Very interesting. Often able to get off road. Mines. Farms. Nice views.
We went by hire car to Llano del Beal. The autopista journey was interesting because the brand new signpost were all partially illegible. Neil decided this was because water had got inside the layers of plastic. These high tech' signs contain glass beads to reflect headlights and make the signs look bright at night. The water surrounding the glass beads, had damaged their optical properties. At Llano del Beal we got a train back to Cartagena. Leaving Cartagena, we crossed wasteland under the motorways. The Spanish seem to make good use of their wasteland. It is all fenced to keep people safe and out of the area but all the fences and walls have convenient holes. We were able to leave the town centre without walking along the much more dangerous roads.
The walk from Cartagena to Llano del Beal was nicer and more interesting than we expected. We were often able to get off the road and the road was not too busy. The area is dotted with industrial relics and deep mine shafts protected by low walls. If you needed to get rid of a body, there was plenty of scope here. Iron, lead and zinc were mined. Our Murcia gide mentioned talc mines. Are all these mines really for talcum powder or is there another use for talc.
At Llano del Beal we had plenty of time so we continued on to Los Nietos Viejos station. There were wonderful views towards the Mar Menor. We had a long wait for the train back to Llano del Beal and it got cold and dark. The station lights had been vandalised and it got very dark.
I wake up just after midnight with a third degree migraine. Complete gastronomic shut down and a cracking headache. Luckily almogran is an effective cure and by morning a stiff dose of caffeine and a couple of migraleves set me up for the day. Because Carthage was not a place one would want to drive through and definitely not park at, we drove to Llano del Beal a village on the train route between Carthage and Los Nietos. Our plan was to walk from Cartagena to Llano del Beal and then if we had time to carry on to Los Nietos Viejos to shorten tomorrow's walk. But first we had to get a train back to Carthage.
We didn't need to wait long as the trains are quite frequent. We got our tickets from a very friendly and cheerful ticket man and then enjoyed the ride checking for vlak pecuarias to help on the walk back. Sitting near us was a Moroccan who had hurt his foot and had a stinking cold. His sniffing was fairly disgusting and I wondered about moving. In the event we should have moved because we both caught the cold. I expect we were weak after yesterday.
Today was dry and bright although the air was cold. I decided to add a layer to my clothing from now on because early and late it was very cold 7 degrees in Mazarrón for example and even later the air remained cold like on a ski slope in spite if the bright sun.
Today's walk was lovely. We went first to the mainline railway station or should I say train station? There Neil took a photo. It really is a remarkable building. Then to avoid a long stretch of busy road and built up area we headed off across an empty brown-fields site underneath a huge flyover heading back towards the local railway line we had come along. This provided good toilet facilities but egress proved problematic. After wandering about through heaps of gravel and through puddles after the previous day's rain we eventually found a ninja and got on to the La Manga road. La Manga is a town on the spit and pronomontary. Most of the time we were able to find lanes and tracks which ran alongside this road, often through lovely countryside getting greener by the minute after the rain and because we are leaving the Costa Calida and getting towards the Costa Blanca which is much less arid.
Anne was clearly not on form today. Neil scored a "Pozor Vlak" point when he saw a train. For several minutes Anne could not see the train even though there were two railway lines nearby. Eventually when the train was under her nose, she spotted it. It was a tractor dressed up as a locomitive with little carts behind for the tourists. Neil's turn to have a laughter apoplexy. Later we followed a gas pipeline for a while. Much later Neil said "we're back at the gas pipeline again". Even later Anne said "I wonder what those little yellw houses are for". It's time we booked into a home for the gah gah. The little yellow houses mark the pipeline so helicopters can follow the route easily for inspection purposes.
I was waiting at the croisement alongside the vlak for Neil to catch up. He had been unzipping his zip-off trizer legs and had had a bit of trouble doing it when a man in a van pulled up before crossing the vlak to go on to the Llano road got out and told me that I should not go along the track where I was waiting. There were lots of stuns I ask if there is no salida. He says there is but if I do go there I should do it with multo cuidado. When Neil catches up I pass this information on. He says he must be a health and safely man. He doesn’t know where we have already been. And indeed this proves to be the case. We carry on waiting for the stones and eventually reach a spot where a few have indeed rolled down on to the path but there is nothing even remotely problematic let alone impassable. He was indeed a health and safety man.
