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Refuelling….

I don’t want you to think that my main breakfast fuel in the morning was just the farton……. because, as we all know, variety is the spice of life….even at breakfast time…..but a panadería full of tempting pastries only really pretends to sell you a variety of products. They have a very clever way of making you think that each regional pastry is vitally different from the others, with its own ingredients, method of baking and, most importantly, its presentation. Well, their deceit is now being revealed……..but I’m still buying into it.  All these wonderful pastries are made with the same base ingredients of flour, milk, sugar and eggs, but the ingenuity of how they are presented is the essential magic when you enter a panadería.IMG_20171111_090205964

Perhaps my favourite breakfast pastry in Spain actually originates in Mallorca, and its called the ensaimada. If you haven’t tried one, you haven’t lived. I would recommend even buying yourself a return plane ticket, spend a night in Palma de Mallorca, just so you can have an ensaimada breakfast in the morning before your flight home. Crazy? No, not really……..IMG_20171106_174418261_HDR

Or you can go to the foot of the climb to Mijas (pueblo) in Andalucía, have your ensaimada in a café, and really feel virtuous by cycling off the calories as you climb up to the beautiful pueblo blanco (white village) at the topIMG_20171107_124545509

and then look smugly down over the captivating panorama, knowing that the only direction back to the coast is downhill. Could it get any better than that?

The hungry peloton…..

This peloton of ‘silver bullets’ arrived at our house having heard there was some free food and drink on offer. They were supposed to have completed their ‘constitutional Wednesday morning distance’ of about 40 miles, but the poor weather forecast (incorrectly this time) had put them off their stride.

Look closely and you will see they all look a bit smug standing next to their sparkling new bicycles......

Look closely and you will see they all look a bit smug standing next to their sparkling new bicycles……

I snuck a look at one of their cycle computers, and it registered all of 14.66 miles…..I said “That was a long café stop up the road!”

But they were right about the free food and drink……always a massive incentive to penny-pinching cyclists (and we’re all penny-pinchers, it has to be said……it goes with the activity).

This group of Rotarian cyclists had done me the honour of accompanying me on the first 25 miles of my ride to Istanbul…….but let it be said, that did include not just one, but TWO café stops. When I said goodbye to them in Bourn, Cambridgeshire, I realised that, if I were to get to Istanbul this side of Christmas, café stops had to be the exception rather than the rule.

But it was good to have their company. And the food and drink was our way of raising a glass to them…….”May the wind be always at our backs!”

Down time?

Happily, my ferry booking (early tomorrow morning) has enforced a 2 night stopover in Ft Myers Beach, but unhappily, it’s costing me $52 per night for my little tent…..but it’s  the cheapest in the area. The high cost is a combination of high season (yes, winter is high season), location, and no proper provision for tent camping. Camping for the majority in Florida (mainly retired snowbirds) means spending 6 months on an RV and Motorhome resort, with all the comforts of home.
Eavesdropping on a conversation at breakfast this morning, I learned that motorhomes are now coming equipped with built-in TV screens on the outside, as well as two on the inside! Must see about an upgrade of my tent……

Talking about breakfast, I treated myself to a leisurely all-American breakfast at the exceedingly popular Perkins Bakery (it was packed at 8am) this morning. Now I hope my American friends will not take offence at the following observations, but the American people have a serious problem controlling weight. Florida is probably atypical amongst the 50 states, it’s population currently swelled by the over-fed,over-weight retirees, that spend the winter lounging by pools or on the beach busy doing nothing, and still fuelling all that inactivity with three meals a day.
At 8am the restaurant was full of retirees, all ordering “the works” for breakfast, washed down with sodas and coffee, the tables groaning with sauces, ketchup and maple syrups of every hue. Some were so overweight, they struggled to walk from car to table. But once ensconced on a chair that barely contained them, they proceeded to pack away the food……as if there was no tomorrow.

Before I saw the size of their appetites, I felt guilty about ordering my modest portion of “over hard” eggs with genuine American hash brown (not the measly potato cakes we eat in the UK), followed by a dish of pancakes topped with cream, and drowned in (sugar-free) maple syrup. I tell you, that lot put a kick into the start of my day!

When I stepped out of the restaurant, I walked into this amazing assemblage of American classic cars, all beautifully pristine in their original livery:

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I had seen the owners in a private room, having a breakfast meeting…..and interestingly, I don’t think even one of them was overweight…..there’s a hidden message there somewhere.

Sydney harbours a few secrets…

When you picture Sydney in your mind’s eye, what do you think of? Harbour Bridge, Opera House….? Before I headed off to discover this for myself, there was a little bit of housework I had to attend to

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..otherwise my bike might disown me. Then it was time to venture forth and brave the vagaries of downtown Sydney.
However, a long anticipated rendezvous with Richard Tulloch was awaiting….

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Richard and I are both bloggers, and we have been communicating for sometime. Richard (www.richardtulloch.WordPress.com) has a diverse background in writing and TV drama production (especially children’s television) and he took an hour out of his rehearsing schedule to treat me to lunch. Thank you, Richard, and for the generous donation to the fund.
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The Gardner’s Lodge cafe in Victoria Park.

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This may look an innocuous little dish, but it is bushtucker: kangaroo and stout pie. And the taste, surprisingly, was as innocuous as it seemed…..not a lot different to our staple steak and ale pie. However, I now have a story to tell and an experience to brag about……
And so to the harbour where the original penal colony began early in the 19th century. It’s now an area stuffed with icons.
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Don’t pay the silly prices to do the climb over Harbour Bridge ($225) rather opt for the $11 climb of the Pylon Lookout and get superb views of both the bridge and the Opera House together
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…and then walk over the bridge itself

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….like London back at home, some of the most memorable moments and sights are free….absolutely gratis.
And if you keep an eye open you might catch moments like this on the Opera House steps

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…which I did just before I headed in to be feasted by a stunning production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, played to a full and enthusiastic house. It occurred to me that iconic opera houses are not just for admiring from the outside

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So it is back on the road tomorrow! 1000km of the coastal Princes Highway beckons……
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