couple looking in a rockpool in Torrevieja, Spain

2016 Spain

A Gasp of Fresh Air Atop Cruz de Enmedio

9 April 2016 | Mri Grout

yellow hiking market at Cruz de EnmedioWe picked up our first couchsurfer, an awesome chick called Lae from the island of Bermuda, three days ago and after suffocating her with all of our constant chit chat (new person that speaks English! OMG!), we finally decided to let her breathe. Ironically, we did that by tramping up one of the surrounding mountains, but hey fresh air at the top, right?

Anyway, as usual, I was the one who arranged everything, from which mountain we should tackle this time around – something new, but still a balance between our skill level and our guest's – to which path we should take – an easy grade with clear footing, but not one you could maybe drive a car down or Rob would complain.

And as usual, it didn't work out as planned.

First off, I wrongly assumed all paths here would be relatively good ones (due to previous Spanish hiking paths we've used). Then I got us lost within five minutes but refused to turn around (we'd gone too far and I had this, dammit! despite clearing not having it). And the obvious foreshadowing of when we debated on how much water to take and decided that one litre between three people was plenty in the hot, baking sun as we would only be scrambling up a steep mountain.

couchsurfer Lae hiking up Cruz de EnmedioSo instead of the easy path up a relatively small hill I had planned, we ended up dragging our poor couchsurfer up a sketchy rockface with the lying promise of 'the real track's just right over there!' and 'we're almost at the top!' cried almost constantly. But at least I eventually did find a path. Not the right one, but a one so that made it a bit easier.

And though I thought we'd have to turn around multiple times as our scramble kept getting harder and harder because Lae told us beforehand that she didn't hike much, we never did. She pushed through a hell of a lot more than I would have when Rob first got ahold of me. Had that been my first mountain in a while, I would have refused as soon as I had to crane my neck up to see the false top. And if for some reason he had managed to goad me into going, I would have turned back as soon as the rocks beneath me started to slide or when I had to use my hands to keep going upwards or when we saw some scarily big goats right over there. Goats, with fairly intimidating horns should they choose to charge.

Yay!  We all made it to the top of Cruz de Enmedio

They didn't luckily enough, but just because they left didn't mean our other problems did too.

For one, it had taken us quite a bit of time to make it to first false top and the sun would be setting relatively soon. Obviously, I fixed that worry by falsely telling Rob that the sun set an hour after it really did. I'm good at problem solving like that. For another, we'd pretty much run out of water and I wasn't entirely sure where the way down was because there was no way we were going down the way we had come up. But again, there was a simple fix to that not unlike the one I used before...

Luckily however, we ran into a Spanish dude who gave us a juicy slice of orange each and more importantly, a guide back down due to Lae's useful ability to speak the local language.

Seagull Crap and Pretty Rocks

3 April 2016 | Mri Grout

Due to being unable to get anything sorted – immigration, internet, or phone wise – for at least another month as that was the earliest we could get an N.I.E. (it's the Spanish tax number, which for some reason you need to buy anything with a contract; arrrgh!) and another two days before our next Spanish lesson/first couchsurfer (so excited to host!), we decided to head out into the big unknown for a single night camping trip.

hiking in SpainWe planned out the trip the previous night, set three alarms so we could leave before ten, ignored the first two and then quickly packed in the morning, made it out the door with not a minute to spare, drove about twenty minutes, and then realized I forgot my pants...which for some reason I had stuffed in a pillow case instead of a rucksack. Probably should have set earlier alarms.

Deciding to just stuff it despite the shivering outside temperature (a main reason for deciding to camp this particular day – otherwise we'd bake to death) we carried on and reached our first destination in a little over an hour.

Well, kinda.

You see, it's fairly difficult to find access to places in another language and Google translate isn't exactly the best. So though I knew that there was some way to get to thebottom of Mascarat Gorge because rock climbers did use it, I just had no idea where to even park the car to attempt it, let alone where the freakin' path was.

You see, it's fairly difficult to find access to places in another language and Google translate isn't exactly the best. So though I knew that there was some way to get to the bottom of Mascarat Gorge because rock climbers did use it, I just had no idea where to even park the car to attempt it, let alone where the freakin' path was.

view of Ifach rock from the bottomSo I took a gamble and pointed Rob in a direction, but that of course just turned out to stop at a very fancy resort (three fountain pools!) with a manned gate. A bit more driving around and we decided, once again, to just stuff it and carry on to the next planned point – which we actually found!

