The longest ride we did today was down the street to the car hire place to pick up our people mover van and begin our travels north via four wheels. The firm didn’t have the van we’d booked, so they upgraded us to something a bit bigger (which turned out to be helpful), so we are in a five seater Seat, with the seats folded down and the bikes and all the gear loaded in the back. With Steve at the wheel, we headed out of town.
It was a nice sunny day but the wind was blowing, so I guess it was good to have a break from pedalling in it. We took a bit of a detour to have a look at a national park, then headed towards the coastal hamlet of Los Negras. As we were driving into the township, we passed a recumbent cyclist, lying back on this form of bike. On the back of the bike was a toddler’s seat and perched up there was a little girl, with an enormous helmet on and an equally enormous grin, enjoying the wind in her face and being pedalled along by dad. As she sat there grinning, she was stroking dad’s hair as he pedalled along. What a picture of a family outing. Just lovely.
Steve did a brilliant job driving, especially since he was driving on the opposite side of the road, in a left hand drive car and a manual and he’s used to driving an automatic. So all went smoothly today and he drove around superbly. We drove into Los Negras and it was just a very small place that looked like a surfers’ mecca. Steve navigated the narrow streets with the confusing signs about which way to drive and no entries and one ways and we circumnavigated the place in the blink of an eye. We sat in the car out of the wind to have our elevenses and then hit the road again. The scenery was quite stunning, it was almost like driving through a desert, with the big imposing hills and cliffs and the light and shadow in the chasms looked quite speccy.
We drove up and down some hills and it’s funny how quickly and easily we got up them with those extra couple of wheels and an engine! Amazing! On one hill we saw THE sign! Yep, our old friend the round signs with pictures and this time it was no pedestrians, no horses, no tractors and no cyclists. Well, we thumbed our nose at that cheeky sign today, because we could go on through! Nothing to stop us today!
We then drove into the town of Cartagena for a look around and a lunch stop. This was obviously a touristy place, beside a beach with rows and rows of cafes and restaurants. Its claim to fame is also being the place where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and John Lennon filmed How I Won the War there too, as well as in the national park we’d driven to earlier. That’s why there was a statue of John Lennon in Almeria, right outside our hotel. In 1966 he wrote Strawberry Fields Forever in Almeria, while on location for the film. The statue did look a bit out of place in amongst everything Spanish and the Spanish town and all of a sudden, there’s John Lennon sitting there strumming his guitar! Steve being a Beatles fan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have his photo taken sitting beside the legend himself. I’m afraid I’ve never really taken to the Beatles, so I let John sit there without feeling the need to have a snap with him. In the Beatles vs. Stones debate, I’m more of a Stones gal myself.
While we were in Cartagena, I went for a short lunch time run. A very short one, only 3km because I ran out of path. I was hoping to do another run later in the day, but a late arrival at our destination made that a bit tricky. Hopefully tomorrow.
As we drove from Cartagena to our destination campsite in Isla Plana, in the province of Mercia, we drove up a long and winding hill and there in front of us were cyclists. It looked like some sort of organised event because there was a support car with them and the fellas were climbing that hill in all their lycra’d glory. Some had already made it to the top and some were still battling. The thought did cross my mind that they got it easy, because they weren’t lugging pannier loads of stuff on their bikes too. Anyway, as we passed them up the hill, I wound down my window, put my hands out and gave every single rider we passed, a round of applause. Gotta give them a bit of encouragement, it all helps!
We drove most of the way along the coast road and passed through some small towns and had the ocean by our side, which was nice. Then we headed back onto the motorway and suddenly hit a toll road. Hmmm, something new to figure out. We drove up to one of the lanes at the toll gate that had a green light on it. The sign asked for a ticket. Hmmm, we don’t have a ticket. Steve reversed back out of the lane and went down a lane with a booth next to it, thinking there may be an attendant to help us. No attendant, but a sign directing us to take a ticket. So we did, the boom gate rose and we were away. So it was obviously one of those toll ways where you pay at the end rather than the beginning. When we saw the next set of toll booths a few kms later, we drove up to the booth and Steve said to me, “Whatever she says, just hand me 5.00”, thinking he wouldn’t have to interpret the amount she said, he’d just hand over enough right from the start. Well, it turned out the toll charge was 7.00Euro! I thought that was a bit steep! It wasn’t even a particularly long stretch of road. Ah well, we might have to see if we can avoid toll roads for the rest of the drive.
We finally drove into our campsite, a bit later than usual at about 6.00pm, pitched the tent and quickly fired up the Trangia to cook something. So today’s drive was about five days worth of cycling. I did actually miss the bike funnily enough. It kind of didn’t feel right sitting in a car. Plus, there’s not so much to do sitting in a car. At least on the bike we’re always doing something, even if that something is huffing and puffing and sweating and pedalling furiously up mountainous hills. But…it passes the time!
Tomorrow we’ll keep heading north and see what we find along the way to investigate, explore or roam around. We could see the black ominous clouds a little inland as we drove along today, so the storm front is there and it is there to be avoided! Especially if cycling! I guess I should make the most of the extra two wheels and the engine for the short time we have it, because that pedalling will come around again soon enough. I didn’t think I would ever think it, but…that doesn’t sound too bad. I did miss the bike today and did kind of prefer it to the car. I just know that statement will come back to bite me sometime! Maybe these next few days in the car will put me into a fog of haziness where I forget the hills and the wind and the tired legs and the huffing and puffing and I‘ll begin to see things through a lovely rose coloured tint! Ah…nope…I don’t think so…I remember those hills and wind and puffing and pedalling…ooh how I remember!