• 19 February 2014

Great meeting in Spain

Great meeting in Spain

Great meeting in Spain 300 169 Gürkan Genç


 You may get in Barcelona from London by any means ferry, train or plane. The cheapest way is to fly. Ten minutes after the plane had departed from London I closed my eyes. When I woke up the plane had already landed on Barcelona airport. This is another enjoyable way of travelling.Just close your eyes, when you open them you are already in another country. BCN (Barcelona) airport has really a very good design. It is a modern airport with good circulation. As a one who worked at airport years ago, I’m giving full marks to this airport. Among the shops there is a shop selling products of Barcelona football team even. Although I’m not very interested in football fan, league games or football field issues, Barcelona football team is known and remembered for its quality of play which I admire.

This city lodging is going to be different from the others. We had agreed to meet with my brother and friends in this city months before.

Gurhan, Ayca, Levent, Irem, Emre, Meyzi, Recep, Derya, Gizem, Mustafa, Dilan, Ozlem. It would be impossible to gather this group in Turkey even with the greatest effort. Everyone is living and working in a different city. I hadn’t seen my brother and my friends for one and a half year. Actually, this experience will be the first for me. It has always been hard to leave beloved people. But this time persons in my close vicinity are visiting me.

Their plane had landed on the second terminal of BCN airport. I gather my belongings and take a bus to go from the first terminal to the second one. It is hard to carry both bicycle and the baggage. Good that they mentioned they would charge an additional fee of 35 £ for a single baggage. Otherwise, I would have put all my bags into a single baggage and walking around from one terminal to the other had turned into a nightmare.

As soon as I arrived in the airport I bought a SIM card from a mobile operator. It costs 35 € and has unlimited 3GB internet connection. I seems enough for the next month I’ll spend in Spain. My first call is with my brother.

Ahaa. I saw them. Wooow.. Here, my brother. I had missed him so much, dude. We had talked with him over Tango, Skype, Viber etc, and occasionally via the satellite phone of Globalstar over the last one and a half year.  This is much better. We were together with Ayca in Italy lastly (Well, since I haven’t published my road memories of Italy yet, that part of the story is missing). The same way, Emre came to Amsterdam where we hung around. Furthermore, Emre and Meyzi came to Sweden. But I hadn’t seen the rest for one and a half year. This meeting has come just in time.

AeroBus from Barcelona airport to city center costs only 6€. If you prefer to take a taxi it costs 40€. The bus stop where buses drop you right in the center. A nice coincidence one of the bus stops is only 500 m away from the flat we had rented for seven days. We decided to rent a flat instead of staying at a hotel. It turned out to be cheaper I must say, we paid 1450€ for six days in which we stayed 8 persons. Since we rented this flat already in August (at that time euro hadn’t headed to the top in Turkey) and everybody had bought his/her flight ticket 5 months ago, this vacation become economical for everyone. 


You know, furnished apartments for rent usually turn not to be the same as shown on photos. But this flat was really very nice. I guess this building was at least 100 years old with our flat at the third floor. A big flat with 4 rooms, 3 bathrooms and a saloon. Let me write the e-mail address of the guy renting us this flat in case someone may want to rent a flat (I didn’t meet him nor spoke with him. Also he didn’t make any discount for us). I just liked that flat and therefore want to share this information. (Andreas – info@envilleapartments.com). By the way, some of my friends decided to come much later. They stayed at a hotel on the same street. In this way the whole group came together.


We had a marvelous week all together. We didn’t miss a single historical or touristic spot we hadn’t visited in Barcelona. We strolled around in side streets of the city with rental electronic bicycles and scooters. On New Year’s Eve we dined in a restaurant having seafood and then went to a bar and chatted.

Generally all of us liked Barcelona. I saw teenagers on skateboards in many European cities also in Barcelona. But here skateboards were used as transport vehicle. Dude, whereas in some countries there haven’t been established any pedestrian, bicycle and even paved roads, these guys are going from one point to the other on skateboards. Beg me pardon, not only men also women were skateboarding. Couples strolling around on weekends, stylish dressed girls going out night are all on skateboards.




You think only skateboards? On Friday evenings bicycle groups, on Thursday evenings roller skate groups. One day I ran into a group of old and young people skating through the narrow labyrinth resembling streets of Barcelona. The urban plan of this city is quite successful. Indeed, paying attention to the road and sidewalk structures one can see that they are pretty new. This is a frequently used sentence: “Olympic games made Barcelona what Barcelona is today” Of course, to host the Olympic games in your country you have to have successful sportsmen and women in distinct disciplines and you must say that you are pretentious also in the other Olympic disciplines. It is more than about tourism commercials.

