The Santiago bay had a mirror finish as I tucked into breakfast. Not even a whisp of wind to ruffle my flowing locks. Breakfast was later than I would have liked on Day 1 but there was nothing I could do but go with the flow. The plan was to shadow the main motorway north out of San Javier and then veer away from the motorway route and head dirctly north into the city of Murcia. The plan was fine except that the service road running with the motorway was pitted and in a bit of a state. This made a later start into a much later timecheck into Murcia as covering the first 10 miles was hard work. I had hoped to be through the other side of the city by lunchtime but it didn’t work out that way.
Murcia looks a pleasant city from what I saw, certainly the centre looked charming. However, the only way for me to navigate the city centre is on foot, dodging lunchtime shoppers, and dropping on and off the cycle path which appears and disappears without warning. The city connurbations seem to go on further than I bargained for. The industrial zone north of the city goes on for miles and due to my late start I was now knee deep in impatient traffic.
My route was taking me through the industrial dormitary towns north of the city, which are, sad to say,now totems to the crash in the Spanish construction industry. Symbols of hope attempting to outface reality. I was not surprised by this. I’ve seen it elsewhere. But it is still a very sad sight to see.
For refreshment I have developed a habit of fine dining at the Repsol restaurant in town. Things normally go well. I can manage the food and drink basics pretty easily by now. However, my new experience today was the frustrated look on my servers face as he tried to appraise me of my failing to grasp the opportunity for a meal deal. The various permutations, I am sure, were a wonder to behold but I was lost in the apparent complexity of buying a sandwich. My Spanish not quite good enough to enter the Meal Deal zone.
Behind schedule by now and the sun was high and hot. Glad to be leaving the industrial landscape in my wake I entered the region known as the Valle de Ricote. This is why I come here. The Valle de Ricote was one of the early Moorish enclaves, between the 8th and 13th centuries, and is fed by the waters of the River Segura which winds it’s way to Murcia city heading south.
Lemon, orange and peach groves cradle in the valley whilst dramatic escarpments bounce the sun onto the readily warming faces of the fruit. Spain, all is forgiven….already.
I cycled the ups and downs and twists and turns enjoying every minute, though I was becoming increasingly hot and tired.
Cieza, my bed for the night, is a neat little place, with a nod to that European wackiness I love so much. The main ” promenade” is decorated with tiled pillars of abstract art with floor to match. Love it. Furthermore,now there’s a word you don’t hear much, my search for a ceveza is stymied by the profusion of heladeria and yogurt shops. It seems that a good night out in Cieza is getting bladdered on rum and raison and taking home a Moo Cow.
Who’d have thought?