A Travellerspoint blog

Almeria

sunny

Distance: 118km
Total ascent: 1110m
Time in the saddle: 5hr 16

Pretty uneventful day today..though to be fair after yesterday anything would pale in comparrison.

The route was headed back up the N340a toward the desert again but turning off about half way to head south over the Sierra Alhamilla to Nijar. This road I have to say is fantastic it swoops around and up the mountains then swoops along and down. Brilliant fun. First time I have enjoyed descending fir a while!

After Nijar it wasn't so fun. I was headed toward the Cabo de Gata, an area of unspoilt coastline. But unfortunately so was everyone else and there was lots of fast traffic that always tried to squeeze past me instead of waiting. I hate riding in that kinda traffic. One car was so close to me that I could have stroked the head of the dog that was leaning out of the passenger window. So grumbling along, surrounded by cars and plastic greenhouses, I had to wonder if it was worth it. I nearly gave up and headed straight to Almeria but I didn't. And I am glad I didn't. It was very surreal after all the cars headed that way..when you get to the park the road and thé huge long beach that it follows was pretty much deserted. It was very cool.

Oh that reminds me! The most important thing about today...it was cool! Blissfully cool. It stayed at about 27/28 until 1 when it hoiked up a bit to a nice 33. Perfect temperature, am hoping it stays that way!

Posted by louisebenn 11:07 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

the weird and wonderful world of the wild wild west

sunny

Today I have to say has to go up there as one of the most surreal and bizarre days yet...both in my trip and in life in general.

While reading up a few weeks ago on the area I came across something called 'mini Hollywood' in the Tabernas desert, Europe's only desert. It is the site of filming for many old spaghetti westerns..like 'the good the bad and thé ugly'..as it ressembles Arizona but is a lot cheaper. So from the left behind sets of these films came mini Hollywood.

I've never watched a western movie but it still sounded quite cool. So I suggested it to my friend as something to do today as an alternative to relaxing by the pool..which is something I am not so good at. To my surprise they were keen so off we went to Oasys..the largest of the filmsets.

In the short drive there the landscape changed ..drying out further and having more of a canyon type feel. You can see why they chose the area..and still apparently do for these types of films.

Now when it comes to describing what Oasys was like..I know my words will not do it justice. There are just no words that could possibly come close to adequately describing the randomness, quirkiness and downright bizarreness of it all. It started off quite normal...walk in and into what is effectively the town of the wild west. There was a little chapel, the yellow rose salon, the sheriff's office, lone city bank and even a cemetery. All quite quaint and quite fun to wander about.

Then came high noon and we were shuffled to the side of the streets to make way for the showdown that was about to occur. What basically followed was a scene straight out of any cowboy movie..bad guy caught by the sheriff, his friends break him out, then a big old shoot out yada yada yada. Except it was way more bizarre than that. It was slightly tongue in cheek and there were some modern moments, some rude arm gestures by the baddies, and some..well artistic licence when the baddie came back to life three times. It was so naff it was hilarious. While the Spanish tourists lapped it up we were in tears if laughter at the randomness.

Unfortunately it came to and end when everyone died so we had a chance to wander about some more before heading to the yellow rose salon to watch the can can show. The warm up for which was a guy and his guitar and a woman and her banjo. When we sat down they were playing waltzing Matilda..which kinda set the tone for the geographical accuracy of the place! The cancan show was actually quite cool as they infused it with some flamenco style for the first dance then was alot of fun for the actual can can. There was a parrot show later on but we figured we could handle so much excitement in one day.

Reading this back it doesn't really capture the madness nor surrealness of the day. But I guess you just had to be there. One guy described it as an 'out if body experience'!

All this excitement wore me out and I slept on the way home and had to have a late siesta when we got back. Then It was off to the hpb complex down the road for dinner and a little more excitement in the form of a 'fun pub quiz' which we lost :( though I have to say I was awesome at the dingbats section! Poor old brain finally getting some use.

Thankfully today was a little cooler and so hopefully it will be again tomorrow as it is back on the bike and heading for Almeria. Feeling much more human after a day off but still a long way to full normality to go....

Posted by louisebenn 14:06 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Alfaix

sunny

Distance: 90 ish km
Total ascent 500m ish
I don'rt remember the rest..

Today's post is bought to you by the letter 'P'.
puncture, Pulpi, puppy, playa, and pal

Puncture - I slept real well last night so getting going was hard this morning. Oh to be able to spend the day in bed! I did manage to get going but had a rude awakening by a puncture even before I got out of Lorca. as soon as I hit whatever it was I knew that a puncture was coming, and unfortunately it was one of times I was right. Thankfully the whole process is a lot easier these days so I was soon on my way again.

