It so happened that on the coast, in the town of San Javier, (province of Murcia, between Alicante and Cartagena), or to be more precise, in the very small town of Santiago de la Ribeira near San Javier, Alexandoa has a friend ... And of course, a huge plus was that there was no need to rent housing. But November on the coast is no longer considered a season, and if you suddenly decide to go for a ride, renting a house at a more than affordable price will not be difficult for you on Booking.com.
Experience from previous trips has shown that there is nothing better for transporting a led than a special case. You can, of course, put it in a box, but believe me, walking with a box around a large airport, loading it on a bus or taxi is inconvenient.
In addition to the led, the case holds all cycling clothes for all occasions, a helmet, shoes, all accessories, cylinders, spare wheels, key sets, lubricants, a wing and even a floor pump. Well, of course, a suitcase with clothes and a backpack.
In Spain, palm trees are everywhere, the sun is shining, in the distance on the right hand there are mountain masses, on the left - the sea, estuaries with flamingos, mountains of that very Mediterranean pink salt in the Torvieja region, and the air that starts to intoxicate from the very first moment, as soon as you find yourself on Spanish soil.
Arriving and exchanging greetings with the whole family of a friend, distributing gifts and laying out things in the room assigned to me, Alexander first collected his bicycle! And already at sunset, having equipped himself, drove along the embankment, winding something about 10 km.
And here's the first observation: everyone drives according to the rules, absolutely everyone, there is a bike path on the embankment, where it ends - you drive along the road, but according to the rules. The fines in Spain are large, and therefore everyone strictly follows the rules. So remember this.
Second. Cars overtake you with a 1.5-meter gap, do not cut short, wait at intersections, do not honk, do not behave like Pithecanthropus, but are very respectful of cyclists.
After a ride along the embankment, Alexander returned home, and with a friend went to one of the supermarkets to buy food for dinner. To say that Alexander was surprised by the prices in supermarkets in Spain is to say nothing !!! Sparkling Spanish wine Cava 2.85 euros, just wine 1.5 to 4 euros per bottle! Jamon of all types and aging, cheeses, sausages and other dishes - at the price of Kiev sausages! I won't write about lemons, oranges, rosemary and other greens at all - everything grows on the streets, lemons just lie on the ground, in general, I approached, plucked, ate and that's it! These prices are significantly lower than products in Ukraine.
After an incredible dinner with wine, having had plenty of conversation with an old friend, his wonderful wife and wonderful children, Alexander went to bed, looking forward to tomorrow's trip.
First day of the bike ride to Cartagena
On the first day, Alexander decided to give up to Cartagena. Why this city? Cartagena is the Second Carthage, a city founded by the Carthaginians during the heyday of their trading empire over 2000 years ago. After the defeat in the Punic Wars, Cartagena was conquered by the Romans and the city flourished in ancient times under their rule. In Cartagena there are well-preserved ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater, a forum, a local analogue of the "Colosseum" and many more various antiquities and museums. In addition, Cartagena is a significant port and naval base (the bay of Cartagena is very convenient for navigation), as well as a city with an interesting eclecticism in architecture.
But back to the bike ride. The weather promised to be fine, having breakfast, laying a route in Google Maps, set off. I would like to note that Spain is a country where Google Maps creates cycling routes. Firstly, it is strictly forbidden to ride a bicycle on Spanish highways (you can get a fine of about 200 euros), and secondly, it is convenient, because not everywhere in Spain there are bike paths (this is not Belgium for you).
So, having left the border of the town of Santiago de la Ribeira, I drove along a picturesque flat road with a bicycle path, bypassing Murcia-San Javier airport. Since last year, it has been a closed military territory, a NATO base, as well as a pilot training center. I'll make a reservation that San Javier is home to the highest flying academy of the Kingdom of Spain, Academia General del Aire, of which the current King of Spain, Phillip VI, is an honorary graduate. It was very difficult to concentrate on the road, as the airshow was constantly taking place in the sky. On propeller-driven aircraft, novice cadets practice takeoff and landing, and on jet-powered aircraft, more experienced pilots practice aerobatics! Every two minutes a plane either takes off from the runway or lands on it!
Further along the flat terrain, my path ran through the towns of Los Alcazares, and Baia Bella, everywhere there are bike paths, palm trees, the smell of the sea and views. After Bellya I turned left, closer to the coast (there is such a road there) and I was right! Incredible red earth, ruins of farms and windmills along the road, a perfect canvas, the sea to your left, mountains in the distance to your right, and the sun!
