Category Archives: SPAIN

REVISITING BIKING ROUTES COLERA, SPAIN

 

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My friend Stanley from France has a house in Morocco and has invited me to visit.  If I’m going to go that far, I’ve got some people & places I want to visit along the way.
Bike touring brings you places you may not experience, otherwise. When I biked through Colera, Spain 5 years ago I was only going to stay 1 night. After setting up my tent, I biked into town, I was here 2 weeks. I met Nuria a local artist who had her signature ants walking the street.  Hiking, Biking, Beach walking, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving & more can all be found in Colera.
(3 Photos from 5 years ago)
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Gardening with Nuria, (you can see why I came back)
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BARCELONA AS SEEN FROM A TOURIST BUS,

We pay for our train ride and are released from the underground train station.  We meet our Air B&B host and get the keys.  We glance over the maps and make our wish list of places to visit.  .  After 5 weeks of adventure travel and Natasa killing me in Colera. , I don’t want to walk 5 blocks. We decide to buy the all day tourist bus ticket, on & off all around town I’m looking forward to the bus ride. They give us headphones to listen to our recorded tour guide.

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FEELING LIKE A TOURIST NOW, BUT STILL BETTER THAN WORKING!

IMG_3351 I notice a lot of the apartments all have outdoor patios, there are no patios here in Skofja Loka.
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Were go to Sagrada Família first, but can only get a ticket for a 4:30 entrance.  We hop back onto the bus and head to Park Güell, can’t get an entrance ticket until 6:30 pm.  So we get back on the bus, we’re full fledged tourist now.

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THE DRAGON GATE AT THE PAVELLONS GUELL GAUDI’S EARLY WORK

The bus only stops at designated stops, not like when you ride a bike.  After all the walking in Colera, I’m super happy just sitting and riding around on the outdoor top deck of the bus.
Were back at the Sagrada Família ( outside google images) (inside google images) for our entrance time.

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WE PAY EXTRA TO GO UP THE ELEVATOR IN ONE OF THE SPIRES

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TREE BRANCHES THAT HAVE BEEN REMOVED WERE USED FOR GAUDI’S DESIGNS

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GAUDI LIKES TO USE FORMS OF NATURE IN HIS DESIGNS

We grab the bus and hurry to Guell Park

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PALM INSPIRED FENCE AT GUELL PARK

MORE PHOTOS FROM GUELL PARK

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MORE GOOGLE IMAGES OF GUELL PARK

We grab the last bus home, but must ride the whole route around town before we can get off at our destination.
I’m so done, I tell Natasa that I don’t want to walk anywhere or go see anything tomorrow.  After 5 weeks of adventure travel I’ve reached the limit.  I just want to take a shower, write some postcards and have a hit.   I agree to meet Natasa at the church square, but even that is a bit too much for me.

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THIS IS A PICTURE OF A PROFESSIONAL TOURIST

Natasa went out alone, to see and explore more of Barcelona.  When we met up she asked “did you miss me?”, we were laughing so hard.  So were walking down to the beach for lunch and see this rock shop.

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                                                                                                                      THESE ARE SOME OF THE LARGEST “FLAWLESS” AMETHYST CRYSTALS I’VE EVER SEEN. 

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I TOLD THE SHOP OWNER I WAS A ROCK COLLECTOR AND HE PRECEDED TO TAKE US TO THE BASEMENT AND SHOW US MORE, A ROOM FULL OF AMETHYST CRYSTALS AND MANY MORE SPECIMENS

We go out for our last meal in Barcelona, paella, which is a traditional Spanish meal..  We order the cod and vegetable paella, 2 little pieces of fish and not a vegetable in sight.  Then they’re shocked were not buying any wine.  But then they too pull the same “appetizer scam” , they bring us toast with ketchup and a bowl of olives just another 10 euro.  Lunch was 60 euro or 60 dollars.  I can’t wait for a home cooked meal.

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AFTER THAT MEAL, WHERE CAN I GET SOME OF THESE?

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AT THE FARMERS MARKET i SEE THESE DEER FEET, FOR SOUP?

We must fly to Rome first, then fly to Triesta for our 2 hour bus ride to Ljubljana.  As old as Italy and Rome is I couldn’t believe this.

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THIS ULTRA MODERN BATHROOM HAD NO FAUCETS OR ANYTHING, WATER, SOAP AND DRY BY JUST PUTTING YOUR HANDS IN FRONT OF THE IMAGE.

We must wait another hour in Ljubljana for our final bus to Skofja Loka-HOME!

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NICE COMFY COUCHES & COFFEE FOR OUR FINAL HOUR OF WAITING.

It’s so great to be home.
Thanks for reading and commenting
Jeff & Natasa

NEXT?  I’m going to America in a few days. I will be comparing America to Slovenia and Portland   to Skofja Loka, this will be fun!
Corey from France via Portland is visiting for the next couple days.  I’ll keep you posted

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COLERA, SPAIN: A HIKING WE WILL GO

When I first arrived in Colera 2 years ago, I thought I was just staying for one night, France was only 8km away.  I paid camping for one night, then I rode my bike into town.  Looking around, I knew right away I would be here longer.  I stayed 2 weeks and did something different almost everyday: hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, beach combing, hitchhiking, ride the train to the Dali Museum,   The town has 800 year round residents, the rich of Barcelona have homes and apartments here too.

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GOOGLE MAP

From Tavira we took the bus to Seville and flew to Barcelona the next day. We got the train through Colera, the problem is that this train didn’t stop in Colera   So we stopped in FIGUERES , home of the Dali Museum where there were 150 people in line.  It’s the second time I’ve been to the Dali Museum and I still haven’t been inside.

