March 16, 2003 - Sitges 154k/92m**

We haven’t been able to maintain our string of “cool” hotels. The last two en route Paradors (Spanish government owned hotel chain of converted 16th-18th century buildings) were respectively being remodeled and full. We were referred to the Hotel Montsia in Amposta for the night. The hotel/rooms were so small they actually call it a hotelet, but it was a clean place with nice people. Here’s a view of the building and from my room.

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Obviously a big step down from Merida, Guadalupe, Toledo and Oropesa – and it doesn’t cost much, if any less.

In the morning, now with Bryan and Charlie, the first thing we did was split up. As we were about to leave, Charlie suggested getting another update out, so I finished and sent Amposta while they got a 25 minute head start. I rode no faster than they did, and didn’t catch up until I met them finishing a break at a gas station 21 km down the road.

The morning was mostly rolling hills close to the Mediterranean. Everyone was in different moods, riding at different speeds, so we rode individually and in various combinations to Miami la Plaja, where we did a grocery store lunch. These consist of bread, various beverages, drinkable yogurts, meats, cheeses, potato chips, bananas, nuts, tomatoes. We consumed the food on a concrete flagpole base just outside of the store, with 4 english speaking college kids heading back from the party in Valencia to their school in Barcelona. We were not impressed with their education.

Our first and only sight of the day was the roman ruins at Tarragona, about 80km into the day. The coliseum was built in the 2nd century, A.D. A Christian bishop was burned alive with two of his priests their in the 11th century, and unusually enough they built a church inside the Tarragona coliseum in the 13th century in honor of the martyrs. The edge of the remains of the church (not recognizable) is at the left of the next picture, which is then followed by a shot of the 3 of us.

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After a 3PM café break at a café on the ocean in Tarragona, we got back on the N340 and headed north again. We’ve been mostly on this road since Valencia, for almost 3 days, and it always stayed along the coast. Our maps were not great, and when the road turned inland, we followed it over the foothills well out of our way to Andoc. Realizing our mistake, we found a small rural road and headed back over the foothills again to the sea. It was a fortuitous mistake. We came upon a small castle town at the top of the hill, Castellet, in the midst of a protect forest area (!).

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We had an hour of the most enjoyable ride maybe of the trip. There was a beautiful damned lake complete with a curvy tree covered road for a number of kilometers. Locals were using the road as a motorcycle racing course, and we were cheered on as we rode around a corner where maybe 50 people were grouped to watch the “races”. At the end of the lake was an enchanting medium size dam with it’s release flowing down a natural rock formation to the side. Here’s a picture with lots of parallax.

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From this point it was 7km to Vilanova on the coast, and then another 10km north into Sitges – our planned end point. Sitges is the premier resort town on the Spanish Riviera, repleat with dozens of hotels and restaurants. Unlike many other resort towns, this one has a mostly medieval heritage and as such has the usual narrow walking roads just in from the coastal boardwalk. Here’s a late afternoon picture looking north from the more residential part of Sitges toward the business and historic areas.

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We checked into the (?) hotel, a older, very small place right on the coastal road. After cleaning up we met one of Deborah/Charlie & family’s old au pairs, Sylvia, and her boyfriend only known to me as “El Greco”. She’s from Barcelona, he’s from Greece. We wandered around the older streets which were packed at 9PM on a Sunday night, and accidentally found Al Fresca, the best restaurant of the trip. Exquisite food and service. It would be worthwhile going out of your way to eat there.

Bryan’s fitting in well, and in amazingly good shape for basically having not ridden any significant distance in almost a year. We’re all doing fine.

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