Tuesday, 30 November 2010

29 Nov 2010 - Rain Stopped Play

The Monday Club walk from Castell de Castells was cancelled this week due to bad weather.   An alternative walk from Gata was arranged.

This is the view which greeted us on Monday morning when we had to decide whether to walk or not.   In addition the local weather forecast was for heavy rain.   It will come  as no surprise that we decided not to!   It proved to be a good decision, as the weather forecast proved to be correct.

Next Week

Next weeks walk will be the Olta circuit including the summit and meeting at the Camp site car park at 10.00am.   Since there is no convenient Bar for our "post exercise drink" it is suggested that you might like to bring your own beer, wine, lemonade, coffee etc and any nibbles you fancy as we did on a previous Olta walk

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

24 Nov 2010 - Tarbena

Today’s walk was a combined walk and lunch.   The walk was led by Peter, and the lunch in a local restaurant organised by Pat.   As always with the easier CBMW walks there was a good turnout, 38 walkers today.
All walkers enter their names in the walk book, so that the leader knows how many he has in the group.  In addition Pat was collecting choice of lunch so she could inform the restaurant before we started the walk.   In the excitement neither Jan nor I remembered to enter our names in the book.   Jan has just realised and is asking whether I have booked in!

The first objective is Tarbena castle, and to reach it we have to walk back along the Parcent road for a short distance.

As we start to climb we pass the restaurant where we will have lunch.
After quite a short climb we are able to look back on Tarbena.  

The path is surprisingly good, and the climb to the castle is not too taxing.
There is only one slightly difficult section, and Peter and David are on hand to help any lady who might have a problem – the men are left to look after themselves!
The castle is a ruin, but there is plenty of space to sit and have a break.  After a “cool spell” it was quite warm today.  It was 11 degrees when we started the walk, and with the climb we were all pleasantly warm when we had our break.

Rosemary, Pat and Jan all looking very pleased with themselves.  
The detour to the castle took longer than expected, so the rest of the walk was shortened.
We soon reached a lovely view point
Which was an ideal location for a group photo
On the return journey we stopped to admire this very old well

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

22 Nov 2010 - Lliber to Font d'Axia

Another good turn out on a particularly cold morning.   The sun was late to make an appearance, and the strong wind was very cold.   Many of the jackets remained on all day.

This is a walk which we seem to do each year around Christmas.   As a result David and Rosemary always miss it, as they return to UK in early December.   As a special request Pat agreed to lead it early this year.   Unfortunately she did not recce it first, and we had an interesting extension just after the start.  The correct path was soon found and we stated the climb.   It’s an easy climb, but it does go on for a long time.   About half way we had our “banana stop”.   Again it was too cold to stop for long, and we pressed on.

 The sun was shinning when we reached the top, but the wind made it too cold to stop for long.  This was a shame, as there are really impressive views on this walk.   However the path is not good, and it is not possible to admire the views when moving.  
If anything the path is worse going down, so again opportunities to admire the view were very limited.  In fact it was very much a long climb up, a short stop at the top and a long climb back down the other side.

A sample of the views which were largely missed.
Once we reach the valley floor on the far side the remainder of the walk is on good paths with no further climbing.   At this point we joined the path we followed last year when we did this walk from Pedreguer rather than start at Lliber.
Fortunately the sun was much warmer by the time we reached Font l’Axia, where we planned to have lunch.   We were also sheltered from the wind, and it was very pleasant.   The only draw back was a dead rat in the font!
The remainder of the walk was along good valley paths in the warm sun.   And at the end, of course, a drink in the bar in Lliber village square.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

15 Nov 2010 - El Cau

 It was a good turn out for our first Monday Club walk after our return from Morocco.   It was almost a smaller group, because Pat went to the wrong start point.  It was two weeks ago since our last walk, and we arranged to do this walk today and one from Lliber next week.   When Pat, who was leading the walk, did not arrive by 1000 we gave her a ring and she was waiting at Lliber!  So we were a little late starting the walk today.

El Cau is one of those hills with a lot of false summits.  There was a difference about how many, some said five, some six some seven.   You can see five in this photo, but there may well be more behind that left hand peak.

It was another lovely day.   Bright and sunny, with a cool breeze.  Ideal for hill walking.   Looking at that sky its hard to believe it is late November.

We soon reached the first peak, and a short halt to take off the first layer of clothing.

And a look back at the Jalon Valley with its familiar peaks, including the familiar two peaks of the “Green Horse” on the left.

Then it was off again to tackle the second peak.  

 Then it was time for our first “banana stop”

And time to admire the view towards Calpe and the coast

Each peak is a little more difficult than the last, but we had frequent stops to recover from the climb.

As we got higher the wind became stronger and colder, so some of that clothing we had removed earlier was put on again for another short break

This time the view was towards Montgo, Denia and the coast.

This was the final peak, and we were promised lunch at the top

Last time we did this walk it was too cold to sit on the top, but today the same spot seemed to be sheltered from the wind

 It was really pleasant sitting in the warm sun, pleasantly tired from the walk and eating our picnic lunch.   This is really what “The Monday Club” is all about.   Good walks at a reasonable pace, good company and  lovely views
All too soon it was time to commence the walk, this time downhill.

There are a few difficult parts of the downhill path, but there is always someone to offer a helpful hand.

Next Week

Next week we all attempt the one Pat was ready to do this week – Lliber.   Not sure what the name of it is, but it’s the one which joins up with another walk we did last year from Pedreguer.   We will meet at the Jalon side of Lliber.

