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We started the day by donning our running outfits, then taking our bike to the bike shop to have some work done on it. (We needed a front wheel built from the rim and hub that we had, the Shimano Flight Deck computer repaired, the chains replaced and the handlebars re-wrapped.)
We left the bike there, then we jogged into the center of town -- about 5 miles -- to visit the "Las Ramblas" pedestrian .
On our run, we discovered that Barcelona is a city with many beautifully boulevards that are designed to serve pedestrians as well as motor vehicles. Most of them are VERY wide, with three lanes of traffic each direction in the center.
On each side of that roadway is a wide landscaped area that includes a wide pedestrian walkway and, sometimes, a two-way bike path. The landscaping always includes continuous plantings of tall, broadleaf trees.
On outsides of THOSE walkways are one or two lanes of one way traffic next to a parking lane. Finally, on the outsides of the parking lanes are the normal city sidewalks, of course with another row of tall trees in sidewalk cutouts.
So, with a birds eye view of the boulevard one would see, from left to right, a building, a sidewalk with trees, a parking lane and one or two lanes of traffic coming towards you, a wider landscaped area with sidewalks of varying widths -- maybe with a bike path -- and then two or three traffic lanes coming towards you. That would be one half of the boulevard. The other half would be a mirror image.
We also discovered that Barcelona is a city with sidewalks covered with textured tiles. Wide sidewalks, narrow sidewalks, ALL the sidewalks are covered with tiles with different textures or patterns.
Our run took us to the "Las Ramblas." The Las Rambles is a wide boulevard where the center roadway is, instead, a pedestrian walkway. That, of course, makes a SUPER wide pedestrian way. It is lined with cafes, entertainers, small stands selling whatever, artists, news and magazine stands, "living statues" and a large farmers market with fantastic fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, spices, etc. Walking the Las Ramblas is a 'must do" when visiting Barcelona.
We spent all morning and the early afternoon there. Then we picked up our laundry (that we had dropped off the day before) and returned to our hotel.
When Larry and Joan returned from their tour, we got our stuff together and headed for the TK&A campground. But that was not as easy as it sounds.
Larry got the information that the train goes right past the campground, so we headed for the train station. Again, we rode and taxi'd, with Lisa and Larry riding the singles.
At the station, Larry bought the tickets and was told "Track 6." So we got the bikes and gear to Track 6, and waited. While we were waiting, Larry checked with a few more people and confirmed Track 6. When the train came in, Larry wasn't around. He was talking to another man, one who had a bicycle. Larry came running over and told us the train we needed was on track 5 -- so we all piled onto the train on track 5.
We rode the train for about 15 minutes. Another passenger said the train didn't go to Lido de Castelldef (where our camp was located.) We should get off at the next station, which was Castelldef, and go to Lido de Castelldef from there. So we did.
Then the challenge was, getting to Lido de Castelldef. It seems there was no train or bus, and taxis wouldn't take the bikes. Well, by now we're used to that. So we got the directions for bicycling to Lido de Castelldef, and, again, Larry and Lisa road the two singles while Joan and I took a taxi with all the gear.
We finally got to the campground with no further challenges -- although, I was concerned when Larry and Lisa went to the left out of the station and our taxi went to the right. But that was just the difference between taking local roads and taking the freeway.
At the campground we found we were assigned to an old "mobile home" as they were called. It was musty and cold. There was no heat. There were no towels. And the sleeping arrangements were, a double bed in the one bedroom and bunk beds in a curtained closet off the hall. We moved our stuff in, Lisa and I took the bunks, and went to bed.
As Lisa always says, "It's better than a tent! -- especially in the rain."
Yes, the El Kneeland weather pattern stricks again. Yesterday was bright, clear and sunny all day. Today, Odyssey arrives -- and so does the rain.
Love to all, David and Lisa
This morning we took a bus into town. We had to pick up our bike later and we wanted to see the town.
We decided to took the "Bus Turistic" for an unencumbered tour of the city. The Bus Turistic is a double-decker, open top bus. It goes around the city on two, preset routes. There are 29 stops at points of interest, which the bus guide describes in three languages. One can get off the bus at any stop, spend as much or as little time as desired, then get on the bus again.
