Day 12: Aguilas to Mojacar - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 18, 2024

Day 12: Aguilas to Mojacar

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One of the things we understood over the phone, which was our only link to the hotel staff, was that breakfast would not be until 9. Given how long and difficult days have been, we were not into that. On the other hand we are  far from food, here on the beach, and today is also Sunday. So we negotiated 8:30. Years of experience told that that would mean someone would show up to unlock the kitchen at 8:30, and food would appear basically at 9:00, like they said. Well ok, maybe we should chill out and be on vacation, like we supposedly are. But the Grampies just don't do that!

Aha, as predicted the lady came at 8:30, but she had a special advantage - the breakfast was so skimpy that it could be out in minutes. And we in turn were also out in minutes, so .. good?

The setting for our hotel is nice enough!
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114 euros included just this?
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We set off, and again I was trying to come to grips with the landscape. It was dry, mountainous, and spectacular. Was it what I expected? Given that I am saying I didn't have any expectations, what am I blithering about? Am I trying to compare it to other places we have been? Ok, if that's the game - this is Arizona, with an Ocean.  That impression is reinforced by the presence of so many camping cars. I could fine tune my impression then and say this is Quartzsite.  Quartzsite is a town off Interstate 10 where thousands of people park their campers in the desert, presumably to absorb the warmth and dryness. It is also a place where minerals are much bought and sold.

So many campers.
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Heading off, hopefully not into those mountains right away.
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Caves homes in a sandy bank?
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We were of course looking all around us, and first came up with three birds we have not spotted yet this year.  ( A note about birds of this year - we are numbering them, with 24, for the year, and then a sequence number for their place in the list. So the 24143 European Starling is the 143rd bird we have spotted this year.)

24142 European Stonechat - female, or immature
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Scott AndersonFemale or immature European stonechat?
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1 month ago
24143 European Starling (speckled breast)
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24144 Black Wheatear
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Scott AndersonNeat bird! It’s not one I’ve seen before, and will have to watch out for next month. I don’t think it’s a bushchat though, because it’s an Asian bird. It took some research, but I think it’s a black wheatear, commonly found in Mediterranean Spain and Northern Africa.
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Dodie had been reading about so  called Sugar Cube villages in this area, comprised of stacked white houses. We bought a postcard with a photo of them in some nearby spot, but this shot gives the general idea:

Sugar cube village.
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Looking at our track in the phone, it rather seemed like we would be following the coast quite closely. This seemed to be coming really true, as we were directed along a dirt track, really close to the sea. Ok, I thought, even with the dirt, or maybe because of it, this will be an adventure by the sea.

Adventure track by the sea.
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The dirt by the sea idea did not last very long, as we ended up on a fairly standard highway. There was a bit of a shoulder, but I started to look on it as my not favourite "riding the white line" scenario. Traffic was moderate, but there were (in my view) too many speeding motorcycles, often in packs.

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Karen Poret“Speeding motorcycles in packs”…because it’s the weekend, Steve!
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It was nonetheless a scenic highway.
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Steps down to a little beach
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For that little beach above, I rather liked the list of what is not available. No information, no toilets, no transport, etc. Somebody scratched one out. I wonder why?
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Karen PoretIs it the no smoking sign?
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The riding the white line highway now started to ascend into the hills. You can imagine a little dark cloud forming over my head about now.
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See the camouflaged bird? I didn't.
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Crested Lark
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We came to a mining area, where an info panel might have tagged it as a silver mine, and may have referenced export restrictions on bulk silver. Out Spanish is nowhere near good enough to really know what it was saying!

Part of a silver mine?
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More of the mine.
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Scott AndersonHey, this spot! I remember it from our last pass through here: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/iberia2019/aguilas-e76/#19376_ilyx9z2bzl4gf1hm0w5gjl534oj
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The road now descended back to along the sea. Hooray. But here come some noisy motorcycles.
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Ah, an interesting field of .. what?
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Head lettuce! I would say they need picking right now!
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Things changed a lot as we entered an area with many apartment buildings, and hotels too. Dodie remarked that the apartments looked quite nice, and sort of Spanish (figures). We were thinking that apartment buildings, especially nice ones, are a much more sustainable model than single family suburbia.

