Monday, 2 December 2013


 Bullet Points:
- We disembarked from our ferry in Barcelona
- We caught a bus a long way south to Granada in the region of Andaloucia
- We rode through the hills for 500km to the port town of Algeciras
- We caught a ferry to Tanger Med in Morocco

Riding in southern Spain was to put it simply, a lovely experience. We loved cruising with other cyclists along the city cyclepaths of Barcelona, Granada and Malaga, while also finding that the country lanes that we rode for five days between Granada and Algeciras were virtually cyclepaths themselves, so smooth, small and almost void of traffic. And when any traffic did roll up behind us, we were treated with the utmost courtesy as the cars crawled quietly along behind us until they could 100% safely give us a very wide berth. What a treat!

We were very well cared for by Warmshowers hosts in Barcelona and Granada. Adela in Barcelona met us after our ferry from Italy, and we spent a lovely evening of pizza, wine and conversations about adventuring and living in our diverse world. In Granada, a culturally and historically rich cty in Andaloucia, Southern Spain, we were hosted by Manuel and Miguel. Again, so generously cared for, shown around and fed with amazing food, given an inspired route suggestion for our ride, and even accompanied for the first 30km! Another rare and treasured treat!

The city of Granada, named after the Spanish name for pomegranate, was a prominent city of the Moors (a medieval Islamic kingdom) who inhabited Southern Spain from the 8th to the 15th centuries. It was the last city to fall the to the Catholic "reconquista" in 1492, and it still retains a strong Moorish flavour. We visited the city's most famous showpiece, the Alhambra Palace, and wandered the intricately tiled rooms, the stately courts, fountains and pools and the finely arched colonnades. A really graceful and peaceful place.

The Spanish food we sampled was amazing! Selections of fried seafood, a tasty "paella" (like a rice risotto) with seafood and meat, delectable chocolate pastries, Spanish tortila a la our host Manuel. Even the simple breads, cheeses and toasts with olive oil drizzled on top were amazing!

Winter is making its presence felt even in this famously summery part of the globe. We had a couple of -4C frosts, which made for chilly starts on the bikes, but absolutely wonderful cool, clear blue sky days to follow! We rode through olive groves and ploughed fields, then into the sierras (mountains). Wonderful rocky peaks and bluffs, with areas of dry low conifers, which I think are called Spanish fir. Birds of prey with a huge wing span, again tentatively identified by us as griffin vultures, circled overhead as we rode and camped.

Every now and then we came to picturesque villages, with their white painted houses shining brilliantly in the low winter sun. Beautiful churches, common "squares" filled with socialable groups of elderly men, and the occassional stone castle and remains of city walls made these villages quite unique. Ronda was one of our favourites, set on a bluffed promontary, with a striking bridge and the oldest bull ring in Spain.

What a wonderful place to ride! A great end to our European section of our cycle journey. On our final night we camped in a wonderful hidden grassy spot under a tall bluff, and in the morning cruised a windy downhill out to the lowlands and the port, and the Straits of Gibraltar!


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