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  • Day56

    Esparles to Deia

    March 11, 2020 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Leaving Esparoles is hard. It's a gorgeous town, as Talat discovered the night before. In the morning, I wake early already exhausted and already excited for the next day. This is the first medium day: 19km. Yesterday was only 13km, yet I get distracted by beautiful things and it time forget to cover the 13km. Today there are two peaks-or more if you go looking, one town where most people take lunch, and about 1000 hm, total, up.

    The morning is sunny and bright. The route starts from the turn, yet I get lost in the way to the trail. Once I reach the woods, I begin the wrong trail. There are too many roads and people. Where is the trail? To the left maybe? I wander into a sunny Farmers field where sheep try to give me directions. The pigs don't care and wander off. I think pigs are pretty smart animals so I follow their example and wander off as well.

    Eventually, about an hour in, I meet up with Route 221. It's not a trail at all, but a road going up a hill. Good enough.

    Eventually this road enters the hills and becomes a real trail. There's a peak, and a view. I find a walking stick to ease my sure foot, yet it slows me down as well. There is a rhythm to having a walking stick that suits me, yet the slow speed does not. I distract myself by wandering off trail for better views.

    These mountains are low, but the only ones around. Standing on them feels like standing on the world, or having a look into the back room design lab of gorgeous landscapes. It's a bit like places I've been but also not at all something I've ever seen before. I continue on, but the walk is mostly down hill.

    Then, it's Valldemossa. It's after noon, barely, and theres a bar that serves beer. Perfect! I sit and sip a beer instead of my water. This may be the best way to save water and be ecologically friendly I know of.

    When it's time to go again, I post my bill and head straight through the city. The way to the trail is simple and clear, and do is the trail. I find a guide near a nature preserve telling visitors of the many paths in the area. He tells me the path is clear and simple to the peak, and that I will need to walk the ridge until I see Deia. Once I see Deia he says I just need to walk to it. Simple.

    So I walk. The way is shady and the path is clear. Perfect for afternoon stroll in the heat after a beer. The views are stunning as I walk around the mountain, slowly going higher and higher.

    I reach the ridge and wander off trail to enjoy a better view. It's breathtaking. I am not yet at the top yet there is nothing between me and views of Palma and the ocean on the other side of the island. I can see forever from here!

    Then it's time to return to the trail, but in the ridge there is no clear path, only stones. I spend too much time with my GPS yet it guide me to the peak, where two people walk their dog to the top.

    The top is sunny and warm and windy. There really is nothing except the view and clear blue skies. Deia looks close enough that I can throw a ball and hit it, and I am ready for the end of my day. Two peaks is enough for today.

    Yet the way down is not clear. I wander off the path quickly, and not on purpose. GPS shows me a path that I have already passed and now cannot reach without heading backward, so I head forward thinking I will find a better one.

    I find two lost Germans instead. I do not find a Walking path, but a climbing wall down. It does not look hard, but it is steep so I drop my bag first and climb down to it. There is nothing between me and the view here. It is beautiful too stand in the wall of the mountain, yet also terrifying. Climbing with my bag is difficult, my balance is off when I wear it, yet there is not always a place to drop it down, so I continue. Thank goodness for sticky liguano shoes, that help me climb walls ordinary hiking boots do not!

    The way becomes more even, yet it takes forever to find the trail. When I do find it, I bring marks and scratches from wandering through woods with no trail. I am exhausted from climbing at the end of a hiking day and convinced I have lost time going the wrong way, yet when I check my GPS I'm right on schedule. Thank goodness!

    It's a quick walk to Deia from here, and the hostel tonight. On the way I find two Germans who also came down from the peak, yet on the actual trail. They are still exhausted and worn out from the trip, and have a bus to catch toward the next city and hostel.

    Tonight, I'm very glad I don't. I find the hostel and have a beer. Today I earned it.
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    Wow, sounds like a very Full day with lots of good sites to see!