We ended up getting premier seats on the open top deck and riding both routes so we could check everything out. We saw, heard about and read about a lot of interesting places along the routes. We noted those that we wanted to revisit and spend more time at.
We got off the bus at noon to check on our bike and to have lunch. Then we got off about 4 to pick up our bike and ride it to the campground. (We brought bike clothes for this.)
We got directions to our campground from the bike shop. After 5-6 km's, the road took a strange turn that didn't seem right. I checked a detailed map at a gas station and found that we were going entirely the wrong direction. So, back into town, across town, then out of town on Highway N246, which should have taken us right to the campground.
As we know by now, things are seldom as they seem. We were following N246 out of town, dodging traffic at on ramps and off ramps and making really good time. Then I noticed the traffic had gotten faster, and the road had taken us quite a ways from the coast.
We stopped again to verify our route and found that we were on an Autostrada (or freeway) that had taken us far from our destination. No one could tell us how to get to Lido de Castelldef. We were lost. It was now after 8. The sun was going down. It was getting dark fast. WE WERE STRESSED OUT!!!
After snarling at each other, we decided to use our naviguessing skills that we've learned on this trip. We knew our campground was on the ocean and that it was near the airport. Both of those were East, so we headed that way. Along the way, we stopped runners a couple of times to ask directions.
Bottom line? We got in right at dusk -- just before 9. We had ridden 34 km's getting to camp from Barcelona -- which was only 14 km's away. We had leftover salads for dinner because dinner time was over at 8. But we were safe and happy!
Love to all, David and Lisa
Today we traveled to Gibraltar by bus.
This morning we had breakfast, prepared day bags for the bus trip, packed our gear in the lockers, and loaded our bicycles on a truck. Then we were on our own until dinner at 5 and departure at 7.
We took a bus into town with Larry and Joan, then caught the BusTuristic to the Gaudi buildings.
Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) was an architect/designer who "combined art and technique" in his work. The result is work that is free-flowing and 1920's "modern" looking. (Called Art Noveau, in Spain it's known as "Modernism.")
We visited "La Pedrera" first. It is an apartment building, locally known as "the stone quarry." It is considered the pinnacle of the modernist movement, with its impressive undulating stone facade. The freeform, free-flowing, nonstandard design is very evident in the curvilinear lines of the eves, the balconies and the windows. The vents, chimneys and skylights on the roof are all incorporated into modernistic, freeform shapes that, in twilight, look like creatures from a space movie.
Inside, the rooms are all freeform shape. Nothing is rectangular. There are no square corners. Every door is a different size and shape, and each has fancy, carved moldings around it. One apartment is a full scale recreation of the home of a well-to-do, Barcelona family at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the attic, the stone arches and beams used for construction are visible. (Yes, that's right -- stone rather than wood holds the building up.)
There was a display about how Gaudi designed arches. He hung a rope freely from each end to form the natural catenary curve. If weight was to be uniformly applied, that's the shape of his arch. If weight was to be applied, he would hang weights from the rope at the point of the force. Then he would use a mirror to see the ultimate shape. (I can't say I understand how it works, but. . . .
The Pedera first opened in 1911. It included many "modern" features, like electricity, telephones and elevator. It opened to much controversy because of it's looks. Since then, it has been abandoned, rundown, restored, reopened, and made into a museum and showcase for Gaudi work, showcasing his artistic qualities and technique innovations.
Next we visited the "Sagrada Familia," his most "emblematic work" and the "greatest exponent of his genius." It is a symbol of Barcelona all over the world. Gaudi took over the work in 1883, with a desire to make it a "cathedral for the twentieth century" using complex symbolism and "providing a visual explanation of the mysteries of faith." Needless to say, the result is a very unusual-looking building.
The Sagrada Familia has many similar, Swiss-cheese-looking spires. It has many statuary groupings, both realistic and modernistic, representing various religious scenes. And it has many different looks of a variety of cathedrals melded together.
We then hopped on a BusTuristic to tide two stops, where we would catch our bus back to the campground. The bus broke down after one stop.
So we hopped a city bus. That worked. Then we caught the bus back to camp. We had dinner, grabbed our gear, and waited for the hired busses that would take us to Gibraltar.
