The second part of my first real trip – Spain on bicycle, which I did 8 years ago, at the age of 19. I hope that you remember from the first part (http://flyingpolack.com/en/2015/11/flying-polack-on-bike-through-spain-part-1/) that the whole text wasn’t created solely from my memories, but mostly from my travel diary that I was conducting that time. Thus, in many places you’ll read point of view , emotions that I had that time and contemporary, youthful perception of the world surrounding me. Forgive me sometimes the lack of photographs and their quality, but have in mind different type the camera I was using that time and above all lower skills :) Okay, let’s go!
August 5th, 2007, 10.00 pm, Valencia
Woke up in Vinaros at 5.30 am. Standard 8 hours slept, and yet the almost every part of my body is in sore. Starting from the wrists, my ass, ending on thighs. Two, still warm, sweet rolls from a local bakery handed out by the charming owner of the hotel, plus yogurt for a quick breakfast and start. To drive 150 km but I’m positive about that. Still only 6 am, then a minimum of 5 hours of driving in a pleasant morning temperatures, when this hell Iberian sun won’t start frying me yet.
The road wasn’t bad. Much less hills than in previous episode. The wind also like a eased a bit. Only the road drag on mercilessly. The first stop has been done after 3 hours of constant driving. I sat on the wall near the entrance to the store at the gas station. Gentlemen from the behind the window watching me curiously, and I’m eating banana and biting my finger along today’s route on the map comforting myself that almost half of the route is done, so now it’s gonna be over the hill!
But it wasn’t over the hill whatsoever. Theoretically Valencia was closer with every km, but the truth was with every km I was also weaker. The sun was already high. The temperature in the shade – 34 degrees. In the sun… I rather didn’t want to know. Thoughts about beautiful places in Andalusia didn’t give me any consolation. Evidently I was on the downer. Stops started to happen more often. Again I wondered what I was thinking coming here…
Finally road signs began to show reasonable distance to Valencia. 17 km, 13 km, 8 km away. I’m almost there!
I got to Valencia after 4 pm. I reached downtown and laid down on the bench at some unspecified park to rest a while. I located on the map where I was and how to get to the hostel, where I had booked room, as the hospitality of couchsurfers I was about to experience the next day.
Hostel seemed to be well located, because in the historical district, in the center, where most of the historical sites were. But when I returned to it after an evening walk in the neighborhood it was more prostitutes and drug addicts than tourists. Again and again I had to politely thank for the invitation from the ladies to have fun. Or so I thought. Within a semester of learning Spanish, I dodn’t reached “flirt” section yet.
End of writing for today. I’m dying!
August 6th, 6 pm, Valencia
Valencia as a city, I like a lot. After a day of sightseeing, I conclude that I could live here! City is crossed by dry riverbed. How the authorities managed this area? Instead of parking lots, concrete, or wild markets, the entire length was covered by gardens! Here some Juan jogging, there is another Maria playing badminton with her friend, and another Laura went with the child for a walk.
In the final section of the riverbed was created a gigantic scientific and entertainment complex called La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias. Buildings architecture reminds me of some futuristic movies. Around the ponds with perfectly groomed blue water and urban greenery. And what’s inside of these futuristic construction? Cultural museums and entertainment places like cinemas. It houses the largest aquarium in Europe, as well as the Dolphinarium, to which I decided to go.
Today, I would think twice about whether to support by my 50 euro place that keeps hundreds of creatures whose natural habitat is the seas and oceans. But then at the sight of so many species of animals, from seahorses, sharks and whales by, and the show of dolphins – acrobats ending, I was just amazed.
Also Main Railway Station from XIX century, lined with colorful tiles with wooden elements here and there, makes a strong impression.
Doubts about the whole idea of this trip yesterday, again went into oblivion. Because now I’m sitting in a nice restaurant at the Plaza de la Virgen, eating paella – famous Spanish dish which comes from this region, sipping the traditional local drink – Horcheta and simply relaxing by watching traffic on the square :)
Also what makes my mood better is the fact that in a moment I’ll again experience this amazing idea which is couchsurfing. I’m changing Hostel for apartment of two Hungarian girls studying in Valencia within the Erasmus student exchange program. I haven’t met them yet, but already liked them. For text message asking what would they like to drink, Judit wrote back that they are Hungarians! so whatever I’ll bring, they’ll drink it. If only it has some percentage :)
August 7th, 7 pm, Valencia
What a night! To the three of us joined local guy – Jose. We started with a dinner, during which we only reassured us that between Poles and Magyars is some special bond :) With already half empty 5-liter bottle of sangria we went to the beach. All the clubs were located next to each other along the beach. Didn’t like one? So let’s skip to the next one. Party finished with waiting for the sunrise (obviously on the beach as well :) )
I wasn’t in hurry with waking up. I steel felt sore in my body and night marathon probably didn’t help either, so I had to recover. In the afternoon I continued sightseeing, and now I’m again writing while sitting in a restaurant eating local specialties. Tomorrow I leave Valencia and head to Elche. The route is a bit shorter, but it might have more hills to climb to. Unfortunately, Judit and Kato persuade me to go out tonight as well. Apparently all couchsurfers who happen to be in Valencia will meet on the main square of the city. Well, the girls urge so you need to go! I’ll start worrying about route tomorrow.
