Hey POCers! For those of you who don't know me from joining this summer or whatever, my name is Andy Constantino, former prez of the POC. Normally I don't do this but since I won't be making it to a meeting, I thought it was worth posting some of the highlights from my 22 day excursion through Europe and let you guys know what I learned and whats possible on a relatively tight budget (Under $2000 for flights/hostels/food/etc). Read if you like, otherwise maybe its good for the archives:
Photos here Link: The Pocbook Entry
I traveled with Trevor Bianchi of the POC and a friend, Katie, from my high school. We started off in Paris, staying with a guy named Laurent who did a work exchange at Purdue last year- After climbing at the Red together, he casually invited us to call him up if we ever wanted to climb in Paris. Who would have thought we ever actually would! He hosted us generously and showed us the amazing bouldering area south of Paris named Fontainebleau.
Font (as its called commonly) is a gigantic forest hosting thousands of boulders of all difficulties. Everything from cheesy "Take It To The Limit" type bouldering to HARD HARD climbs are scattered on huge boulders in these giant fields of sand- It looks like a beach, severely deficient in water. The routes are even marked with their difficulty and route number ON the boulder, something environmentalists would FREAK OUT about in the US. We climbed everything from very hard slab with like dyno-to-topout finishes to super fun overhanging jug haul boulder problems and had a blast. Paris was a crazy city, as far as having some of the most amazing architechture I've ever seen and some of the most ridiculous drivers I've ever seen. Parallel parking is a scary, scary thing there. They should have French people teach Driver's Ed classes here...
Next we moved on to Dublin, staying in Camden Place Hostel- the NICEST and MOST AMAZING hostel/hotel/apartment I've ever seen, I highly recommend it. Turns out Ireland isn't all that wonderful for rock climbing, at least not bouldering near Dublin, although we did have two relatively successful fun days out in Glendalough and Dalkey Quarry, two very cool areas, easy to get to by public transportation. The real treat about Dublin was the culture. We saw the best street performers, great musicians at the Dublin City Soul Festival, and had a fantastic time at the pubs. Again, Dublin maybe not where you go to climb, but it is an amazing place to visit.
The definite highlight of our trip was traveling to Mallorca, Spain. If you've ever seen King Lines, the deep water soloing, thats it. That's climbing over water, no ropes, 30, 40, 50, 60 feet up in what the call "Psicobloc" or "Psichotic Bouldering". IT IS SCARIER THAN YOU THINK. It took us several days to warm up to it
The definite highlight of our trip was traveling to Mallorca, Spain. If you've ever seen King Lines, the deep water soloing, thats it. That's climbing over water, no ropes, 30, 40, 50, 60 feet up in what the call "Psicobloc" or "Psichotic Bouldering". IT IS SCARIER THAN YOU THINK. It took us several days to warm up to it, but the climbing was amazing. Normally you walk/climb down easier paths to get into the base of a big cove, then pick your route and start climbing from the inside of the cove. Gotta get used to climbing on wet rock with wet shoes, wet hands and no chalk- its pretty nuts. We stayed in an apartment called Osa Menor in Cala D'Or, a small touristy town on the east coast full of old German ladies and British families. All the beaches there are "nude-optional" I guess and considering the crowd, are less than enjoyable.
EXCEPT... Cala Barques- The guidebook calls this place the "Camp 4 of Mallorca" where Camp 4 is basically the Miguel's of Yosemite. Its the place all the climbers hang out, because its a more private, perfect beach right near 4 amazing coves that have amazing routes. If your going to Mallorca, camping on Beach 4 would be one hell of an experience- Its also a nude beach but all the nudies are climbers, so it isn't that bad ;) despite what a kayaker might say.
Anyway it was on Cala Barques that we had the most ridiculous experience of the trip, if not our lives-
After climbing through the early afternoon, a guy with dreadlocks came up to the crag we were at, Sa Cova, and started talking to us in Spanish, which I barely understood to be asking if the route was dry or not. He went off and climbed, came back and started talking to us more. Broken English and broken Spanish actually combined into a halfway good conversation, to which our new friend Pablo invited us for tea. Of course we accepted the offer, following him accross the beach to... yep, his cave. He woke his friend Cesar up who was lounging in the sun and Cesar started brewing us tea... IN A CAVE. These guys have the BEST climber bum hangout probably in the world- they camp on the beach and keep all their stuff- pots, stoves, lawn chairs, guitars, etc, in the cave and under a tarp to keep it dry. The tea turned out to be Morrocan tea brought from there by Cesar, and was amazingly delicious. During our conversation, a fully naked woman came into the cave, started talking to the guys, and left. I have no idea where she came from. So we stayed for some time and met two other Spanish guys, Chulo and Alberto- who convinced us in even more broken English and mostly spanish that we had to go back into the cave, that there was an amazing underground lake back there. So this big dude Alberto grabbed a bunch of candles and took a flashlight and we went venturing into the cave. Cave bacon everywhere, amazing stalagtite water drip formations and everything along the way, etc. so after about a 10 minute crawl through the cave we come to this huge chamber with perfectly clear amazing water in a lake in this cave. Alberto hands off his flashlight and dives in, so of course we all do too! He described to us that they were developing climbing routes over the lake.
UNDERGROUND DEEP WATER SOLOING IN A CAVE. How freakin cool! The routes were super hard, but looked pretty cool. We made it out alive just fine, despite fleeting thoughts that we might have been brought back into the cave to be raped and murdered or something, and thanked all the guys for showing us everything. On our way out, we looked back to see Cesar taking a shower in the buff in the Medetarranean.
All in all, an incredibly ridiculous adventure- If you ever go to Cala Barques, make sure you check out the cave on the right with all the climber's stuff in it.
That was our last day in Mallorca, followed by two days in Rome being tourists- Not nearly that exciting although the Colloseum, the Pantheon, and the rich history and amazing architechture of Rome were very well worth the trip. There we stayed at The Yellow- a hip, mostly American and slightly overpriced youth hostel with a pretty decent bar attached to it, I guess I would recommend that place as well.
A fantastic trip worthy of at least a POC trip report- I hope you all have the opportunity to do something like it in your lives. I never would have had these experiences without getting involved in the club, so thank you everyone that got me started. Go have an adventure!