29 August 2019
Today was……. interesting to say the least.
Lots of good stuff , and lots of not so good stuff. But if every cloud has a silver lining, we found gold!!
Today was Sagrada Família day! We headed off early via the markets, for breakfast and then made our way, via metro, to the meeting place for our tour. We patted ourselves on the back for successfully arriving at the correct destination without getting lost. The “getting lost” comes later!!
Our tour guide explained once again the tenacity and determination of the Catalans. She cited that the building, with several more towers to build, would be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s death. If our visit today was any indication, it’s not going to happen. Although we saw plenty of signs of construction, we did not spy a single construction worker, or hi viz vest.
Anyway, as amazing as the external views are, it is once you step through the leather flower, beetle and bug engraved doors that your breath is taken away.
As you know, I love a bit of stained glass. (You were warned).
The light pouring in at 9.30 in the morning was amazing. It cast streams of colour onto the columns and floors. Stunning!
The view from the tower was pretty good too.
Ok, so you get the gist!
We returned to the markets for a quick bite to eat and head back towards the airport to pick up our car. Everything worked perfectly and before long we were heading down the motorway towards our next destination. A date with La Veulta in the mountains between Barcelona and Valencia. Stage 7 of the Tour of Spain.
It’s about now that things turn from good to bad, very bad!!
We had made good time and I suggested that the motorway was a little boring. Google Maps had found a lovely little back road to wind through pretty villages and countryside. The SatNav redirected, google maps updated and the sightseeing was much more enjoyable.
Sadly, things went belly up. We took a wrong turn in a little village and instead of travelling on a lovely country road, we were now picking our way, slowly between very very, very narrow village streets. Neither SatNav, Google maps nor us realised that although we were very close to the correct road, we were well below it. As a result they encouraged us toward increasingly narrower streets.
On realising our mistake, Grahame found somewhere to turn around so that we could retrace our steps back through the village. It was a bit of a squeeze and unfortunately we scraped our tyre along the edge of a villagers little brick walled garden. Unbeknown to us, we had torn a gash in the side of the tyre of our brand new car. We found the road we should have been on but also found the car sounded different. We pulled over just outside the little village of Costur, 15 minutes from our destination.
Now we have all changed a few tyres in our life and we saw this as a minor inconvenience. Change the tyre, get back on the road.
Easier said than done. Apparently cars now have special safety nuts which require a special tool in order to take off the last of the five bolts holding the wheel on.
We couldn’t find ours!! Nor could lovely old local man, (let’s call him Jorge because he speaks no English and we speak no Spanish) who was determined to get us back on the road. Jorge spent at least an hour with us.
Communication was difficult but it would be ok , we had “Google Translate”. Sadly Google Translate requires internet connection!! Just outside Costur has none!
After an hour, we admitted defeat, Jorge got on with his life and I walked back towards the village. About 200 metres back from the car, I picked up a signal and rang our emergency contact number given to us a few hours earlier should anything go wrong. I was put through to an English speaker and suddenly all was good again. They were sending someone to help us.
Our emergency guy finally arrived and let’s call him Jorge because he spoke no English and we speak no Spanish! And where our car is there is no internet!!! New Jorge couldn’t find the part we needed either and we were still unable to remove the tyre!!
We got to know New Jorge very well, (not really, but we smiled and laughed and talked AT each other a lot) as we sat beside him in the truck. Somehow we managed to explain that we were heading to Stage 7 of the Veulta, and somehow he managed to tell us that his nephew was a very good cyclist and has lots of medals.
New Jorge delivered us and our as yet unnamed car ( not sure she deserves one yet! ) to a tyre repair shop. There was a lot of chat between New Jorge and and the tyre people. And next minute we were back on the truck heading to tyre repair shop number 2. Once again , lots of chat and once again , no success!!
Apparently this safety nut is very good at stopping people from stealing your tyres!!
By now we have New Jorge, Tyre Repair man and New Jorge’s boss ( let’s call him Carlos!!) trying to solve our dilemma. New Jorge and Carlos were fighting for our side (I think) and Tyre Repair man was insisting he couldn’t help us til at least Monday. (He couldn’t find the safety lock tool either).
By now it’s dark and New Jorge and Carlos have taken us under their wings and were determined to get us to Lucerna del Cid (and our pre booked accommodation) so we would not miss The Veulta!!
We contacted our emergency assistance hot line again and after some tense minutes, New Jorge, Carlos and Emergency A Assistance Lady had our lives sorted. For today at least.
Emergency Assistance Lady organised a Taxi and next minute we were heading back up into the hills with all our bags and paperwork in hand.
Carlos and New Jorge took our car back to their garage for the night.
So here we are 5 hours late, sitting in a little cafe in Lucena del Cid with no car but heaps and heaps of gratitude for all our helpers. Jorge, New Jorge, Carlos, Emergency assistance lady and Taxi man.
A little less gratitude is given to Tyre Repair man number 2 who couldn’t possibly help us til Monday and zero gratitude to the young boy in the local cafe here who just tried to charge us over 70 euros for 2 glasses of wine, two beers and two small tapas plates. We did the math and gave him the 15 euros as determined by the menu.
Tomorrow will be a good day!!