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DALI MUSEUM, FIGUERES . SPAIN

I’m pretty excited to get on our way to Colera.  Were staying at CAMPING SANT MIGUEL.  I highly recommend it for camping or renting a small cabin.  It’s only a 5 minute walk to downtown Colera.

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CAMPGROUND WITH COLERA IN THE BACKGROUND

THE CAMPGROUND WAS CROWED ON THE WEEKEND BUT BY MONDAY WE HAD THE WHOLE TOWN TO OURSELVES, IT  WAS ALMOST A GHOST TOWN.

There’s some great hikes in the area, one is to the abandoned village of Molina.  I was here last in mid. June and I don’t remember seeing so much wild lavender, rosemary and thyme (maybe that’s because of Morocco?).

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THE START OF THE HIKE

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HILLSIDES OF WILD LAVENDER

This trail is also suppose to be one of the best mountain bike trails in Spain. Last time here I met some locals who were going to rebuild a house.  When I met them there was only 6 left of the 12 that started together.

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RECLAIMED HOUSE

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MOLINAS ABANDONED HOMES

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Once we left Molina the real climbing started

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THE VIEWS FROM THE TOP WERE SPECTACULAR AND THAT’S MOLINA IN THE EDGE OF THE SHADOW

It’s a long 14.5 km (9 miles) hike up & around the mountains I was beat when I got back to the campground.  There was an event in town, crafts, salamis, cheeses and 3 people baking bread.

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THEY WERE BAKING OLIVE, SUN DRIED TOMATO, SPELT, SEEDED AND CHOCOLATE BREAD RIGHT ON THE STREET.  THE GUY PLAYING THE BREAD BOARD KNEW JUST ONE ENGLISH LINE &  EVERY TIME WE SAW HIM “HOW ARE YOU?”  WE GOT THE SPELT, OLIVE & HOT CHOCOLATE BREAD.

I wrote about the artist Nuria Surribas after my first visit here.  I bought one of her signature ants last time.  We finally went over to meet her and she had an art project for us.

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NATASA GLAZING HER CERAMIC FISH

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NURI FIRING THE CERAMIC FISH

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CERAMIC FISH IN OUR GARDEN BOX

Nuri has art around town and at the campground too! She’s the true artist. When I was here, 2 years ago, I suggest she get a sign on her “business”, she promised.

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NO SIGN BUT STILL THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOUSE IN DOWNTOWN COLERA

SHE’S A TRUE ARTIST.  ANYWAY I NOTICED HER WINDOW’S NEEDED CLEANING. SO I BROUGHT OVER MY WINDOW WASHING KIT I GOT IN ROYAN, FRANCE.  SHE WAS HAPPY.
HERE’S A SAMPLE OF SOME OF NURI’S ART:

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CERAMIC LAMPS

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THANKS NURI FOR MAKING IT SUCH A MEMORABLE TRIP, AGAIN!

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LOOKING BACK TO COLERA HIKING TO PORTBOU

The next day we hiked to Portbou, which is only 2 km from France and plan to take the train back.

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COLERA

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PORTBOU

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BEACH AND BAY IN PORTBOU

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THIS WAS IN THE TOURIST OFFICE WIDOW IN PORTBOU

(update)  My friend Jill translated the dog sign.
“If yours doesn’t know how, you do it!
There are people and children at the park and in the streets. For everyone’s good, pick up your dog’s poop.
Be a civic-minded person. We all come out winning.”

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THE TRAIN LEAVES YOU AT THE CERAMIC TILED “ART” PARK OVERLOOKING COLERA

It took an hour and 40 minutes to hike over and 4 minutes for the train back (tunnels help).  We got back quick, so we rented a couple bikes from the campground and rode through the “exclusive” neighborhood.

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THIS HOUSE HAS THE ULTIMATE GREEN ROOF, SEE THE GARAGE DOOR ON THE LOWER LEFT AND THE HOUSE IS ON THE RIGHT

Today were walking along the beach to LLanca about 12 km.
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I like giving back to places I visit and last time here I picked up garbage on my beach walk. I asked Natasa, if she would, she agreed.

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FIRST LOADS PUT INTO EMPTY DUMPSTER

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I WANTED TO DUMP INTO ONTO THE SIDEWALK, BUT NATASA SAID NO, I REALLY WANTED TO SHOW ALL THE PLASTKIC WE FOUND ALONG A “SMALL” STRETCH OF SEVERAL BEACHES. THOSE ARE LARGE PLASTIC BAGS.

We waited to come Llanca  until after the holidays.  Nearly everything was closed?  We did have some goat cheese salads that I’ve made at home twice now.

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We take the train back to Colera

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Sant Miguel Campground has added a Tiki bar/coffee shop.  There are lots of new cabins and grassy tent sites. This fish pond (with fish) is brand new, this place is super nice.

Natasa wanted to pick a little lavender and rosemary, on the hikes it was everywhere, but not close to town. She brought home a little lavender. Colera is my favorite place, I don’t need to go to Barcelona to know that. If you want a super active vacation, Colera is the place.
We catch the train which will follow right along the beach to Barcelona.  We board the train and Natasa looks around and announces “we hiked every mountain”, I’m thinking no shirt, I’m so sore I’m happy to be riding the train and saying goodbye to Colera (that I love).
There’s no train ticket office in Colera, your suppose to buy on board.  No one ever came by? But when we got off in Barcelona we couldn’t get past the turnstiles without a ticket. They gave us a super deal, it was great ( I guess?).
Thanks for reading & commenting
Jeff and Natasa
NEXT? Barcelona and Gaudi I ride my first tourist bus-ever

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AS SEEN IN A SHOP WINDOW IN TAVIRA

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IT’S SPRING TIME, GET PLANTING

SOME MORE GREAT MUSIC

WHAT WAS MY FAVORITE COUNTRY? PART I

Everyone asks “what was your favorite country?” I had never really thought about it because I had nothing but positive experiences everywhere I stayed. So the answer I’ve used several times: “I would re-visit every place again, if given the opportunity.” “If you told me you were going to Tavira, Portugal I would want to go with you.” The only place I visited (and without my bike) was Morocco, that I couldn’t make a recommendation one way or the other. It was great at times but trying at other times, the jury is still out on Morocco.
I’m going to write a small commentary on each country I visited. I hope there’s enough for you to plan a trip to one of the many places I visited.
PORTUGAL
I pace my travel in order to avoid having to return. But I spent 5days in LISBON, I left feeling a yearning for more.