The four busses left about 7 p.m. for the ride to Gibraltar. After a long and painful night, with a stop about every two hours for bathroom, snack, (and to make sure nobody really slept much) we arrived at 10 a.m. (I had a thigh cramp the whole way and could never get comfortable enough to sleep.) Everyone agreed, it was worse than an all night plane ride.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|04/29||The City and Country of Gibraltar
After our uncomfortable, overnight bus arrived about 10:30 a.m., we got our room assignments, had brunch, and went to bed. We got up at 7 p.m. for dinner, then went back to bed.
Love to all, David and Lisa
Our hotel, The Caleta Hotel is very nice. It is on the southeasterly side of Gibraltar, nestled between "the rock" and the sea. Our room had a nice patio and a unique view of "the rock."
We got up to see that it had rained during the night and it was unseasonably cold. Yes, the "El Kneeland" weather is still following us.
Today is Lisa's birthday so she got to "plan" our unplanned day. Even before a non-plan could evolve, the phone rang. It was Lauren, Lisa's sister, calling to wish her a happy birthday. They talked for about an hour, then we went down for breakfast.
After breakfast we went for a run. We jogged around the whole country of Gibraltar. It's only 7-8 miles (including a mile of uphill through a tunnel), but what a kick! We did stop at the cable car (closed) then stopped to have some tea and cake in town. (It was quite expensive. Five pounds (about $8) for two teas and two pastries.
We met some fellow riders on the way back. We found out that Lynn, (as in Art and Lynn, fellow tandem riders) just got out of the hospital. She was really sick yesterday but is on the road to recovery now.
By the way, we want to set some misinformation straight. A few weeks ago we mentioned meeting Hewes at the Michalangelo Piazza in Florence, and that he was riding the tandem solo. I don't recall the context and why that was mentioned, but I do know that was the first and only time we saw Hewes riding solo. Except for that time, Susan is ALWAYS stoking for him.
We had a nice birthday dinner with some friends and some wine, then had a "carioci " coffee (coffee with kalua and brandy and a shot of whipped cream on top. We sat on the deck, talking with Bill from Seattle until the rain started. Then we went back to our room and listened to it pour. Hope the rain ends before morning.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/01||Gibraltar, Gibraltar to Torremolinos, Spain
Today's ride was 140 km's.
The first 75 was along Spain's "Costa del Sol" or sunny coast. And sunny it was for the first hour and a half. We passed many beaches, marinas and golf courses. We passed through several small towns -- all looking fairly modern and touristy.
It was cool and sunny to start the day. We wore our lightweight Odyssey jackets. As the morning wore on, it got warmer, so, off with the jackets. Then a heavy, heavy rain -- wet but warm -- came through. We quickly put on our rain gear. Then the sun came out again and dried us out. Off with the rain gear.
We followed the coast to Marbella. After we went through Marbella, the route left the coast and we had a 10.6 km climb up into the mountains past Ojen. We got light, spotty rain as we climbed, but, of course, we were quite warm with the climbing.
Ojen is a very scenic town -- like a picture postcard. The buildings are ALL white with red tile roofs. They cascade down the side of a mountain into the valley below. (We did not stop to visit Ojen because the town flowed down from our route. A visit would have meant a significant climb back up.)
As we left Ojen, it started to rain again. We put the raingear back on. We reached the summit. There was a SAG van, but we decided to continue in the light rain and enjoy our "earned descent" down the other side.
Almost immediately, we hit a head wind and it started pouring. Then it HAILED! And hail hurts when it's hitting you at 50 km/hr, so we had to slow way down -- lots of braking. (So much for enjoying our "earned descent."
After the long downhill and several km's of rolling hills, we came to a restaurant that was open. (That was unusual because today is May 1, a national Holiday.) We were thoroughly soaked and freezing so we stopped and had hot chocolates. It was still raining and we were still cold, so we decided to wait for a SAG.
After an hour or so, Pierre (a SAG driver) showed up. He gave us a ride, but unfortunately, he was lost. We tied in with Merlin in another SAG. He was also lost. Finally, they made contact with Jeff (in another SAG.) He knew the way so we all followed him.