Barcelona is one of the most famous touristic destinations. The public transport network is quite well and cheap, one way underground ticket costs only 1 euro (converting to Turkish Lira, one might wonder but for Europe it is really the cheapest). Compared to the underground of London, this one in Barcelona was more comfortable and bigger. It is impossible to get lost underground. The guidance of direction signs is very good. There are special lanes/roads for skateboards, roller skates and bicycles all around the city. The sidewalks are smooth and are level which adds up for the skaters. Even though the bicycle roads are discontinuous within the city, drivers pay attention to the cyclists. Bicycle rental is only for the citizens. Foreigners cannot use them. They have to rent bicycles from a bike shop.

Barcelona is Catalan. Although they are calling themselves as Catalan and not Spanish, the Spanish flag has been weaving for years. Being a huge port city, having the most successful football team and being a destination for touristic attraction made people a little cocky. Shopkeepers downtown behave some kind of rude. But there is no need to spread this issue to the whole city. Also, it caught my attention that mostly the rude people were immigrants.

Of course, there were some other shopkeepers which caught my attention. It was a pleasure to shop in the greengrocery.

–          Beg me pardon, may I have fruit salad.

Also let me mention this – waiters in Barcelona. Halllooooo. Hey! Wash your hands after going to toilet. Look how many times have we come across at toilets. We peed and shit together. Dude, I’ll eat the meal you cook or service on my table. We are using the same toilet, while I’m washing my hands where are you going? Idiot!! You are not a child to be told!!

Here is the world known Gaudi. He constructed two houses, one church and a park architectural interest (if there are more, I didn’t search!). Of course, since all my friends wanted to visit, I obeyed them. Well now, I don’t know what to say. 

They are outstanding designs for their period. The church is really well designed. It has been on modification for the last 186 years. Furthermore, I don’t that how many people compared chapels of that church with the sand castles we used to make on the beach. Honestly, I liked the gothic church I visited in the city much more. And if you would ask which churches were the most beautiful ones I had visited were: Milan and Cologne cathedrals.  I haven’t seen a church superior to them yet! Anyway, to visit the works of this man – a touristic attraction – didn’t make me say “Wow, how amazing!” Just outstanding designs for their period.

We also visited Picasso museum. If you want to visit this museum go very early in the morning. There is an incredible long cue at which you will wait for hours. One of my friends who visited me was Gizem Girismen 2008 Olympic champion in archery discipline. With her help – which I still wonder how she managed it – we entered the museum easily. As we were about to give up due to the crowd we found ourselves in the museum. Visit this museum! I don’t get the language of painting or brush stroke, but I try to visit art galleries as much as I can along my tour. I had seen almost all works of Picasso scattered in museums around Europe which I have visited. The paintings exhibited here are quite different which I liked much belonging to his early works.

Another spot worth to visit in Barcelona is the Catalan museum (Museu d’Història de Catalunya). This museum situated at sea coast was one of the most beautiful museums I have visited yet. On that they the entrance was free. I suppose it was Sunday. Hey, the ones who stroll around in Barcelona just go and check whether it is free or not. I’m wondering. Oops, I hadn’t taken a note. I’ll be glad to be informed on that. You get a very good overview of the history of Catalonia with the multimedia processing and the interactive structure applied in this museum. I would advise you to have a cup of coffee at the terrace and view Barcelona.

Now, the left hand side constructions ………….

The side streets were always wet during the day in this city. Even sunshine streets were wet. The first day we step on dung everywhere. We saw the cleaning vehicles on the streets on the second day. Then, on third day the streets were again messed up with dog’s dung. The situation became clearer the dogs were messing up the streets. The municipality waters daily the streets to clean. This is the topic.

My mother had sent sarma (wine leaves stuffed with rice cooked in olive oil) from Turkey and also, borek (pastry), walnuts, almonds, dried apricots and figs. Levent brought two 70 cc bottles of raki as well as Turkish coffee. Emrah sent one liter of pekmez (grape molasses). Well, actually I’m not travelling with my bicycle but with a truck. Dude, where to put all these, my 6 bicycle bags are already stuffed. We just tasted some raki. Sarma and borek lasted only for the week. The rest just fitted into my bags. : ). I have 112 L capacity panniers which are all fully stuffed. You send but what am I going to do with them? Anyway, I ate up all while pedaling through Spain. I ate up my load. : )

It was hard to say good bye. It had been always hard to say good bye to friends, but this time all my dears came and that all left in a wink. Thank you my dears for coming. I wish this year will be filled up with happy memories. See you in Africa the next year. Hahaha.