20140104-105632.jpgTHE PUBLIC PLAZAS WERE ALL VERY INTERESTING AND CREATIVE

20140104-105759.jpg I RODE DURING THE EARLY SPRING BLOOMS, OUTRAGEOUSLY BEAUTIFUL

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MIGEL’S HOSTEL IN TAVIRA, FELT LIKE HOME
Biking in Portugal was so satisfying, I felt all the work in planning for this trip was paid back and I could have come home. (notice could have)
SPAIN
I’ve had friends rave about Spain, I get it now. The history, art, landscape diversity and the people were tops. I had a year for this adventure, I could have easily spent it all in Spain.

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LOTS OF AWESOME VIEWS

20140104-110930.jpgCLIFF’S HOSPITALITY WAS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF WHAT PEOPLE EXTENDED TO ME

20140104-112825.jpgI FOUND THE MUSLIM ART AT BOTH ALCAZAR and ALHAMBRA TO BE IN MINT CONDITION. (much better than Topeka Palace in Turkey)

20140104-114356.jpg THE VILLAGE OF COLERA HAD ART, NUMEROUS ACTIVITIES: DIVING, HIKING, SNORKELING, SWIMMING, KAYAKING. HISTORY AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON NURIA’S COMMUNITY GARDEN PLOT!
After staying at 2 “border” towns I find they have a lot of the countries uniqueness without the crowds. I would re-visit COLERA without hesitation.
MOROCCO
I wasn’t going to go to Morocco, but from Seville, Spain a round trip ticket cost 130 EURO ($169), OK I’ll go! I spent 2 weeks: SAHARA DESERT and SIDI IFNI and FEZ . I consider myself pretty well travelled (3 times around the world), but MARRAKESH ate me alive. I wasn’t ready for the continuous opportunities they found to take advantage of me.

20140104-121736.jpg I GOT SCAMMED INTO VISITING THE TANNERY DURING THIS WEEKENDS “CELEBRATION”. Remember a tannery is where they work dead animal skins, WTF!

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I LOVE AND RESPECT AGRICULTURAL WORK, BUT HERE IT SEEMED ONLY THE WOMEN WERE WORKING IN THE FIELDS

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THE CAMEL CAMPOUT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE AND A SUPER VALUE

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AWAY FROM THE BIG CITIES BIKING CAN BE SAFE AND VERY REWARDING (rented bikes are shit)

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THEN THERE’S THE GARBAGE SITUATION, TOSSED INTO THE STREET AT NIGHT, BUT CLEANED UP BY SUNRISE

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MOST OF THE MOROCCANS WERE AWESOME, BUT THE SCAMMERS GAVE THE COUNTRY A BLACK EYE
Like I said earlier, the jury is out about recommending or returning to Morocco. I have a friend building a house there, so maybe I’ll return someday?
FRANCE
The first 2 hours of biking in France, I flipped off 3 drivers, non previous to that. It was the start of their busy tourist season on the coast, everyone was in a hurry, to have fun? I was in France 20 years ago, you couldn’t hardly get a cup of coffee unless you spoke French. That’s over, they got the memo, English is the International language, not French. I felt so welcome speaking only english, it was awesome.

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MY GOOGLE CALENDAR ALERTED ME TO NEIL YOUNG’S CONCERT, I QUICKLY LEFT SPAIN AND HEADED EAST.

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THE FRENCH WERE VERY HOSPITABLE, DINNER, CONVERSATION AND LOTS OF LAUGHS
The tourist office in TENDE (another border town) recommended I visit GRANILE. The tourist office was spot on about this recommendation.

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GRANILE WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE I VISITED IN FRANCE
I was so close to MONACO I decided to join the 20,000 tourist who visit daily. The country is 2km X 2km, best known as a tax haven and for gambling. I thought it was kinda of a police state too, I was stopped 3 times and reprimanded for something? (no police photos from here).

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MONACO’S AQUARIUM WAS AMAZING! BUILT IN 1910 (PHOTOS)
ITALY
I had several awesome bike tours planned. The more I thought about it and some of my other options, it came down to, no Italy. I did spend some time in VENICE. It was pretty hot, crowded and the transportation options were limited. I was kinda burned out from traveling, so I holed up in my air-conditioned hotel room.

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THE MURANO GLASS WAS REALLY AWESOME
A local told me there were three businesses that made good money: the water taxis, gondola paddlers and

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THE LUGGAGE GUYS (this guy is earning his now) I NEEDED HELP GETTING MY BIKE AND TRAILER OVER A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE, $10 FOR 1 MINUTE OF WORK (I did it myself)
I got the train out of hot Venice and headed for the cool mountains of Slovenia.

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RIGHT OFF THE TRAIN, I GRABBED THIS BIKE PATH ALL THE WAY TO SLOVENIA!

