I’m staying at Camping Oliden, about 11km from the city center. The first 2 people I meet in Spain? Juan & Jose (you can’t make this stuff up). I start setting up camp, they decide it’s now time to mow the grass,. 2 hours of mowing later it’s finally quiet again. I have all 6 sites to myself. Good thing, its time to recharge everything, 6 outlets and I’m using 4 of them, glad no one else is here.
There’s a safe bike path all the way into town and hardly any bikers. In Spain, most people seem to walk, biking is secondary. They have a chain of Duck Stores here. Yea, plastic ducks, that’s it, who would have thought, that could be a business? Tapas are big time in San Sebastián and so fun to eat. You get to try a couple of bites of meat, seafood with vegetarian options too! Makes for a fun afternoon.
With only 10 minutes to spare when catching the train to Bordeaux, I opted for packing up the night before and taking the taxi to the train station to Madrid. The taxi cost nearly as much as the train to Madrid! I saw a women with her fully loaded touring bike, attempting to board the train. I was told you couldn’t bring a non-folding bike? She found out the hard way. She was prevented from boarding the train. She was stunned to say the least.
While riding the train I searched “how bike friendly is Madrid?” Response?: “the only European country to be eliminating bike lanes.” I should have done my homework BEFORE!
I got an AIRBNB about 10 km from Madrid city center. I couldn’t find accommodation that had room for a bicycle. My host said I could put it in the living room, score. I’ve adjusted to sharing a room in a house, not as bad as I originally thought it would be.
Scoped out some local places using Google. It was some religious holiday in Spain and Madrid was crazy times. I found a new pub, The Beer Joint, a great break from the tourist craziness.
One of the neighborhood pubs near my AIRBNB is the CATHOUSE ROCK & ROLL PUB. The owner Vicky, had enough good English to make this one of the best places I visited in Madrid. I never buy T-shirts, but that changed here. Here’s some fun photos from the Cathouse:
I rode out 10 km from Madrid and crossed over a freeway, ready? 14 lanes of freeway. I never want to hear about Los Angeles and cars again. I did find a bike/pedestrian path that seemed to circle the city. Again, way more walkers than bikers. Maybe it’s part of the siesta state of mind? There’s NO BIKE PARKING in Madrid, or at stores, basically anywhere.
I went to the “Modern Art Museum”, free! Took some fun photos
After the museum, I stop at Rolls, they claim to serve “neo-American food”, whatever that is? I ordered my favorite beer, session style. I tell the server, that was the best beer I’ve had on the whole trip. I go inside and see the beer is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, yep USA.
The bike lanes here are shared with cars. At one point the shared bike lane was in the middle lane of a 3 lane road. I think they just want to eliminate the last few bikers, in order to justify eliminating more bike lanes (cynical I know).
I hope sharing this travel experience, inspires you to leave the car at home, stay off the planes and use only a train or bus, to start your next adventure. Travel can still be fun and doesn’t have to be inherently bad for the environment.
I have a few new sayings. • I’m riding a bike, sleeping in a tent and eating porridge. • You own the brush, paint and canvas. Paint yourself a colourful life.
NEXT: BARCELONA & RIDING TOWARDS FRANCE
Thanks for reading