I trotted out this morning for an early morning run and headed down the quiet road, with the sun coming up across the mountains, the thick clouds nestling between the peaks and the early morning haze settling in the valleys. I did a gentle 8km and would you believe it…I ran up a hill…and down a hill…and up a hill…and down a hill! I can’t escape them! I hit the 4km mark and crossed the road to start heading back and then…BARK! BARK! BARK! a bundle of angry hair and teeth was after me, as a determined small dog chased me down the road. I’m glad it was a small dog because it meant business! I just stopped running and walked to give it less of a moving target and once I’d moved on a bit it gave up the chase. So even though I was on two feet rather than two wheels, I still had hills to go up and angry dogs to contend with…just another regular day at the office! No photographic evidence of this run because Steve was still in bed, but he did have the kettle boiling when I returned, which was welcome.
Our motorised journey started nicely with the sun shining and I even commented to Steve, “Why aren’t we riding? Tell me again?” because the weather so far hadn’t lived up to the ominous forecast. We drove to Cartagena for a look around and the drive there was really nice, with views from the top of the hills down onto the flats below. We drove up some hills and I kept wondering what it would be like to ride the bike up them. We saw a sign at one hill warning of a 6% gradient. “Pffff,” we said, “that’s nothing! We ride up those all the time!” I must say I still haven’t bonded with the car. Funny that. The thing with the car is we find we don’t really do anything, we don’t stop as much, we don’t see as much, we just stay encased in the moving metal object and look at the world whizzing by. That’s one of the main reasons we chose to do this trip by bike…slow travel. Go slowly and see lots. We’ve never been any good at that when we’ve travelled by car and we still aren’t. So the car has been good to keep us out of the weather and help us make some speedy progress so we make our date for France, but it hasn’t been as enjoyable as the bike, at all.
When we got to Cartagena we parked in our friendly department store and supermercado El Corte Ingles, popped in for a couple of things and then roamed the streets. It was 21C with warm sun and it was lovely. The city was bustling and we wandered down to the waterfront and then went in search of a castle and Roman ruins that Steve had read about.
The ruins proved somewhat tricky to find but we eventually stumbled upon the castle, although there wasn’t too much left that was recognisable as a castle, but it was nice to walk around the area and the castle overlooked some Roman ruins. They sure got around those Romans didn’t they! They certainly covered a lot of ground across Europe.
As we walked around I noticed, again, how very dressed people are here. I first noticed it when we were in Huelva and particularly noticed how dressed the kids were. The little girls all seemed to be wearing pinafore dresses, woollen tights, mary-jane shoes and bows in their hair and the boys were in chinos and sweaters and scarves. It was a Sunday and I thought maybe they’ve just dressed for church and then stayed like that all day. No, it’s been like that everywhere on any day of the week and it was the same today. Little girls in their A-line coats and dresses, ribbons in their hair and mary-jane shoes. I think the best I saw was a boy who looked about seven years old wearing dark jeans, blue suede shoes and a blue sports jacket, a small boy wearing a cable knit sweater and tartan scarf fashionably knotted around his neck and one little boy in shorts, long socks, shoes and a polo shirt. The adults are equally well scrubbed and turned out. Everyone looks like they’ve just walked out of a catalogue. It looks very nice. There are no tracky dacks here!
Steve did another great job driving through the city, but we wanted to get going since it was now 2:00 and we still had to head for somewhere to stay and we were wanting to find somewhere to stop to eat because the peckish feeling had struck us both. So we hit the road and ended up on the motorway again. As we drove along we could see the huge grey curtain ahead of us…we were about to greet the storm! That nice weather and my feelings of guilt about not riding, had been a trick all along, because there was the wicked, grinning face of that storm right there in front of us. We hit it and the rain pelted down. We ended up stopping for lunch in the very picturesque location of a truck stop on the side of the motorway, while we sat in the car and I spread my rice cakes with mushroom pate and Steve ate his pastry and drizzled honey on his baguette. Then we were off again into the mouth of the storm.
From there on things went a bit haywire. It went something like this…
we took a wrong exit
we got on the wrong road
we took another wrong turn
we ended up in a different town
we tried to get out of the wrong town and back onto the road
we took another wrong turn
we got a bit lost
it kept raining and storming
it got late
it got dark
we took another wrong turn
we ended up in another wrong place
it was very hard to navigate in the dark
we finally ended up at our campsite
reception was dark, locked up and closed
a resident happened to be walking by and directed us to the caretaker, who let us in
we finally arrived at our cheap and dodgy bungalow very late, very tired, very hungry and a bit stressed
So once again, just like on our bike riding days, the second half of the day went a bit wobbly. So tomorrow, definitely and for sure, we will do a shorter drive and arrive early. In fact we’re heading to Valencia and we just booked the accommodation, so we have somewhere to go, we just have to make sure we get there OK and without misadventure! What am I saying…this is us we’re talking about! Was that the sign for..? Should we have turned…?