Cabo de Gata is known across Spain for its isolation and that it is not developed like the rest of the Spanish coastline. The edge of the Europe and Africa tectonic plates, it is an old volcanic region – raw volcanic rocks mixing with beautiful beaches and clear Mediterranean waters. We were there mid-week and in low tourist season. And it was warm… Beautiful! The riding was less than good as our bikes really aren’t designed for gravel roads especially with blustery wind trying to knock you off. Great to be warm though and good to fall asleep to the sound of the sea!
The development along the Spanish coast is necessary and inevitable but ugly and designed for one purpose… attract the British and get them to part with their British pounds. We didn’t mind this for the few days riding along the coast… fascinating even after the open farming and mountains of internal Spain. It also put on display the sheer impact that the Global Financial Crisis had in Spain. ‘Almost-finished’ buildings everywhere! Hotels built but just not quite finished – clear signs of a sudden loss of money. We however saw each empty building site as a potential campsite as they offered great views, flat ground and a way to keep out of sight. Best was the chance to see sunrise over the water.
We headed steadily northwards along the coast, veering inland when required to cycle through a sea of greenhouses – despite suffering from mild drought conditions Spain has no water restrictions including agricultural… Europe has to get its fresh fruit/vegetables somehow!
In Cartagena we found the first tourist office worker who gave us useful information… plus the “you must see these roman ruins and go to that museum” spiel. We hence found ourselves on a small train then cycling to take a boat across the bay to save riding around. Successful as we ‘spiced things up from the constant riding’ and met 2 great British couples that offered a BBQ and shower for the night… an insight into moving and settling in Spain, great company and our first BBQ since leaving Australia!
We had enough of the coast at this stage and headed inland to escape! The riding was again beautiful and we found ourselves by accident on another via-verde… this we questioned as half-way through a tunnel we created chaos as a tractor had to move out of our way.
Emily’s morning coffee = Wifi code and Internet. We do this to remain “in touch” but also to escape rain or following our noses. One particular café was in a bar/restaurant and the beer delivery guy spoke great English and passionately showed me how they deliver fresh beer in 435litre plastic bags… of course by this stage it had passed beer o’clock and I had an excuse to sample!
We enjoyed the riding through our last Spanish mountains and then made great progress once we hit the coastal flats and were back where we started in Valencia. Bus tickets proved expensive and we would have had to wrap our bikes in plastic so we hesitated and rode across the city to the train station… 2hrs until next train, bikes allowed and half the price… a menu of the day and we settled into public transport up to Barcelona.
Our Barcelona experience was quick and we realised how much we prefer riding than exploring cities. We walked around soaking up Gaudi’s influence, strolled down Las Ramblas, walked around markets and the coastal foreshore. The F1 motor race was the next day so we watched as the police moved on the hawkers and ‘cleaned up’ the beach for us. We then left the city before dark to enjoy a little more time with our Russian/Dutch hosts. We met Olga in Ronda with 13 Russian Commerades She was helping to organize and translate for their own cycling trip. After meeting up at 2 consecutive campsites she invited us to stay with her and her family when we got up to Barcelona.
Eager to head north we jumped on another train to the coastline just below the Spanish-French fonterra. This left us cycling through the nicest coastal villages we had seen in Spain (beaches without the concrete jungle) up into France.