Well our hopes of better weather were soon dashed, as, at breakfast, on the bank of the River Lot, the rain started again in earnest; looking out at the river, ‘That’s yer Lot’ I thought to myself.
Being the Monday of the new working week, the roads were busier than the last 2 days.
With the rain, this meant we arrived wet and cold and two hours behind schedule at Carcassonne.
A major fortress in medieval times, it fell into disrepair in later years, so much so it was struck off the list of fortified building during the Napoleonic period and was marked for demolition. Thankfully it was rebuilt, all 53 watchtowers and double defensive wall. Although more of a modern fantasy version of how a medieval castle may have looked, being rebuilt in 1853. It still retains its charm.
For lunch it can only be cassoulet.
A rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck) and white beans.
Thought to originate from Carcassonne itself, legend tells us that at times the fortress became under siege, everything edible was put into a large traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, from where the name derives. Being a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.
After lunch I decided that was enough and I would leave Ken to ramble around France. I blatted off down the Peage to Barcelona, and the hope of better weather.
It was here the BMW came into its own, it flew down the motorway, cruising at a smooth and steady pace. I have managed to adjust my weight on the seat to a more evenly balanced position and am now able to get some miles under the belt; arriving in Barcelona, and the sunshine in good time.
It’s nice to lock the bike in the garage and head into town for a well deserved, refreshing local beer..
As all my clothes are soaked, a quick visit to Las Ramblas is in order to re-kit myself out in my new ‘Barcelona Chic’ image.
Last night, the rest of the Mild Bunch arrived. 666 Squadron glides into town. We have our pre-tour meal in Las Caracoles just off Las Ramblas.
The Restaurant has been there since 1837, the same family has run it for generations, set in a back street which, nowadays, is full of ne’er do wells, dodgy strip joints and other undesirables, so yes, we fit right in, and then this fantastic restaurant which is an absolute must if you are in Barcelona.
We had the best table in the house, the one where Bruce Springsteen dined last week, and Robert de Niro too. The pictures on the wall tell the story of the restaurant's ongoing history and continued popularity. From The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, President Jimmy Carter, Charlton Heston, back to the likes of Edward G. Robinson. All sat here.
Fantastic food, the fish soup is amazing. We persuaded Jeff that the traditional Catalan way to eat the flan desert is to suck it up in one gulp, straight from the plate not using hands. For some reason he believed us and demonstrated this method by sticking his face in his desert. Devouring most of it in one mighty slurp. But needing two more attempts to polish it off.
The staff mistook me for Robert Plant and wanted a pic to join the greats on the wall. I thought it would be amusing to have my pic there, but had to confess they were mistaken.
Now I sit a Barca airport to return to the UK for this weekend's shows.
It’s been cold, wet and uncomfortable, and a petrol strike in France, a perfect biking weekend really.
Adieu for now.