We entered a small town that was having a BIG May 1 celebration. The town was packed. The designated route was closed for the celebration. The surrounding streets were packed with cars and people celebrating. As we squeezed by, people opened our doors and tried to get the women to get out and dance with them. Others thrust Margaritas in the windows for us (which we graciously accepted.)
After the town we made our way to the campground. Joan was there first since she SAG'd much earlier, so we expected that she would have got us rooms and retrieved our bike rack that Larry had loaned out. She tried, but unfortunately was unable to do either.
Since it was so late (almost 8), the three of us decided to go to dinner. (Larry wanted to ride "EFM" today so he wasn't in yet.)
Before dinner was over, Larry got in so we waited and all went to find rooms together at about 9:30. The hotel that was a block from the restaurant was full by then, but they graciously made a call to the hotel in town where we were scheduled to pick up our rental car tomorrow.
We took a taxi to the Hotel Principi Del Sol (a three star but still only 10,940 pesatas), got our rooms, and were in bed by 11:30.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/02||Spain, Torremolinos to Playa de Poniente (Motril)
This morning, Larry, Joan and Lisa went to camp to get our gear from the lockers and, hopefully, to get our bike rack from whomever Larry loaned it to. They were successful on both counts.
To be more efficient, I stayed at the hotel until the rental desk opened to get our car, while Larry and Joan took to the road on their bikes. Lisa waited for me at camp.
It took me quite a while to get the car. The desk opened late, there was a crowd waiting (ahead of me), they didn't have a record of our reservation ("Not to worry. It must be at the airport office" he said), they didn't have any information about the reservation ("Not to worry. It's in the computer." he said -- but he didn't have a computer), and they didn't have the car we had reserved -- but he had an "equivalent."
I finally got away from there about 11. I went to the campground and picked up Lisa. We had hoped to get some riding in before picking up Joan at 2, her requested pickup time, but it was too late. We drove the route, stopped to have lunch, stopped in a store, and met Joan and Larry on the road right at 2.
The morning route was as flat as the seashore that it followed. It was mostly right alongside the sea, with slight detours inland at each little town to allow some stores to be built between the sea and the road.
After picking up Joan, Lisa and I mounted our tandem for a leisurely afternoon ride to the finish. However, within a couple km's of our start, the route became mountainous. It still followed the sea, but along an area where the mountains extended to the sea. So we had a lot of climbing and a few tunnels -- but we had MANY SPECTACULAR VIEWS from the very high cliffs.
(We even saw a nudist beach resort -- from a vantage point about 500 feet up and about 1000 feet away. Actually, the way we knew they were nude is from the sign along the road that we were on. :)
We rode up and down the mountains -- with some GREAT downhills -- until about 5;30 when Joan picked us up for dinner. We checked with Larry before heading for dinner, but he wanted to have another EFM day, so we said we'd see him at dinner.
The campground was on a beach. The road in took us right up to the ocean before turning to skirt the beach and reach the campground. Tonight, Joan DID get rooms for us -- and they were at the hotel where dinner and breakfast were to be served. Great location!
Tomorrow, Granada and The Alhambra.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/03||Spain, Playa de Poniente to Granada
Today's route was 75 km's of mountain climbing. We all opted out because we want to get to Granada early and try to get into La Alhambra.
Instead of riding the route, we chose to accompany Larry for awhile in his quest for kilometers. We all rode along the waterfront for awhile. We rode in and out of (inactive) loading docks, around stacks of loaded pallets and along ship docks. Then we rode into town (Motril), around town a bit, out towards the beach, then back along the shore to our hotel.
Lisa and I showered while Larry and Joan put on some more K's. Then we read while L&J showered and dressed. We hit the road for Granada at noon.
We arrived about 1:30. The motel at the campground was booked, but the campground owner was gracious. He called another hotel closer to town and made a reservation for us. We noticed on the whiteboard that dinner would be a "modified picnic" so we decided to have dinner in town.
We drove around the old town -- which was crowded with people. Then we checked into the hotel and walked back to the old town area. We found many quaint, narrow streets and many, many fiestas celebrating "Dia de la Cruz" or Day of the Cross. In every square there was a fiesta. Most had sangria, beer and coke to drink.
This celebration is a big one all over Spain. It is traditionally on May 3, but many areas celebrate continuously from May 1 (May Day). In some bigger cities, it is celebrated for a week.
