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Craig's Musings

Benidorm 24 Day 16

My third night of camping was the most successful. It was warm and I had the best sleep I’d had in a tent while away. That said, it was only attempt number three and I still didn’t sleep great. I guess I just don’t have the right build (or a decebt air bed and pillow).

I was up around 6.30am, before all my neighbours in their nice warm tourers and caravans. I also felt a couple of specks of rain, so hurriedly packed the tent away so it didn’t get wet. Made myself a cup of coffee, ate a substantial roll and then my French neighbour came for a chat. He asked me about my route and where I’d come from and I could tell he was impressed. The feeling was mutual, he has a moustache I could only dream of.

He also asked where I cross the Pyrenees and I told him about Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port. 

“Non, non, non!”, he replied, telling me he’d driven up it before. He probably just thought I was taking the piss when I replied, “Oui, oui, oui!”.

And then I was off, straight back onto the canal path through the city, before edging off after 5km and climbing a small hill to say adios to Zaragoza. City folk just don’t have the same friendliness to strangers and many of my Hola’s were not reciprocated – too many joggers, lycra-clad mountain bikers and people begrudgingly taking their dogs for a walk.  

I was following a large road, but like much of my trip, a nice cycle path ran alongside it. Before long, I was on a canal path again, trying to edge around groups of women with their walking poles chattering away.

The sun was getting hotter, my human obstacles getting sparser, and before long I was in the middle of nowhere. At least I knew which way I was heading.

Eventually, I hit tarmac and my wobbling arms thanked The Lord as I smoothly sailed along for a few kilometres. 

The next adventure took me on a busy road – the N-232. I am guessing these are like A roads. The problem was, there was roadworks so a barrier prevented me from staying right out of the way. Never mind, the 1.5 metre rule was ignored as cars and lorries whisked by, and no-one was slowed done too much. In fact, both my heart and my bum hole had gone the other way!

Eventually a slip road beckoned and I did slow the traffic down crawling up that into the small town of Fuentes De Ebro. A quick stop at a supermarket for Coke and some sort of pasty and I was away again. Out of the town, the route started taking back up onto the N-232, so foolishly (when will I learn), I consulted Google.

It looked “roady”, so I opted for that. Five minutes later and I was back on a stoney track. It led to run down the side of a train line. Then the track in front of me disappeared, but there was now one on the other side of the train track. Spain being Spain meant there were no fences, so I found the easiest spot and had to lift Terence across. I had visions of a shoe getting stuck, or part of the bike getting caught and a train speeding towards us. But it took about 15 seconds and I survived the ordeal.

Tarmac once again beckoned eventually and I turned right for 200 meters to see that it wanted me to, once again, get back on the tracks. I didn’t. I carried on for a bit and rejoined the N-232, which by this point seemed like a very different road, with space to cycle and less traffic.

I stopped in Quinto with the plan to have lunch. There was one bar that I could see and it was full. So I sat in the square and ate one of my stash of rolls.

There was me, sweltering, trying to find some shade, while some of the locals  walked around with puffa jackets on. No way, José!

A man came and sat in the chair opposite. He went for an anarak. He also started mumbling away and repeating himself. Back in the day, I guess you’d call them the village idiot, but I’d obviously never say that now. Anyway, then the village idiot started talking to me, to which I replied, and I have it down to a tee..

“Lo siento, soy Ingles. No entiendo” (“Sorry, I’m English. I don’t understand”).

So he just kept talking at me, louder and faster. I understood he was asking about my bike but that was it. Luckily, his wife/sister/carer called him over and he was gone. And so was I. I headed up.

Out of Quinto and I turned off the now empty N-232 and started following the River Ebro towards my final destination of Sástago.

It was now very hot – this was the weather I was hoping for. I just hoped this hotel was real because I felt very isolated. The landscape is beautiful here, but with the river comes commerce so there were some big plants along the way (and not the green ones, the ones that make concrete and stuff like that).

Sástago itself is surrounded by the Ebro, as it meanders its way through the baron landscape. A small town, it too me a while to find my hostel for the night. 

As much as I like these areas of Spain, I am glad I came this way and will be closer to areas of life in a couple of days as I hit the east coast and the blue, blue mediterranean.

Damn, forgot my trunks.


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