I guess there are cyclists who like the big cities, but I’m not one of them. Valencia is a huge city, which I would liken to London in that it seems to be made up of different boroughs. I found it difficult to navigate, even with SatNav as it doesn’t seem very cycle friendly, with either one way systems or roads cyclists are not allowed on. Very frustrating when you cycle down a road only to see a sign saying ‘no cycles’ or it turns into a major highway and no other way forward.
It does however seem to lack very little in terms of shops and attractions and I guess would offer your average ‘shopper’ tourist a good time if passing through. Whereas I had struggled in the smaller towns to find internet cafe’s, there seemed to be one on every corner. I sat in one for 40 minutes, (having to use their old computers) and was pleasantly surprised to get change from 1€. Then I explored a little and was saddened by what I experienced, as even in such a large cosmopolitan city poverty is rife. Beggars on street corners are nothing unusual, but it wasn’t just the odd one or two.
I had no idea that Spain is now openly accepting of prostitution and it is very much ‘in your face’. I was propositioned three times (I declined all three!) and you can find ‘cards’ left everywhere, even in the local supermarket. I chatted in a bar to a local Brit who had moved here 16 years ago and he told me that Valencia now houses the biggest brothel in Europe, even though the country has no set policy on prostitution. What’s really funny is in my naivety on the country roads I had passed girls sat on white plastic chairs and waved a cheery ‘hello’, having no idea that they were ‘ladies of the night’ – due to it being broad daylight!
So all in all Valencia is not my cup of tea, both literally and figuratively. In terms of cycling, I’ll probably steer clear of the large cities in the future.
OK back to more interesting stuff and if you’re wondering why there have been few photos in my latest blogs, it’s because I’ve been putting my head down and getting in the miles, as I was hoping to reach Gibraltar and possibly Morocco for Christmas. With the change of plans I made from my original route I’ve now realised this is unlikely and will probably spend this Christmas in Spain. I have however passed a major personal milestone, my first 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of cycling. So I’ll be slowing down and taking a little more time to capture some images for you all.
And finally, I’ve been asked about my diet. I’m cycling about 5-7 hours a day, 6 days a week. I’m burning approx 800 calories an hour, so need a lot of food. Here is a rough break down of an average day:
Breakfast (6 – 8 a.m.) – 1 ltr of tea. Large portion of porridge. 1 dish of muesli/cereal or a jam type sandwich. 1 apple or orange.
Mid morning – Oranges/nectarines on the go. Nuts and dried fruits. Cereal bar. Chocolate bar.
Lunch – Sandwiches or full baguette. Fruit. Cakes.
Afternoon – snack on anything, fruit, nuts, chocolate or if really hungry, make a sandwich.
Teatime – Large portion of pasta with half a jar of pasta sauce and typically a tin of sardines or mackerel. Some kind of sweet, either cakes or ice cream if near a town. Fruit, an apple and orange. Nuts. Optionally I’ll cook a packet of dried pasta meal for two.
The great thing about Spain is along with buying the fruit, you can pick it freely from the roadside and I’m certainly getting my Vitamin C.
Oh and I have lost weight and I’m toning up my flab!
By the way, if you have any questions you’d like answering, please just ask… more later.