12-13 Nov 2010 - Fez to Parcent

Friday 12 November

 It was another early start, as we had to be in Tangier to catch the 1400 ferry.   It would mean breakfast at 0630 to be ready to leave at 0730 for the 163 mile drive to Tangier

Despite the prospect of a two day coach trip back to the Costa Blanca everyone was in a good mood, and the pleasant weather helped considerably.
We arrived in Tangier at 0100, so we were allowed half an hour to eat our lunch before catching the ferry.   Most of us had bread rolls and fruit from breakfast, so we had a picnic lunch on the promenade.   Also a chance for our last photo in Morocco.
The ferry left on time and the top desk was crowded with tourists taking photos as we left the port, particularly of this luxury cruise ship.

And less than an hour later it was to take photos of Tarifa, as we arrived back in Spain.
We left Tarifa at 1500 and the 92 miles to our hotel in Torremolinos took us two hours.  The hotel had a Spanish dance group performing after dinner, but we preferred a last walk along the promenade.   When we returned to the hotel we were not tempted by the noisy show in the bar, but went straight to bed.

Saturday 13 November

The coach left at a very civilized 0900 for the 352 mile drive back to Moraira. The seating system on the coach was “first come first served”.   This is the fairest method, but it does result is something of a scramble for the best seats, particularly for such a long journey.   So there was a good crowd waiting for the driver to open the doors.
The long journey was more pleasant than expected, mostly due to the exceptionally smooth driving.   Our driver had done much to make the holiday a joy, and I am sure that everyone contributed generously to the collection.   We arrived in Moraira at 1700 and were home in Parcent an hour later.  

Even more thanks are due to Bob and Janet who organised the trip.   They took great pains to ensure that everything went smoothly and even provided free sweets during the coach journey.   They were always on hand to raise spirits or help out if anyone had a problem.  

We had covered a long distance, the driver estimated it at 3000 kilometers (1875 miles).   Many hours had been spent in the coach, though it was more comfortable than many of us had expected.   Although we only spent a short time at each town, we felt we had gained a good impression of Morocco.   There was a general opinion that it was a wonderful holiday and a great experience, though perhaps not one we would want to repeat due to the amount of travel required.  

Saturday, 20 November 2010

11 Nov 2010 - Fez

This was the only full day in one city for the whole tour, so with no early start we were able to have a leisurely breakfast before joining the coach for a morning tour of the city.   Fez is the second largest city in Morocco, Casablanca is the largest.   Like Marrakesh it has a very Arab look and feel.

Our tour started at the Royal Palace, where we met our local guide.   Yet another “character”, with excellent English and a wry sense of humour.   He made a point of telling us he was a Berber, nor an Arab.   Not at all sure what the difference is.   The Royal Palace is not open to the public, but the main entrance is a very popular tourist attraction.   It was also ideal for a group photo.

Our next stop was on a hill overlooking the city.   Apparently it is used as an outdoor stadium for religious ceremonies, and our guide could not resist addressing us from one of the platforms used by the holy men.
The view of Fez is pretty spectacular, and as you can see the weather was a great improvement over the heavy rain of the previous evening.
One of the few times when it was warm enough to leave our jackets behind in the hotel.
Back to the city to visit a pottery factory and shop.   Another popular tourist trap, to judge from the number of coaches parked outside.

Each piece of the table is hand cut and filed to fit.   We were told that it would take about four days to finish just one table.
The Medina, or old town, is surrounded by a medieval wall.   A short time on the bus took us to one of the most famous entrances, the Blue Gate.   No motor traffic is allowed in the Medina, so the tradesmen use donkey transport.   They don’t slow down for pedestrians, so you have to move quickly when they bellow at you.

Our guide set a fast pace, and did not wait for stragglers.  So there was not much opportunity to stop and look.
The narrow streets were packed with bodies, tourists, locals and animals.   There were also lots of young children who would brush past your legs like an impatient dog.   Everyone, except us, seemed to know where they were going.
This was the nearest we got to a camel!   There was a lot of unsavory food on offer, and presumably some of it was camel.
This was obviously a regular stop on the tour.  There was an English speaking assistant ready to give us a soft sell, and the walls were covered with photographs of famous people who had been here in the past.

Leaving the Souk behind us we entered the medieval living area of the Medina.   It was fascinating to catch glimpses of locals in the houses we passed, but one of our party was told off when she tried to take of photo of them.
A short break as our guide joined this group of strolling musicians.   As soon as we had taken a photo the music stopped and we were asked for a tip.
Both Jan and Rosemary love hand bags and were pleased when we paid a visit to this one.   But as soon as you stopped to look at a bag one of the assistants pounced with the hard sell.

From the balcony of the shop we were invited to view the tannery.   It looked like a scene from a biblical movie.   The smell was really overpowering.

Our city tour had lasted four hours, and a very active four hours at that.   By the end we were ready to return to the hotel to freshen up.   Part of the group went for a 15 euro lunch, but we wanted to get away from the noise and tourist attractions.

From the hotel we walked to the very modern nearby supermarket.   It was interesting to see what the locals buy, and what they pay.   We were particularly interested to note that there was a plentiful supply of wine and spirits.   More expensive than in Spain, but much less expensive than in the hotel.   We found one bottle of wine on offer for 3 euros which had cost 18 euro in the hotel at dinner the previous evening.