Though in all fairness to it, it is a giant rock racing out of the ground that you can see for miles. But hey, give this girl a little credit. I ended up only off by like, a giant ridge too steep to scramble over, and so instead of being able to climb to the top, we could only go one-third of the way around the bottom...but meh, same thing, yeah? And like we didn't want to get too tired before our bigger walk into camp shut up.Anyway, after a lovely picnic down by the water, we started to wonder whether we should actually go camping due to the strong, cold wind. The last time we did so we ended up having to call it quits at two o'clock in the freakin' morning. This is the place where I would normally include a link to the previous blog post where this happened, but well, I haven't written it yet so sorry about that.

We debated the whole, short walk back to the car and just as we were about to decide on either a yes or a no, some asshole splashed our backs with cold water making us jump.

But oh too soon, I learned that my interpretation of what had happened was a bit off the mark.

You see, when I said 'us' I unknowingly just meant 'me.'

When I said 'asshole,' it was actually a giant 'jerk of a bird.'

And when I said 'cold water,' well, that was supposed to be 'cold shit and piss.'

seagull at Ifach Rock

So yeah, that kind of sealed the deal on whether or not we went camping.

As one can imagine, I just wanted to go home and take a shower after that. I mean, bloody snapsadoodles, it smelled . Just plain ol' stinked! Rob's constant screaming of: “Get away from me!” didn't help matters either. Or his complete lack of help (at the start) where he just stood around taking pictures.

But eventually we did manage to wipe it off and sanitize my skin to the bone, so at least the smell went. And because Rob didn't feel like driving the hour and a half back home right away, we decided we might as well go see the cool rocks we had driven all this way to go see/camp around.

But of course, we didn't find it easily...because after all this, why the hell would we? It's not like we deserved a break after all that, did we. DID WE!?


But we did eventually find it because, it too, stood out from its surroundings. AKA: we could bash ourselves a rough path when we finally realized we weren't actually on the right one.

Through shoulder-high thorns and brambles.

In freakin' shorts because someone forgot her bloody pants.


Els Arcs

Another Beautiful Day in Paradise...or is it?

27 March 2016 | Mri Grout

The frustration of jumping through all of the immigration hoops of the last few days (and we haven't even done anything besides look at all the steps required due to the holidays; oh boy) had us sitting on our butts complaining for the most part, so after waking to another gorgeous day, we decided to actually go out.

In the blistering, squelching heat of Spain.

In the middle of the day.

But the sun was shining and having spent our most recent time in England, we got used to the notion that if it was sunny, then it meant one must go out ASAP or miss our single chance to enjoy the outdoors for the next week or two – besides you know, the last four days being absolutely gorgeously sunny. In my defence, I'd spent those days growling at the computer and struggling through Spanish forms so I didn't really get the chance to notice? ...Besides you know, Rob's constant cry of, “The sun is really hot out on this balcony!” But who really registers words, am I right?

Anyway...we ended up going for a walk up one of the nearby mountains with only a single bottle of water due to being too lazy to carry more. Long story short, we should have carried more.

Luckily, however, the path wasn't very steep for its size, it was well made, and had the occasional patch of shade. If it wasn't for the latter I'd be dead by now.

view of the Orihuela mountains

And as always, the view and experience was worth it. Oh, and we learned a new Spanish phrase from a group we hung out with for a few minutes. Don't know how to spell it, but it's pronounced: go-ma and it means 'take this' (orange, in our case).

Not sure what we're going to do tomorrow – probably say we're going to finally go for a swim in the pool on the roof and then chicken out because it's 'too cold'...Yes, I am aware of the irony.

Either way, if something interesting happens, I'll let you know.

PS: Oh jeah, and Rob ran into a dog today. With the car. It just jumped out right in front of us. Like literally right in front. Wasn't hurt though and the owner didn't seem to care, though you'd think he would've put it on a leash after that instead of letting it keep playing tag with our bloody car.

Oh and we found out that the women sitting on the side of the road in lawn chairs are actually prostitutes like we expected and 90% of them are victims of human trafficking. So anyone visiting Spain thinking, “hey, I'll tap that,” shame on you you fucking dicks. Also, what the fuck police?


21 March 2016 | Mri Grout

There comes a time in one’s life when his/her brain keeps screaming: what the hell are you thinking, over and over again. For me, that time was now - but luckily I have had so many previous experiences with this mind-numbing, full-on-panicky feeling of doubt that this time, I only jokingly mentioned that dying in a landslide would fix all of my problems. To put that into context, we were on top of a crumbly mountain and looking for a place to camp because the place we had booked for the night’s idea of ‘cleaning fee’ wasn’t a deposit...and it cost more than the actual price of the room so we canceled that and lost 21 euros. Yet another peg in my imaginary coffin.