20140104-185607.jpgBUT NOT BEFORE I CAMPED ILLEGALLY AT LAGHI DI FUSINE
I really didn’t give Italy a chance to win me over, but my decsion to skip Italy proved to be life changing. Maybe Italy will be in some future travel plans. If you really must see the leaning tower of Pisa, google it.
This blog post is longer than I thought it would be, so 2 parts.
Thanks for reading (the stat page tells me your reading)
Climate Change needs your action to stop, please stand up and make a difference.
Ride On
Jeff
NEXT? WHAT WAS MY FAVORITE COUNTRY PART II

STORY & PHOTOS OF POLICEMEN & POLICEWOMEN!

I was in Portugal and spotted this Policeman who looked like the “terminator” cop. I wanted to get a photo. I asked if I could, then his friend said yes, I just wanted terminator, but OK, I took this photo

20131203-091859.jpgPORTUGUESE POLICE PHOTO WITH THE TERMINATOR COP AND HIS FRIEND
I take the ferry to Spain, there were 2 policeman who were giving me directions to the phone store , I showed them the Portuguese photo then they offered to have their photo taken.. I said “Heck Ya.” This was the start of collecting policeman photos in every country I visited.

20131203-092332.jpgTHE SPANISH POLICE WERE SUPER FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL
A friend (?) from France wrote and told me to look out for Spanish cops. I sent him this photo and asked, “these guys?”
I’m biking around France, shopped at a farmers market and spotted 2 policeman. I asked him for photo? No. I show him the Spanish photo, he walks away. He joins his partner across the street, then he waves me over.

20131203-102226.jpgTOOK SOME CONVINCING BUT I FINALLY GOT THE PICTURE OF FRENCH POLICEMAN.
My first day in Venice, Italy at the ATM I spotted 2 policeman and they eagerly agreed to the photo.

20131203-150825.jpgTHESE ITALIAN POLICEMAN NEEDED NO CONVINCING TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE TAKEN.
Slovenia was a real task, I had to compromise some with this one. First, there are hardly any police around! I had always tried to get 2 policeman together, that wasn’t going to happen here.

20131203-151409.jpgTHIS IS THE SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING “POLICE” GUARD. THAT’S THE BEST I COULD DO. There are really no police to be found and not 2 together for sure.
The Croatian policeman shot was just about as difficult as the Slovenian. I hardly ever saw the police here either. But when we were dropping off bike boxes at the ferry dock, I spotted several armed “dock” police.

20131203-152142.jpgTHIS IS THE CROATIAN MARITIME POLICE, AGAIN IT’S THE BEST I COULD DO.
The Montenegro police photo was totally by “accident.” I was only going to be in Montenegro for 24 hours, so my chances were pretty slime. The bus I was riding in got in an accident, so the police arrived to take a report.

20131203-152736.jpgTHE MONTENEGRO POLICE DELIVERED THIS PHOTO BY WAY OF AN ACCIDENT.
Albania was fairly easy, the first night in town I walked into town with a local. He convinced them it would be OK, somehow?

20131203-153123.jpgTHIS ALBANIAN POLICEMAN PHOTO WAS TAKEN MY FIRST 5 MINUTES OF WALKING THE STREETS

The Greek policeman photo should have been of at least 2 policeman. Of the four policeman, only this one agreed to a picture.

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THE GREEK POLICEMAN ALL COMPLAINED ABOUT GERMAN CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S AUSTERITY DEMANDS
This next photo of the Turkish police is the Gold Standard from which all policeman photos should be judged.

20131203-161812.jpgHOT TURKISH POLICEWOMEN WITH MACHINE GUN–YEP HOLY SHOT
It was fairly easy to get all the 10 countries I visited policeman photos, but one Morocco. When I asked maybe 10 different policeman the answer was always the same “IT IS FORBIDDEN.” So I pretended to be adjusting my music while taking a few pictures:

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THANKS FOR READING, TALK SOON
RIDE ON, JEFF

RANDOM THOUGHTS WHILE PEDALING

I see on facebook where some people think Apple is full of itself or that the I-Phone sucks. Apple products are widely respected and used by many people around the world. If you were Apple and your product was used by millions of people, you might be a little full of yourself too. To be inside the circle (living IN America) and complaining about anything is ridiculous. Sure we want it our way, but come on. For those of us that live in America, were in the eyes of the world. We are still the envy for many people around the world (not everyone but a lot) . I have both young and old people tell me almost daily, their dream is to come to America, for a visit or to live.
Audrey who I camped next to, spent a year in Los Angeles. She comes to America every chance she can get. Her email is AudreyLAWomen@….. They struggle here in France her husband, has been to Afghanistan several times, as a soldier. Most of us are so far removed from the conflicts our country is involved in. Just living in America.

20130728-182848.jpg FABIEN AND AUDREY WERE COOKING DINNER, SCALLOPS/PASTA AND FRESH TOMATOES WITH BASIL AND MOZZARELLA.
Their little boy Theodore is 20 months old and super fun(ny).

