From Murcia to Valencia
Starting from Almería and following the coast of Murcia and Valencia northeast one can find populated lowlands alternating with rarely populated places where the hill ridges reach all the way to the coast. First example of the latter is around Cabo de Gata, then in Sierra Cabrera, then in Calnegre etc. These areas have relatively low but steep ridges, where the environment looks once like in mountains, next time like in a different country altogether – making an impression of being in a desert or an arid steppe somewhere in central Asia.
From Valencia to Catalonia
Through Valencia I headed towards Barcelona. The countryside started to visibly change during the way: more of green colour, for the first time (with the exception of mountains around Granada) I found a river containing sweet water rather than being empty or salty. And one more new thing: the first rain during the journey – it was a pleasant refreshment in the hot weather.
Some distance before Barcelona is noteworthy a town of Tarragona, which is practically growing from lots of preserved Roman and medieval structures and buildings.
Barcelona is interesting, but my impression was that its fame (supported by advertising) exceeds the reality. This is also true for the most notorious building: Sagrada Família, where especially the most recently added layers and extensions already make an impression of lazily added concrete kitsch. But the fame works: the city centre has plenty of tourists, including plenty of Americans, and is well ready especially for bar hopping tourism. More tranquility and a pleasant shade can be found in the parks and beautiful gardens around the Montjuïc hill and around the former Olympic area.
In Barcelona I gave my last good bye to the Spanish sea by an evening walk in the sunset and turned the handle bars towards the mountains.
Raising to Pyrenees
I was too optimistic about the rain: above Pyrenees are forming storm clouds and already the first afternoon the whole sky got an unbelievably dark solid bluish-black colour. And then started a rainstorm so strong, that one could not even walk against it and it was not possible to see anything beyond a few steps. But otherwise I was cycling through a green countryside, where on Sunday the whole village meets to listen to live traditional music, over a pleasant cycle path on a former railway and finally to the national park Cadí, which is already the southern tip of Pyrenees. This meant a lot of uphill climbing, but the surrounding was worth it. Mountainous environment, where the only representation of civilisation are tiny villages with houses built of stones, sitting always on the very top of a hill hidden between higher mountains – like a scene from some old picture.