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Sat Jan 03 2015: The Difference between Skiers and Snowboarders

The girls are waiting for us again. It was a tedious process walking to the parking lot, riding our bikes to the front of our apartment then taking a couple of trips in and out of the building to load up all our bags again. Meanwhile, the girls were sitting in their car, watching us with bemusement as we fussed around with all manner of straps, tie-downs, dry bags and tank bags, etc.

It reminded me of when we used to snowboard and we had a few skiers in our group. When we reached the top of the lift, the skiers would stand around impatiently and watch us as we sat down on the snow to fuss around with our bindings before heading down. Invariably, the skiers would tell us that they would just meet us at the bottom or meet us at the chalet for lunch.

So I think that's what's going to happen. We left Valencia together, but because of the different pace and scheduling, we might just meet up at the next apartment and compare stories at the end of the day.

Motorcycles and cars just travel differently.

Taking the path less traveled. AKA getting lost...

The girls wanted to see a place called El Castell de Guadelest, an 11th-century castle built by Muslims as a watchtower for defense. So we turned inland and the coastal scenery was replaced by semi-arid scrublands and the mountains of the Alicante province (La Muntanyas d'Alacant).

Along the way, our GPSs routed us along this broken road that turned gravelly. Neda and I were really enjoying ourselves as the scenery was fantastic and the road was a lot of fun, but I looked back often to make sure the girls were okay in their car. Tajana's little Opel Astra seemed to be handling the uneven terrain okay, and there was no oncoming traffic on the narrow "road" so it all worked out for everyone!

Here's a taste of the scenery before the road crumbled away and I had to use both hands on the bars:

Riding the Alicante Province

Back on the main road, and the Castell de Guadelest appears in the distance

Not much remains of the castle, but we could see the watchtower from the bottom. Once again, we opted to not pay the entrance fee, so Tajana the historian went up for a look while we walked around the town at the bottom.

View of the castle from the bottom of Guadelest

I'm sporting my new palm tree hat. Picture by Iva

Amazing semi-drylands of Alicante

Girl-talk at the fountain in Guadelest

From Guadelest, the skiers parted company from the snowboarders. Iva and Tajana wanted to see Cartagena, but if we were to accompany them, that would mean arriving at our next apartment after dark, so Neda and I opted to head straight to our next stop. The roads around Guadelest are very entertaining and the two of us had a lot of fun until we hit the coast and then it was straight onto Roldan.

Trying to find our next apartment, through the wastelands between urbanizacions

Iva booked our next apartment in a town called Roldan. It is what's called an "urbanizacion" in Spain, which is sort of like a gated community out in the middle of nowhere. These urbanizaciones are mainly created by ex-pats who want to live in a warm climate, but don't want to live in an expensive city or an expensive beach or mingle with the locals :(. So they create a community of houses and condominiums in the middle of nowhere, maybe also build a golf course, swimming pools and supermarkets nearby as well.

The result is a super-cheap place to stay with all the amenities for vacationers and snowbirds. Since this was low season (too cold for golfing), a lot of the apartments here are put up for rent for short-term stays. Our place in a golfing community was super-luxurious and cheap to boot! I wished we could have stayed more than one night, but this was just a pit-stop.

We got lost and entered the wrong urbanizacion. But you get the idea... very ritzy...

From Roldan, skiers and snowboarders departed the next morning separately and headed into the hills of Andalucia! It was quite co-incidental that the next place the girls wanted to see was also where we visited on our last tour of Europe. Looking back on our path, we are actually doing our 2007 Europe trip in reverse!

Twisty roads in the rolling hills of Andalucia. That's me, riding somewhere in the middle of the picture!

I think I have almost the exact same picture from the same area from our last trip! :)

Pausing for a relaxing break by the fireplace *whew*

We have stopped in a small town called Alpujarra de la Sierra, which is just a few kms from Berchules, where we stayed seven years ago. I took a look at our path in the last few days and I'm astounded at our pace. You know when you're walking in the airport and then you step on one of those moving sidewalks and then suddenly you're walking twice as fast? Well traveling with The Pula Girls is nothing like that. Instead, it's like riding around and then suddenly being towed by a rocketship compared to how we usually travel.

And the funny thing is that the girls are doing twice as much as we were, cramming in all sorts of sightseeing in between stops. They are literally running circles around us! :)

Walking around the very tiny town of Alpujarra de la Sierra

Looking out over our apartment. Andalucia is beautiful!

Shaking the olive tree. There's a net underneath that catches the olives as they fall from the tree.

Yes, I am deathly allergic to cats

Cats are bastardos. When you call out to them, they'll never come to you. But the minute you ignore them or go out of your way to avoid them, they make a beeline straight for you.

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