20130728-183621.jpgNOTICE THE FLOATING DEVICE IS AN AMERICAN CAR, SO NAMED.
Before I met Audrey’s parents (they were camping too), they heard I was from Portland so they went to the Internet (from America) to learn something about Portland. When they walked up he said ™CITY OF THE ROSES™ I about fell over, laughing. He didn’t speak very much English, so that made it very funny, too.
The grocery stores in America have a selection of coffee thats unimaginable and a grinder so you can have your making preference. I`ve never seen that option here, anywhere. You can buy food in every form, frozen, fresh, canned, cooked, ready to eat meals, fresh blueberries in January.
But all of this comes at a price~Climate Change is for real, the U.S. the worlds leading producer of CO2 on a per person basis, is doing nothing. Its all about the economy (MONEY) , it is so short sighted. The extra dollar you make short changing the environment will be spent mitigating the effects of climate change. Mother Earth isn`t going to put up with it.. Something as simple as lowering the speed limit could cut CO2, 20%, but you can`t step on our freedoms. Our privileged attitudes is killing OUR home, planet earth. Just ask the people of ALASKA
Yet the economy is proving to be sacrificed for just the top 1% of the population according to Obama. If all of society benefited from the environmental consequences, maybe you could understand this pro-economy attitude, but it`s not trickling down. 57% of soon to retire Americans have $25,000 saved for retirement. Your estimated to live another 20 years after you retire. $25,000 might last one year, if your lucky. So a chosen few are really the winners in all this. I`ve only been to 3 countries on this trip, so far. I have not seen nearly the homeless problem that is happening in my city, Portland.
This part of Europe is world renowned for it`s economic problems. But again, I don`t see the homeless problems like in the U.S. Spain may be having economic problems, but some of their investments have been good for the general population. You can take reliable public transportation to anywhere in the country. I took the train to Colera, Spain and its just a town of less than 600 people. The U.S. hasn`t invested in public transportation like Europe has, which is an investment in the average person and the environment.
Americans have one of the lowest percentage of passport holders in the world. Our perspective of how the rest of the world lives is far removed from our eyes. I offered my brother a ticket to Costa Rica to stay at a house I had for a week on the beach. His response, Americas the best why would I want to leave? He’s not alone.
I’ve had pizza out several times, the olives still had the pits in them, there are so many small things in America we take for granted.
The bar code is used around the world, invented in America. When I went snorkeling in Spain I heard the rip of velcro-invented in America. We have touched so many lives around the world with our inventions.
If your handicapped in France your moving to America. I was on the sidewalk at a train station in front of 3 handicapped parking spots, not one ramp to get up or down, with my bike or wheelchair for that matter. I rarely see anyone out and about in a wheelchair, there are curbs EVERYWHERE.
When I was in St. Tropez, the Porsches, Lamborghini, Masserati and all the huge and expensive boats, are some of what the 1% are buying. The fancy cars passed me on the highway but when I got to town, I passed them in some of the most chaotic traffic Ive seen.
I’m not sure what all this means. Wait, it means we cant allow this economic disparity to continue. Sacrificing the environment for the 1% is bad for everyone, including you, me and Mother Earth . Higher Taxes on the rich not lower taxes and a carbon tax on fossil fuels are a start.
I think about lots of subjects while biking, this is just the most important topic facing ALL of us.

20130728-204551.jpgSOME OF THE TRAIN INFRASTRUCTURE IN FRANCE.

Bless the human race (not just America)
Jeff

FINAL THOUGHTS OF SPAIN and ALL THE SPAIN PHOTOS

I have friends, in the U.S., that seemed in love with Spain. I didn’t understand their fascination with Spain and honestly didn’t know much about this country. Ive spent a little over a month here and feel knowledgeable enough to say, its AWESOME!
The history, arts, climate, food, nature and most of all the people.. Ive never felt in danger or threatened in any way, they didn’t even try to pick pocket me in Barcelona (I almost avoided Barcelona because of the stories Ive heard). When their was a language barrier people always stuck with me until the situation was resolved.
Biking showed me parts of Spain I would have never seen if I were busing or riding the train across the country. I feel that biking allowed me access to a part of Spain that could only be accessed by biking. I had people stop me on the street and want to take a photo with me.

20130702-074340.jpgMANUEL (the pharmacist) STOPPED AND TALKED THEN TOOK THIS PHOTO AND SENT IT TO ME
There are days on this Blog where I have more readers from Spain than the U.S.
The economic troubles of Spain (and many Mediterranean countries) are world renowned. The unemployment rate is 25% in Spain. For the youth of Spain the unemployment rate is 50%. The governments solution is to have the young people leave the country and work overseas. The other proposal is to lower the minimum wage, The minimum wage is currently about $30 a day, My travel budget is nearly 3 times that and I’m living in a tent and riding a bike. I haven’t a clue on how you can survive on that little amount of money.I don’t see much of a plan to truly solve their problems.
Spain has placed a lot of emphasis on growing and exporting food. They are the worlds 3rd largest exporter of food around the world. They have the opportunity to grow 4 crops a year on the same plot of land. I saw the use of water saving drip irrigation everywhere, hillsides where you could hardly standup planted with fruit trees.

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NEWLY PLANTED AVOCADO TREES ON A STEP SLOPE IN ROCK! AMAZING
Biking and camping in GRAZALEMA PARK was a truly extraordinary experience. It was my first uphill bike walk, with many more to come. Riding through SiERRA DA LAS NIEVES was as beautiful as Yosemite Park in California.
I stayed in hostels, hotels and campgrounds, all were in working order, clean, safe and very affordable.

20130714-193119.jpgSIERRA DA LAS NIEVES

20130714-193708.jpgAMAZING TILE WORK AT ALHAMBRA IN GRANADA

20130714-193946.jpgTHE SAGRADA FAMILIA was a truly amazing architectural feat.
All the sun combined with the agricultural demands and tourism have made it necessary to build Europe’s largest desalination plant. It provides 20% of Barcelona’s fresh water. It is equipped with solar power too.
When I looked on the map on which countries bordered the Mediteraean Sea I thought , How clean is it?

20130714-195515.jpgAMAZINGLY CLEAN
You could see deep into the water, the shoreline EVERYWHERE was pristine. I was pleasantly surprised and happy from an environmentalist perspective.
I cant talk about Spain without mentioning Colera, my favorite! I met a super artist Nuria, who’s work is genius.