Pulpi - I hand't done much homework on today route..no pesky sierras to avoid just a straight road or two down to the coast and then along. Turning onto my second road I saw the sign was to Pulpi, as I tend to do normally I tried to find out where this place was to pass the time. I was surprised to find that it was actually where I was going. Real lack of any route knowledge at all on this one! It's strange with planning these days as I have two different arguments in my head about what the route should be..'it's hot so a short as route as possible' is the first, then the 'where's the big hill or interesting place meandering' line. the routes tend to end up decided only in the morning somewhere in the middle if the two. Tho I now have my competitive streak that wants to achieve a certain mileage by the end of the trip which throws an extra spanner in the works..the last two days just aren't cutting it!

Puppy - saw a squashed dead puppy in the road :(

Playa - the route was quite a deceptive one visually today..along a flat then headed toward a mountain range which I thought I must have to go up before hitting the sea. Turns out that actually instead of up it was a strap descent down only. But wow the coast here is fantastic. It's quite craggy and rocky, and has little coves though as the coastline is pretty strsight they ate coves in a slightly different sense to home. It's not too overly developed yet though some areas are getting there. All made for scenic riding along though the intimations anf the hot wind made it hard going.

Pals - staying with a friend of mine and his family tonight and tomorrow night. Nice to catch up and talk random crap. Plus also a day off the bike Yayayayayay!

Ps Request to the powers that be..please please can I have one day without a strong headwind for the last 10km?! Pretty please!

Posted by louisebenn 09:30 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Lorca

sunny

distance; 94.42km
total ascent; 1315m
hours in the saddle; 4hrs 51

oooof what a day! i have a feeling i have said that before but these hard days just keep on coming!! anyway not feeling too bad at the moment so perhaps this post actually might make sense and actually include stuff that i want to include..more often than not i forget half of what i want to say. My memory is horrendous at the moment...i just went down to the shop (no supermarket :( )to buy bananas but when i got there forgot completely what i was there for and after looking gormlessly at all the food ending up buying two cans of caffine free zero and a tuna pasty, oh well. So to aid myself in remembering things from the day i came up with a cunning plan earlier, i would attach a word to an event and the words for the day would all start with the same letter. Today for some unknown reason i went with D. todays words therefore are:
dampness, days, dogs, drizzle, directions, descent, ´desert´
(realising now a slight hitch with this plan is can i remember all the words? i can´t remember how many there are meant to be - remembering a reminder of a reminder is obviously a bit too much for my poor brain. perhaps next time i will use the alphabet sequentially then no number remembering needed)

dampness - little bit of a strange word for reminding but was struggling with D´s- anyway this was to remind me about the things that i missed about Murcia. one is specific that it is the first place that had restaurants with cooling jets on their terraces. Think cold air version of our burners at home. Never seen them before and was tempted to stand underneath one just well because. it looked surreal as you could see the air coming out..kinda like a damp mist. But Murcia was cool..just not literally. best part of it for me being that coming into and out of the city to my hotel was dead dead simple. I guess because its actually quite a small city. The hotel was nice too...if the night before last was good for the soul then this was good for the practical things esp having a computer i could use downstairs and and early breakfast time. oh and just before coming into the city from the north there was a random peak and on this peak was a castle, and on this castle was a huuge statue of Jesus. Must have been a hell of a view from up there, if i had had more time then that would have been a must to do.

days - so after getting off to a nice early start after breakie i headed out along the murcia valley. I think it was actually down the valley but i never saw the river so i couldn´t tell which direction it was going. orientation was no use either as the road went parrallel to the sea. Anyway i digress..for the first time in about a week there were loads of cyclists about. seriously a huge number. A weekend amount. i kinda knew it wasn´t the weekend, but for the life of me had no idea what day it actually was. not just a little blank in my memory but a huge gaping hole as i really had no clue. it was quite disorientating. In my world now there are only rest days and non-rest days...and the latter are severely lacking!

dogs - what took my mind of slightly panicing that i had no concept of the days at all anymore was that i saw a whole pack of alsation like dogs on the side of the road ahead. oh crapadoodle. a guy came into view soon after and it seemed they were sheepdogs. but that didn´t reassure me - the one time i have been chased by big dogs was two sheepdogs in Morrocco. so dilema..how to get past without getting their attention but still looking cool about it. Slowly was my answer, so i pootled by. and they didn´t pay me the slightest attention! i was a little put out! it was quite amusing though watching all the sheep standing there waiting patiently to cross the road..some even looking left and right.

drizzle- lemon drizzle to be precise. I had now entered lemon country..replacing sunflowers and vines were row upon row upon row of lemon trees.

