Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Perfect Summer's Day

Wednesday 28 December 2016

It was a perfect summer's day for our final walk for 2016. Sparkling sea, clear skies, a cooling breeze, no humidity and a maximum of 29 C.

We arrived at the coast about 8 am, and the carparks were already filling up. We managed to squeeze into a parking lot beside the Marina Mirage Resort, at The Spit, Southport. We numbered only 3. Margot was busy being a volunteer - driving tennis players arriving for the Queensland Open to their accommodation, [commences on Sunday]. Laurel meanwhile, was in total relaxation mode with her family, in a unit at Surfer's Paradise, enjoying these views for 7 days.

Our first view of the ocean.

We too, were soon in relaxation mode. The scene before us was mesmerising and we could easily have spent the morning taking it easy here.

We finally tore ourselves away and hiked 2 kms to the light rail, to transport us to our starting point at Broadbeach.

Crossing the road to the beachfront, we were impressed by the cacti garden on the roundabout.

Greeted by this perfect scene, our walk went into leisure mode, as we soaked up the Christmas holiday atmosphere.

Looking south from the photo above.

The hot sand sprint.

Learning to surf.

Luxury units -  the units didn't capture our attention until our eyes followed the sound of the children's squeals and laughter.

Nearing Surfers Paradise, our eyes were drawn to the towering Q1 tower. With the naked eye, we  were just able to make out a group on the Sky Point Climb - Australia's highest external climb.
Q1 [322 m] is the 7th tallest residential tower in the world.

A friend had recently posted photos of the coastline from the viewing deck, so a decision was made to at least investigate the cost to take the lift up. $15 for seniors, so tickets were purchased. Definitely worth it, especially on such a clear sky day.
View south to Coolangatta.

Hinterland view with our favourite National Parks of Springbrook, Binnaburra and O'Reillys on the horizon.

View north across Surfers Paradise.

The view, further north to Stradbroke Island, using my zoom lens. Our white sandy beaches are endless and sensational.

Back on trail, we spotted this very special and well placed message at Surfers Paradise. So much to be grateful for.

So many, many people, both local and from around the world, enjoying our 'Gold Coast'.

Nearing our car park, we left the crowds behind. Tranquility reigned yet again.

Hot and sweaty after our 10 km walk, we quickly changed into our bathers, dashed across the hot sand and dived into the refreshingly cold waves.

Last view of the beach as we headed homewards.

Just a few stats for the year.
We averaged 33 days of Wednesday Walking.
Between us we averaged 273 kms covered. Last year it was 325 kms.
Our longest hike was 17 kms . Last year - 18 kms.

My additional hiking, either by myself, with other friends or on OS hikes, adds another 713 kms, making my total for the year - 987 kms - the equivalent of a car journey from Brisbane to just north of Mackay. [google maps]

I know in comparison to so many of my blogging friends, this is minimal, but I am grateful for every kilometre I have been able to cover.

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Day 6 Walking in the Alpujurra in Spain

5 November

Last night, the warmth of a log fire and the cosiness of the hotel lounge, had tempted us downstairs well before the dinner hour of 7.30 pm. The friendliness and hospitality of Wendy and her son Alejandro, made for a relaxed evening in the company of about 12 guests from Norway, Holland, Turkey, Croatia and England. Our home cooked meal of delicious chicken and chickpea soup, followed by chicken kebabs, was perfect after a long day's hiking.

Our notes gave us 2 choices for Day 6. Catch the 5 am bus to Granada or take a 3 hour hike along the Rio Grande River and catch the 5 pm bus. [twice daily service only] It seemed like a no brainer to me.
The weather forecast for day 6 was just as negative as for day 5, however we woke to sunbeams dancing across the valley.

With my 30 X zoom lens, I was even able to capture the not too distant Mediterranean Sea.

Breakfast brought an unexpected bonus for me. The previous evening, when the Norwegian couple arrived for their 16th visit, they presented Wendy with a block of Norwegian, brown goat's cheese. I pretended to steal it, as it was my favourite when I was working in Norway, back in 1977.  The very gracious Wendy, placed it on the breakfast buffet. Yum!

10.45 saw us hiking back up the steep streets of the village for the day's hike. At about the midway point, we were trying to locate the position of the bus stop for our departure later. An elderly, local gentleman saw us with our backpacks and was very concerned that we were going astray. The bus stops position was not in the direction where most hikers go. He spoke rapid Spanish to us, with much gesticulating, so much so, that we quickly headed off up the road he indicated.  Such a delightful interaction.

Far up the valley, dark clouds were gathering, creating this most unusual rainbow affect.

Can you spot it in this shot below?

Frank's body was tiring. His back, neck, knee and ankle issues had been surviving reasonably well, but he wasn't too keen on a day of climbing. Don't worry I said, we are just following the river! I should have read the notes more carefully. We were going upstream, not continuing on from the bottom of the village. 
Yes, it was pretty ruggard, as seen in the following shots, and yes, the farmers work this all the time!

Spot the cyclist - the lead mountain biker, of the group we had passed on yesterday's trail. They were descending from their accomodation higher up the slopes.

More irrigation channels.

I couldn't stop looking at the crystal clear skyline to the east, with its stark, towering buttresses.

The ruins of a moorish silk factory at the confluence of the Rio Chico [L] and Rio Grande de los Berchules, [R] was to be our turn round point.

Lunch vista.

The ruins.

Time to turn back. Same trail, but seemingly different, as we reversed our direction.

Berchules is over the ridge, mid centre. Unseen in this photo, are dark, clouds gathering above the slope to the right. As we neared the edge of the village light droplets fell. Then a few more, so the rain jacket went on. It became heavier. Best to cover the backpack whilst standing underneath a bushy tree. Hmmmm do I put the rain pants on? Hmmmmm - YES! Suddenly it was belting down.

Frank managed to scramble in under some brambles, and I was about to follow, when hail began to fall. Then, in a matter of moments, the squall had passed and we were back in sunshine and delayering.

Walking back, down through the village we were unsure if we were looking at a road snaking up the valley or not. The zoom lens came into use again and we realised it was a covered water channel.

Back at our hotel, we dried our gear over the garden furniture and then relaxed in the lounge, browsing through the numerous magazines and books written in English and chatting with guests as they too returned from their hikes. At 4.30 we were about to set off on the trek back up the hill to the bus stop, when the heavens opened again. Wendy very kindly gave us large plastic bags to cover our suitcases. Pulling the suitcase uphill as quickly as possible to get under cover, was not a pleasant exercise. 4 pleasant, late teenage, village lads, were also taking shelter at the bus stop. After about 5 or so minutes they used 'translate' on their phones, to explain to us that the bus didn't run on a Saturday afternoon. We  had been given information otherwise, so we waited and waited for the 5pm bus. By 5.15 we were beginning to think that the lads were correct. Thankfully at 5.25 it chugged up the hill and we boarded full of overwhelming relief. At the next village, a couple we had met previously, got on and related a similar experience, with their information coming from the owner of  the local hotel. They too were mightily relieved.

It was a marvellous journey, until the sun set about 7pm. The sky put on a brilliant show, as the bus wound its way along the narrow, precipitous roads, from one familiar white village to another. 


So many narrow escapes and often reversing by the locals.

We finally arrived back in Granada at 9pm. Our rather tired and muscle sore bodies quickly recovered, when we discovered our tiny room had been up graded to a suite.

What a lovely reward for our hard 66 kms of hiking. The following day was to be our visit to the Alhambra, the main reason for this holiday. Frank has always been keenly interested in the influence of the Moors, dating back to the 700's.

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