The week I bought a bike

On Thursday as I shut the bedroom balcony doors, I looked out along our street. It was around 7pm. Golden street lamps bathed the stones now that the Christmas lights are gone, and the town was full of noise. Children running ahead of their parents, people heading home with groceries, and old couples wandering up the street, only to turn around and amble back down.

Across the road I could see into the music school that is in the building opposite. In one room, a teenager was learning the trumpet. In the next, a young man practised on a giant xylophone. The sound of trumpets and violins drift into our apartment most evenings and I am yet to get sick of it.

Next to them, Mary and Jesus sat in their small shrine that looks up to our kitchen window. The inset shrine has a large bunch of plastic roses below it, presumably giving our Career De La Rosa its title. Mary and her boy look old and faded as they watched me close the doors.

Towards the cathedral, the local bar had just opened up. You can tell when it’s open because there are little glass bottles with thistles in them set up on the outdoor tables. The owner also brings out a table laden with jamon set up for slicing. He often opens big umbrellas as well, and wraps strings of fairy lights around the stands. Last week he had an outdoor heater fighting against the cold but on Thursday, I could see little blankets on the back of every chair, ready for customers.

It’s been a lonely week, with my man away exploring Andorran ski fields. It was going to be The Week I Was Alone. Plenty of time for working long Spanish hours, learning how to cook romanesco broccoli and appreciating our lovely street view.

But on Saturday, after a few failed attempts, I managed to buy a bicycle. A lovely second hand black Catalonian-made cruiser with six gears and much swagger.

Buying a second hand bike was harder than I expected, particularly in a smaller town like Tortosa. I scoured segundamano, Spain’s second hand website, and contacted several people before finding a bike that was available and affordable. There were many more options in Barcelona than in the country, so one train trip and 145 later, she was mine. As I was in Barça, a 30 lock was also needed, as well as another lock to secure the seat to the frame. Bike theft is an epidemic in the city apparently.

It was great to explore the city on pedal power! Barcelona is so bike-friendly, with glorious bike paths and wide flat streets. I sailed along Las Ramblas, cruised around Sagrada Familia and even up to Park Güell on my trust steed. Today I got her back safely on the train, as there is space on the train carriages especially for bicycles. There are bike paths and flat roads all around here, so look out for more flowery descriptions of local streets, experienced at a slightly faster speed.

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