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Walking Colonia de Sant Pere to Arta to Cala Rajada

Today started with breakfast at our overpriced accommodations.  Since it was included in the price, we did our best to gorge ourselves in preparation for another long day of walking.

Just have to get over those mountains...

Just have to get over those mountains…

Our plan today is to get to Arta and what stands between us in a formidable mountain (1,500 feet).

Leaving Colonia de Sant Pere we walk to the highest street in the town which parallels the mountain range.  We walk for about 1.8 miles along a minor road passing ancient stone walls, olive groves, and grand estates (fincas) along the way.  Again, we got a late start and the sun is beating down.  We arrive at the marker we were looking for (“Ermita de Betlem”), which indicates the trail to a monastery at the top of the mountain.  Off we go with ignorant enthusiasm for what we are in for.

The trail winds through magnificent scenery of wildflowers and massive jagged boulders.  Huge walls of stone, pockmarked with caves stand above us.  The sparkling turquoise ocean grows farther away.  Jamie is always ahead on the trail while Laura studies bugs and rocks and flowers like a special needs child.  Towards the top, sheep graze with bells around their necks, giving the hike an angelic and otherworldly soundtrack.

We arrive at the monastery and are in awe strictly by the amount and height of the stone walls surrounding the area.  Entire lifetimes, and many of them, must have been spent building these walls.  The monastery itself is less impressive.  Only the chapel is open and Jamie and I both express disappointment about a lack of monks to welcome us.  We share that we each had a fantasy about a jolly monk in brown robe and sandals welcoming us with cookies or wine.  Jamie even brought sardines to offer as a gift.  But alas, not a monk in sight.

We continue up the road (also a bike path) to the summit and there we enjoy a perfect view of the ocean, the stones, and the ancient walls that we just climbed.

The way down is long and we begin to feel cranky so we enjoy a usual picnic of olives, cheese and the sardines that the monks missed out on.

Whoa. I need a rest.

Whoa. I need a rest.

Finally over the mountain, we are back on a main road and again walking past farms with bleating sheep and an ancient fortress.  We are counting the kilometer markers on the side of the road to determine how far we are from Arta.  7, 6, 5, 4….

We must look like hell because a woman offers us a ride to Arta.  We jump in. She’s a pediatric nurse on her way to work and yet finds the time to try and find us a cheap hotel.  She drives confidently through the narrow streets of Arta.  Turns out, Arta has three hotels and the cheap one is under reconstruction so that leaves us two options beyond our price range.  I am wishing some stranger on the street will intuit our predicament and bring us home – but no luck.

Arta is stunning and infamous for being inhabited for at least 3000 years and the site of one of the last outbreaks of Bubonic Plague in the 1800’s.  And unfortunately, Arta is too rich for our blood.  So, I enter a coffee shop and ask the barista if she can help us.  And she suggests we go to Cala Rajada because it has hostels.  And she calls us a cab.  And makes a mean cappuccino.

A native Artarian picks us up 15 minutes later and off we go, passing the town of Capdepera and it’s magnificent castle (first built by the Romans, then enlarged by the Moors, then destroyed and rebuilt by Christians in the 1400’s.

We arrive in Cala Rajada and find a hotel at a bargain price immediately ( Hostal Cas Bombu).  It’s the nicest place we’ve stayed in with checkerboard marble floors and a balcony we can call our own.   We leave to find food and end up in a Chinese restaurant overlooking the most crystal clear turquoise waters we have ever seen.  And our day ends with a walk along the ocean and an exhausted walk back to our room.

7.5 miles walked today.

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