Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hola Madrid, here we come!

Friday Sept. 17th

Dear Family and Friends,

Tonight I am cheating a bit and instead of writing you an original blog I am forward my riding partner and friend's blog. He is an excellent writer and shares a different point of view. (minus the spelling and grammar mistakes)
Tomorrow night I will have some original material. Go to my blog for a few photos.

Jason Len
President XKs Unlimited

On the road again after a morning breakfast with a friend of Jason's. We met Yoni at a park in inner Lisboa on a warm morning, after negotiating difficult streets and countless turns. Jason, (Vasco de Gama), can find anything in the city maze. All he has to do is stop occasionally and let his Garmy catch up. I'm sure we frustrate the numerous cab drivers in Lisboa. They know the city, we don't. They must have their thumb embedded on the horn button and they are not shy about using it. Time is money.

Yoni is quite a bright young man. He is from Los Osos, took his undergrad degree from Georgetown and his Law degree from Stanford. He works in Lisboa helping with legal issues with Syrian refugees. Not your typical attorney; he's altruistic. He's been in Portugal for three months and will stay a bit longer. A very bright and interesting young man.

We bid farewell, negotiated some slippery stone walkways and we were off to Merida in Espana. I'm quite comfy riding a motorcycle, it becomes second nature. I'm not comfortable sitting on a bike and walking it. The bike is heavy, especially when loaded and should you lean it off its balance point it's difficult to hold upright. The more you lean it's an exponential increase in weight. Dropping a bike is a no no. It's so heavy one needs help to right it. The embarrassment is indescribable. Therefore I am very careful; tense, but very careful.

Once we cleared the cabs, buses, stone streets and such, the highway was most welcome. Off to Merida.

As I stated, I am quite comfy on a bike, no matter the speed. The only problem with speed is wind noise. Huh? What did you say? I may need some help with my ears when I get home. Jason said "pass the salt", I responded and said "my ass is not getting old". It's inevitable.

When riding fast for long periods I get a pain between my should blades (traps....I can't spell it), it's a pain in the lower neck. I relieve it by kicking my feet to the rear pegs and place my chin on my tank bag. If I set the cruise control I can take a quick snooze of sorts. (Linda just fainted). It's more of a sport bike than a cruiser; my new multi cruiser is home in the barn; next trip.

Jason rides a dual sport which sits high and is comfy to ride (according to him). Vasco leads most of the time and is easy to spot up ahead with that big white globe sitting high above traffic. He is an excellent navigator. He's also a good modulator. Ever the optimist, he exudes confidence that all things will work out. I know when he's lost but he never shows any doubt. He calms my excitable nature. He's the personification of a bottle of red wine, several pints of beer, a couple of Jack Daniels on the rocks. I'm sure Kim will enjoy his nature on the strange journey she is about to undertake. 

We seem to be curiosities wherever we go. Two old guys from California riding around Europe. When they learn we are Americans the Trump questions get voiced. They don't understand; neither do we. We tell them we are on a mission to show a more positive side of Americans. They are ALL very friendly; except for cab drivers.

Portugal and now Spain, look a lot like California, maybe with a bit more vegetation because they have more rain. The roads are very smooth with an occasional bump here and there. The bumps make my soft luggage (with a hard bottom) strapped across my passenger seat, slide forward, engaging my posterior, pushing my butticus forward where the Boys contact the gas tank and start to scream. Relief involves a somewhat firm shove backwards to restore the butt and the Boys to their positions of detent. All is comfy until the next bump.

I am surprised with the lack of road kill on these fast highways. The animals are either extinct or they wound up in some Portuguese or Spanish sausage or stew. Maybe it's all related. I see lots of dogs on leash along the way but no cats. I wonder where all the Spanish pussy my old school chums used to about has disappeared to. I miss my cats. Linda reports they miss me too.🐈🐈🐈

We saw remnants of brush/forest fires along the way, just like California. I miss California and the life Linda and I have created. It's costly to live there but it's still the best. I can see why the Spanish and Portuguese explorers liked California so much.

We are now settled down for the night at a lovely hotel on the outskirts of Merida, Espana. I'm sitting by the pool with a fine cigar, only my second so far this trip. There is a Spanish wedding here today, a huge Spanish wedding with lots of laughter and music. They know how to party. I will join Jason later for dinner, hopefully at the hotel because we will have wine which doesn't mix well with motorcycles.

Tomorrow we will visit nearby Roman ruins and then a leisurely ride to Madrid where the hotel is reserved, paid for, and waiting. All we have to do is find it. Vasco always comes through regardless of how many wrong turns we make.

Many of you have sent encouraging words about our trip and my writings, I Thank you all. Writing these musings is a little like having a one way conversation, never sure how the recipients react to my course prose. I just record what's in my head to calm my thoughts. I appreciate your comments and recommendations of places to see. We can't see it all but enjoy the recommendations.

Europe is becoming more comfortable for me. This is my second trip here on a motorcycle and we are planning another for the spring. Having seen all 50 states, Europe now has the allure.

More tomorrow from Madrid.


A few photos of the Rato district of Lisbon and our visit with my friend Yoni.

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