20130714-200620.jpgI GOT MY OWN ANT TO BRING HOME. I didn’t really like ants before, but since being in Spain (and Portugal) Ive learned to live with them and basically ignore them. I had hundreds of ants around my tent and just kept it zipped up. I also learned to keep my campsite clean.
I got to do a little gardening in Colera too, that was fun.

20130714-201337.jpgTHERE WERE EXERCISE STATIONS IN EVEN THE SMALLEST TOWNS.
Its great that the government encouraged people to be healthy. But If they want a healthy population, QUIT SMOKING SPAIN! It seemed like 1/2 the people smoked, its actually only 27%.its 17% in the US.
I went kayaking in the bay in Colera my last night. I went for a sunset cruise. I didn’t go to far just followed the shoreline.
So Ill be back sooner than later.
ALL THE SPAIN PHOTOS ARE HERE

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SEE YOIU

SANT MIQUEL CAMP CELEBRITY, BBQ AND NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT

I`ve had my tent set up in the exclusive neighborhood of Homair Village in the Sant Miquel Campground.
Quiet, clean, electricity, near the pool, every morning greetings from Gloria, Richard & Saloma.

20130706-160641.jpg GLORIA IS FROM ZIMBABWE, SHE RUNS EVERY MORNING, TOTALLY IMPRESSIVE.
She wants to turn her home into a bed and breakfast back in Zimbabwe. Her boyfriend came from the U.K. and visited her while I was here. She was so dressed up in a colorful dress, I wish I had the photo to show, she was gorgeous.
I was talking on facetime one evening when a inebriated camper stopped by and invited me to dinner. The next day I figured he wouldn`t remember, I was wrong. They were two families from Belgium with 7 kids together, they almost had their own soccer team. Just as the BBQ was starting the rain clouds were forming. Just after I took this photo, the rain poured down. We moved dinner to an empty cabins deck that had a canopy. I`ve never seen so many great salads at one meal that wasn`t at a buffet restaurant. All the kids seemed to get along really well, it was an awesome family experience for me. Thank you so much,I will never forget.
.

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GEERTJE, LOUISE, LICILE, CELINE, SERGE, JULIE, KRISTOF, MICKAEL,WALDO, CECILE, PASCAL
I`ve been getting invited to dinner with different cabin campers. We had chicken curry with rice, below.

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ALEXANDRE, SEGOLENE, CHRISTIAN & AARON were from Paris.

I`ve been watching Alexandre and Aaron play ping pong, they`re good. As a former ping pong table owner, I think I`m good too. We played some after dinner, I sliced the ball into the hedge and it was lost. I did go back in the morning and find it. I`m waiting for the rematch, after they return from Barcelona.
REMATCH~I beat Aaron but Alexandre beat me twice, I knew they were good.
I can`t stop applauding Sant Miquel Camping, nearly every night there`s an event.

20130708-145755.jpg FLAMINGO NIGHT.
Lots of people there knew the songs they were playing, everyone had a great time. If the restaurant isn’t having entertainment, the COLERA DIVE CENTER (also on FACEBOOK) has a meet & greet for divers and campers.
On BBQ night they had an entertainer, Steffi, who sang and danced for hours. She worked the crowd into a frenzy of dance and celebration.

20130708-151048.jpg STEFFI, SINGING HER HEART OUT
She asked if there were any Americans here? One, me. I was wearing my Trail Blazers Jersey that has PORTLAND across the chest. I got a big round of applause, representing. There were a few Spaniards, but mostly French.

20130708-161021.jpgTETE AND VALENTINO BBQ THE THICK BACON.
They slipped me a few pieces, WOW. The restaurant does a great job with the food here, everything I`ve eaten has been great.
But what makes Sant Miquel Camping special are all the people.

20130708-161730.jpgBOTH SALOMA AND RICHARD WORK AND LIVE HERE.

20130708-162012.jpgGLORIA, DOLORES, MARIA AND ANTONIO
Gloria put together an awesome American breakfast, eggs, cheese, BACON, tomato, bread, orange juice and coffee. Maria made me these sandwiches Ham, cheese and Tomato on french bread, then toasted. I ate one nearly everyday.

20130708-164922.jpgDAMIA POOL LIFEGUARD AND ICE CREAM SALESMAN

20130708-165806.jpgCAMERA SHY SUSANA THE SUPERMERCADO BAKER AND CHOCOLATE CROISSANT SUPPLIER.

20130708-171528.jpgIF THIS WAS ME I WOULD BE SMILING, TONI?

20130708-171850.jpgLIKE THIS=MELISSA, ME (smiling), MARGOT

20130709-104156.jpgRUMBA NIGHT AT THE CAMPGROUND
I got a farewell photo from Susana the supermercado baker and more

20130709-104334.jpgTHANKS FOR THE PHOTO SUSANA
My offer of 20 euro still stands if you ride our bike to work
Im off to France today and my box still hasn’t arrived WTF?

COLERA, THE BOX & THE FIRST CRASH

Im still in Colera, waiting for my box from Seville. 2 weeks here? Filled with adventure, not for a lifetime? but for now. I tried to send my Moroccan daggers (knives) to the U.S., NOT ALLOWED! I can buy a semi-automatic gun in the U.S. that can be far more destructive than a dagger. So I wait 5 days, then bike to post office, box is still in Seville. They wont send with the daggers. So I sign a paper giving them permission to open box and remove daggers. Thats all that a really want that is in the box, the other stuff is T-shirts and rocks. So another 5 days? Who F__ing knows? Again Im not suffering in Colera, it has been my favorite stop of ALL. But Neil Young is playing in Nimes, France July 17 and I plan on being there box or no box. I bought and was given some ART from Nuria, so the new Box will be BIG.
The north, east, south and west locations have been a mystery to me. I know the sun rises in the east, but where? So I got up before the sunrise, rode my bike to the dock that sits in Colera Bay and waited.

