Saturday, 21 December 2013

Bocairent to Elda

Burnt ridge
Bocairent did not look very enticing at first. I walked down a burnt ridge and saw ugly industrial estates. That should be the national heritage Bocairent? But as soon as I entered the old mediaeval part I was fascinated. Bocairent has a very well preserved old centre with narrow streets and century-old houses - one of which was my hostal! It had been difficult at first to find accommodation in Bocairent. There are several hotels but all very expensive. No hostal that are usually much cheaper. Luckily I found Casa Baretta on the internet that not only rents holiday apartments but also rooms. 30 € bought me a fantastic room including fake chandelier in an old nobility house right in the centre of town. Even the heating was ok. The owners were incredibly friendly especially after I had identified myself as a hiker. The landlord even volunteered to bring me a new gas canister from his next shopping trip into town.

Cuevas de Moros
When I arrived I was dead tired and frozen. I first thought to stay an entire day in bed but on the tourist map I discovered some caves to visit. They were close to town and for 1,50 € you can't go very wrong. Little did I know what was expecting me. The first cave was called Cueva de Moros and I was told to wait at the entrance for the guide. Then came a sightseeing trip that was more of an athletic exercise. The caves had been hewn into the rock by the Arabs and were intended to be storage rooms for food. But they never finished their work which meant that the connections between the chambers were mere holes. Sometimes you had to climb up ladders, pull yourself up ropes, squeeze through tiny holes and crawl through tunnels. Afterwards I was hot and dirty. I honestly wonder how many accidents have already occured there.... The next cave was an old snow cave back in the times without refrigerators. People brought in snow from the Sierras to store it here and transform it into ice. I was just wondering about the snow in the Sierra because I was going there and the idea of snow did not appeal to me...

After two nights in my stately room I was off the Alcoy and another hostal. The walk between the two towns looked rather uninteresting, especially since I decided to skip the climb up Montcabrer, but I ended up on a fantastic trail down a gorge into Alcoy. I did not need another hotel stay but Alcoy was the biggest town in the near future and I had to do some shopping. Mainly I wanted to go to Decathlon and buy long johns and socks for cold weather. According to the tourist office there was a bus going there but I would have to walk a bit. There was a bus but it stopped only 2 km after Decathlon and the walk was along a major highway with no sidewalk - in the dark. I did not want to kill myself and luckily found another sports shop in a nearby shopping complex. Now winter can come - I am equipped with long johns now.

Fiesta costume
Like almost every town I stayed in along the GR 7 Alcoy also had its little gem. It is the fiesta town and even has a fiesta museum. Next fiesta on the town agenda was Los Tres Reyes and there even is a Christmas museum. In Alcoy it is not Santa Claus who brings the presents, but a page of the three kings who climbs up a ladder and hands over the presents. Therefore you see black puppets climbing up balconies all over town. My Hostal Savoy was the most expensive so far for 33 € and although it had fabulous heating wifi did not work. Four hostal stays in a row seemed a bit extravagent, too and so I decided to leave town midday despite the bad weather forecast. This turned out to be the first of two bad decisions.

Font Roja NP
It started to rain badly as soon as I started hiking. After a long road walk to get back on trail it was a long and steep way uphill. I was soon wet from outside and inside. I passed a very nice cave which was even big enough for my tent but I made bad decision number two and passed it. I had still one hour of daylight left and was also worried that the cave might flood. My goal was to reach the nature centre of the National Park Font Roja where I hoped to find some shelter in the various picnic areas. But when I got there shortly before sunset I was disappointed. The visitor centre was huge and still several cars parked there. There was even a restaurant close by - so no way I would be able to hide there. Grudgingly I walked on and could not find a decent camp site. I finally ended up in the bushes on a slope which had the bad effect that I could not set up my tent properly and had to fight the rain dripping in. In the middle of the night one tent stake came off from the wind and I had to get out - of course getting very wet in the process. Condensation was horrible and even my quilt got soaking wet just from my breathing. I was thoroughly pissed with myself for leaving the comfy hostal. But things improved in the morning when the rain stopped and I enjoyed the National Park and its views - unfortunately in a glacially cold wind.

