Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Travel and stuff!

Well, I made it back to Spain without any delays this morning. Unless, that is, you count the fact that the Autna bus from Oporto airport, due at 10.45, did not arrive until almost 11.00. That, however, is par for the course. I am quite surprised it ever manages to arrive in time. 

I was up at the crack of dawn: 4:45 English time, which is still early even if you adjust to 5:45 Spanish time. So I was at Manchester's Terminal 1 just after six. Just as well, for there was a huge queue at security. Airport employees were running around calling out for anyone with flights leaving 6.30 or even earlier to make their way to the front of the queue so that they could be processed in time to catch their planes. Mind you, most schools in the UK broke up for summer holidays last weekend and so this week there will be masses of people going off on holiday. 

And then, they slow down the process of getting through security with extra checks. Nowadays you don't just have to show your computers and iPads as you go through security but also get out of your suitcase any electrical gadgets above really small size. So all the hairdryers and straighteners have to be removed, just in case the scanner thinks you are carrying strange weapons onto the plane. 

My bag was even picked out for a random swab test. They rub a swab all over your bag and then subject it to rapid analysis to make sure it has not been contaminated with unwanted substances. This is the second time this has happened to me. I would start to feel quite paranoid about were it not for the fact that the plastic box selected for swabbing its contents ahead of mine contained nothing but a straw hat and a small boy's hoodie! I think it really is completely random. 

The first time it happened, I asked the chap with the swab what he was looking for. "Anything that should not be there!" he growled at me. No, I shouldn't have given in to the temptation. Curiosity got the better of me! I really should have known better. 

 The security thing has become a little extreme however. Not only do you need to take off boots and high-heeled shoes but you must remove your watch! And on one occasion I beeped as I went through the body scanner and the only cause we could find was a hair slide!

So it goes! So here I am, back in Vigo, after a weekend of family get-togethers. It was quite chilly and distinctly rainy when I left Manchester. The sun shone in Oporto. Blue sky and everything. The nearer I got to Vigo, the more cloud there was. And once I arrived here, it was positively muggy. There's probably nothing quite so wearing as a steamy heat! Except perhaps, riding over cobbles in the rain! 

I mention the cobbles in the rain because I finally got to watch some Tour de France this weekend, including the final stage, into and round and round and round Paris. Last year and this year they organised a women's cycle race around the centre of Paris, doing the circuit that the Tour riders do when they get to the centre of the French capital. I suppose it gives the spectators waiting for the Tour proper to arrive something to watch and goes some way, albeit a very small way, to making up for the fact that women are not allowed to compete in the Tour itself. 

I don't know how many times the women rode around the circuit but it was enough for one corner to establish itself as the place for crashes. Riding on cobbles is bad at the best of times but then the rain is coming steadily down and the surface is not just bumpy but also slick they are absolutely treacherous. We saw some spectacular crashes. How nobody was killed remains a mystery. And the winner was quite filthy when she finished the race. 

Having got the women's race out of the way, the men finally turned up. They gave all the riders their final time at the end of the first circuit of the capital. Have they always done this I wonder? I'm sure there have been years when the top riders needed to complete the Paris stage to actually decide who had finally won. Maybe it was because Froome had quite a good lead. Whatever the reason, there it was. The leaders had their times and we all knew Froome was the winner well before the end. So the race round the capital was really just to decide who would be the stage winner: AndrĂ© Greipel, a future Tour winner no doubt. 

And Froome and his team were able to do their little bit of theatre, riding along stung out across the road, arms across each others' shoulders. Big boys showing off their skill at riding no-hands, if you ask me. But no, it was all good. And Froome made a nice little speech when he received his trophy, thanking his team, his family and so on and talking about how much he respects the yellow jersey and how he will never do anything to dishonour it. Hmm! I wonder who that was aimed at! He even managed some of his speech in reasonable French. Good for him! 

Not a bad weekend on the whole?

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