At the fiestas we saw many, many girls -- young and old -- wearing traditional fiesta dresses. They are all colors, mostly bright, and they look kind of like traditional square dance dresses. Everyone is dancing, singing, eating and dancing some more.
There were also many horse back riders in fancy dress. So many, in fact, that we wondered where they all came from in the middle if this fairly large city.
We had dinner at eight -- the earliest possible time -- and were told "the partying is just beginning" as we were leaving at ten. There were an incredible number of people on the streets as we headed back to our room.
Oh yes. Before we left the hotel earlier today we found out that La Alhambra was very hard to get into, especially this week because of the fiesta. We were convinced to buy tickets for a tour with an English-speaking tour guide.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/04||Spain, Granada to Cordova
We had a nice, sleep-in morning today.
Why? Two reasons.
First, because we had signed up for a tour of La Alhambra that was scheduled to leave the hotel at 9:30.
Second, we saw Dan and Dahlia yesterday at a fiesta and they agreed to save DRG's for us, so we didn't have to rush back to camp this morning.
The Alhambra is a really beautiful combination fortress and palace. The oldest part is the fortress, the Alcazaba, the construction of which was begun by the founder of the Nasrid dynasty in the 11th century. We climbed a dark, spiraling staircase to the highest tower for a 360 degree view of the Alhambra, Granada, the Sierra Nevada's, and the "gypsy mountain."
The "gypsy mountain" is an area that was given to the gypsy population many years ago to segregate them from the general population. The mountain had many natural caverns in the face. The gypsies enlarged the caves, added rooms of the sides of the main room, and moved in. There were three big benefits to living in caves: 1) no taxes; 2) low maintenance; and 3) natural heating and cooling -- the caves stay in the sixties year round.
When the mountain was given to the gypsies, home ownership was free. Due to the influx of "American Bohemians" as our guide, Diego put it, the cave homes have become very popular and very expensive. Some owners have attached an outside home to a cave. They live in the cave in the summer and the home in the winter.
The gypsies, by the way, are the originators of the Flamenco Dance. The Spanish do a dance that's similar to the Flamenco but it's a little tamer and easier to do.
When asked the nationality or origins of the gypsies, Diego, a historian in his own right, told us no one knows. There are three theories that he has heard. They could be from Egypt, Syria or India.
Another part of the Alhambra is the stunningly ornate Alcazar, a royal palace built for the Morrish rulers Yusuf I and Mohammed V in the 1300's. Filled with dripping stalactite archways, multicolored tiles and sculpted fountains, it is the best preserved Moslem palace in the world.
In the 1500's, Charles V commissioned a palace to be built on the same site. That Christian palace was incorporated into the original Moslem palace, preserving much of the beauty of the original while adding symbols of both Christianity and Judaism.
We visited the Sala de las Abencerrajes, which, we were told, was the house of the bedrooms of the king and his three queens. The king had three queens to make sure he had an heir to the throne -- the first son was the heir and his mother became the "official" queen.
The Abencerrajes is the place that, legend has it, the King saw a knight leaving the bedroom of the Queen one night, but couldn't tell which of his knights it was. So he assembled them all there and questioned them. No one would admit to being the guilty party, so he had them all killed, thus making sure the guilty knight was punished.
Next we visited the "Generalife" -- pronounced phonetically "generealeaf." The Generalife was a place of leisure and recreation for the Moorish kings of Granada. It is full of beautiful gardens and handsomely sculpted bushes. While the palaces had ponds, fountains and streams everywhere it seemed, they were even more abundant in the Generalife.
Granada was the last Arab Moslem kingdom in Spain. While the rest of Spain was being conquered by the Christians, Granada was let alone because the Moorish kings cooperated with the Christians. In fact, they paid taxes to the Christians for years.
We left Granada about 3 o'clock, headed for Cordoba. About 4 o'clock, I noticed two identical motorcycles behind us, each with a pair of blue headlights, but otherwise looking kind of funky. The riders even had on orange vests.
After a while, one passed us. I saw that he was a local police officer. He signaled for me to follow him off the road and stop. I did.
