Day 10, Tuesday, June 5 – Sevilla to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Wednesday 6 June 2012

We were out of the door just after 7:30 this morning.  If yesterday was any indication, today was going to be hot, so we wanted an early start.  We began in cool 70 degrees, but with a clear sky we knew the cool temps would not last.  It took us about an hour to get out of the city, not because we got lost, Sevilla is just that big.

The instant we left the city we lost all sign of life, other than a LOT of traffic (including large trucks)on the  long, flat highway; note the very tall mountains in the not so distant distance.

But we were making good time on the generous shoulder, until we came to hills at exactly 30 miles.  At mile 31 we took a break at the first refreshment stop we’d seen since leaving the city.  The stop was longer than expected as we sat and chatted with Herman from Holland (on his way to Casablanca) for at least a half an hour.  Herman puts about 20,000 on his bike a year…crazy!

The hills continued for the rest of the ride and though

the fields in the distance denied the hills we were using every gear in our hub,so we tried to focus on the sparse yet beautiful scenery,odd, as it sometimes seemed.

We decided to stop at the next town that appeared on the map; after 62 miles in temps that reached 105 (road temperature) we were ready.  Little did we know what the town had in store for us.  But we’re getting ahead of the story.

By 5:00ish, we managed enough energy to walk into the town.  Actually, the plan was to take a taxi since it was a “generous 20 minute walk”, but that did not happen.  Which was great, as we were treated to delightful streets along the way into the old town.

Then it started, church after church after church.  We don’t think we’ve ever been in a town that had as many churches within walking distance as this town, plus a cathedral….The Catedral Antigua Colegiata de San Salvador.

We could not find a date for the cathedral, though still magnificent the wear and tear was very evident, On our stroll back to the hotel we came upon this wall, which looked like part of an ancient castle dating back to 1261…..yep, ancient!  A little rest along the way back and though we could tell from our window the sun was still up it was time for bed.

For a day with virtually nothing to see, this town was very unexpectedly fabulous.

Day 11, Wednesday, June 6 – Jerez de la Frontera to Cadiz

Thursday 7 June 2012

If felt like a really cool morning even though the sun was hot, but that was because the wind was so strong.  Once out on the road, we realized the wind was at our back, so we were not complaining.

Our first goal of the day was to get to Cádiz.  We will spare you the climbs and barren landscape, but must subject you to the bridge we had to cross

in order to get into the city; not easy, not recommended, but done safely.

Since we got into “town” by 10:30 am, our thought was to try to tour it by bicycle and then move on.  The several miles it took us to navigate through the ‘new’ city almost did us in.  Once we arrived at what we came to see, we realized there was no way we could see it by bicycle; even with our “cram it all in fast” tour.   So we found a hotel that let us check in early, and also was in the center of everything.

Greek legend has it that Cadiz was founded by Hercules, but traditionally dated to 1104 B.C.  Confirmed facts are it is most ancient continuously inhabited city still standing in western Europe.  Also, Christopher Columbus sailed from here on his second and fourth voyages.  To us, it was just Incredible.

Beautiful gardensInteresting shopsamazing treesand a fortress wall that surrounded the entire peninsula.As we turned the corner of this edge of the fortress, a whole new world of beach-goers appeared.The boats on the sand, told the story of the dramatic tide change experienced daily.But the water was gorgeous, so we can understand why so many were enjoying the cold temperature.We continued the fortress wall and saw the enormity of the Cádiz Cathedral.But it takes walking many of the narrow streetsand stopping at the market for cherriesseriously, look at the size of these vegetablesbefore getting a closer look.

This is an interesting culture here.  Taking a break from one of our picture taking tours (around 5 pm), though we enjoyed the people watching, they were few and far between.  We retreated to our room to relax before dinner.  As we exited our room for dinner, we were amazed at the amount of people that were now out……as if the flood gates had opened.  Found a place for dinner that was probalby known more for it’s location, than it’s cuisine; fine with us; if was very entertaining. 

It was like a parade of “interesting” people.

After dinner, as we gluttonously enjoyed ice cream, we were amazed at the kids playing on the streets….it was 9:30 at night!  Guess it’s time for us old folks to go to bed.

 

Day 12, Thursday, June 7 – Cadiz to Tarifa, Spain

Friday 8 June 2012

Our first three miles out of town was a peaceful ride along the beach allowing us to catch one last glimpse of the old city of Cadiz.The next two hours, however, was a miserable ride along the interstate.  We began to doubt if we wanted to continue through the rest of Spain in these conditions.  But we managed to find a road that paralleled the interstatewhich was much less ‘hairy’ and gave us an opportunity to take a break,look around and enjoy the sceneryand see the ocean in the distance.Though the sun was once again hot, the Atlantic was providing us with a very cool tail wind.  Which we were going to need, to help us over the mountains in the distance.No more complaining about hills, apparently it is mountains from here on out.But the cool temps and wind helped a lot.  We’d had a plan to stop at about 40 miles, but we were feeling good and we would have to go over this mountain to get to the hotel, I think not!

Somewhere around 50 miles we dropped into a valley filled with hundreds

and hundreds of wind generators.Nothing but wind generators for several miles, that and wind in our face; now we realized just how much the wind was assisting us. One more climb, however, before we dropped into view of the beautiful sea and more kitesurfers and windsurfersthan we’ve ever seen in one place, they too were really enjoying the wind.  But we needed a rest, so on to town.  Many of the streets of Tarif are straight up and down, which we discovered when trying to locate a hotel, not recommended at the end of a tiring 65 mile day. The town front along the water is under refurbishment,  but the real beauty of Tarif is the beachand naked beachgoers (of course) this is the mountain we just came through to get here,

There is also an old fort, Castillo de Santa Catalinafishing portand lots of character to the area.There is also an awfully fast boat to Morocco,which is only 14 kilometers away…..guess tomorrow we take a break and go to Africa.