Do coffin’s get pegs or do I have that saying wrong too? I seem to have learned them wrong my entire life and am only now (as in, since traveling) being told stuff like: it’s not 'can’t be asked' (though it totally should be, as it makes way more sense), it’s ‘can’t be arsed.' Though I don’t really know why I’m so frustrated at the constant discoveries; I did go sixteen years thinking ’theramind’ was actually another word for ’never mind.’ A great English teacher I’m going to make...

And that brings me full circle to my current dramatic predicament. You see, as you probably already know due to being on this site reading my blog titled ‘2016 Spain,’ I recently decided the best financial decisionfor Rob and I was to move to surprise! Spain. The idea came simply because it was home to one of the cheapest places to rent in the EU and well, Spanish has to be easier to learn than Bulgarian, right? Brilliant thinking of me, once more!

Except you know, that whole country where they all speak English... But who wants to go to even rainier second-England when you’re able to move to Spain!?

Sensible people, that’s who. Logical people. People who only speak English and have a limited amount of funds. You know, all those clever people who were like ‘hey, Spain’s unemployment rate is 27%, which probably doesn’t make it the best place to look for a job - especially when you don’t speak the native language.'

But ha! Who needs all that stability when you can have an adventure!? I do.

I so need that at the moment because the stupid UK won’t let me and my freakin’ husband live in the same freakin’ country. Thus, we can’t work in the same freakin’ country - except you know, that whole Ireland place, but whatever. Urgh!

So jeah, there’s my current dramatic predicament, but given as we’ve just arrived in a new beautiful country, how can I really complain? I mean, gotta look on the bright side right? At least I got to wake up to a view like this:

Orihuela castle

In the rain.

And worried that our car was stolen overnight with everything we own (minus the valuables, we take those - learned my lesson too many times in 2012 Australia).

But hey, that’s the life of a traveler right?

On the Way Down to Spain

17 March 2016 | Mri Grout

With only the bare skeleton of a plan, Rob and I headed down to Spain with a 'fully packed car' – for though we were already ramming the boot to close it, experience has taught us that we could probably still fit a mattress inside no problem.

Our first stop in our thirty-ish hour drive was at a old fortified town called Le Mans. Most of the wall is still there, but the real main attraction is the cathedral. Fully built over the span of 8 centuries (from the 6th to the 14th), the building was dedicated to the city's first bishop for introducing Christianity to the area at the beginning of the 4th century. They had informational signs, but they were all in French, so that's all I've got for that one. Well, other than the pictures, but who wants to see those?

Our next stop was in haha, just kidding. Here are some photos.

inside the church in Le Mans, Franceinside the church in Le Mans, Franceinside the church in Le Mans, France

After marveling in the architecture of the building and the fact that this giant structure was made simply to thank a dead dude (the bishop, not Jesus) and not oh, I don't know a hospital or something useful like that, we carried on. A few seemingly thousand miles later, we arrived at the Dunes de Pilat (or Pyla according to the English) - the tallest sand dune in Europe measuring in at 110m high. We had timed our arrival to watch the sunset atop of this natural masterpiece, but once we actually got there we found out that we had to pay to park for more than thirty minutes. Being the skimps that we are, we headed down the road to find a freebie and barely a minute later, we did. Feeling like champs, we headed down the path, but that feeling quickly deflated as came out of the trees.

On the wrong side of the dune.

A freakin' tall dune.

110 metres, remember?

Of sinking, sliding sand.

Half way up, I thought about just rolling back down its side and calling it quits, but Rob kept edging me along and then offered to go first so I could walk up in his footsteps - which, let me tell you, made it SOOOOOOOO much easier...for the whole thirty seconds he managed it. lols. Not that I fared any better; the next day and I'm still feeling the burn.

But eventually we did manage to top its peak and as soon as we did, we were glad for having tackled this beast as once again the views made it worth it.

sunset on Dune del Pilatsunset on Dune del Pilat

After a quiet night and the hoot of an owl, we headed out the next morning and drove all the way to Spain. Or rather, Rob did as I'm not allowed to drive...well, that and I'm a horrible driver so it's not like it would've helped anyway as when I do it makes Rob panic more so...

But anyway, I'll write of Spain some other day as tea's ready and it's our first proper meal in days.

2016 Spain: May

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