They came up and talked fast Spanish to me. Of course, I didn't understand. They said in English to get out of the car. I did. They then proceeded to tell me things in Spanish, which I did not understand. One kept pointing to a line in his ticket book that said "15,500 pst." I still didn't understand what he meant. The thought occurred to me that maybe he wanted a bribe -- but what if I were wrong. Would offering a bribe land me in jail? (Joan kept calling from the car, "Don't give them any money!"
They seemed to be asking about the car. I showed them our rental agreement. Then I gave them my International Drivers License. After some time we finally understood that they stopped us because the license plate was obscured by the bikes.
Larry and I explained as best we could that we were on a bike ride around the world. Larry gave them an Odyssey pin and I gave them an Odyssey sticker. They said thanks -- and kept writing tickets.
They gave me two tickets -- one for not having a valid registration and one for obscuring the license plate. I dug out the car registration and showed them. The officer threw up his hands and said to give the ticket to the car rental agency.
The other officer gave Larry a piece of paper that said in several languages that if we didn't pay the fine on the spot, they would impound the car. Joan kept calling from the car, "Don't give them any money!" After a brief conference, Larry and I dug up 15,500 pesetas and paid the officers.
Then, the officers still wanted us to remove the bicycles. We explained again that we were bicycling around the world and would only be in Spain a short while. They agreed to let us go with the bikes. Then they said, in sign language, if you are stopped again, show them the ticket and they will let you go.
We got to Cordoba and the campground about 7, just in time for dinner. Dinner was served -- I mean SERVED to us by waiters in white shirts and tux's as we were seated at tables around a VERY LARGE swimming pool. The dinner was six courses, including several appetizers, salad, soup, pasta, fish with vegetables, and dessert. On the table was bottled water, bottled wine, and pitchers of draft beer. WHAT A SPREAD!!!
Rod (as in Rod and Mendy from Florida) was so happy (or high) that he dove into the nasty looking green pool water for an exibition swim in only his jeans shorts -- and he almost lost them. He "mooned" us when he did a jacknife dive to the bottom.
Finally, after the food and fun of dinner, we went to find a hotel. We drove down all the main streets of Cordoba several times, and we drove down many, many narrow, winding back streets a few times looking for the "Hotel Boston" (that's Joan and Larry's home town.) We finally found it. Nice neighborhood, nice lobby, nice price -- but no rooms available. We finally settled, at about 11:30, on the Hotel Colon. It had nice, clean, basic rooms at reasonable prices.
Love to all, David and Lisa
Due to the late hour last night -- and the heavy rain this morning -- Lisa and I decided to sleep in rather than to get up early and drive over to the campground with Larry and Joan for a TK&A breakfast.
We put on our jogging stuff and finally left the hotel about noon. We jogged through town, past the Synagogue (one of the few in Spain) to a local restaurant for lunch.
I had a Spanish ethnic soup. It was like cold, creamy tomato with chunks of ham and hard boiled egg. Lisa had their Gazpacho soup, different from the Gazpacho we have at home -- also a cold, tomato-based soup, but with chunks of ham, and with a completely different taste than mine. We then shared a lunch plate-of-the-day. Lisa had the calimari. I had the scrambled eggs with green beans and mushrooms, a really delicious plate.
We then jogged around the old town and saw many old buildings, monuments, and towers. We even jogged across an old Roman bridge and back. Our route took us through many more VERY narrow, twisty streets in the old Jewish ghetto part of town before taking us back to our hotel.
We met Joan and Larry at 6:45 and headed over to the campground for dinner. What a dinner! The tables were all set around the pool -- each with white linen table cloth and napkins. The hor d'ovres of olives, pecans and potato chips were set on each table, along with the rolls, wine and bottled water. The waiters were all-dressed in white and black, anxious to serve us. AND IT WAS RAINING!!!!!
WE ALL ATE OUR SIX COURSE DINNER IN A STEADY RAIN!!!
(And I forgot to bring my camera. Rats!)
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/06||Spain, Cordoba to Dos Hermanas
Dos Hermanas is our entrance to Seville, which is about 14 km's North.
Yesterday, we found out that there is a big Fiesta in Seville this weekend and that housing will be very difficult to get. So last night and this morning we called various sources in Sevilla to try to reserve rooms.
