Monthly Archives: August 2012

Golf & running in Papendal

Luca wanted to enjoy a weekend out in The Netherlands, I only asked some time during both Saturday and Sunday to run some 8 to 10km each day. We ended up in Papendal: a hotel and sports centre in the country side close to Arnhem. 

Papendal centre entrance

At first I didn’t know about it, just what Luca told me “there is forest around where you can run”. Once we arrived she explained to me more about the place and we could read in some posters that the hotel is used by Dutch national sports teams of several disciplines to prepare big competitions such as the Olympics.

Time to the next Olympics games.


Then, I recalled “I believe that FC Barcelona might have come here as well for summer stages prior to starting the season”. I googled it, and voi là! FC Barcelona has been staged here several times starting as far back as the 70s. I saw an interesting article describing the centre [in Spanish, 237KB] from 1981, when it was already the 4th time the club visited the centre, in 1982 they repeated the experience and many times afterwards (including one in 1988 when the team captain got himself arrested by Dutch police!). Other Spanish teams have been there as well, e.g. Athletic Bilbao in 2003 & 2007.

Luca & I enjoyed a quiet weekend in which we played again golf, this time in the “Pitch & Putt” installation (close to the Edese golf club), just about 7 weeks after having played in Scotland. The game was entertaining, with some pond and trees in between the holes. We’re already looking forward to play the game in Toulouse.

Playing golf.

Then I could run both days around the installations and in the athletics track. I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying out 400m (1’16”), 100m (15”) and long jump (…m)… though I have to say that after having run 9km each day, the legs are not in the best situation to handle those activities. I’ll have to try again being rested in a track in Toulouse… ideally after Berlin marathon training season is finished.

Athletics track where I did some training sessions.

Not that I jumped long, huh?

We also enjoyed the sports decoration motives that you can find in several spots in the hotel. They already make you feel in the sportive mood.

Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m high jump.

Bob Beamon’s 8.90m long jump.


Filed under Sports, Travelling

Flying to Corsica (3/3)

This post is the third one of a series describing our flight from Toulouse-Lasbordes to Corsica and back. I recommend to read beforehand the first and second posts of the series.

I dedicated a single post to cover each of the 2 flights that took us to Propriano airfield. I will include in this single post some comments and pictures corresponding to the 3 flights that we needed on the way back to Toulouse.

Flight 3 (Asier at the controls): Propriano – Bonifacio – Porto Vecchio – Figari

This first flight had 2 purposes: to go to another airport in Corsica where we could refuel the aircraft (Propriano did not have gas station) and to perform a sight-seeing flight around the island. If the weather had permitted it, Jean Louis would have taken us over the mountains. The weather did not permit so, thus we flew over the coast.

Leaving Propriano.

“Torra di Campomoru” at Calanova.

Quiet beach south of Tralicetu.

Far sight of the commercial airport of Figari.

Approaching Bonifacio.

I have many other beautiful pictures of Bonifacio, but I believe I will soon write a post entirely dedicated to it. So I can give you a view of the city from the land, air and sea.

Southernmost point of Corsica.

Villas at Sperono.

Flight 4 (Asier at the controls): Figari – Propriano – Ajaccio – Saint Tropez – Avignon – Alès

Having refueled the aircraft at Figari, we commenced our return flight to mainland France, by first bordering again Corsican coast.

Propriano airfield.

Ajaccio port.

Some hours later…

Pope’s palace in Avignon.

Rhone river at Avignon.


Flight 5 (Javier at the controls): Alès –  Millau – Montpellier – Béziers – Carcassone – Toulouse Lasbordes

Our original plan was to fly over Millau to see its viaduct (you may see a picture of it in this post about the 100km of Millau). However the weather was quite bad in the mountains between Alès and Millau and we had to change on the spot our plans. Luckily I was flying with Jean Louis who helped me in the preparation of the new route and in buying some time while he was taking the controls.

Change of plans due to the bad weather in the mountains, heading south to the coastline, re-calculating the route.

Avoiding further problems ahead (close to Sète).

Mission accomplished :-).

I guess that after seeing these 3 posts you may appreciate the beauty of learning to fly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

Flying to Corsica (2/3)

This post is a continuation to a previous post in which I described the first leg of our flight from Toulouse-Lasbordes to Corsica. If you haven’t yet taken a look at that one, I would recommend you to do so, as you would miss basic information and dozens of beautiful pictures of the French Mediterranean coast.

In the previous post I included images up until Cuers. There we refueled the aircraft and I took the controls of the aircraft, with Jean Louis (Asier‘s flight instructor) always by our side. This time Asier took the pictures.

Flight 2 (Javier at the controls): Cuers – Saint Tropez – Corsica – Sanguinary islands – Ajaccio – Propriano

Some curiosities about flying over the sea:

  • the distinction in the horizon between “land” and sky wasn’t very clear thus it was very important to pay attention to the instruments in order not to lose references and keep a horizontal straight trajectory;
  • as we progressed we always tried to spot ships down in the sea so in case of accident we would try to reach as close as possible to them, Jean Louis would do a water landing and we could be easily rescued;
  • we needed to increase altitude up to flight level FL55 (5,500 feet -~1,700m- vs. about 700ft that we held at some times of the first flight along the coast) so we could keep receiving the signals from VOR on ground at the coasts.