20130706-092522.jpg HERE IT COMES

20130706-092626.jpgAND HERE IT IS, (from the east)
LLANCA is a fishing village down the road. If you look closely (enlarge), you can see a small fleet of fishing boats commuting to work.
With all these added days here, I`m going down the list of things to do. There are trails through the mountains and along the beach. So I hiked to Llanca, to check on the box and visit the town.

20130706-093927.jpg WALKING THE SHORE WAS AWESOME
I know where every hidden cove and nude beach is along this part of the coast.

20130706-094333.jpgTHERE ARE SO MANY PRIVATE HIDDEN BEACH COVES
Like I`ve said before, I like to give back to the places I visit, not just visit and take. I carry plastic bags with me to recycle for shopping. So I decided to use one for picking up garbage along the beach. I`ve heard about the environmental impact of plastic on MARINE LIFE.

20130706-095425.jpg THIS IS WHAT I FOUND DURING MY 2 HOUR HIKE.
I put it in the garbage can in the photo. There was lots of plastics, the planet needs all of us to protect the planet for us and future generations.
So in case your not aware of Siesta? Shops close for 2 to 4 hours in the middle of the day. So basically Llanca was a ghost town.

I decide to hitchhike back to Colera. I`m wearing my TOUR DA FRANCE t-shirt, hoping that helps. 30 minutes and no ride, locals tell me hitchhiking is something that is not practiced here, it`s pretty obvious. Finally a car pulls over I tell them I`m going to Colera, I get in. They were from Paris, maybe 25 years old, they said they saw my shirt and thought I was from Paris, score. The shirt worked, when I told them I was from America I got a ride right to the camground.

20130706-101249.jpg THIS WAS A SIGN/LOGO AT A FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SHOP IN LLANCA

20130706-102033.jpg THE SHOP SELLS BULK OLIVE OIL TOO!
One of the best things about bike touring is having a bicycle to explore the local areas. I asked the people who work here and live in Llanca if they had ever biked to work?, none had. I decided to bike, it took 20 minutes. They told me it took 10 minutes to drive. Again, I showed up in Llanca during siesta, everything was closed, again. I wanted to try the train to go back to Colera. They basically have a MAX (my home town commuter train name) that serves a community of less than 600 people. (more about this later in my Spain summary post).
So I bike to Llanca, EARLY, I want to visit the shops, when their OPEN! My front wheel is shaking, I don`t know what is causing it?
I`m getting frustrated about this box thing. I decide to bike to PORTBOU because when I finally leave here I intend to ride straight to France. I`m climbing a hill and my tire comes off the rim, the tube wraps around the quick release and I go down flipping over the handle bars. Thankfully I wasn`t going downhill, fast, it would have been ugly. But as I lay on the pavement in a heap the reality of traveling alone, comes to light. I have to be so careful, it could get ugly in a split second. While trying to repair the problem, 3 sets of touring cyclist came by.

20130706-105017.jpgSHE OWNS GEPETTO VELOS IN PARIS

20130706-105521.jpg THIS COUPLE WAS FROM SCOTLAND

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It is so great to see other cyclist enjoying some of the most beautiful riding I`ve ever done.
Back to the tire repair~so I spent an hour and a half messing around with the tire. I`m half way to Portbou, so I decide to walk the rest of the way to town. I photographed the train schedule and have used it several times. I decide to take the train to FIGUERES since google maps says there are 4 bike shops there. Guess what? Yep It`s siesta time, the town is half closed and so are all 4 bike shops. I`ve got 3 hours to kill, so I look for the SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM.

20130706-111752.jpg The egg is a Dalinian image that symbolises hope and love. Holding an egg (a favourite Dalinian symbol representing duality of hard exterior and soft interior, and links with pre-natal imagery) that here could represent reproduction, the sexual drive, or life instinct.”
There was a long line to get in so I just visited the many souvenir shops. I think one of the most interesting aspects of Dali`s art is his PHILOSOPHICAL thoughts on life and art.
I head back to the train station and retrieve my bike. The bike shop tries to tell me it just needs some air. I explain that the tire won`t seat properly and comes off the rim. He tries ro fill the tire with air and sees what I`m trying to tell him. New Shwalbe tire, AWESOME. I swap my front and back tires so they wear evenly, I just did it. So back at camp I swap my new tire to the back, so now the tires should wear out at the same time. That helps maximize your tires potential longevity. I cleaned my chain using my old tooth brush and camp suds soap then hosed it off.
I ran into this French traveller who was doing a similar trip to mine, but with a scooter.

20130706-114841.jpgTHIS IS NICKOLIS (check out the Bob Marley sticker)
Till next time, be sure to ride your bike as much as you can (while you can!)
Jeff

SNORKELING, HIKING, IT`S LIKE A VACATION

I know this blog is JEFFS BIKE TOUR, but part of bike touring is the freedom to do what comes down the road. This little town of Colera came down the road. I don’t have to catch a bus, train or plane just pedal to my next destination. So I took a little vacation from traveling, to enjoy the sights.
Went snorkeling yesterday, me & 4 (non english speaking) older French scuba divers. All that scuba equipment is so encumbering, snorkeling is so simple and fun. The Mediteraean isn’t the great barrier reef, but it was just me and the guide, so we saw a lot of sea life. We saw a MORAY EEL some starfish, coral, and some fish. He brought some bread & that brought the fish. There was a migration of Monk Fish, they had a shark like fin jetting out of the water.