After many "sorry, we're full" responses, Lisa was able to reserve a room for four in Sevilla for P25,000, which we must claim by 1 p.m. Since that is a bit pricey and far from camp, we decided to first check at the campground and in Dos Hermanos for other possibilities.
We got to the campground about 11:30. It's also a motel and they had basic (Motel 6 type) rooms for P7,000. They had only a few available so we didn't want to take them away from the riders. (Since we have a car, we can drive a bit for a room, so in a situation such as this, we like to leave the on-site rooms for those who have ridden. They may be tired, wet, injured, etc. and shouldn't have to ride any more to get a room just because we took one. We found a hotel about 7 km's up the road and secured rooms there.
Since it was early, we all decided to go out for a ride, then meet at the campground for dinner. That would give us 3-4 hours of riding.
We got our bikes out of the hotel garage and went outside. It was raining lightly. As we were waiting for Larry to get all of his preparations done, we had a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder.
Should we ride? Sure! It's only a light rain, and the lightning is pretty far off.
We decided to first ride to camp and get any late-breaking information. We headed out.
About 3 km's out, there was more, closer, lightning strikes. We stopped to wait for Joan and Larry and to reevaluate the plan. They never showed up, the rain got heavier, and a dark cloud was closing on us from the front. We decided to go back.
We turned around. Tha dark cloud was closing fast. We didn't see J&L. We peddaled faster and faster as the dark cloud closed and the rain picked up. We made it just before it started pouring. We still didn't see J&L.
We went to the room, hung our wet clothes to dry, watched for J&L, and generally hung out.
While reading the hotel's tourist magazine about Seville, I saw an ad for a Flamenco Dance dinner theatre. I checked it out. It sounded good. So I made reservations for Larry, Joan, Lisa and I for the early? (9:30 to 11:30 is not so early any more now that we get up around 6) show.
IT WAS GREAT! There were five women and two men Flamenco dancers -- each better than the last one. In addition, there were three guitar players and four male vocalists. The show lasted about 2 hours.
At the show we sat next to three other Odyssey riders -- Lisa, Sharon and Sara. They shared with us that this was the final night of the big festival and that the biggest event was a short walk away at the, what we would call, fairgrounds. They pointed out that things would just be getting going when the Flamenco dance show was over.
So the four of us (LLJ&I) decided to walk over to see it. The walk turned out to be a couple miles and in a light rain. But the results were almost indescribable.
One end of the fiesta was a very large carnival, including two very, VERY large ferris wheels. Of course all the rides were spectacularly in their full dress of colored lights.
The other end was a REAL sight to behold. There were HUNDREDS of party tents, in sizes ranging from 15 x 15 to 100 x 100, all lined up along small cobblestone streets. Each tent was outlined in white lights. Most of the smaller ones were simply a place to sit and talk, smoke, eat and drink with friends. Most of the larger ones had music, dancing, drinks and Tapas (appetizers) to eat.
Some of the tents were private. Some even had guards posted outside. Some of the tents were public (or semi-public) and invited everyone in to party.
And the crowds! It's unbelievable how many people were there. "Crowded" is probably not the right word to use. Because the area was so large -- the party tent section was probably a mile long by a half mile wide -- it was seldom crowded. Just very full in places.
It was a sight to behold!
A very popular food at the festival was Churros and Chocolate dipped Churros. Of course, we had to try some. So at 1 a.m., in the middle of this festival, L,J,L&I were sitting at an outside table, under our umbrellas in a light rain, eating Churros dipped in chocolate. What fun!
We finally got back to our hotel at about 2 a.m.
Love to all, David and Lisa
By the way. You've probably noticed that sometimes I spell the city name Seville, and sometimes Sevilla.
The first is English. It's pronounced the way it looks.
The second is the Spanish spelling. It's pronounced "Saveeya." The 'I' sounds like a long 'e', and the 'ells' gives way to the 'y' sound.
(I'm winging it. Hope that makes sense to you.) - David
We were up bright and early this morning -- got to breakfast a little after 10. :-)
After breakfast, we struggled with making a connection to pocketmail, while Larry and Joan struggled with making reservations for their flight from DC to Boston upon our arrival in Washington. (Can you believe $400-$500 per person for rt air tickets?)