"Cleaned" forest
Luckily the next night was under pine trees and much more comfortably. Although I wondered why the whole pine forest was "cleaned". All under growth and several trees were cut and the ground almost bulldozed over. I later learned from a ranger that this was the Spanish way of reducing fire danger. The cut down trees were not even sold because their quality was so low. I was now coming into Elda, the last big town in Valencia before entering Murcia. Christmas is coming and I have to coordinate my hiking carefully now with supermarket opening times and hotel availibility. So here I am at another Hostal Garrizo which for 25 € has ok heating and fast wifi. This is my last bed for a week. I want to avoid Christmas and will hike through all the holidays. Unfortunately the weather forecast is bad for Christmas day which I will probably spend in a deluge... I therefore fortified myself with shopping at Lidl.

Elda also has its little gem - in this case a shoe museum. As you will have guessed shoe production is the traditional industry in Elda. I was the only visitor in the huge museum which boasts lots of tools and machines but also thousands of shoes. Historic shoes, designer shoes, celibrity shoes, sports shoes, miniature shoes, shoe paintings, shoe statues - everything about shoes. I loved the shoe exhibition although I would never want to wear these uncomfortable things. Tomorrow I am off again for a week long hike throught the province of Murcia. Next rest stop will already be in Andalucia, Puebla de Don Fadrique. A merry Christmas to all of you!


Juan Holgdo said...

Merry Christmas to you Christine. We will have rain the days comming bad for you.
Anyway the terrain will improve as you will cross plateaus with no elevations.
Enjoy the walk and the little villages you will cross.

Unknown said...

als treuer Leser deiner Berichte wünsche ich dir schöne Weihnachten in Gottes Natur. Komm gut und gesund in Tarifa an. lg Peter

Anonymous said...

Schöne Weihnachten von deinen Freunden aus Berlin, liebe Christine! Wir wünschen dir ein super Weihnachsmenue, ein gemütliches Zimmer und schöne Schmalzfilme im TV. Viele Küsse von Wolfgang & Thomas

German Tourist said...

Danke für die lieben Weihnachtsgrüße. Nur noch ein Monat bis Tarifa. Dir auch frohes Fest.

German Tourist said...

Viele liebe Grüße zurück! Freue mich schon auf ein Treffen im neuen Jahr.

Martin said...

I'm enjoying these posts, hope the next few days are good for you. Cheers!

Björn said...

Anfang Dezember habe ich Martin in Karlsruhe besucht und das Buch von Paasilinna gegen das von Alexander McCall Smith mit dem Link auf deinen Blog getauscht, deine Lektüre auf der Fähre von Helsinki. Ich habe beide gerne gelesen.

Im November habe ich dank eines Freundes aus Dresden, der mich einlud mitzukommen, noch eine Woche lang Albanien entdeckt. Eine Reise mit Zug und Bus, kurzen Tageswanderungen und dank couchsurfing interessanten Gastgebern. Zuletzt durften wir unverhofft zwei Nächte in der Missionsstation in Fushë-Arrëz bleiben und staunen, was zwei Schwestern und ein Pastor aus Deutschland und Österreich dort bewirken.

Im nächsten Jahr beginne ich mit einer halben Stelle als Physiker an der Uni zu arbeiten und werde mich weiter orientieren, in welchem Themenbereich ich weitermachen möchte.

Wohl nicht das beste Wetter, aber schön, währrend der Festtage zu wandern. Mein schönstes Silvester und Neujahr verbrachte ich mit Langlaufskiern und Zelt im Schwarzwald.

Grüße von Björn und Martin

German Tourist said...

Hallo Björn und Martin,
vielen Dank für euren Kommentar und Update. Freut mich, dass euch die Bücher gefallen haben. 2014 radle ich wieder durch Skandinavien, weil es mir so gut gefallen hat.
Liebe Grüße und lasst mal wieder was von euch hören,

Amy L said...

Christine, we finished our April 2012 GR7 walk in Elda, where it was HOT, not rainy and cold like your winter weather. We walked most of what you have ahead of you, and we're looking forward to continuing to read your reports.

I just discovered a website that has the best presentation of climate data for trip-planning purposes. WeatherSpark dot com -- if you haven't found that site yet, you might want to take a look when you have some time.

Good luck with the weather! Amy and James

Amy L said...

To friends of Christine -

If you want a preview of where she's walking this week... We walked the GR7, eastbound, in April 2012. Our photos of the route from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Elda are 246 to 309 (but she's waking in the direction 309->246).!i=1972998562&k=VNrNSmM

Between Puebla Don Fadrique to Antequera we took the southern variant, whereas Christine is planning to walk the northern variant. So our photos 68 to 245 are not part of her route.

German Tourist said...

Amy, thanks for the link. I can just use my smartphone to update my blog and therefore I am not yet able to upload photos.