With so many nice and sunny days there were many opportunities we made good use of.
One fine Sunday we set of on our bicycles and went looking for the signposts of the long distance walking track along the coast to the west of Cartagena. On our detailed but very outdated walking map we had located a nice spot just outside town for our start. We found it without much difficulty, but so had many others! It was Outdoor Day or something for the Catageniences.
After parking the bikes we first had to fight our way through a mountain bike race until halfway up the hill. After that it was just walkers, and joggers, but so many of them! We noted how even for a family stroll everyone was nicely fitted out in nicely matching jogging gear with hardly an ordinary pair of jeans in sight. On the top of the hill, where the track continued down to El Portús, we had our lunch break, together with some 30 or so others.
We saw some people climbing the steep Roldán, but hardly anyone coming down. Deducting there might be another road going down on the other side of the hill we decided to keep that in mind for a future walk, because it is a very beautiful area, but now we had the bicycles to pick up again.
Cycling back through town we saw the other variety of Outdoor Day: lots of people out for a Sunday walk, but here all dressed up in their beautiful Sunday's best town gear. Even on weekdays we stand out amongst the well (hair)dressed Spaniards, but on Sundays we better go in hiding. Not to speak of coming across a wedding party!
Having experienced the crowds everywhere on sunny Sundays we got the brilliant idea of going on a trip on a weekday. Less people, more trains. So we took our bicycles along on the nice little narrow gauge train to Los Nietos, a village on the west shore of the Mar Menor, somehow important enough to have three railway stations. From there we started to cycle north along the Mar on a nice flat road. Flat it was, no bends either, so we could see for miles to where it went and we could see for miles around us across the marshes. Except for the stretches where we could cycle along the seafronts, it was a very boring endless road. We didn't bother to go any further than Los Urrutias, in summer a holiday place but now a ghost town. Hardly any houses inhabited, most with their shutters down, some even boarded up. It is depressing to see how, little by little, in more and more places, small bits of nature are being sacrificed for buildings that are hardly ever used. People don't seem to realise they can be in only one place at the time. And still some new development going on: a new paseo, a new park with benches and waste bins, new roads, lantern posts, even an office for selling properties, but the actual building of houses interrupted by the crisis. And the whole compound closed off by a gate! Well, there was no one around to want to walk there anyway.
To compensate, we chose to go to the mountains again for our next trip. The bus dropped us in Los Belones, halfway between Cartagena and Cabo de Palos. Los Belones is a funny place: previously a mining village and now inhabited by many British for some reason, but it is nowhere near the coast nor anywhere else special. We noticed English pubs, a fish 'n' chips, a Cornish butcher and even an Indian take-away.
Outside the village we picked up the marked walking trail around the steep hill Fuente. It is situated in a splendid nature reserve with beautiful views. Fuente means spring, meaning spring water, not the seaon, but there were also plenty of signs of the spring season having started. Lots of flowers in every colour and the smell of lavender, rosemary and gorse everywhere. Hardly any people around, nor houses(!), not even derelict mines. And sunshine. And blue skies. Truly a wonderful trip.