Barcelona to Calasparra

It was the usual pandemonium as we tried to co-ordinate finishing work, thesis submission, packing up a house, dog agistment, and bike preparation. Finally, we got ourselves and our pile of gear on a plane and soon after found ourselves conducting our bike reconstruction in the long term carpark at Barcelona airport. Apart from some minor thrills trying to exit the airport via an eight lane freeway, it was an easy escape from the city on to a coastal bike path which spat us out on a scenic road along the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.

We jumped on a train between Tarragona and Valencia city to reach Denia in time for our ferry across to Formentera. There was no luggage section, so when the doors opened we had to hurl bikes, bags & trailers on & quickly squeeze ourselves into the remaining few centimetres of space. The Spanish seem a pretty laidback lot, and no-one was bothered. The word ’tranquilo’ (which translates as ‘peaceful’) seems to be the equivalent of ‘no worries’ – we hear it a lot.

Formentera is the smallest of the Balaeric Islands. We were pleasantly surprised by the low key development and relative peace of this lovely little piece of Mediterranean paradise. It’s not exactly undiscovered, but the pretty villages, stunning beaches, and kilometres of rock walls housing extremely cute bright green lizards, compensate for the hum of motos and wall to wall beach umbrellas. Abundant flesh is on display, much of it overcooked (in more ways than one). Not unlike beaches anywhere I guess, although compared to Australia there is a lot more money and fewer things that can kill you. The bays are dominated by huge white luxury cruisers –and we find ourselves involuntarily humming the 007 theme song as we pedal past, wondering whether our evening vodka martini should be shaken, or stirred?

After a week, we are in need of a holiday to recover from an excess of holiday spirits. It was a perfect location for Jess & Michele’s wedding – they got married on the beach in the late afternoon, and the party that followed was fairly lively. Activity the following day was minimal, and largely instigated by three year old Sophie, who was the only one not struggling with the concept of getting out of bed.

Soon after we were back on the mainland, and back on the bikes. We decided to avoid the heavily developed coastline in favour of an inland route south to Almeria. Despite the vertical challenges this proved to be a good choice. Local roads provided traffic-free, scenic routes through a series of sleepy villages, with the odd tractor or goatherd to liven things up.

It has been hotter than expected, with some fiery winds. The need for a rest break resulted in the chance discovery of a lovely forest campsite near the Rio Segurro in Calasparra. Huge pool, wifi, cold beer, tranquil surroundings, river swimming …. A rest day was a no-brainer, so we now expect to reach Almeria, and the ferry to Morocco sometime next week.