Sunday, 27 November 2011

24 Nov 2011 – Orihuela

After three days of rain we were all very relieved that it was dry, and even a little sunny, for our U3A coach trip to Orihuela
We were lucky to have Mateo, a local chap, as our city guide for the whole tour.  His English was very good and he turned what could have been a boring cultural visit into an interesting experience.
The coach dropped us at what appeared to be the main shopping centre, and we spent the rest of the day on our walking tour
Orihuela was once the second most important city in Valencia.  It is now overshadowed by its neighbouring cities of Murcia and Cartagena.  Much of the new city is typical of a large rural town, but the old city is interesting and very beautiful.
After a very busy morning we were all more than ready for our menu del dia.   The group was too large for one table and we were divided into two, each with their own room.  The staff did not speak any English, and there was some confusion when we were served with bottles of beer, but wine and water soon followed.  We had a selection of tapas and were then offered a choice of meat balls with chicken or pasta.  We thought that this was the main meal, and were pleasantly surprised when we were then offered a choice of chicken or fish for the main meal.   Finally a sweet and coffee.   Excellent meal, and very good value for 12 euros.
After lunch it was off on tour again.   We visited two churches, a cathedral, a Moors and Christians museum, the private house of a local nobleman and an underground tour of the old city  walls.   Unfortunately none of the photos I took were very good.  So you will just have to take my word for it. 
Walking is by far the best way to see a small city or town.  You get a much better impression than driving around in a coach, and you also get a feel for the people and buildings.   But it is quite tiring.

It was our first visit to Orihuela, and we were surprised that there is so much to see and do.   I suspect that we saw much more due to our official guide than we could have hoped so see on our own.   It was a lovely day out and introduced us to one of the less well known attractions of Valencia.

Monday, 21 November 2011

19 Nov 2011 – Pinos to Marnes

The weather forecast for Monday is pretty grim, so we were pleased when David and Rosemary suggested a recce on Saturday of a new Pinos walk
We first did this walk about a year ago with the CBMW and felt it would be very suitable for a Monday Club walk.   We kept intending to do a recce, and it only took a year or so
The first part of the walk is a long steady climb.   Steep enough to require a couple of stops to admire the view – and get our breathing under control
Having reached the top it was a nice level walk.   It looks like David and Rosemary are talking about Jan behind her back? 
About an hour into the walk we reach our first banana stop, at an old abandoned finca.
 Then its off again to look for a suitable spot for lunch
I think you have all seen more than enough photos of us eating.  So as an alternative this is the view we had as we tackled our picnic lunch
These two donkey’s were an unexpected treat.  They were very friendly and seemed to appreciate David’s offer of a handful of grass
Contrary to popular belief I am not eating the donkey’s apple, I am biting suitable bits of apple to feed them.   It is however just possible that the occasional bit of apple might have been swallowed in error!
And this is the view on Monday morning.   Just as well we had our walk on Saturday, because the weather proved even worse than the forecast.   Our Monday walk was cancelled and we hope to tackle it next week instead

Next Monday
If the weather is good we will walk the Carrascal Ridge from Parcent.   Meet at the swimming pool at 0930.   If it is overcast, but not actually raining, we will walk from Lleus to Pinos.

Ring us at 0800 and we will confirm whether it is to be Carrascal or Lleus

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

14 Nov 2011 – Lliber Font d' Aixa

We should have walked Carrascal Ridge this morning, but once again the weather let us down.   When we met at the swimming pool car park in Parcent we could not see the ridge due to the dark low clouds.  There seemed little point in this particularly difficult climb if there would be no views when we reached the ridge.  We all agreed to Pat’s suggestion of the Lliber hill climb instead.
It was still overcast as we started our walk, but we did not notice it much once we got going. 
Despite the grey sky it was not cold, and we soon stopped to remove our jackets and jumpers.  
As we climbed we could see the dark clouds still covering Carrascal in the distance.
Being much lower than Carrascal we were not bothered by low clouds when we reached the top.   But the sky was getting darker and we needed to put our jackets on again
As always going down was more difficult than climbing up.  And the poor tracks were made worse by the recent rain.   Our boots were soon muddy, which made the path down slippery. 
Lunch was at Font d' Aixa, and as we arrived the rain started.   Despite the weather we were hungry and tired, and determined to have a break.  So out came the waterproofs.  It was more summer showers rather than heavy storm, and we did not let it get us down.
Still raining when we got back to Lliber, so our after walk drink was taken inside the bar rather than in the square outside.