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THERE WERE NUMEROUS SIGHTINGS
COLERA DIVING CENTER is a well run operation & affordable. Its a great place for beginners to learn to dive. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. The boat that took us out was super fast and comfortable.

20130630-110904.jpg THIS IS TETE MY UNDERWATER GUIDE AND ONLY ENGLISH SPEAKER ON THE BOAT
Like I said earlier the boat was great

20130630-111242.jpg OUR CAPTAIN DAVID , ME AND TETE
After a fun morning on the water I stop by to see the artist, Nuria. She is a hard worker, art doesn’t
make itself.

20130630-111617.jpg THIS IS ONE OF HER CERAMIC LAMPS.
She a genius artist, but like most artist not very good at business, she didn’t even have business cards. I suggested she make a sign for her Studio/Gallery, in 3 languages spainish, french & English. Said she was going to when she got back from camping and would send me a photo. I thought we were going to go to dinner, nope. We were headed to her community garden plot, that needed some help. Its so windy here at times you could see the top soil flying away. After weeding for an hour I suggested (I have my master gardener certificate) that we cover the soil with the weeds we pulled and after they dry out, dig them into the soil. At my garden at home I plant a cover crop of crimson clover, that supplies both nitrogen and mulch to the soil.

20130630-112727.jpg THIS IS A NURIA AND HER FRIEND SIETA (?)
Nurias art is all over town.

20130630-113046.jpgTHIS IS A FULL SIZE CERAMIC MERMAID THATS AT THE CAMPGROUND
I hadn’t seen the sculpture yet,cars were always parked in front of it. People come from all around to eat here. She didn’t know the english name for mermaid, so she called it WOMEN FISH.

20130630-113252.jpgTHIS ISTHE FISH POND AT THE CAMPGROUND
You all know how much I like hiking, NOT. But they really promote several hikes around here,so here I go. I make one failed attempt and decide to get up early the next day and make another try. I head to the abandoned town of Molinas. I must be getting close,but then a van comes driving up and of course I try to hitchhike, I get a ride and he speaks english,score. He said the last person he expected to see on this road was an American. I told him this is the last place I thought I would be considering Im doing a bike trip. He lives nearby and had never been to Molinas, he came to photograph the remains of the town.

20130630-115330.jpgTHERES MORE PHOTOS ON THE LINK AT THE END
I ride by some hikers from the campground, they accuse the American of taking the car all the way.
I stay and hang around the photographer, we meet a young couple who got a 20 year lease on one of the houses if they fix it up. I don’t want to leave his side, english. but I head out to the Molinas CASTLE. there wasn’t much left of the castle.

20130630-120856.jpgTHE ARCHWAY WAS PRETTY AMAZING
Walking does have its advantages, you can see so much. The cactus are blooming now

20130630-121423.jpgTHE BEES WERE WORKING THE CACTUS FLOWERS

20130630-121936.jpg WHILE HIKING I WOULD COME TO SPOTS THAT HAD BUTTERFLIES EVERYWHERE, HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET.
So Im somewhat aimlessly hiking and I come upon this bench.

20130630-122434.jpgIM IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE AND THERES THIS STONE BENCH WITH WATER TRICKLING OUT A SMALL PIPE.
I continue my hike, trying to find the Church of Sant Miquel

20130630-123110.jpgI CAN SEE IT FROM THE TRAIL, BUT CANT FIGURE OUT HOW TO REACH IT?
I give up and hike back, I come to the stone bench again. Ive had a landscaping business for 25 years and decided to apply my skills. I pulled the berry vines & weeds, swept up using a yep, a scotch broom branch.

20130630-123617.jpgTHIS IS THE WRONG PHOTO THE RIGHT ONE IS AT THE END OF THE BLOG?
I was walking the beach the other day, found a plastic bag and filled it with garbage I found on the beach. Later a resident said she saw me and thanked me. I told her you cant just take from places you have to give back.
Im hiking back and my feet have given up. I hear a car coming, I stick out my thumb, presto 2 rides in one day! Im walking the road back to camp and what do I see, a short cut to the SANT MIQUEL CAMPGROUND.

20130630-132545.jpgTHATS THE CAMPGROUND, HIKED THE TRAIL AND JUMPED THE FENCE IM HOME!
I head straight for the pool and see my fellow hikers, they cant believe I just got back, they said they had a siesta.
Tonight the Diving company is having a little meet and greet.

20130630-133028.jpg DELORES (hostess in rest.) & SERGE (dive shop owner) SERVING UP SANGRIA FOR FELLOW DIVERS
They had a least 50 people show up for the meet and greet.

20130630-170710.jpgCONSIDER THE POPULATION OF COLERA IS 575 THIS IS A LOT OF PEOPLE.
I was going to leave Colera June 1, but theres a problem. I sent a box from Seville, Spain with all my souvenirs from Morocco. I kept asking my friends if they got the package yet? NO,NO,NO. So Im about 5 miles from France so if Im going to sort this out, its now. Nuria drove me to the next town that had a post office. They scanned my receipt and found that the package is sitting on a shelf in Seville. Why? good question, they couldn’t tell me why. So their sending the package to the Post Office here. It could take 3,4,5 days? Its not like Im suffering here, I needed an excuse to stay longer and I got one. Now I can rebox and add the stuff I bought since Seville. Its all good in the end.
The new photos are HERE
Their way down there, maybe from the art park down
I hope you all appreciate this blog between writing and downloading 7 to 8 hours, its a job, that I love.
till next time
Jeff

20130630-211120.jpgTHIS IS THE CLEANED UP BENCH PHOTO, I DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED?
I really wanted to post these 2 pictures of the sunset sky llast night.

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