Saturday, 20 February 2016

Cycling to Salou and walking to Riudecols

Two gloriously sunny days have meant two lovely
excursions for us! Yesterday we jumped on our bicycles for the afternoon, taking advantage of the extensive cycle path network around Cambrils and along the coast.Beginning from Camping La Llosa we cycled a little inland to get to the village of Salou and passed even more huge campsites that we hadn't previously seen. All looked to be closed up for the winter. One had dozens of wooden chalets to rent, all painted in bright primary colours, and another had a pair of bizarre wooden sculptures outside the entrance, one of which is pictured here. They didn't look especially Spanish. We are beginning to understand just how madly busy this area of Catalunya must be during the high season! It certainly wouldn't be somewhere we would want to visit in Summer, but in its just-ticking-over capacity in February, it is pretty perfect for us!

Salou town centre was a little frantic, traffic-wise, than the rest of the ride and it's one way system baffled us briefly. However, it was simple enough to head for the sea and we knew that, once there, we could return on the promenade cycle path. We paused for a coffee at a seafront cafe, Fabiola, and a while later paused again to sit on Cambrils harbour wall and gaze at the boats. Idyllic!

Sporty cyclists were out and about in force today as it is
Marta and Dave discuss walking routes 
Saturday and we drove past a dozen or so on the way to our walk's starting point. We had borrowed Chris and Marta's local walking map and set off to do a walk they had recommended. If you get yourself the 'Baix Camp Mapa de la Xarxa de Camins' from Cambrils Tourist Office, this is walk number 16 - an easy and fairly straightforward 12km which begins and ends in Botarell, taking in the edge of Riudecols at the farthest point. (An aside: Marta is wearing the hat I crocheted for her! I also crocheted the flowers and leaves that she later appliqued.)

We parked outside the sports centre in Botarell, a new
Gaser mural at Botarell sports centre 
facility with murals depicting the games played inside. I spotted the mural artist was Gaser - who also painted the brilliant dice player and eavesdropper street art we saw in Tarragona. Following the road uphill for maybe a hundred yards got us to the green walk route signposts and, from there on, the way marking was clear practically all the way round. The first few minutes were noisy with barking dogs and several large sheds of factory-farmed birds. We couldn't tell whether they were chickens or other birds, but the terrible sound reminded me why I choose free range whenever possible.

Overall this wasn't a spectacular walk, but included a variety of pleasant terrains from pine woods to agricultural land, dry river beds and sunken earth-walled lanes. The woods were scattered with dozens of empty shotgun cartridges which were surprisingly pretty for litter! I later took photographs of some gorgeous red poppies that were unexpected for February! And we passed a large orchard of possibly-almond trees that were in bud and will look fabulous when they all blossom soon.