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Published: April 13th 2010
About to start outside Norma's apartment
Spain - 3 months
A great trip.
I spent 46 days cycling anti-clockwise around Spain; leaving Barcelona and heading South along the coast until Cadiz and then returning North through the centre of the country via Sevilla, Madrid, Salamanca until I hit Santander. From Santander I cycled east along the coast and then parallel to the Pyrenees until I reached Roda de Isabena, my finishing line.
I left Barcelona knowing that I needed to cycle quickly as I had only 4 days to cycle approx. 250 miles to Valencia so that I would be there in time to see the end of the Las Fallas festival. On the first day my situation became even harder as my chain snapped and I had to return to Sitges to a bike repair shop. I traveled quickly only stopping to rest when really necessary and to enjoy Tarragona and the Delta de l’ebre. I arrived in time to see some of Valencia in the daylight and stayed until way passed midnight to see the burning of hundreds of elaborate caricature constructions which light up the night sky.
I had to sleep in some bushes in the park and
A rest from the pacey cycling
in the morning while leaving the city I cycled passed the very modern but extremely impressive science museum.
After Valencia I continued along the coast, camping on the beach, but I cycled quickly to try and escape the over developed tourism, which I began to when I reached the salt flats and the pretty coastline before Carboneras. The worst part of the over-developed tourism was Benidorm, I stayed for an hour to soak up some culture, you know fish and chips and British voices.
After Carboneras I reached the beautiful Cabo de Gato with its rocky coastline, and slept on a massive beach.
From Cabo de Gata I cycled away from the coast and headed into the Sierra Nevada and crossed some mountains (although not the biggest ones) to arrive in Granada. It was freezing cold and kept raining so I didn’t stay in Granada very long, just a quick bite to eat and a glimpse of the outside of the impressive Alhambra. From Granada I continued towards Velez-Malaga having to cross more mountains and cycle around lakes and at one point it even began to snow. After battling the cold I was relieved to descend
Delta de l'ebre
Where I camped the second night
from the mountains and reach the coast much warmer at a lower altitude, I was also happy to sleep on the beach again,.
After Marbella I headed inland again towards Ronda as I wanted to cycle along La ruta de los pueblos blancos. The scenery was beautiful, the towns characterised by whitewashed walls and red or brown tiled roofs are situated on a chain of mountains, mostly within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
The route lead me down to the very weird Gibraltor with its roadsigns from England and even English tarmac roads and everything in English, English, English, it’s just a big lump of rock.
Seeing Africa across the water from Tarifa was cool, as was the hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera. Cadiz was pretty but I thought that Sevilla was very, very impressive and a beautiful city full of historic buildings. I was there for the semana santa procession which was really interesting, although a little spooky.
From Sevilla I spent 4 hardcore days cycling in order to reach Toledo in time to meet Norma. I passed Cordoba, Montoro, Puertollano and Ciudad Real, I spent sometime in
Some of the many wooden sculptures
Cordoba, wandering the streets and enjoying the traditional architecture. Montoro was set in a pretty location and the countryside from Montoro to Ciudad Real was particularly pleasant. After 23 days I was overjoyed to wash my body with soap, in a river, outside of Cordoba
Toledo was a really nice castle style town, close to Madrid and I spent 2 days here with Norma and 2 more in Madrid, a 4 day rest from the saddle. It’s some sort of custom to pour the fizzy wine from a height, and I did quite well.
After Madrid I visited the valle de los caidos (Valley of the fallen), a supposed tribute to those that died in the civil war but it seemed to pay homage to Franco. It was impressive to cycle up through a valley and discover a 150 metre high cross, there was also a huge basilica. From here I went and visited El Escorial, one of the Spanish royal sites which functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school and then I continued on towards Avila, another really nice castle style town.
I continued north via Salamanca ("The golden city") with its golden glow coming
the las fallas festival ending
from the buildings that use a type of sandstone taken from a nearby quarry.
From Salamanca I joined the Camino de Santiago, or one of the three routes that run through Spain, and continued before crossing the Montes de Leon. My favourite experience of the trip was crossing the two mountain ranges, the Montes de Leon and the Picos de Europa, breath-taking scenery and the descent from the peak, Puerto de San Glorio at 1609m, following the river down to the coast, was such great fun.
In between the two ranges there was a cool Unesco site; las Medulas, a former hill excavated for gold by the Romans and left as red pinnacles jutting from the ground. I also joined another famous part of the camino de Santiago between Astorga and Leon where I saw many pilgrims walking and cycling and there was plenty of accommodation for all of them.
After the Picos de Europa I reached the ocean and cycled east along the coast via Bilbao and San Sebastian until I was one kilometre from the French border then I headed inland towards Pamplona. From here I ran pretty much parallel to the
The City of Arts and Sciences complex
Pyrennes passing many religous monuments and houses of worship, cute little hilltop towns, nice lakes and some great views of the mountains. The view from the campsite where I spent my last night was insanely beautiful.
I met Norma in a hilltop town, in the mountains, called Roda de Isabena. Then it was a joy and also a little scary to speed around in the car, doing 80km in an hour not 5 or 6.
A really cool trip which such variety, and that usual feeling of being free, cycling through the country stopping to camp wherever I want.
I cycled 2590 miles or 4162km and spent 439,29 Euros, 200 of those during the 4 days rest from the saddle.
Tot: 3.314s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 16; qc: 83; dbt: 0.0431s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb