From the coast of Barcelona

Mural, Montcada Beach

On the beach at Montcada | Mural, Berok; photo, Tom Walton

We've mentioned this one before, but for a nice long walk at the weekend, the beach is lovely — either from Barceloneta to the Forum, or way beyond that, either by bike or by taking the train to Premià and walking back (and there are 3 or 4 other stops, depending on how energetic you're feeling).

It's especially lovely in the winter when we get a lovely sunny-but-cold day like today was.

On a bike in Barcelona

Biking Barcelona

Barcelona: great for bikes (especially if your team has just won the League!) | Photo: Tom Walton

Barcelona, because of its weather, and because considerable efforts have been made to create cycle lanes, is a great city for cyclists.

It's got a decentish bike-hire service (Bicing) for its residents, plenty of places where tourists can hire bikes [info. in Spanish], not too many hills, a great ride along the Carretera de les Aigues for the casual cyclist wanting to get out of the smoke, and a wonderful natural park (Collserola) for the semi-serious mountain-biker.

Just watch out for those kamikaze taxi drivers (etc), that's all!

Waiting for the tourists

Waiting for a fare

Waiting | Photo: Tom Walton

You can hire a "biketaxi" from Trixi.com (who call them "trixis") for various tours around the city [brochure] and if you're feeling a bit lazy, or Barcelona in August is just too hot, it's probably fun (we haven't actually tried them out). Look for them in the square outside the Cathedral [map].

Actually we think GoCars are more fun (and we have tried them — several times!) because with them you have to make the effort, not just sit there passively.

Driving a GoCar (a 50cc tricycle a bit like an open-top bubble car, if you remember them), rather than being peddled places, is a bit like being in a language class: you can't just sit there passively. In class (and after class, too), you've got to get actively involved in your own language learning…

>> You can also hire ordinary bikes from Trixi if you want to consume your own pedal power.

July 9: Tour de France comes to Barcelona

Not Lance's bike

Thought unlikely to win the time trial… | Photo: Tom Walton

Thursday, the Tour comes to Barcelona for a stage finish, leaving the next day for Andorra, passing within 500m of IH Barcelona as it rounds our very own "Arc de Triomphe" and heads for the finish on Montjuic.

They're hoping for a spectacular Guiness World Record for a spectacular yellow flag and another for 500 people spinning on exercise bikes… and have decked out Barcelona's public bike hire service for the occasion, as you can see in our picture…

>> Full details, including times and route

I bike therefore I am

Parked in Plaça Sant Jaume

Parked in possibly the safest place in Barcelona… | Photo: Tom Walton

We liked this bike, and the basket on it, which we found tied up to a lamp-post in the Plaça Sant Jaume this morning. It seemed to make a statement of some sort: not only was the owner going to choose to ride a bike in Barcelona (not that dangerous if you keep your wits about you) but their bike was going to look like this…Peace and love!

The Plaça Sant Jaume is about the one place in Barcelona you might risk leaving a bike tied to a lamp-post: with the Generalitat and the Ayuntamiento right there in the square there's always a policeman or ten on guard.