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 Walk Across Europe

2007-12-27 - Trip 10 - Leg 71

Spain, Murcia

Isla Plana to Cartagena

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26.5 km today.
119.7 km this trip.
1347.7 km from start.
3 metres minimum height.
327 metres maximum height.
385 metres ascent.
365 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Hire car, Bus.

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Cold, wet, busy road, long walk, long wait for the bus back. Excellent views.

We went by hire car to Isla Plana. In cold, wet, windy conditions we climbed nearly a thousand feet where it was colder, wetter and windier. To add to our misery, we were on a fairly busy road and the route was longer than normal. We also had to walk through the "big city". Our misery peaked when we got our first sighting of a signpost to Mc'Donalds. At least we did not have to walk past the actual place. In Cartagena, after a forced march to catch the 16:30 bus back to Isla Plana we discovered that this bus went on a different route so we had to wait in the cold for two more hours. On the plus side, we were getting all the nastiness at the same time so only one day was ruined. We both caught colds too even though we believe this was nothing to do with the conditions.

We set off at about 7 as usual. As we went along towards Mazarrón in the car, it started spitting and had not improved by the time we got to La Isla Plana. We parked near the restaurante where we had got our minicab number the day before. I set up my mustang in drybag mode so that things inside it would not get soaked. Then we set off along the road to Carthage.

It was not desperately steep but it was an unrelenting ascent for some 9km. It was also impossible to stop for proper breaks because there was nowhere to sit down except at the roadside and that was soaking wet. We eventually got to the col where there was a place to have banquetes. Eventually, the rain gave way to cold windy sun and we thawed out and dried. Now at last we could enjoy the descent into Carthage which was much more gradual than the ascent had been. The cold and rain had taken their toll on me. I was exhausted and once we had get down the mountain there is nothing

I would have liked more than anything to take an urban bus into the centre to pick up the Alsina Graells back to La Isla. We had wondered why we had seen so few buses along the way. With one every two hours or so we would have expected to see several but in fact spotted only one. We knew we were getting near the "big city" because we spotted a discarded McDonalds paper cup. Later we saw a sign in the sky directing the misguided to their burgers. Once in Carthage we asked some ladies the way to the bus station. They turned out to be nuns and obviously thought we still had a very long way to go. They said to go straight ahead to the port and then turn left past the harbour. We would eventually see a tower with a clock on it.

Neil felt he could negotiate a shorter route and turned left down a side street. Often his ploys are successful but this one was less so than usual or perhaps I was less willing to believe it than usual. Luckily by now having had a lie down in a meadow outside the town and having warmed up and dried out I had a bit of a second wind and we continued through the town asking different people for directions from time to time.

One young couple was three sheets to the wind or possibly trying to wind us up. The boy gave us broadly similar directions to other people but just got his left and right confused. The girl tried to send us back the way we had come. If this was a wind up it didn't succeed. When I looked disbelieving she asked if we hadn't understood. I said yes we had understood but that we had just come from there and hadn't seen anything.

As we got closer we saw an Alsina Graells bus at the side of the road. We now turn right and soon came across the main line railway station which is a stunning building but we were too dead beat to photograph it. Just beyond it was the bus station. We were in time for the 16.30 to Mazarrón and Lorca. Our walk earlier had been a forced march in order to catch this bus. I'd have willingly taken a taxi. We queue up at the cossack. The lady in front has a long conversation. Her bus obviously doesn't go for hours, and then a young Moroccan pushes in. His bus is obviously going to depart imminently. We get our tickets with plenty of time to spare. I then go and get a Clara magazine at another cossack. I go in and the sales rep is there talking to the lady. When I ask for a Clara she looks blank. He says La revista. She finds me one and then we can't find the price. I ask the man if he knows the price but he doesn't.. We find it in small print up at the top.

We now go down for our bus. It doesn't go via Isla Plana. Our tickets are for the 18.30 bus. We can't phone Mini because the second phone is refusing to roam. Luckily we had said we might be late. W had got our details about buses from the boards at Mazarrón which had not mentioned routes at all. Now we know why we had seen so few buses along the way this morning. We used the two hours to visit the local railway line and discovered that there are lots of trains which stop at every village east of Cartagena. This was going to be good the following two days.

We also got details of buses to Alicante and discovered that there is an intersection with the little train at La Union so we don't ever need to go to Carthage again. Then we went upstairs and outside to have our tea in the last of the sun. A security guard observed us dubiously from down below but decided that our hippy camp was harmless and let us proceed. By now the sun had set and it was turning cold again We decided to have out afters inside. We were still a bit peckish so I went into the cossack again and got a Twix and some Maltesers. I said to Neil he could have Maltesers so long as promised not to rip open his shirt afterwards. I then explained to Neil about the Maltesers advert. With hindsight he remembered seeing it.

It's amazing how quickly two hours flies by. It was soon time to go down and get on our bus. This time we were allowed to get on and we sat at the front so as to be sure we knew where to get off. The drive back along the route we had come seemed much less arduous and steep in the bus. The only thing similar was the cold. We were frozen by the time we got to La Isla Plana after an interesting detour to Azohia. We got in the car and turned the heater to full heat. Even so we were not warm when we got home. Mini was expecting us to be late and we had a lovely buck buck baa dinner. I expected to be shivery in bed again but was not. Neil was cold and shivery on a previous night. This seems to be caused by unaccustomed exercise and low blood sugar.