Cortados & Motorcycles


A journey through Spain

For a bit of context: Amongst the many happenings, our wedding has been postponed to 2021 instead of this past August. To commemorate the original date, we decided to take a road trip and just celebrate each other. You make plans and then life interjects its own ideas, so you adapt. And that’s just what we did.

Before sunrise on Friday morning, we departed Barcelona to go north. Over the course of our 10 day journey carrying only the necessities, we rode over 1600km by motorcycle — from the Mediterranean Sea, through the steep mountain inclines of the Pyrenees, open fields dotted with abandoned medieval structures, and gorges flanked by rivers, until we met the Atlantic on the other side.

 

Over the course of the journey, three thoughts circulated as we hopped from cortado to cortado and racked up kilometers: Cafe Oasis & Alternative Routes, Go Slow, and By Bike, Naturally.

Photo of coffee

Café Oasis:

With each small town seeming like an oasis, we jumped from cafe to cafe, refueling on petrol and caffeine along the way - things that kept us going. During these frequent stops, we had the chance to sit back and take in the local way of life - simply observe the sights, sounds, and feel for each place.

Travel to observe what's around without imposing your own layers - be embedded in the local scene to take it in for what it is.

At our first stop in Tremp, we arrived around lunch time and sat in a busy city plaza. The workaday crowd mingled with our fellow travelers against a backdrop of construction noise and laughter from conversations. We watched people go by: the waiter scurrying about with eyes darting from table to table; an elderly man on his way from the market with a heavy bag, a trophy for his daily conquest; dogs unleashed surveying the scene as the owner walked leisurely behind. We finished our cortado and iced espresso, downed a bit of cool water to offset the heat from our heavy jackets under the midday sun, and took off for the next oasis: Broto.

Overlooking Lake Yesa from a table with coffee

Alternative Routes:

Apart from the necessities of espresso and petrol, these stops along the way provide another value: A chance to see things you may have passed by in haste. Beyond observing the very real world around me, these moments are a chance to envision an imaginary world as well: What if, in an alternative universe, I had been born into this world here, what would it be like? Who would I be? What would I do, think, feel? And how different or the same would I be?

The questions are endless and cannot be answered, but it’s worth a journey down the alternative routes your life could be.

It’s a chance to try on a different life — for a moment, to see how it feels had you taken an alternative route, just over the time it takes to finish a cortado.

Go slow by choice:

We chose to take the smaller roads so that we could see what lay in between our destination and not by-pass on the highways. Driving through these small towns on slow streets, it’s almost as though you’re a pedestrian walking through town. Often we had the same cadence as our sidewalk companions, due to low speed limits and the one traffic light controlling the flow. 

In Ainsa, we found a cafe out of the city center on a side street. The whitewashed walls nearly blinded me in the high noon sun. The place looked deserted, save for the lively table celebrating something. At the cafe hidden within an interior corner of a building adjacent to an art center parking lot, we poured over our map as skateboarders swerved through obstacles and added a gritty noise to the otherwise quiet space.

 

I felt like I was settling into the feel of the area a bit more. I always need a day or two to adjust to the new settings — any time I left NYC, I needed to come down from the energy needed to manage the 24/7 city and, any time I came back, I needed to ramp myself back up to that cadence again. 

Funny how cities can linger on your mind and physicality, even after you’ve traveled somewhere else. 

And so, now coming from Germany to Spain, switching languages and transitioning to different cultural subtleties, I felt like I was getting back into the Spanish cadence.

Next step in the two part phase was to then switch into to Vacation Mode and slow down.

By bike, naturally:

We chose to go by motorcycle because it would be a chance to see the journey from a different perspective. On the back of a bike, you’re in the elements as you drive through the changing landscapes — Mountain roads, sunflower fields with endless plains, watching clouds roll in from the distance, the pressure drop of an encroaching storm, the proximity of the ocean with its salty air.

Photos don’t do it justice. The 360˚ views, accompanied by the obscured boundary between you and nature, it’s an enriching experience.

And so, this spontaneous trip concludes: By stopping at little cafes along the way, we were able to get into the feel of each place, pause to appreciate the moments, and reflect on ourselves. By going slow, we slowed down, too, and got into the cadence of each place we went. And by traveling by motorcycle, we embedded ourselves in the environment so that we could fully take it in, all angles.


As with all travel experiences, this small adventure has brought a subtle metamorphosis in ourselves. Places changes you and our experiences are layered on top of each other as we collect them over the years.

Thank you for joining in this recap(puccino) <sorry, can’t help it> of our journey from Café Oasis and back. Reflecting back through the lens of cortados is another way to suss out significance in our interactions, even if over something as insignificant as coffee.

 

 

Moments are always around us and these deeper experiences are up to us to create, imagine, observe, and enrich ourselves.

 

Here's to many more!

PS A final note: This trip was done with covid measures taken seriously — masks always, lots of sanitizer and hand washing, and social distancing was observed.
PPS: As part of my motorcycle uniform, I wore the Barcelona blue palm sporty bra top. Why? It’s comfortable, sweat-proof due to the high performance, quick dry tech fabric, AND I could go swimming in it (fabric and elastic are saltwater proof). This bra is an all-rounder champ and road trip approved.

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