August 8th, 11.45 pm, Elche
Ooo I ate so much! Cintia, which accommodated me in Elche cooked so delicious dinner that it’s hard to describe! (or kcal deficit was so large that I’d be impressed even with sawdust;)). Omelets, bread with olive oil, tuna salad, and for dessert melon. Mmmm!
But let’s go back a bit to the past. About 24 hours. What a party! I haven’t seen so many nationalities in one place in my life! (Today, because of where I live and work, I would say the younger me – bitch please…). Americans, Canadians, Greeks, a German, Croatian, Belgian and of course the mass of Spaniards. A group of more than 40 people went to an already booked tapas bar. A lot of chats, and in my head I already started planning future travels, who, where and when to visit. Everyone with whom I spoke as one didn’t believe that I’m 19 years old and I drive through Spain on bicycle.
After emptying the stocks of beer and tapas in the bar, already in smaller groups we visited the nearby dancing places :) Laughs, dances and fun made me feel so good! :)
But I wasn’t so good on the route the next day. We say goodbye with charming Hungarians and at 1 pm I set out on the road. It was so hot that I haven’t even started pedaling and I already sweated bearing with my 30-kilo bike down the stairs of the apartment onto the street.
The road was indeed shorter than Valencia, but given the short period of regeneration, or rather its lack, to put it mildly it was hard… But I arrived! Barely alive, but I made it :D Ahh, now lying in bed with a full stomach is so easy to write about it :) But believe me that a few times today my legs just refused to cooperate.
August 10th, 1.30 am, Nerpio
Cintia and her boyfriend nationalist-separatists, who was convincing me that Catalonia is occupied by the Spaniards (if you imagine a big bald guy, then you are surely mistaken. He was constantly suspiciously laid back. As it turned out, on the balcony was growing he’s own cannabis: )), they turned out to be sweet people. Not only made for me dinners, breakfasts, but also on my arrival were prepared brochures and maps of Elche with marked points where I should go and what’s worth seeing. Warm, wonderful people. Falling in love in this nation has progressed. I, however, further praised the good name of Poland, showing videos of my homeland on YouTube and telling about famous Polish people like Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Łukasiewicz, Frederic Chopin and Mikołaj Copernicus :)
Elche itself is off the beaten track of mass tourism (at least it was 8 years ago) and thanks God! The city is surrounded by a ring of palm forest, which planted the Arab Moors reigning in these lands by part of the Medieval, in order to have dates. The Arabs, in addition to palm trees, also left behind a lot of the architecture, but often processed in the fashion of European style, after the regain of southern Spain by the Reconquista.
The term of my visit in Elche, also wasn’t accidental. Every year in August, takes a holiday, during which residents are involved in the staging of the battle that Christians fought with Muslims in order to regain the city. However, everything has a humorous character. Around the blaring music, people dancing in the streets, and all this, of course, accompanied by Sangria :)
We drunk sangria as well. But not any cheap shit from store. Cintia again proved to be a fantastic host. She invited friends, prepared a light tapas and in a huge pot on the base of fruits made sangria! I’ve never drunk so well tasting alcohol. And so, long story short, I lost myself :)
The fiesta lasted until the morning. We got up after 2 pm. The sun was already high and I had to move to Murcia, where I had an appointment with the next couchsurfers. Fortunately, the ride was (actually would be, if not a hangover) pure pleasure. Flat 55 km. Bread with butter!
In Murcia hosted me nice girl from Panama – Ypsal and her boyfriend – Dario from Spain. Both said that Murcia beyond the academic year is boring, so they’ll take me to the cottage house of Dario’s parents located in a small town called Nerpio concealed somewhere in the mountains in southern Castilla La Mancha. I love couchsurfing! And so I’m sitting in a cozy room, and next to me wooden Don Quixote, perhaps thinking about the future of its beloved Spain…
August 11th, 11 pm, Murcia
The village where we were today, is definitely not mentioned in the guides or in tourist brochures. The narrow streets shaded by brick houses hides the older generation residents from August sun. Very friendly grampas and distinguished ladies in black dresses. In such places, I feel like a traveler, not a tourist.
We came back to Murcia in the evening. Dario and Ypsal took me for a walk through the old town and that would be all when it comes to this city. Next stop – Granada, which is more than 270 kilometers! Thus, bearing in mind the semi desert conditions in southern Spain and the cosmic distance, tomorrow I enter the Andalusia in the bus.