Sunday, May 19, 2019

10000 Steps and a nap

There are some redeeming features with Google when it comes to traveling, such as answering those two most pressing questions one can sometimes find asking themselves: where am I and what did I do last night?  Fortunately the answer is always close at hand on your phone.  Thanks Google!

Malaga is branding itself as the City of Museums, which is kind of ballsy considering that reportedly there literally were no museums here 20-years ago.  It also now finds itself at a point where the economy has become tipped over towards tourism so much that tearing down an old mansion (palacio in the local parlance) to put up an brand new modern hotel is as almost a monthly or even weekly occurrence.   There are recent attempts to build the new from the inside out saving the old facades but it really is just a matter of when not if the full Disneyfication is complete.  Which will be too bad because it’s kind of a cool place at the moment.  

Having inadvertently arrived for International Museum day and the annual Night of Culture with all entrance fees waived and a live music concert on every corner I somehow managed to mostly walk my first day in town with only the Picasso museum - a local boy made good - enticing me to line up with the crowds.  A late afternoon siesta had me feeling like a native and well set up for that evening’s Tapas and Wine tour which did not disappoint.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Hey Google, where is Malaga?

“Malaga Spain is five thousand four hundred and fourteen miles from Bellingham Washington”
Hey Google, thanks for being so helpful.
“I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that now”

The question I should have asked is “Hey Google, how do I get to Malaga?”.
But then I already knew the answer to that one.

1) 9AM airport shuttle to Seattle,
2) 4PM flight to Calgary
3) 11PM flight to London - Heathrow
4) 3PM airport shuttle to London - Gatwick
5) 8PM flight to Malaga
6) 11:30PM taxi ride to the hotel.

And in the midst of all that I managed to make a foodie tour reservation for Saturday night, change my return Heathrow airport shuttle drop off terminal and the departure time for my SeaTac shuttle pickup.  Logistics, it’s all about the logistics... at least until you get there.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Sometimes it’s just a matter of having all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place allowing one to get from point A to point B in the expected manner.  For me point A was Minneapolis Minnesota Wednesday morning and point B being Malaga Spain Friday night... with point C being a few hours at home in the Pacific North West in between just to make it interesting.  Having got my ass out of bed early enough to drop off the rental car and have breakfast at the Minneapolis airport - a fine example of an airport if there ever was one - the flight back to Seattle arrived a little bit early.   And if Northbound I-5 hadn’t of been backed up 10-miles through Seattle because of a “significant” traffic accident the puzzle pieces would have been falling into place nicely.  On the bright side I did get to drive through the new tunnel before the toll started up.  

The other challenge to keeping the logistics in line (herding cats anyone?) is to manage the dynamics of the situation.  In this case as I turned my phone back on disembarking the plane from Minnesota a message showed up from the airline of my return flight 2-weeks hence confirming the itinerary changes... wait, changes?!?!?  I didn’t make any stinking changes.  Seems like the airline in question decided I should route through Dallas and an additional too short for my luggage to possibly be transferred onto the next flight layover instead of the originally booked direct hop back to Seattle.  Now to be fair this whole trip is pretty much possible from draining various points banks and beggars shouldn’t be choosers but still, Dallas?  Just because I’m there once a month doesn’t mean I have any sort of affinity towards the place - but the Flora Street Cafe is highly recommended if anyone is looking for the ultimate expressions of new wave fusion American southwest cuisine.

Oh ya, logistics - so now I had been encumbered with updating the shuttle reservation before departing SEA-TAC airport because my next stop is in Canada and free domestic calling is free domestic calling... oh look, craft beer.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Change Of Plans (Part Deux) July 11-12 2018

We’ve saved the big one ’til last: Khardung La Pass! Join the elite handful of motorcyclists that have stood on top of the world with their motorcycle by their side. Reputed to be the highest motorable road in the world, Khardung La pass sits at 5,380m above sea level (that’s the same height as Mt. Everest basecamp!). The views from the top are second to none, looking across Zanskar and the Kangri Mountains. We’ll ride down the other side on rocky dirt roads until we reach our final destination. 