Next Week
There is an option of two walks next week, either Carrascal or Lleus, depending on the weather.  Ring us at 0800 and we will confirm whether the weather is good enough for Carrascal.

If the decision is Carrascal we will meet at the swimming pool car park in Parcent at 0930.  If it is Lleus we will meet at the church at 1000 as usual.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

10 Nov 2011 – Green Horse

The Green Horse is our favourite local walk, this is the view from the bottom of our road
We woke to a warm and sunny morning and decided a walk in the mountains was just what we needed, after Monday’s disappointing weather.

The walk starts with a steep climb right from the village, and is on a rough track for about an hour.
The walk is very well signposted now, and it is always a relief to reach the top
But I was surprised to discover that we had covered such a short distance.   It felt like a very long 1.3Km!
From here it is a level walk for another hour or so, with beautiful views of the coast and the surrounding mountains.
We normally have lunch at the rural restaurant at the end of the walk, which is always closed on a Monday.  But it would be open to the public today, so we had lunch on the ridge instead.
We love walking with our Monday group, but it’s also nice to be on our own for a change.   We could stop when we wanted and for as long as we wanted.   And it was unusual to be able to enjoy the silence of the mountains for a change.
There are always lots of wild flowers on this walk, and today was no exception.

The walk back is along the side of the hill, with great views down the valley to the coast

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

7 Nov 2011 – Granadella

The weather forecast was dry but overcast, so we were not expecting rain when we arrived at Cumbres del Sol
The first decision was whether to attempt the walk, or go for a cup of coffee at the nearby café.   This unusually placid guard dog seemed bemused that we decided to carry on despite the rain.
Tom wisely decided to abandon the walk as the rain got heavier, and the rest of us donned our stylish wet weather kit.
Peter was particularly pleased with his unusual umbrella, which seemed more suited to collecting rain rather than keeping it off Peter.   He apparently paid 4 euro for it some years ago, and everyone agreed that they must have seen him coming.
We all walked to the first view point, about 15 minutes walk.   There we discussed whether to continue or not.   The rain was not quite so heavy, but the terrain was more difficult from here.   We agreed to continue but Jan, Rosemary and Diane opted to follow the road whilst we went over the wet and slippery ridge
Despite the overcast skies the views were still impressive, and the wind and light rain bracing.
 The weather soon cleared and we enjoyed a nice walk along the coast
 After a couple of hours we reached the viewpoint overlooking Granadella
We had a good view of the beach, and were surprised that we could not see any sign of Jan, Rosemary or Diane.

When we reached the beach café the reason for their absence from the beach was obvious.   Whilst we had been struggling along the wind swept coast they had been sitting comfortably with hot drinks
The rest of us settled down on the beach wall to eat lunch.   It was warmer and more pleasant than it looks in the photo.   We were surprised when a young couple arrived, stripped naked and went swimming in what must have been very cold water.   Jan seemed more surprised that they walked down to the sea over the rocky beach in their bare feet!
It was nice to see David’s sister Diane (centre in pink) again.   She lives in UK and it must be about two years since she last walked with us.   Shame that she picked the first wet day in at least six months.
It was also nice to welcome Sue back (centre in blue).   She used to be a permanent resident here but now spends most of the year in UK.  

Thanks to Barry for a rare photo of Jan and me.

Next Week

Weather permitting we will tackle Carrascal ridge from Parcent Piscina.   Meet at 0930 to allow time to take a couple of cars up to the Col de Rates to save us having to walk down to the Piscina at the end of the ridge walk.