Time for travel. The tedious journey home began at 5.00am Barcelona time in a balmy 20 degrees and finished in Melbourne at around 10.30pm on Sunday the 16th July in a somewhat less balmy 8 degrees, nearly 34 hours later.
In between we argued with a Spanish taxi driver over why our meter read 11 Euros before we'd even hopped in the cab at 5am, we lined up for an inordinate amount of time for our flight to London from Barcelona, we ate berries like seagulls eat fish and chips from M&S at London Gatwick, we were served breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, sat on the tarmac at Hong Kong airport waiting for the rain to subside, watched movies, read books, tried to sleep and eventually found ourselves back in Melbourne after a very sketchy landing with the plane rocking from side to side, all of us relieved to be actually on the ground in one piece by the end of our journey.
Passage through the Melbourne Airport terminal seemed considerably longer than usual, with the queue for quarantine inspections snaking back around the baggage carousels at the far end of the baggage claim hall.
Eventually we emerged into a chilly, windy night and were whisked away by Dad, safe, sound, tired and content.
The trip home was fairly subdued, with Courtney and Mitchell taking the opportunity to catch up on some sleep while Wendy and I filled Dad in on some of the stories of our adventures.
And that brings to a close another amazing adventure by the Snowball family.
As with the final chapter from 2015, I took a straw poll of the highlights of the trip, with the following results:
Highlight of the trip: Racing my bike in the World Champs
Favourite Accommodation: My solo London pad for 2 nights
Favourite City: La Massana
Best tourist thing we did: Mtb in Andorra of course
Most memorable meal: Our Japanese meal in London
Best ice cream: NA
Highlight of the trip: ANDORRA - c'mon, not even negotiable...
Favourite Accommodation: Grey's quaint little French cottage
Favourite City: London.
Best tourist thing we did: Spectate at a World Cup + hire tow bikes to pedal round the cities
Most memorable meal: THE PLACE IN LONDON THAT HAD REALLY GOOD SASHIMI/DESSERT PLATTER
Best ice cream: Ice cream let us down this trip...but would have to be the small corner shop in one of the ancient towns near Tossa De Mar
Highlight of the trip: Highlight of the trip was definitely watching the World Cup in La Messana and riding in the Pyrenees
Favourite Accommodation: Staying with the Grays
Favourite City: Tossa De Mar
Best tourist thing we did: Riding the hire bikes in London
Most memorable meal: Last night in Andorra at the Commencal restaurant
Best ice cream: The little shop in Tossa De Mar
Highlight of the trip: The World Cup in Andorra. That day was a buzz!
Favourite Accommodation: Hard to go past the luxury of the Grays' house in Maisons Lafitte.
Favourite City: It was so exciting being back in London after 10 years. Riding bikes as a family down famous streets like Fleet Street on a beautiful English summer's day was pretty special.
Best tourist thing we did: I enjoyed our visit to Figueres to see the Salvador Dali museum and learn a bit about the man and his surrealist artwork.
Most memorable meal: Our meal in London with Thomas at Roka was the best meal we've ever eaten together. The food was exquisite. Our last meal in Barcelona came a close second.
Best ice cream: Unlike in Italy two years ago, I couldn't find a standout this time around. Everywhere we seemed to go the servings were pretty lean which seemed to put a dampener on the whole ice cream buying experience. If I had to pick one, it was probably the ice cream in Tossa de Mar from the home-made ice cream shop.
PEOPLE TO THANK
Billy the whippet doesn't get to travel with us on these overseas trips, but fortunately he was in good hands, as was our house. A big thanks to Dad and Carmel for dog and house sitting while we were away.
Thanks to Richard Read for lending us his $20 bike bag for my road bike. It made it back, more or less in one piece, though the zip no longer works. Rich, I owe you $20.
A huge thanks to Thomas for his hospitality in London and for taking us to Roka for our family's most memorable meal. Ever!
Thank you to the Gray Family (minus Geof who was in Singapore) for putting us up for a couple of nights in Maisons Lafitte. It's a long way from Warrandyte but equally as enchanting.
Thanks to the Salisburys for their quintessential English afternoon tea on a balmy summers' evening. Cucumber sandwiches, champagne, jam and cream scones, cup of tea, tennis on the TV. Bliss.
Thank you to Martin for once again showing us what mountain biking in Europe has to offer. Our week in Andorra was nothing short of amazing.