El Carmogli and Los Urrutyas I flew by with a breeze, but in the town of Los Nientos I made a stop - I went to the roadside Spar supermarket and bought a couple of bananas, a can of cola and some cookies for as much as 1.5 euros, despite the fact that the most doggy purchase was Coca Cola.
After refreshing and leaving the town, I headed for Los Beloones, and here the "hills" have already begun. The road slowly begins to twist and then go down and then rise up. There are farmlands along these hills. By the way, the province of Murcia is the "breadwinner" of the whole of Europe, 4 crops are harvested here a year, and almost everything is grown.
After the junction at the town of Los Beloones, I headed for the mountainous part of my route. RM 314 runs through La Manga Club Resort, a huge stretch of valley between the mountains that is occupied by golf courses and the homes of venerable aging millionaires.
After La Manga, the road begins to climb up and the real ascent begins, although the gradient is not particularly steep, but the mountains are already felt. And now, having climbed this first "pass", a picture opens up, which simply "completely demolishes the tower"!
A view of the long serpentine road, the bay of the town of Portman, palm trees everywhere, the sea, seagulls and mountains, rocks, ledges! What can I say - from this descent I got high, although I went down much more carefully than in Italy (thanks for the advice from Yura Berezovoy - it came in handy as well). In some places there are potholes, in some places the asphalt is not the first freshness, but still this descent is breathtaking! And now I am driving into the town of Portman - a small village of the once highly industrialized region. I find a cafe on the main street and sit on the summer terrace. Warms up the sun, I want to eat and drink coffee.
Having explained to the owner of the establishment on my fingers what I want (get ready for the fact that no one can speak English with you, and Google Translator will help you), I got a traditional Spanish breakfast for 1.5 euros: a fragrant "Cafe un leche" - coffee with milk, like Americano with milk, but in a transparent glass cup, and Tostada Kon Tomato - half a loaf grated with garlic, cut in half and fried to a baguette-like crust, with chopped tomato, olive oil and salt. Salt and butter will be taken out for you separately, and you will season your tostado yourself. Plain, simple food, but damn it delicious. Try it.
After lunch, I went further, ahead was an even steeper pass, with incredible views and an amazing road. For reference, the entire Portman area is an abandoned mining region, all the land is dug up by iron ore mines, and the color of the soil and mountains is reddish and rusty. Actually, the town of Portman itself is a port from which ore was delivered by sea to metallurgical plants during the industrial revolution at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
And now, having climbed the next pass, another impressive picture opens up - an even more crazy serpentine road, and a view of the bay and the El Gorguel beach (there is a separate story and journey about it), and palm trees, palm trees, palm trees ... Speed, turns, incredible views, the sound of being cut spokes of air, rustling of wheels on the asphalt - in general, a thrill in its purest form! There was no longer any strength to photograph the descent, and having climbed the next pass, I went to Cartagena itself, because the city needs not only to come, but also to ride on it, scout, have a snack, and then return home.)))
Cartagena impressed us right away. It was an incredible sunny day and having entered the city from the side of the bus station, I moved along the fortress wall along the embankment to the port and harbor. In front of the port there is a central square, where the Tourist Service Center is located in a very beautiful building from the late 19th century - go there, take a map of Cartagena. Then I drove to the port again and rolled along the embankment. She's impressive. Along the bay there are two huge museums - in the old huge building the Museum of the Navy of the Kingdom of Spain and in the incredible futuristic - the National Museum of Underwater Archeology. Plus several monuments - the Monument to the Whalers, and the Monument to the Victims of Terrorism. I even managed to ride a bike into the port area to the pier where cruise ships usually dock, it looks like the customs service had a day off and no one paid attention to me.
Having traveled a little more around the city after lunch, I was going back, of course, the strength in my legs had already diminished, because I was going to Cartagena a little against the wind, and the wind, I can tell you, was sometimes not sickly, and therefore on the return route I decided not to go to the mountainous part call in. From Cartagena I went through Alumbers to the town of La Union, and from there through El Algar to Baia Bellew, and then to Los Alcazares and back to San Javier. I would not say that the road was flat - these are hills and valleys between nims, an incredible red earth, a sun sloping towards sunset and palm trees, palm trees, palm trees. At some point, I had a "palm overdose" and I had already stopped taking out my phone and photographing all this beauty.
Almost by sunset, by 6 o'clock in the evening, having wound something about 135 kilometers from about 1300 meters of the set, I arrived home happy, tired and overwhelmed with impressions, where an incredible dinner, a good friendly conversation and a sound healthy sleep awaited me.