Later we head along a little roadway in front of some houses lining the vlak. An elderly señora is standing in her doorway. She greets us and says we can go in if we like. We stop for a little chat without going in because we are getting later all the time. When we are bivvying or staying at hostals we may be able to enjoy these diversions more. She asks where we have come from. We say today from Carthage but originally from Ayamonte (the border town with Portugal. She says she hopes we have good legs. As for her, her knee is bothering her and she hopes to have it operated on. She is short and stocky not to say somewhat corpulent. It was Mary who said to me she had never yet met a thin person with knee trouble. That is almost true. Our man in Portugal was thin and so was Mini's next door neighbour Barbara and they both had knee trouble. However, they were both into their eighties at the time and things can catch up with you eventually even if you are thin. She said she hoped my husband had good legs and I said it was my brother and she said she hoped my brother had good legs. Then she said the way we were going had muchas ganas. I asked if there was a salida and she said there was so we decided to give it a go. She said any tine we were passing we could drop in. It was lovely chat. We said if we couldn't get through we'd be passing again very soon. The track was perfectly passable if you hadn't got problems with your knees and we avoided yet another stretch of asphalt. We agree with the Norsks we met in Gran Canaria who had an asphalt allergy. They were interested in our All-Terrain sendels
There are now occasional orange and almond groves. Only once did our experiments at avoiding asphalt lead us straight up a dead end pummock in a pine wood. Up here we saw mushrooms, toadstools and tounges so it was worth the detour. At our lunch place we saw a large soft thistle plant. Maybe the same as seen before but a juicy version of it or maybe a different plant altogether. The lunch place was beyond a tureen which boys liked to use for Evil Kneevil motor bike practice.
We eventually got to La Union. We didn't see a tellingphone shop partly because we didn't go through the centre. We did see a herringbole market building. Why do we have so few market buildings? Our weather is much worse but we still have markets outside. We saw an elaborate Belen with not just the stable but little workshops and a baker's and elaborate scenery. I wish I had known what a Belen was before because I had seen signposts to them in Gran Canaria and never bothered to go and look. We had a little sit in the squaw to look at it.
Nearly Arab music was playing loudly and some nearly gipsy dressed women added flavour. It was all happening in La Union. There was a fair with rides for the children, a proper roundabout with hearses and a second one with swings that flew out as the ride gained speed. Here the music was Spanish and cheerful.
Once through La Union we carried on towards Llano del Beal and on to Los Nietos Viejos. La Estrecha just beyond was too close so we persevered to the further station. The last bit along a long straight road was a bit tedious only because by now our feet were killing us but otherwise today's walk was pretty much heart's desire. A sign to the left for the FEVE was a cheerful sight and we took it and then followed the road round to the station.
We had just seen a train go by in the opposite direction so we knew that it would soon be coming back. Wrong again! We had told Mini we ought not to be quite so late so things were going well. I checked off 12 minutes on my watch and when the train failed to return I had a look at the timetable. Although most trains went to Los Nietos and came straight back this one had a 30 minute break. There seem to be just two trains which shuttle backwards and forwards and the drivers need a break from time to time. We had to wait until 6.21 for our train. It was on time which was good. We could see two people waiting at the next stop which wasn't far from ours. Once the sun set they huddled in a corner out of the wind Our station didn’t have any corners and it got chilly but we were not not nearly so cold as we had been the previous day. We had half a fairbreak because I had forgotten to pack a healthy bar. When the train arrived it was all warm. The conductor was much less cheerful - it was a different one.
Back at Llano del Beal. Neil said "one to me". I thought it was for the French registration minibus parked next to our Kia Picanto. I was suitably distressed. Then he said "One to me again". I said what for and he said for the French Minivan. I said didn’t he get that a minute ago and he said no that was for a pussy underneath the van. Uh Uh Uh. We had a bit if trouble getting on to the motorway because by now it was dick and the signs were not prominent. We got on to a road parallel with the motorway and came on at the next invat. Several road signposts seemed to have been defaced - possibly by a roads protest group. They had stuck sheets of sticky backed plastic hiding the destinations.
We get home quite late again and Mini said it was a pity we couldn't telephone to tell her. I said we'd probably be late again the next day as it was a long way. It is better to say you are going to be late and then be early than the other way round. I will set up international roaming again on my second telephone in time for Easter and then I must remember to use the phone from time to time so they don't think I no longer want it. Maybe that is the reason why it isn’t working. We have failed to pass a phone shop at a time when they are open. We had a lovely supper spaghetti Bolognese made with chicken and ratatouille. I again don’t type up the worms.