Paddy fields. Deserted lanes. Two small towns.
We drove from Vinarós to El Romaní. Near the destination, there was fog and without our satnav we would have been lost in a maze of industrial polygons and featureless dual carriage ways. After a couple of false turns, we reached the station at El Romaní. Neil nearly forgot to take the satnav to log the walk. After a quick panic and rush back to the car, we still managed to catch the train to Cullera.
The return walk was pleasant, passing through miles of rice paddies. We passed farm workers cooking chorizo on an aromatic fire of orange prunings. Our breakfast of toast and honey four hours ago seemed a lifetime away. We walked for about 23km along deserted lanes with the railway on our left and the main road, thankfully in the distance beyond the railway. On the right we had rice paddies, egrets, herons, cormorants and gulls. We passed through two small towns, Sueca and Sollana. Earlier, in the dawn light, we passed the Muntanyeta Dels Sants. This must have been a small island before the rice paddy zone silted up and was reclaimed for agriculture. It was the only significant landmark in the otherwise featureless but beautiful landscape. It rose out of the dawn mist like some isle of Avalon.
Luckily today is a week day as there are fewer trains to El Romaní than to larger villages. We set off by car at 5.45 as there is slightly less far to drive, but of course, the train will arrive in El Romaní 15 minutes earlier than it did in Cullera. At the station, there is no evidence of a ticket kiosk or a machine. We travel without tickets and have to make gestures at Cullera for the ticket lady to come and let us through to pay. That is the second time we have traveled without tickets on this line but this time it was OK. Here the ticket lady understood our predicament. At Gandia, the rail staff were not pleased but we were not surcharged.
This walk is also through paddy fields. We see many little egrets, quite a few gray herons and one or two white herons. So far we have not seen any of the more unusual herons and egrets which I would like to see sometime. There are also cormorants and oyster catchers as well as a variety of gulls.
It is past the shortest day and we expect the number of flowers in bloom to increase daily. We see chicory, cape sorrel, gomphocarpus fruticosa gigantea (pod bush) sow thistle, Santiago daisy large and small, orange climber pod, rosemary, borage, convolvulus blue and pink, alyssum type, soft thistle, tiny umbelliferal.
Today we saw virtually no cars or even people. At our breaks we have a chocolate santa. This year they have no faces. Sometimes, they do have a face and just once they had teddy faces inside which was really nice. Neil says these look like the Trickster from the Sarah Jane Doctor Who spin off and they could frightened small children. It's much healthier for them to eat something that looks like a real human being. I have counted my healthy bars and there are not enough to last us even though I though I had counted them really carefully. We shall have to conserve them.