7 December 2021

"There's a sort of jet lag where you travel to your own past" - Bill Waterson

2.30 am. My body thinks it’s lunchtime.

I am awake. Shell is asleep.

It could be Tuesday. It is.


Scientists tell us how important sleep is. Time zones and international flights don’t care what scientists say.

We departed KLIA at 1.30 am Monday. Some nostalgia.  Eight-hour flight to Dubai. I dozed for the first four hours. There is a gravity issue with my head. It slumps down, wakes me up every ten minutes. Repeat. Restless sleep. Shell is not next to me. In the row behind she has mastered resting her head on the food tray.

A five-hour layover in Dubai. Coffee. I will stay awake so I can sleep when I arrive in Barcelona. Plans.

We board in Dubai. Take off. Another breakfast? It is only 7.30 am. My brain tells me it is after lunch. Movies to kill the time. This leg Shell and I have the row to ourselves. Shell takes two seats and puts her legs on my lap. Three seats for Shell.

We fly over Iraq. Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, Al Fallujah. Names I have read about. Conflict. I think about these, safe at 3000 or so meters. Weapons of Mass Destruction was the reason. None found. Freedom from tyranny was the next. Oil never mentioned. 

I wonder if the people of these cities are still thanking us?

Attention diverted from the movie, snow-capped mountains everywhere. We are over Turkey. Moving over Europe we see the Pyrenees. A white blanket. We will cross these on our bikes.

We arrive in Barcelona. Everything smooth, start to finish with COVID documentation rarely required. PCR test not required. It is 1.30 pm, it should be 9.30 pm. I am hungry and tired.

Barcelona. Spain. Europe. Bikes.

I could not be happier. Excited like a child.

"For one person who likes Spain there are a dozen who prefer books on her" - Ernest Hemmingway.

We catch the A1 Aerobus into the city. It is a Public Holiday so we can’t get to Plaça Catalunya. Roads closed to busses. The architecture is impressive. The entire trip spent pointing buildings out to each other. Clean.

We jump off at Plaça Universitat and grab a taxi for the last 5km. Too far to walk with baggage.

We go through Las Ramblas. Famous. Busy. Tourists. I recall the terrorist attack here a few years ago. Try and imagine. 

Barri Gòtic is impressive and then El Born.

The streets are tight and paved the buildings close but not more than four stories. A maze. We wander for a while trying to find our place. We do.

First-floor studio with a shared kitchen and laundry. Our own living space, a bedroom with a shower made for very small people.


Maria is our host. One wall of our apartment is shelving made for handmade models. Scale models of bikes with wings and similar. Her Father made them. He was an inventor.

I need a shower. It is 3.00 pm Monday. My brain says 1.00 am Tuesday.

Showered. I sit down feeling better. Exhausted and happy.


It’s lunchtime and dinner time and almost breakfast.

I peer out the window. Is that a tapas bar across the lane?


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