First sight of Corsica: Piana.

Flying around the Corsican coastline: Cargèse.

Notice Jean Louis (the instructor) with the life vest on.

Cemetery of Ajaccio, looking like a village.

Jean Louis & me, at Propriano airfield.

The aircraft, a DR-44, put to rest for the weekend at the airfield.

Since we are normally flying within continental France we are not required to produce a flight plan for the air traffic control. This time as we wanted to cross over the sea to Corsica it was required to do so. Thus, this was the first time we prepared one (another learning point!).

“Olivia”, French site where to file a flight plan.

One remark: it is incredible how much eases the communication with air traffic controllers having sent the flight plan beforehand, as they expect you and they know beforehand more or less the information you are going to provide.

And so we made it! We flew from Toulouse to Corsica 🙂

It took us about 4h30′ of flying time (both flights combined). You may check the Garmin records of the first and second flights by clicking on the links, and the route we followed in this second flight in the picture below:

Even though I have mentioned above that we had planned for the contingency of having to water-land in the sea, the fact that the trajectory in the Garmin records stops at half way through Corsica in the middle of the sea does not mean that we indeed carried out such maneuver. Explanation: since we flew so many kilometers as compared to running (the normal use I give to the device), the memory of the GPS reached its maximum as it recorded one “lap” for every kilometer…

(to be continued…)


Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

Flying to Corsica (1/3)

About 3 months ago, my colleague Asier and I went together with his instructor, Jean Louis, to Corsica for a weekend fly out, an activity of our club the Airbus’ Aviation Society.

The experience was terrific in several ways. I learnt a lot about flying and navigation the days prior to the fly out and during the trip. The views along the way by southern coastal France were superb. We enjoyed good weather despite of what had been announced and even found time to do some tourism and trekking in the island. But let’s go back to the flight.

On the way to Corsica, we made one stop at Cuers to refuel the aircraft and change pilot. Asier would start from Toulouse and I would continue to Corsica. On the way back, Asier would fly over the sea all the way to Alès and I would fly over Millau on the way to Toulouse.

I’ll try to be brief with the explanations and generous with the pictures to give you a flavour of how the French Mediterranean coast looks like. Because of the number of pitures I want to share, I will distribute them in 3 different blog posts, starting with this one dedicated to the first flight.

Flight 1 (Asier at the controls): Toulouse Lasbordes – Carcassone – Narbonne – Sète – Montpellier – Saintes Maries de la Mer – Fos-sur-Mer – Marseille – Cassis – Le Castellet – Toulon – Cuers

I encourage you to take a look at a map of France coast at the same time you are watching the pictures and try to identify the places (you may see the route at the bottom of the post as recorded by my Garmin).

See the life vests (yellow bags) at hand in case of emergency ready at hand. Jean Louis would have his vest always on. In case of emergency he would take the control buying us time to get ours on.

Carcassone from the North.

Narbonne from the North.

Coastline at Cape de Adge.

Peninsula at Étand de Thau.

Seafood plantation at Étand de Thau.

Ville de Sète.


The touristic village “La grande Motte” built in the ‘60s and ‘70s with its characteristic architecture with forms resembling pyramids.

The intricate Port-Camargue, one of the first “pleasure ports” in Europe, also from the ‘60s.

Closed ponds at the mouth of the Rhone.

Bull fighting arena at Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Sands at Lagunes de Beauduc (with its non-paved driveway).

Lighthouse at Lagunes de Beauduc.

Colourful salt flats at Salins du Giraud.

Ships departing from the industrial hub Fos-sur-Mer.

Marseille and “Les Îles”.

Les Goudes and “Les Îles” (past Marseille).

Natural reservation of the “Île de Riou“.

Ideal and quiet spot at Calanque de Sormiu.

Former F1 “Paul Ricard” racing circuit and aerodrome at Le Castellet.

Military port at Toulon (an aircraft carrier can be seen).

Asier after having flown 2h30′ hours posing side by side our Robin DR-44.

You may check the Garmin records of this first flight by clicking on the link and the route we followed in the picture below:

(to be continued…)


Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

New high: 297km in July

About a month ago I was struggling to get back into the habit of frequently running. What is more, I had to be starting with the specific training plan for the Berlin marathon (30 September, which I will run together with my friend Serna and my brother Jaime).

At the beginning of July I checked the stats from Garmin connect from the previous year. In July 2011 I had run 283km. I wrote the following tweet to commit myself:

In the end, in July I ran 25 days and rested 6. I ran in Toulouse, Sevilla, El Rompido (Huelva, Spain), Madrid and Papendal (The Netherlands). I ran one race in Toulouse, I ran in the beach, did 3 days of treadmill, 4 days of series and one half marathon training. I ran in two different athletics tracks: in Toulouse and Papendal.

And in the end… I completed over 297km, 14km more than in July 2011, fulfilling the objective, setting a new personal record (previous one being 287km from September 2011 – ultramarathon of 100km included) and heading right into the marathon training mode.

Injures permitting: Berlin, see you in less than 2 months.


Filed under Sports