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Published: December 12th 2007
Spanish hill town
The town of Teba surrounded by Andalusia's ubiquitous olive groves and crowned by an ancient Muslim fort
We spent the last 3 days cycling and - after the weather took a turn for the worse - riding the train from Malaga to Seville. We hadn't really planned to travel much in Spain, but we've been adopting the "as long as we're here" attitude of the itinerary-free traveler and trying to ignore how we're being whacked by the dollar->euro exchange rate. Seville sounded very cool, so off we went.
We didn't do too much training in Colorado for this trip (OK, none) so the hilly terrain between Malaga and Seville has jumpstarted our bicycle conditioning. The country here could easily pass for the coastal foothills of Central California, except that every square inch of the rocky soil is planted in olive trees.
We've been going over hill and down dale on a route plotted by the TomTom GPS software as a "bicycle route". This keeps us off the big autovias, though it sometimes means secondary highways with lots of traffic but excellent surface and wide shoulders. More often it's tertiary highways - i.e. country roads - and once it even routed us down a dirt double-track through olive groves - very cool!
Our high-school Spanish, being
The GPS plotted this route...
...an awesome downhill run on doubletrack through olive groves
rapidly repolished, has been perfectly adequate for obtaining appropriate food and shelter. Along the way we've been eating in little bars and restaurants that - unlike Malaga's - have probably never seen a tourist, so we're definitely getting the comida authentica, including many cups of delicious cafe con leche.
We stayed one night in the small town of Ardales in what looked like a time-share apartment for city folks, with a great view of the church steeple and the local Moorish ruins. Our luck ran out the next night when the town we arrived in turned out to have no accomodations. Having been directed by the locals another 20km off our track, including another 300m of climbing - now in the dark, with an approaching storm - only to find the campground with cabins was CLOSED ON MONDAYS, we threw ourselves upon the mercy of the caretakers, who opened up a cozy little cabin for us just before the storm hit.
The next day we dodged the squalls another 50km to a stop in Osuna on the Seville train line just before the skies opened up. We thought we were as good as arrived in Seville when a
Ardales, Andalusia, Spain
We spent the night in this little hill town in a very cushy condo
suspiciously long delay midway through the trip was relieved by the train reversing direction and heading back where we came. The deluge had flooded the main line, and we were unceremoniously herded onto busses - throwing the bikes into luggage compartments - for a detour NOT all the way to Seville but just around the inundation to the next station. There, much schlepping of gear ensued again, still in a wicked downpour, to get us back on a packed train for the final leg to Seville.
What should have been a one hour trip, giving us plenty of daylight to make a leisurely perusal of our choice of Seville's budget accomodations turned into four hour multimodal extravaganza capped by a nightime bike ride through the dark streets of a strange city in the pouring rain, guided by the Lonely Planet and the GPS's turn-by-turn instructions to the pension closest to the train station. (The navigation strategy worked pretty well until we entered Seville's old city, where the GPS tended to lose its satellite signals between the tall stone buildings that line the narrow, winding medieval streets. TomTom's map coverage of that labrynthine skein of streets, alleys and footpaths has been spot-on, however.)
More coverage of Seville once we've had a chance to explore the city...
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Check our expanded gallery of travel photos at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_hoge/collections/72157613626339376 And visit our home page at:
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