“Jennifer, I am right behind you. Ready when you are.” I hear through the earpiece fitted into my helmet. I am looking in both mirrors but I can’t quite spot Urbano, my instructor.
“Directly behind you in the car”, he says.
“In the car?!” What is he doing in there?
He explains that it is to give me more protection from other vehicles on the roads. As I look at him sitting behind the wheel there and giving me the nod I realise that this is the first time I have actually used these mirrors.
It is lesson three at moto school and I am about to head out onto the roads of Barcelona for the first time. For a second I wish we could do another session of weaving in and out of cones but I admit to myself that this is probably the closest thing I will ever get to feeling like a spy and that the whole earpiece set-up is incredibly cool.
Even though my British driving licence states that I can legally pick up a moped and whizz around the place I have decided to have a few classes to boost my confidence before joining the thousands of other motoristas here. I have signed up for a pack of 4 classes (two around an enclosed area and two circulación sessions out on the streets) to get me up to speed.
So, off we go down the hill where I then have to indicate and make a sharp turn right. Before I know it I am round the bend no problemo and driving uphill, seeing the soft pink morning sky and the city’s rooftops spread out beside me.
The time flew by and it seemed a lot more natural than I expected – bar the initial tendency to veer onto the left side of the road. In my next and final class instructor Vicente came with me on his moped and gave me a commentary full of useful tips as we looped around Montjuic.
THE SECOND-HAND MOTO AND HELMET HUNT
Finding the right moto involved a fair amount of traipsing about but I was finally pointed in the right direction and ended up at Motos Girona, where I set eyes on my bonnie wee Vespa. They had by far the largest number of second-hand mopeds and motorbikes I had seen and were decently priced; each one comes with a one-year guarantee and they will often buy it back from if you decide to leave Barcelona or go onto purchase a bigger bike.
In terms of getting kitted out with the right protection there are shops dotted all around Barcelona where you can buy helmets and motorbike gear. I was well informed at Totmoto, directly opposite Motos Girona, where it seemed a lot of locals were shopping and where I picked up my rather hardcore and shiny full-face helmet.
Second-hand dealers are, by law, obliged to change the name on the vehicle so there is no need to go to offices and queue for hours, and most insurance companies operate by phone or online so setting up cover can be sorted in a matter of minutes (yay!).
Ok, moped classes: check. Helmet: check. Bonnie wee Vespa: check. Vehicle insurance: check.
Driving school: Moto Escuela (Passeig Manuel Girona, 16) http://motoescuela.com
Second-hand scooters and motorbikes: Motos Girona (Carrer del Bruc, 151) http://motosgirona.es/
Helmet shop: Totmoto (Carrer de Còrsega, 380) http://www.totmoto.com/
Vehicle insurance: Allianz (Passeig de Gràcia, 20 5-8) https://www.allianz.es/
Photography: Colorín Colorado (Carrer Sant Lluís, 56) http://www.colorincoloradofoto.com/
(Moto Escuela driving school and Colorín Colorado photography also conduct moped lessons and photo tours in English)