Second day. Cartagena walking tour.
Since I adore historical sights, architecture and local cuisine, on the “day of rest” I decided to go to Cartagena again, but this time on foot.
From San Javier to Cartagena there is a regular comfortable bus, the schedule can be found on the Internet, the fare to Cartagena is about 3 euros.
And so early in the morning, on a 9-hour bus, I went to explore this wonderful city. For an hour on the magnificent Spanish autobahns with incredible views outside the window, and we arrived at the bus station of Cartagena. By the way, the station is located in a very interesting building, Costa Azul, most likely earlier it was some kind of industrial structure, the purpose of which remained a mystery to me, but the revitalization of the Spaniards was 5 plus.
Day three. To Caravaca de la Cruz
When traveling, I always have adventures, without them life would be boring. There were some adventures on this day.
The distance from San Javier to Carravaca de la Cruz is decent, about 140 kilometers along the autobahns. Moreover, it is no longer a plain, but foothills and mountains. Having estimated that I myself would not overcome this path on two wheels, we agreed that a friend would take me by car to Murcia, and there, outside the city, I would already start my ride.
Now about the city of Caravaca de la Cruz itself. It is one of the five holy cities of the Roman Catholic Church, a stronghold of faith and centuries of tradition. The main building in the city is the medieval fortress Castillo de Caravaca de la Cruz, where at the very top of the defensive structure is the Basilica Santuario de la Santisima y Vera Cruz, which contains one of the relics of the Catholic Church - the True Cross (an artifact with a piece of the cross on which Savior) - in Spanish Vera Cruz. In addition, the city of Masa has other attractions, temples, restaurants, narrow medieval streets and more.
And now, having gathered, having folded the bike into the car, my friend and I passed along the Autobahn through the Murcia Pass, and he dropped me off near the junction at Las Torres de Cotillas.
What the hell I went in the direction of Las Torres De Cotillas (and I needed a completely different side) I still don't know. Unfortunately, I don't have a Garmin 820 or a Wahoo ElementBolt, but a Lezine Macro GPS. Navigation in Lezine leaves much to be desired, so after driving along an excellent hilly road with incredible views to a gas station in Las Torres De Cotillas, and hitting the Wi-Fi there, I realized that I had gone the wrong place))). Well, let's consider this a warm-up.
On the way back, to the same fork, the ride was not so much fun. Firstly, the road goes up almost all the time, and secondly, I had to go against the wind. The wind, I tell you, in Spain is still a pleasure. Not Flanders, but still. And moreover, if today the wind is blowing in one direction, it absolutely does not mean that tomorrow it will not blow with the same force in a completely different direction. Moreover, the wind sometimes does not subside in the evening, as it usually happens, but still blows with the same force.
The views of course in the mountainous part of the province of Murcia are amazing! It seems that all this is not entirely reality. Plus add to this the vegetation in the form of palms, cacti, plane trees and Mediterranean pines, the ruins of family estates and farms that are now and then found along the road, cozy towns through which you sweep at incredible speed, and mountains, and above them the azure blue sky, like as if from a postcard!
In the meantime, the clock was already about 16, I was terribly hungry, and I gathered the rest of my strength and drove in the direction of Bullyas. I found the local eatery Bar Josefa in Boulos and had a good meal there. I love such establishments for the locals: old men sit on the summer terrace, drink wine, beer and play dice, smells of something tasty and aromatic from the establishment, local music, noise, din and fun are playing! I don’t know what the name of the dish I ordered was, but it was something - in a clay plate they brought me a steaming stew, or a stew with red sauce, spicy, aromatic, with chickpeas, pieces of cured sausage and cow offal! If you are not vegan, try it !!!
Dinner was great, it was clear that I was pretty hungry, and sitting in a warm cafe, drinking beer and eating ham was damn wonderful. And after an hour and a half, my friend drove up to the cafe in his car, we packed a bicycle into the car, and all the way laughed at my stories about the trip to Karavak.
Day four. El Mojon, Torre de la Horadada and Mil Palmeras beaches
On the fourth day, to be honest, I no longer wanted to go anywhere, and my legs had to be given rest. Therefore, I made a courageous decision to turn on the "beach mode". The weather these days was wonderful, from 12 to 15-30 there was a real heat, on the sun until plus 24, the only negative, it's the same wind, but if you find a cliff on the beach on the leeward side and hide behind it, then the sun gets very hot even nothing
After having breakfast with my friend's family, I still on a bike went to the local Decathlon (yes, there is a Decathlon in San Javier, the size of a Kiev one), because I used to always ride with a new spare tire and a pair of CO2 cylinders, and as you already remember yesterday I punched the wheel. Having bought everything I needed, I returned home, packed all the beach accessories into my backpack, put my sneakers in there, changed from a bicycle uniform into a T-shirt and shorts and drove to the beach. You could of course stay in Santiago de la Ribeira, someone will say that the sea is the same everywhere, but no! After scouting a friend's where there is a good beach, and hearing the word El Mohon, I went there, having previously taken with me a couple of bottles of Estrela beer.