The day they had departed I moved to a hostel which I found at the night we guys were out. That night was amazing.. We – 6 fellows – were walking on the street making noise. A voice called us from the left hand side

–          Gencler (young guys in Turkish) what are you doing?

–          Hahahaha. We were shocked. Abi (elderly brother in Turkish) we are looking around.

–          Come with me. I know what you need.

The conversation continued in Turkish. The story line turned into Turkish which was very funny. We laughed a lot. Thanks to Halit abi, he directed us to a nice striptease bar. He was the owner of the best doner restaurant around. Dude, as we entered the bar we saw Japan businessmen with the most beautiful girls around. How can it be real?…Anyway, I’ll tell this story someday somewhere in details and we’ll have our laugh.


I check in the hostel. There is no one other than me in the room. I went out and strolled around in the streets. I didn’t have fun being alone and went back to my room and slept. I got bored. The next day I stayed in the bed. I had really missed everybody. Don’t visit me so frequently when you leave I miss you more than ever.


I was waiting for my cycling fellows to arrive….

First Funda Uluturk arrived. I had missed her and also felt sad as we met. Our friend Can passed away this year. It was his dream to cycle with me. He had used to keep saying to Funda: “We’ll go to cycle with Gurkan” I said “come”. He has been already traveling with me. We were together in Durham recently… He reminded me what I was doing….

I met Funda in 2009 in Ankara for the first time. It was May when I ran into “Thursday evening cyclists group” and learned the rules of city cycling. I made friends within this group. One of them was Funda Uluturk. During the upcoming months we cycled together in Turkey and then she accompanied me from Samsun to the border during my Japan tour. When I returned to Turkey she was again on my side. She attended many of my presentations. Actually she was among the ones who did understand what I was trying to do. Therefore, she supported me totally. Now, she is again next to me and we’ll pedal together the next days.


Afterwards, Enes Sensoy arrived. We had met with him during “Gokova pedallarımın altında – Gokova underneath my pedals” bike festival in Mugla. At October 2009. I had asked him his opinion for cycling to Japan 5 months later. “Piss off. You won’t” That, by that time I hadn’t been involved in touring cycling and hadn’t been interested in bicycles. Still, I won’t call myself a professional touring cyclist yet. I just talk about the gear I have been using and share my experiences. This man said to me: “Dude, you’ll do it”. That’s it. One of my companions till the Turkish border was Enes. While pedaling with Enes I realized that he will going to be my body and team mate in future projects and tours. Five years has been passed since then. We shared many issues, we learned together or he taught me on the subject of bicycle and traveling. Just therefore, if somebody would accompany me for a longer time, that will be definitely Enes Sensoy.


Funda and Enes strolled around in Barcelona for two days. Then, our ambassador Mr. Emir Salim and his family invited us for a dinner. We had a nice and informative conversation about the Turks living in Barcelona and Turkish-Spanish relationships.


Meanwhile I spent some time for my home page.


–          I didn’t publish my road memories for some countries.

–          Photographs are missing.

–          Videos are not enough


Let me give some information about why it happened so.


–          Last summer my friend taking care of my home page had a bad time in his life and there construction of the page was delayed.

–          After my web page was ready, just as I was about to load my memories and photographs both of my externals were stolen in Amsterdam. A part of my huge archive and savings got lost : (

–          A fungal decease and loss of my front tooth made my motivation go up and down.

–          I broke my ribs in England.

–          I met many people and was hosted by them.  I spent some time with them. My brother and friends came to visit me. I didn’t have time neither to write new road memories nor to rewrite the older ones.

–          The SSD disc of my ultra-book failed to work which makes me unable to mount HD videos permanently giving errors.

–          The English arrangement of my home page and sound recording of my memories started to take too much time. For the time being I’m not only writing my road memories in Turkish also I sound record them.

–          Now, I’m in Africa. : ) I’ll finish to write all my memories and continue to pedal better than ever


Here we go, time to pedal in Spain. : )        





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