  • Day51

    Off the beaten path

    March 6, 2020 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 13 °C

    I arrive in Mallorca and I barely know what I'm going to do. I have an idea of places to go in the north where the beaches are beautiful and the mountains are great and to drive alone near the northern mountain trails but I don't have a map of Mallorca and I don't know where I'm going to stay and I only have the slightest idea that I can sleep in a car and secret-camp along the ocean roads. I get off the plane and wander outside. I have a car rental reservation but the car rental place is not at the airport. My email says I must catch a shuttle yet there are no signs for a car service shuttle. I walk from one end of the terminal to the other, collect my bag, walk outside - all the way to the parking area - before I realize that there are parking shuttles where no signs exist, yet a shuttle for my car rental store is not there. This is the part I hate about flying and traveling. Every time you're in a new place there's a new routine and a new rhythm and new everything. Here I have trouble catching the rhythm. When the shuttle bus comes that has the name of my car rental store on it I jump on. When I get to the car rental store they upgrade me to a large SUV that I do not want. I have to argue to get a smaller car. There are mystified that I want a smaller car. why would I want a big car? I'm not a big person and only one person and frankly I'm planning on sleeping in it so there might be a reason for me to avoid having a big car - especially if I want to stay unnoticed.

    I purchased liability insurance while I was in Germany. I assume this means that I do not need car rental insurance because liability covers the damage you cause to objects. Yet the girl at the car rental store gives me great advice on travel and tourism and has a nice smile and so of course I buy the full coverage for insurance for the two days before I check into a hostel. She also tells me where to go for dinner and to visit Valldemossa where I can find the best local desserts in all of Mallorca. Turns out that Soller is also high on the list of places to go visit. I will be visiting Soller during my hike so this is not a rush for me yet the extra recommendation makes me more excited to see it.

    By the time I get in my car and drive I don't really know where to go. So I head to the beach. Mallorca is very different from Munich. Maybe all Spanish cities are different from Munich. I've just started my visit to Spain and the beach near the airport is filled with small stores selling tourist things to tourists, bars advertising German beer, bicycles riding everywhere, and a beach filled with giant waves and no people. I was warned that winter in Mallorca is quiet - and it is. Locals hang out in front of local bars the handful of tourists sit in the one or two bars that are open. I cruise the beach until I decide to find a grocery store collect some food and head to a beach on the North shore for the evening.

    Luckily the car has GPS. It navigates me to a grocery store and to a beach on the north side of the island. The island is so small that it's only 30 minutes to the north and I find myself cruising through a City built on a slope where every street and every house and every Garden has a wall protecting it from falling down the side of the mountain. The beach, which I came to see, at the bottom is not there! The Tide is in and the wind is strong and waves crash over and over and over against the side of the mountain. The beach must be hiding underneath all the chaos. There's only one other car parked at this beach, a young couple sit inside watching the sunset. I step out of the car crack a Beer and ruin their view of the ocean by sitting down on a rock and taking a sip.

    My moment doesn't last long because the waves crash so hard they Splash over the edge, showering me in ocean water. What is beautiful is also soaking wet as the wind grows stronger and the waves keep crashing. I jump back in the car after watching the sun go a little farther down. I drive around the ocean heading west on the northern mountain Road.

    The mountains here, next to the ocean, remind me of Cape Breton or Vancouver Island or what I imagine New Zealand is like. The mountains seem to jump straight out of the water and go high into the sky. As I drive around the island there are so many beautiful views of small towns, crashing waves, and setting sun.

    As dark sets in I stopped at one of the larger cities in the north, Andratix, where I have trouble finding a parking space. It turns out there are too many cars and too many people for comfort even in winter. When I do find a parking space and walk around the town is dark and quiet an empty on this Friday night. There are signs that point to the center of town where a plaza is open and surrounded by restaurants and bars yet only three restaurants are open and they are mostly empty. When I walk into one, Demoni, everyone looks at me as if I'm a stranger as I say "hola. I'm looking for beer and Wi-Fi. Do you have these?

    "Yes we do. The password is 666. Demoni, like the name." We all laugh. Maybe I am a stranger in a bar named after a demon, yet right now it's my heaven as I order a beer for 1.5€

    A rush starts as I order a second beer - a single family of 4. The tiny bar feels full for a little while. I appreciate my anonymity after Munich, where I left behind wonderful new friends who always have an invitation for me and always have something going on. Here I am happy to have nothing going on except deciding where to sleep later.

    This is an easy decision. I drive a bit more until I find a quiet, dark parking lot with an RV, a van with tinted windows, and a half ton that is clearly also being lived in. I flip the back seat flat and roll out my sleeping bag.

    It's a good day.
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