directions - As i got close to Alhama, a cyclist caught me up and we had a little chat about where we were both going and all that. Having established that i was mad for doing the tour (this seems a common theme! i can´t understand why??!!), he stayed with me through the town making sure i didn´t get lost in the maze. We went our seperate ways after this as he lived there. but where the direction word really comes in is that i hadn´t been able to get onto my garmin connect to see the route for today..not only the route but more the elevation changes. I kinda remembered what the graph looked like and had a memory of it not being too much to worry about. what i didn´t realise until just now was that the route outlined on my map and the one on the gamin connect were actually different. Doh! So what was meant to have been a pretty easy day turned into a bit of a bastard as i headed into the Sierra del Espuña rather than underneath it. Worse still then i had no idea how long the climb was nor how steap. While this doesn´t change the climb itself it affects your mindset if you have no idea of whats coming. Oh and to add to the fun i could only see my road on close magnification on my garmin sat nav as it was only a wee single track (nice road surface though), so it was virtually imposible to work out where the road was going and if i was actually on the right road! oh the fun!! oh and another ´add to that´ was the high temperature and high humidity. Perfect climbing weather not!! Ah dear. it actually wasn´t toooo bad, i stoped and spoke to a warden to make sure i was going in the right direction and to find the way onwards, and he told me left left left and keep going. it was an amazing Sierra though...so few people there and very very undeveloped. I kept seeing my warden man..i think perhaps he was checking up on me going the right way...bless. but that has been a sharp reminder not to get too distracted by days away when actually the most important thing to concentrate on is what is happening tomorrow. As it turns out, as has happened several times with difficult planning day, i got an email late last night which changed all the plans again anyway! This time though i am happy with the new plan.

descent - ack. well descendaphobia is still in full whack so decending off the mountain was horrible. its not really decendaphobia rather worrying about corners - as this was where i came off in Mallorca. Making it worse was it was the worst road ever! it was like being in a bumpy castle. ugh horrendous. but thankfully a lot shorter down than it was up.

´desert´- the new valley was something different...it was almost desert like with scarce vegetation and any vegetation there was was brown and dried out. very surreal cycling through that. Curious i checked the temperature - it was only 36degrees. When you add an ´only´to that kind of temperature, you know you have been in Spain too long!

wow ok so that seemed to work! bit more beefed up post there.

Oh and Lorca-- well Lorca seems nice, not really explored yet. it is more a stopover point rather than a destination in itself. Apparently it is trying to put itself back to gether after a recent eathquake wrecked the place.

In other news...in the betting war of who will break first the bike or me - the bike has upped the ante by having the middle cog having worn down so much that it is starting to slip quite regularly. I on the otherhand am doing mostly ok..my right hand is still having problems from the pressure on the main nerve, it sometimes doesn´t quite do what i want it to do. but that will only go when i stop cycling. Any other bits are nothing that a nice day off won´t cure. Bring on the day after tomorrow!

Posted by louisebenn 09:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Murcia

sunny

I could quite have happily stayed for a week in last night's accomo. The lovely pool and settings were fab then it just got better as it was paella for dinner. Num. Watched Scooby doo while eating then had my pudding out on the terrace watching the sun set and the super moon rise. The lady owner joined ne and we had a good old matter about this and that, swapping stories and the like. She did ask some deep questions like what have I learnt from all this...questions I have no answers to. Hell I ask myself daily what am I doing?! (Sometimes in exasperation otherside still in slight disbelief that am doing it) so if I don't even know the answer to that fundamental question how can I possibly have the answers to any others!
As today's ride was only a short spin down to Murcia, I figured I could have a lie in, chill out and perhaps go for a swim before leaving. Of course that didn't happen. I slept really badly, was up early, and was too hyper to relax. So I was out the door by 9. Before I left though the lady had one last amusing question for me...she asked if it was an age thing but being by myself did I talk to myself like she often found herself doing. I believe my response was 'hell yeah!' Perfectly normal thing to be doing ;) she was a lovely lady so if you are ever in the Murcia area stay there. She even took my photo as I left!

The ride to the city was pretty straightforward..50km of down and flat. it's strange though..the last few days the terrain has changed so much in such a short distance. From flat with dead sunflowers as far as you can see (depressing image if ever there was one), to vines and mountains, to almost Luna landscape today. Each change just from going over one hill.

Murcia seems a nice place..it feels quite different to the other cities I have been too, not really sure why. It seems to give off a more affluent feel to it though not sure I'd that is really the case. The cathedral is certainly a different style..a very ornate almost alter like front to it. And while there is the maze of streets and some old buildings most are of new design. It's a shame my head is to full of planning and logistics to go out and explore more, but I still have a lot to organise for the next few weeks. Not sure why more than normal but I think I got tired in the planning stage as much as I am now tired in the actual cycling stage.but anyway pretty much all routes, destinations and accomo is changing and my head hurts as everything has a knock on effect on another. Anyway it's all fun and only those few more weeks left to go.

Posted by louisebenn 08:50 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

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