An OK apartment building.
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This hotel has a rather Moorish influence. It is called the Zimbali Playa. It seems to cost about 250 euros (breakfast included!) but is closed until May.
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We arrived right at the beach, where I was tickled to see a sign attempting to limit speeding road cyclists, but giving us the green light.

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And we saw this guy:

White Wagtail
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 And this - decoys like this are often mounted high on roofs here, to make us crazy.

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We did not take that 10 kph speed limit path, because it was for behind us. Instead, the track directed us - into the sand. (That'll slow them down adequately!).

Into the sand.
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Karen PoretAnd more tagging and scratching out the rules posted on the icons at upper right.:(
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Sand!
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And lagoon.
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At least we spotted some birds in the lagoon!

Eurasian Moorhen
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24144 Eurasian Coot
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Black headed Gull
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A nice Mallard
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There were lots of them!
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Now we found ourselves in a neighbourhood where lots of families with kids were enjoying the lagoon and its birds, a boardwalk, and a marina. This was not beachside adventure or riding the line in the hills, but just calm Sunday enjoyment.

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Karen PoretOh, oh..road boulder ahead..as in falling fence and shrubbery. ( on sidewalk)
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Karen PoretNice of the little girl to give her doll a ride ;)
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Sailing near the Marina.
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We left the family neighbourhood, and passed several types of interesting buildings:

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Strange blue knobs.
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Karen PoretResembles the panic lights on the campus of LUC.. perhaps a “panic” for aircraft?
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More sugar cubes
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Some other kind of dense development.
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Karen PoretWith a “radar station” atop !
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Shortly we swung back to the sea and arrived at our hotel, the Continental. Oh folks, it was so great - everything that Maxcaly yesterday was not. Check in was instant, and our room on the airy ground floor. The room had space, plugs, and best of all a sliding door to a patio facing the sea. We can move this door to have any amount of fresh air desired, and the sound of the surf is right there. We could feel ourselves relaxing, moment by moment. We are so relaxed, it's a miracle I can even type right now!

The door
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The sea
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The hotel has a good restaurant, so we decided to keep our sandwiches for later and try it out. Here we ran into just a few little glitches. The waitress was very down on the idea that we had not reserved a table. But it turned out that this meant only that we could not sit outside. Ok fine. So then we got the menu, except that there was no menu, only a QR code. Dodie balked at this, and demanded proper paper. But they did not have that. And Dodie does not have a QR scanner. Well, I put up the menu on my phone. We chose from that paella, but the waitress said we would have had to pre-order that, as it takes time to make. How much time? 40 minutes. We chose instead grilled lamb, and grilled chicken.  What would we like to drink? "Water".  Water is a red flag to say in a restaurant in Europe. Unlike at home, they do not do water as a plain glass of plain old water. It has to be some expensive bottled thing. In France, you  can get away with it by asking for a "carafe d'eau". But here? The lady had a curve to throw us, by claiming that the tap water here was not drinkable. Say what? This is not Mexico! Fine, I asked for Coke. This of course came in the teeny bottle they have not used back home for thirty years. Make that forty.

What happened next, was that to avoid waiting those 40 minutes for the paella, we waited 50 minutes for the grill.  Dodie was about to walk out, but then I had already sipped the Coke. When it came, the food was really good, so now we are back to being hyper relaxed.  

Lamb and chicken, really well made.
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Karen Poret50 minutes worth!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretIt was really funny thatcwe were talked out of the 40 minute wait for Paella onlt to wait over 40 minutes for chicken and lamb. Next time, we just wait.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYou never know!
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Because our beds have fluffy quilts, we can plan to sleep with our door open to the surf. How great is that!

Today's ride: 39 km (24 miles)
Total: 522 km (324 miles)

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Jacquie GaudetSeems like a place worthy of a second night, perhaps.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie GaudetPerhaps, but we are booked ahead for the next month so in the morning, off we go.
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