Tuesday, April 12, 2016

La Pedriza and La Pedriza 2.0

Teenage Anita is laughing at old Anita because teenage Anita hated exercise, especially walking for hours on uneven paths just for the pleasure of walking. Not the case now. Being enclosed in a city all week, I crave nature (and miss the nature of home - I just can't describe the concept of 'bush walks' to non-kiwis'). Thankfully, very close to Madrid are several parks where it's possible to hike, walk, rock-climb and mountaineer.

For people in Madrid wanting to know how to get there:
Take the light blue line metro to Plaza de Castilla. Get off, walk to platform 26 and take the bus to Manzanares El Real (can't remember the number, sorry). It's an hour on the bus, and you can either get off opposite the supermarket in the second town you go through, or at the roundabout with the statue of the hiking man in the middle. From Sol to the start of the hike, it's about 1.5 hours, depending on how well you time it with the bus (which leaves every 50 minutes).

La Pedriza round one was the day after I got back from La Costa Brava. In typical Anita style, I arrived early at Sol to meet with the others (I actually didn't know who 3 of them were, we have just decided on our uni's Erasmus facebook page that we would all hike on the Monday) because I wanted to go to my second favourite coffee place to get a flat white. Shout out to Coffee and Kicks for providing me with consistently good flat whites here in Madrid. Coffee-loving New Zealanders in Madrid - I'd recommend. I obviously didn't fit the trendy clientele there (actually, it was 10 in the morning on a Monday so it was empty) but the Kanye playing amped me up for the hike. And the barista was wearing a cool cap - could have been a Welly place.

Although heading into town for flat whites is something I do on an embarrassingly common basis, this time I actually had the purpose of meeting with friends and going for a little walk. On the metro, off the metro, on the bus (a long period of wondering when we were supposed to get off, followed by getting off one stop too early), off the bus, to the information centre, to the other information centre because that one was shut, to the start of the path... and we were there.

Luckily for us it wasn't raining as hard as it could be raining. This was a good thing because there wasn't that much shelter, and the dirt path would probably turn to mud. The 30 euro hiking boots that I had bought one month early from Decathlon were finally getting their walk.

La Pedriza in the rain

We were doing reasonably well, there was a path and yellow and white paint to direct us in the right direction. Being a kiwi, I had notoriously overpacked - puffer jacket, raincoat, merino thermal, spare socks, spare top, umbrella (this was an accident, I didn't realise it was still in my bag), plus my camera, water bottle and lunch - while the others had smaller backpacks. Oh well. I used pretty much everything.

We ended up walking to a rock quite early on in the park, on our way to the river and bridge we were supposed to come across. We climbed said rock, and had a picnic lunch there before attempting to re-find the track. We did not re-find the track. Instead we walked for longer until we got sick of walking and decided to turn back. We were a little bit more than lost now, but luckily my trusty maps.me app actually had on it a path we could follow. It led us on a path on the outside of the park, where we were walking next to paddocks and amongst tall pine trees. Definitely not the part of the track we expected to go on, but that's what happens when you're a slightly lost kiwi with no sense of direction.

The weather for La Pedriza round 2 was a 100% improvement. Sunny, with bright blue skies and cute fluffy clouds. It made the park look a lot less bleak and a lot more enticing. Every man and his dog was there (literally - another strange concept for a kiwi, taking dogs to national parks). The track was easy enough to just wear normal shoes on, and you can even drive through part of it.

We actually stopped at the same spot (or a few rocks over) to have a picnic lunch again, then carried on. One of the guys spotted a big rock he wanted to climb up, and led the way there. There wasn't exactly a path, but it also wasn't exactly hard going not being on the path. There were basically a lot of rock formations that we all clambered over, climbed up, and tried not to fall down.

The cool part of the trip was that, being such a clear day, we could see all the way over to Madrid and its landmark four skyscrapers. On the other side of us were snow topped mountains, which I am fairly certain people climb on.

So that was our day on Saturday. Picturesque views, good company, and some daring photos (not published). It was rounded up by an afternoon picnic while we waited for the bus, then amazing pizza and gelato in Lavapies. And just to top off the weekend, Sunday was spent studying for a test I had on Monday.

Hope everyone else had a great weekend!

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