Day 13, Friday, June 8 – Trip to Tangier, Morocco

Saturday 9 June 2012

Never thought I’d see the day the two of us would do an organized tour, but with only a day available and a country we knew we did not speak the language, it was our best bet.  It was a beautiful morning as we departed Tarifa

with such a short distance between countries between continents, it did not take long to see the shoreline of Moroccowhere our tour bus awaited.  So glad we are not biking this city as everything seemed to go up.The first part of our bus ride took us straight up  a hill to the new part of the city.Many expensive homes including the King’s summer palace (he has one in every city) with and incredible view of the Straits of Gibraltar.And of course, we took the obligatory tourist pose.Then on to the Kasbah, leaving the streets and cars behind.Entering very narrow streetsinteresting doorwaysand in a few cases some beautiful tiles.This is the widest street in the Kasbah.This is one of the many bakeries for the city, almost like a cave.  Shopsof all kindsand people trying to sell you something were everywhere, don’t forget the snake charmer and his cobra. We even got a demonstration on rug making.Just outside one wall of the Kasbah and we once again get a beautiful view of the sea.A couple more shopsbefore our leaving Tangier boarding our boatnot really, some Saudi rich guy’s boat, but we had a nice ride back to the calm and quite of Tarifa.

Day 14, Saturday, June 8 – Tarifa to La Linea de Gibraltar, Spain

Saturday 9 June 2012

It was a cool (65 degree) morning as we pedaled out of Tarifa on cobblestone streets that led straight up and up and up: note the wind generators poking through the clouds. At the one mile point there was an almost flat spot where we stopped to take a breath and a picture.  The climbing continued for another four miles.  It was slow going, but atfter an hour we reached the top of our five mile climb.  It was a beautiful view of where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic and Africa in the distance,

but a bit discouraging that we could almost see where he had just come from; it was not going to be a day with a lot of mileage.  We continued to climb, nothing like our first five miles, but still up and the scenery was still as fabulous.In Algeciras we caught our first glimpse of the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance, We reached the British Territory of Gibraltar just before noon,

along with a gazillon people coming in for the weekend.  We stopped for lunchthen biked across the border and the airport runway (literally) through the gatesand into the city and a sea of people. The rock is impressive!We spent a couple of hours riding around and taking way too many pictures of the Rock,

then made our way to a hotel on the other side of the border (back into Spain) around the corner from this beautiful churchand charming square.

Wish we had pictures to show you, but we were sitting in this square having a refreshment around 5:30 and women dressed to the nines were coming out of the woodwork, to go to church.  Now this is why we could not take any pictures, everyone of them wore a minimum of a 4-inch spiked heels and a very tight dress, some even with sequins.  Thought maybe it was a special occasion, wedding, something other than a Saturday night Catholic service, but it was not.  Best we could do was picture of the inside.

We managed to catch dinner in between the people watching and stopped for blueberry cheesecake on the way back to our bed for the night.

We realize this is not a very good picture of the dessert, but our waitress really wanted us to take this picture, so we felt obligated to post it.  Though the town is just coming alive after 9 pm, we are just going to bed.  Rumor has it that it is a long mountainous ride tomorrow and after cheating today at 35 miles, we are due.

End of Week 2

Monday 3 September 2012

Huelva to Gibraltar, Spain

247 miles

Day 15, Sunday, June 10 – La Linea de Gibraltar to Marbella, Spain

Monday 11 June 2012

Got an early start to our Sunday morning ride,we wanted at least one mountain out of our way before the heat set in.  Though it was barely 70 degrees when we left, we had no idea what or how many climbs we had in store.

The Rock glowed in the sunrise and few people were on the boardwalk or roads. Our flat and vacant road lasted only a half hour as our course turned up and onto the highway.Our bikes need a rest after an hour, as did we since the sweat was pouring down our faces, but we felt better having accomplished six miles in our first hour versus yesterday’s five miles; though we could still see Gibraltar. Our height did offer beautiful vistas and a peak at some beautiful homes. It was as if six miles northeast of Gibraltar, the real estate increased in value dramatically. Understandable with the azur of the Meditteranian for a view.

We took a delicious breakfast stop around 10:30, as we’d left too early to eat this morning.  A half hour later the wind turned and came off the sea; the temps dropped ten degrees, we were refreshed.  Our course took us through expensive towns

beautiful streets flower lined boardwalks and a beach oasis.Entering Marbella, we came across this hospital we assume is for the rich and famous.

We dropped onto their hard packed sand boardwalk shortly after noon and continued to enjoy the condosand homes of the rich and famous.The beach is beautiful, though sparsely populatedand we could not seem to take enough pictures.

We’d been at this for over an hour and we really needed a shower; a room was necessary….room with a view, too.Refreshed and clean we went out to tour.

Though the beach was spectacular and the people watching the bestwe wanted to see what the old town had to offer.Homes with window boxes,incredible detail in the street stone work and The Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation from the 16th century.But the beach was calling us back.After dinner we sat on the boardwalk and watched the continuous parade of people, adults out for a stroll and kids out to be seen.  But it had been a tough 43 miles in the hills, so we did not last long.