Having returned to Leh after a night at Pangong Lake it was off to Nubra Valley in the morning.  Again the landslide revised the itinerary from what was originally supposed to be 2-nights luxury glamping at the eco-lodge to just 1 night.  However due to the 8AM departure we would be arriving in the early afternoon with some time to explore.  The next day it was back over the highest motorable road in the world for a second time and into to Leh for the last time. 

On the ride through Nubra Valley the locals were all out lining the street with all the buildings adorned with gold and red fabric.  While they all politely waves at us it was the Dalia Lama they were all there to see.

Best government road sign of the day: "Life is not destination it is a journey"

...things got very zen in the Nubra Valley.

Change Of Plans July 10 2018

After enjoying breakfast and a couple of cups of chai tea down by the lake, we’ll saddle up for another days fine riding through the mountains. We’ll travel through an incredibly remote region along an old military road that has only recently been opened up to tourists. The smooth road surfaces cruise us down into the beautiful Nubra Valley. 

That was what our ride was supposed to have been today but a landslide in one of the narrow canyons north of Pangong Lake had us coming back into Leh for the night.

Best government road sign of the day: "First you speed then you divorce"

Insurance July 9 2018

Riding over Chang La pass at 5,280m we’ll cruise over towards Pangong lake – the highest salt water lake in the world. Watch out for the huge Himalayan Yaks that patrol the valley! We’ll stop for a picnic lunch alongside a stream in this beautiful valley, before continuing down towards the lake.

The lake, shared by both India and China, is 134km long and a spectacular sight with snow capped mountains and orange rock faces reflecting off of the perfectly clear blue waters.

Turns out Jim the fellow who fell heavily twice the second day of riding had 5-broken ribs and over the preceding few days developed a hemotoma.  At the summit of  Tanglang La he was put in the van and yesterday morning taken to the hospital in Leh and into surgery soon after.  Apparently while in hospital in India it is the family that takes care of the patient so  Jim's friend along with the guide and medic took shifts overnight keeping him comfortable while he recovered.  Due to the nature of his injury and the surgery he likely won't be able to fly for a few weeks so as we left this morning arrangements were being made with his insurance carrier for a room in the best hotel in town.

Best government road sign of the day: "Don't be a gama* in the land of the llama"

* Ya, Google doesn't know what a gama is either.

PS: I won my bet, Mark was back on his bike today and one of the Portugese has still not received his luggage.  That being said his travel insurer or Air India will soon find out that they have been ponying up for the most expensive motorcycle gear and casual wear to be found in Manali and Leh.

3 Pass Day July 7 2018

After breakfast we will saddle up for what might well be the most beautiful days riding you’ll ever have experienced (this is certainly the opinion of Toby, one of the Ride Expeditions owners!). We start the day by riding up ‘Gata Loops’ – 21 hairpin turns that snake up the mountainside. Riding towards the Upper Indus Valley and over two more of the World’s highest passes (Lachalung La: 5,085m & Tanglang La: 5,330m) the winding roads are an immensely joyous ride and there are fresh breathtaking views around each and every corner. We do have a larger itdistance to cover today, but the road conditions are excellent (with exceptions of course – we’re still in the Himalayas!) and we’re able to increase the pace.

Longest riding day of the trip, wheels rolling at 7:00AM with 260 km to Leh our next stop.  And once again through some absolutely undescribable terrain that neither words nor pictures can do justice to. 

As we descended from the second highest motorable road in the world (Tanglang La at 5,330m/17480ft) into the Ladakh region the presence of the Indian army became a lot more pervasive.  Being a border state with both Pakistan and China there were military check points at increasingly frequent intervals and multiple large bases.

Upon arrival at the hotel the most pressing question was not what the wifi code was but where would be able to watch the England - Sweden World Cup quarter final match.

Best government road sign of the day: "Be Gentle On My Curves"