We get up at 5 am and pack both car and TWIKE. My family is heading to Sète in southern France as they liked the pictures and description I gave them and wanted to experience the place for themselves.
I will drive to Valencia today. Instead of taking the same road back along the coast, I’ve decided to take an inland route via Xixona which will take me across a mountain range and some very hilly stretches of – hopefully – quiet back roads.
Without any big fanfare, we set off. The trip back will take me 5 days including nearly a full day on a ferry.
I start my day into the dark…driving away from the sea up the hills towards Xixona.
Serious climbing starts when I’ve left Xixona behind me – munching heavily into my charge, the road boasts an average 6% incline.
Very soon, however, all this climbing reaps its rewards: the coastal urban lights glow in the dark, giving me a fittingly beautiful farewell from San Juan.
A little further up and with a little more light, southern Spain as I know it slowly awakes to a new day. I’m a little sad to leave as I really like being here – culture, people, food – all of it. My love for this country started 1997 after moving to a place even further south – experiencing living and working in Spain. Nothing has changed and I would love to come back to Spain for another year or two.
Shortly after this picture comes the last moment to finally say goodbye to the coast. Not only because I’ll be driving behind a crest but also because a rather strong breeze has picked up and I’m driving into a thick bank of clouds.
My GPS puts me at over 900m after just 30 km and at 6 am with lots of humidity, it’s very cold. For my drive back to Switzerland, I took a soft shell jacket with me but hadn’t expected to be using it this quickly 🙂
The clouds being blown across the crest were quite dramatic – especially them literally dissolving within seconds on the other side due to the dry air on the other side:
Finally, I arrive at the top of the pass – at over 1000m. The wind has really picked up and will be staying with me all day, making my usual low consumption unattainable today.
During the next few dozen kilometres I stay at this high altitude driving in an undulating landscape taking me in and out of dense fog/clouds – from one dramatic reveal to the next.
I must admit that after 8 days at the beach I’m really enjoying being back on the road again. Me and TW560 – a winning team!
Finally, after about 70 km of beautifully tarmacked and curvy roads across the hills, Spain’s flat-lands beckon again. The descent is dramatic not because it’s really steep, but rather because of the weather. Strong winds push my TWIKE across the narrow road and are the reason for some close calls with rocks alongside the road. The quickly-moving clouds make for an ever-changing and dramatic view.
Engage cruise control – queue some relaxing music – take the time to look around – relax!
With all these clouds following me everywhere, I was fully expecting to have some rain sometime during the day – humidity was super-high and the wind stayed strong with gusts. I was really lucky, as driving in these temperatures with a closed canopy is like driving in a miniature mobile sauna!
Just a place I drove through – hi Manuel!
Eventually, I got to Valencia – a place I visited little over a week ago with my family.
I arrived at the very same huge roundabout I made a video last time – TW560 really fits well, don’t you think?
At this roundabout, a police car pulls up alongside of me and the policemen wind down the window. Their mannerism tells me that they are not happy with something. And, indeed, my suspicion is correct: they saw me look down at my mobile phone whilst driving … which is on my lap showing me the way, as I needed to change the path Google chose for me. This, obviously, was not allowed, since mobile phones are to either be off or attached/fixed to a support in Spain. I thanked them for their input (with no intention of complying, as using my mobile phone in the support in a TWIKE is more dangerous than using my free left hand to interact with my phone) and was about to leave as the second guy in the car asked ‘are you handicapped, Sir?’.
For some years now, I’ve always tried to answer random, non-contextualized questions with a question. In this case, I put on my quizzical face and asked back ‘why do you ask?’. It turned out that they wanted to make me aware of the fact that in Valencia I had many rights/services and free parking spots as the city wanted to be as accommodating as possible to disabled people and thought that I was driving my ‘custom-made vehicle’ as a result of me suffering from some kind of disability…
We were still at the same spot quite some time as I explained them that, no I was not disabled and was driving this vehicle out of pure enjoyment of super-efficient electric mobility…which obviously had them start asking all the usual questions 🙂
After around 30 minutes I was back driving to my hotel that I had chosen for the night. In Spain and France, especially in cities, I usually get places that have secured parking and confirm prior to staying that they are able to accommodate me charging from a normal plug.
In order to not over-complicate things unnecessarily, I usually say that I’m arriving with a recumbent electric bike and only need a normal plug for the night. Normally, this is not a problem and the place happily confirms that this is possible. This was the same thing with this hotel – arrived, asked for a plug – was shown where it is…and that’s it. Charge away!
The only noteworthy thing about my hotel for today was a special door on my floor which wasn’t a guest room. The signage was clear and at the same time intriguing: What is behind this door? All other service doors were clearly marked with ‘housekeeping’ and ‘communications’ etc. and were black as all others. Only this one was orange and had this design and staff was unwilling to say more than ‘this is not a guest-accessible room’. Hmmm.
Later that evening I went to have some extremely tasty food in Valencia before retiring to my room around 10 as I wanted to change tomorrow’s route slightly – I had seen that there were even more and higher hills slightly further inland and wanted to amend my route to include them as I wasn’t in any hurry and had the time to do so. – Really looking forward to tomorrow!