leida, in an apartment in Madrid's financial district. Hanging out with them feels like the study abroad I never had -- its a nice insight into the day-to-day life of studying and working in Madrid as a young twentysomething. We've visited several parks and eaten at some of their favorite tapas bars, but for the most part, we're avoiding "touristy" attractions -- museums and so forth -- and focusing on the residential experience.

As is always the case with traveling, something as simple as going to the grocery store can be an adventure, leading you down narrow cobblestone paths with hundreds of balconies overhead and a centuries-old basilica on the corner. Normally when traveling, we can relax and go with the flow, but putting together a bike trip -- where specifics and details matter -- makes it a bit more challenging. I spent the better part of a day trying to find isobutane for the camp stove before giving up -- apparently Madrid lacks camping gear, and hey, bread and brie is cheap here :-)