What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta ’07: PEZ Hits The Town!

By the time I had filed my stage 1 report from the Vuelta it was 11 pm and hunger was kicking in big time. PEZ suggested I look around town and see if there is any “action!” I manfully fought off the tiredness and with the help of Mila from the Hostal I headed towards; a: food, b: action. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it…

The bar ‘Bizarre’… rather ordinary really.

Vigo is built round a natural harbor area and climbs away from the sea offering great views, there is an island at the mouth of the bay and after that if you carry on the west the next bit of land would be around Boston somewhere, so it must get pretty windy here in the winter, but today was warm and sunny, “specially for La Vuelta” more than one local told me!

We’re in the northwest corner of Spain, where the Atlantic is the only thing between you and the New World.

I was staying in was a quiet “Bohemian” area, lots of wall art, “alternative lifestyle” bars and a few drunks in the street, this is not normal in Spain, usually the only drunk people you see are tourists who have been sunbathing all day and then had a bit too much with their dinner – and the spirit measures here are always BIG, you need to be careful. So out the door and see what was going on!

My first port of call was a place called Bardo, I was drawn in by the front, very nice art deco design, I was drawn out again by the lack of clients, and well it was nearly mid-night, early yet for a Saturday.

One of the new sponsors for La Vuelta is Cantina Mariachi, a chain of Mexican Restaurants, this had put Mexican food in my mind, didn’t know if there was a Cantina Mariachi in town, but did find Viva Zapata, which said it was a Cantina. One problem – it didn’t sell food, but the music was good.

Hunger forced me on until I found a cheap restaurant that did boccadillo with meat (I think beef), lettuce, tomato, cheese with a mayo topping for 3 euros, add to that a side order of Sepia (squid) and Patatas Brava that were so Brava I needed two Mahou (beer) to take the burn away. So fully stocked up with cholesterol I was ready for the fray.

Next was the Cafй de Fala, fairly busy, but the clientele all seemed to be bouncers from the Night Clubs getting revved up for the night, passed a bar with anti ETA graffiti and past the Lampre and Liquigas hotels, nothing going on, no even a drunk mechanic! Everywhere in the world now has an Irish Bar and Vigo is no different, Dublin was given a wide berth.

At this point the night got stranger, found a bar called Bizarre, very lively, lots of people, in fact too many to drink inside, what I couldn’t understand was that it wasn’t bizarre inside at all, quite plain in fact. But I did find the most bizarrely decorated bar ever.

Plastic tables and chairs from the 60’s, lights under the floor, giant full wall mirrors and what looked like pointy bits of foam sprayed gold and silver on the ceiling. No customers, but the owner assured me it gets busy around 2.30 am! Well I wasn’t going to wait to find out; it was well past my bed time.

I must tell you that there is a very good feeling at La Vuelta this year, new sponsors, new younger staff, more city center circuit finishes and a certain slickness that wasn’t there before, this will be the best Vuelta for a few years for everyone. I also think they now have a Vuelta Priest, he flew in on the same aeroplane as me and I’ve spotted him quite a few times now at the stages. Maybe God is on La Vuelta’s side?

Well, that’s the Vuelta leaving Galicia after a very successful time here, lots of crowds and a homeboy done good, smiles all round. If you are ever thinking of a touring holiday with your bike in a quiet area of Europe, have a serious look at Galicia, rolling hills, sea views, not much traffic, cheap accommodation, great food and the people are so friendly, I know I want to come back for a more relaxed visit.

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