Spain, Andorra, Portugal: What a ride!

In all, we spent 21 days away from Phoenix, from Sept 20th to October 10th. Roughly 1,600 miles on a rented 2022 BMW 1250GS with Maggie navigating driver Kim Marin’s rental car, mostly following the seven 1250GS rental bikes with nine passengers across 3 countries. The weather was highly cooperative, the roads amazing and the scenery stunning. The lodging and food would bankrupt anyone’s bank of superlatives to describe.

My first trip to Barcelona was in February of 2010 to attend the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) conference with a company I’d helped found. CallSpark was selected as a finalist for GSM’s Mobile Innovation Grand Prix. The company would later change its name to PhoneTell. My memories of the conference are hazy, but the impressions made by Antonio Gaudi’s architecture never left me. I vowed to return and show Maggie this amazing place, knowing she would see and appreciate this artist far deeper than I ever could, and the primary motivation for arriving in Barcelona a few days before our fellow travelers.

Antoni Gaudi lived from 1852–1926, stamping his revolutionary design vision on Barcelona and becoming one of the most referenced architects in history. The world knows the Sagrada Familia as the largest unfinished Catholic Church in the world. Construction began in March of 1882 and continues to this day. The coronavirus pushed the targeted completion date of 2026 back several years, although the church was consecrated (in 2010), holds services, and is easily Barcelona’s top visited tourist attraction. It is the most intriguing, captivating, puzzling, and impressive building I’ve ever been in. But Gaudi’s genius and innovation can be seen in other areas of the city. First, in two huge homes near our hotel (The Mandarin Oriental) which we toured. The second, the Park Guell, where Gaudi’s experimentation with angled columns, principals realized on a much larger scale in the Sagrada Familia. The Gaudi-inspired jewelry pieces purchased for Maggie on my 2010 trip have been some of her favorites. It made showing off how much his ideas influenced all of modern art throughout Barcelona so very special.

Before picking up our motorcycles and heading north two incidents reinforced the legitimacy of Barcelona’s reputation for petty street crimes and theft. The first was having my beloved, highly-dependable, well-traveled Canon camera with my favorite zoom lens stolen. The second was at the bike rental place and our ride master Skip Mascorro’s backpack was stolen. Both thefts were incredibly well orchestrated, and we were unaware of neither until the thieves had plenty of time to be gone. The loss of Skip’s bag (passport, cash, and trip papers) caused the bigger issue, necessitating him to drive back to Barcelona in the middle of the night, go to the US Consulate to acquire a temporary passport, and then journey back to us. My loss was more emotional. As the trip progressed each time we came across an incredible photographic subject I reached for my non-existent “big camera” in a way I’ve heard amputees feel sensations of missing limbs. While absurd to compare my camera loss to losing a limb, I repeatedly went to my top case on the bike to grab my camera, only to open it, look down, and remember it was gone. I expected these momentary episodes of loss and anger to go away, but they didn’t stop until we returned the rental bikes in Portugal.

My original plan for this newsletter was to summarize our trip, focusing on the highlights with the idea of conveying the high points. My good friend and riding companion on this trip was Rich Marin. Rich’s daily blog for each of this trip’s fourteen days, I felt, with a bit of editing, would do a good job of chronicling our trip. You can find that report, edited with Rich’s permission, here: Spain Trip Report Marin-Larsen

As to photos of the trip, follow this link to see over 100 of the best shots, cut down from just under 3,000 photos, some with commentary.

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