*if you only read one of our posts, make it this one. There’s no details of tourist attractions, but there are several meal times.
I am continually disappointed in our lack of ability to keep up to date with things whilst away. Laundry, planning ahead, sleep, blogging, everything except eating really. How is this possible you wonder, given that we are on ‘holiday?’ I often think the same, but I promise that our days are packed full of stuff. To illustrate this I will share an average 36 hours with you. At the end you may need a rest.
Wake up in tent to sound of waves. Jo has slept well, I had cold thighs. (Very specific coldness, strange). Eat slightly stale baguette with jam on beach with lovely red sunrise. It is beautiful. Jo takes many photos. Pack up tent, eat biscuits. Faff around filling water bottles, talking to Dutch people, etc.
Have pedalled several kms, Jo decides we must take the longer scenic route via a sticky-out bit of coast. Perform inappropriate u-turn on medium sized road. We are both hungry.
Find supermarket and I shop for elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, proper tea. Jo supervises bikes and worries about the route we are now on. There are hills.
Beach snack stop, lovely. Jo takes photos.
Definitely hills. And swearing. And pro cyclists. Jo tries to take photos. We find only indiscreet places for number 1s but have to go anyway.
See a hardware shop, Jo goes in to buy meths for Trangia. I eat some 50% off spinach and cheese empanadas whilst reclining on one of the loungers for sale outside the shop. Good job I had got comfy as Jo later revealed her meths hunting tactic was to ‘look down every aisle.’ This place was huge. Good job the meths was near the start.
There are more hills. Jo takes photos.
Lunch on the sea front in a town beginning with M. Heading for Calpe, easy to see because it has a big rock. Pass more pro cyclists, and their trucks outside fancy hotels (that’s fancy hotels, not Danish holes, as autocorrect put in).
The Rock is very big. It becomes clear that because of the sticky-out bit we will not make Alicante today. Decide on Benidorm. Use a well known app to book a room in Benidorm for the same price as a campsite. Steal.
Try to catch pro team up in Altea. They keep getting tantalisingly closer when stopped by traffic lights, but then peel away when the light goes green. I am sprinting very hard. Jo later admits she was only at 92%. Have a snack by the sea and try to follow bike route. It ends.
Arrive on edge of Benidorm. Does it look familiar from university football tour? Not really. Visit sea and find accommodation. Turns out to be in gay quarter above bar (club opposite is called ‘brief encounter,’ lots of pics of men’s underwear in the windows). English Barman thinks we are mental. Carry bikes and bags up narrow stairs. This takes many trips. Store bikes on balcony. Wash selves and clothes. Research which cycling teams we saw today. Pointlessly tweet about this. Learn some more Spanish. Jo goes to nearby supermarket as directed by barman. Turns out to be not so close. Somehow she doesn’t get lost. We are both surprised. She buys only child cereal and milk. We are hungry.
Go for evening walk to sea. Return and cook pasta on balcony. Plan tomorrow’s route.
Sleep. Not much noise from bars.
The streets are cleaned in Benidorm. Back to sleep.
The bins are emptied in Benidorm. It is raining
Eat cereal served in glasses. Jo’s choice of coco pops. Enjoy boiling water in electric kettle. These are rare in Mediterranean Europe. Try to get excited about going out in the rain. ‘At least is isn’t cold’ ‘I’m going to wear my waterproof socks’ ‘the seats are wet from the balcony.’
It is raining. Follow bike path along sea front. It ends. Join much larger road towards Alicante. The rain gets worse briefly. The shoulder is wide and the road smooth, but there is a headwind. Have I mentioned this already? We have had it since Barcelona. Yep, that’s over 500km now.
A lorry cheerily toots at Jo (behind), and then at me, and I see what looks like a large quavers packet flying at me. Nice. Except it turns out to be a brand new hi-vis vest. Subtle hint. We put our own ones on, but keep the new one. It may be a useful swap in the future, in manner of early role-play computer game. (Meet local, give vest, get cheese, progress to next level?)
The rain gets very heavy. We are at saturation point, even the goretex trousers feel like they might start letting water through, so we are very pleased to see a roadside bar. I get coffee and we order a sandwich to share. The barman thinks we are crazy. The ham is very good. He shows us photos of his road bike. It weighs about the same as my left rear pannier. He admires our bikes, and tries to pick mine up. ‘Forte!’ We discuss the bikes in limited Spanish. I have forgotten the word for steel which I learned yesterday. He tries a few bike frame materials and we agree on one that may or may not be steel.
I sing the Cure because it is Friday. We stop under a bridge on the shoulder of a slip road because we are suddenly on a road that doesn’t seem to be for bikes. (Lose all your spokes and return to the start of level 2). Jo takes a photo. We leave that road for a very slightly smaller one.
We are hungry. We find a supermarket on the outskirts of Alicante. I brave the ham cutting counter to get great ham. We have our second ham and cheese bocadillo of the day undercover in the supermarket car park. There is even a real toilet. The rain stops.
Alicante is chuffing huge. The bike lanes are extensive but rubbish as they go up kerbs and have stop signs for driveways every 150m. We stick to the road, where there are roundabouts that are not really roundabouts. We are so nearly clear of the city and on a bike lane to Elx/Elche when we hit silt filled underpass that coats us and the bikes in mud. The wheels stick in the mudguards and our shoes sink as we drag the bikes through. We use our water bottles to squirt the worst off the moving parts. The bike lane is smooth after this though.
There are so many petrol stations in Spain, but none are on this road. We really need a jet wash. Eventually we find one and clean the bikes and ourselves. The cafe next door fill up our water bottles. We eat bananas.
Elx/Elche has a fine cathedral and fort thing. Lovely gardens too. Jo takes photos.
It also has endless industrial/retail areas that blur into the next town. It turns out Jo did not hear my rendition of Friday I’m in love earlier. I treat her to it now, and we sing Bon Jovi – Always and other favourites as we ride along the service roads.
The sun is setting and we are now riding slightly uphill into a headwind. We put the hi-vis vests back on.
We have visited a supermarket to get chocolate for our host this evening and find our way to meet him. An evening of lovely food and company awaits. We even stay awake for it all.
This is a tiring life, but we have a lot of fun. Lots happens every day. Was it clear that we cycled over 170km in the 36 hours above? It is brilliant having almost all your meals with awesome scenery. It’s great talking to people on the street that get really excited about our trip. Often we wish for more sleep. Always we wish for a safe road (and a tailwind). I wish for no saddle sores. We miss home sometimes, but an electric kettle just won’t have the same novelty there.