To El Mohon, the path was along the coastal strip, about 10 kilometers, there are bicycle paths almost everywhere, by the way, people actively use bicycle transport, both a few tourists and locals, and our brother - highways, also a sufficient number. There are a lot of local amateur teams, all of them are equipped with a needle, in club uniforms, on good highways, a couple of times people were seen on the 10th Track Madonah. Raising your hand in greeting to those driving towards the highway is the same tradition in Spain, as it is with us, as well as stopping and asking if everything is all right if someone is standing on the road and doing repairs (this was done just like me and The Spaniards, although almost everyone has a repair kit, but nobody canceled mutual assistance on the road).
The beaches in this part of Spain are sandy, and, accordingly, the water is not entirely transparent, but in one place I found a rock ledge - like a small cape, and in that place there was a gorgeous descent to the water, and dry sand a little higher, and crystal clear water, just opposite the Pirata tio Pepe bar, closed during off-season.
Day five. Playa del Gorguel
It happens to me that if I’ve already conceived something, then it must be realized. And as a rule, such "incarnation" never happens without incident. So, on my first trip to Cartagena, I saw from one of the passes of incredible beauty a bay with a beach called El Gorguel. Determined to sunbathe there on Friday, I got ready to go, taking, among other things, a backpack with sneakers, a towel and beach accessories. Having looked again at the Google Maps route, and realizing that I would need to go exactly the same as in Cartagena, only I would need to turn on one of the serpentines from the main road to the secondary one, I set off in a pleasant mood.
Will I want to return to this beach - definitely yes!
Two hours passed unnoticed, and in the finest mood I began to pack my way back. Coming out of the beach, still in my sneakers, I began to climb the bumpy road to the top, after climbing to the asphalt section, I changed into cycling shoes and with renewed vigor (my legs rested) I began to climb the pass. The descent to Portman was beautiful, the turns, the wind in your ears, the views, the wind turbines on the mountains and the speed!
Sixth day. Pillar de la Horadada
One could, of course, give up on this day in Torvieja, but the weather again promised to be sunny, and, waking up at about 10 am and having a hearty breakfast, I firmly decided that I would spend this day on the beach too.
Two days ago, I liked the place in Pillar de la Horadada, there is something like a cape, and on this rock ledge there is either the Villa Torre Vigia Pilar de la Horadada, or a private old mansion with a tower, here I am and went to 12 o'clock. It is understandable on a bicycle, but in ordinary clothes and with a backpack, grabbing a towel and sneakers. Bypassing the cape, I found a cozy place on the leeward side (the wind was blowing decent that day) and I settled down on a sandy beach with crystal clear water.
While I was balancing my tan and swimming, there was a strong belief that I would have to return to Spain for a couple of weeks at least, and of course be able to calculate my strength. At least long trips should be done every other day, if you ride on your own, and not in a group, well, mountain routes and a couple of secondary roads on the Murcia Pass are also worthy of attention.
Seventh day. Departure and Spanish COM
Waking up on the day of departure, happy early, I decided to roll around the surroundings one more time, since I had plenty of time - the flight from Alicante to Kiev started at 16-00 local time. And now, having equipped myself, I went again towards Pillar de la Horadada and Mil Palmeras.
It was a sunny Sunday morning, my legs were rested, and for a couple of stretches I decided to pile a little, especially on the way back, downwind.
I drove so well that I even had to overtake cars (in the city limits the speed limit is 30-40 km / h.
And then, returning home by 11 o'clock, unloading my trip to Strava and winding something about 25 kilometers, I found that at one of the sites in the town of Pueblo Latino on Antonio Agurado Street I took a COM, despite the fact that I was driving there against the wind!
Having packed the bike in a case (the procedure has already been perfected to the smallest detail, the whole process takes about half an hour), having collected my things and had lunch, I said goodbye to my friend's family, and at about 12-30 we left in the direction of the Alicante airport. Arriving at the airport at two o'clock, we said goodbye to a friend, and he took a promise from me that I would come to him once more, but for a longer time.