By 12, we were headed to Seville. Larry and Joan headed for the Alcazar.
We met Al and Steve, tandem Odyssey riders from Southern California. We went to the Hospital de la Caridad, a symbol of baroque art in the city. Originally it was destined for the burial of those who were sentenced to death or drowned in the river. Now it holds many fine paintings on the subject of souls that were damned and souls that were saved.
We missed it by ten minutes, so the four of us went to lunch. After lunch we went to the Cathedral y Giralda, better known as the Cathedral de Sevilla.
The Cathedral de Sevilla is the third largest Christian place of worship in the world. This gothic style temple of Arabic origins was started in 1401 and took a hundred years to finish.
This place is HUGE! It is divided into five, large sections, each with soaring, ribbed, vaulted ceilings with many stained glass windows, some high, high up in the peaks. Most of the windows are the original Flemish ones installed in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Also noteworthy are the many smaller (but still very large) areas of worship and the altarpiece of each -- each one more magnificent than the one before.
Also at the cathedral is a mausoleum that holds a silver coffin reputedly containing the remains of Christopher Columbus.
Next we went to the Reales Alcazares complex. Originally the residence of the Arab rulers of Seville, the building was remodeled again and again by the conquering Christian kings who made the city their residence. The most noteworthy building is the Mudejar palace. It contains a number of rooms luxuriously adorned with stucco decoration and polychrome stalactite work in the purest Nasrid style.
We headed back to the campground after that so we wouldn't miss the TK&A sponsored party. It was to celebrate completion of 1/3 of the Odyssey.
For the feast, Karen-Ann made hor d'orves and taco fixings. She said she had to go to the three largest grocery stores to get enough taco shells. (Tim told us later that the reason for the homemade dinner is that they couldn't get any caterers on this busy festival weekend. No matter. It was still fun and the food was great!)
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/08||Spain, Seville to Aracena
Today's ride was 113 km's on another spectacular route scoped out by TK&A. Once we got through Seville, we followed minor highways for about 30 km's, then we got on a route that turned into one lane road through foothill-type terrain. Very rural and scenic and pleasant.
At one point, we were held up while a herd of about 200 goats (and the goat-herder) crossed the road ahead of us. In a few more km's, we were held up while a flock of a hundred or so sheep cleared the road. Several km's farther, not to be outdone, we came across a group of very large cows -- with very, very large horns -- in the road. But we were able to ride slowly through them and continue on our way.
The road became even narrower and more hilly. We rode over a small dam holding back a pretty big reservoir (about the size of Lexington in Los Gatos.) They were releasing water through a large pipe with two big spray-heads. Quite spectacular!
Then the thunder started --little burps -- low gurgling thunder -- big, loud, rolling thunder and then the rain started. First a light pleasant rain, then occasional heavier showers mixed in.
That went on for about an hour. About three, Larry drove up to pick us and Joan up, but he had two bikes on the back already so he couldn't take us. He had decided to give Cathy a ride because she didn't want to go in the SAG. Since Joan didn't want to ride in the rain anymore, we volunteered to keep riding to checkpoint.
THEN it started to lightning, thunder and POUR BUCKETFULS! By the time we got to checkpoint, we were soaked and freezing. But, we all had hot soup and warmed up. Since it was still raining and had turned cold, we all decided to drive to the end.
Joan did really well today. She rode with Adrian and Donna (from Sri Lanka and the Seattle-Portland area, respectively). She made good time and said she wasn't bothered by the climbs.
We ended the day at the xx Hotel in Aracena. We found out that Aracena has a bull ring and a castle. Too bad we won't have time to investigate them.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|05/09||Aracena, Spain to Monsaraz, Portugal
146 km's today of BIG rolling hills, open grazing land and grand vistas. We started riding in fog. That lifted to a high fog for most of the morning. That gave way to partly cloudy with scattered showers for the rest of the day.
The route again, was beautiful. Lots of wild flowers. Lots of sheep and goats grazing, a few cattle, and more wild flowers. We even saw a ?bunch? (what do you call a group if pigs?) of small of pigs grazing in a field. (There were Oak trees. I wonder if they were eating acorns?)
Oh, I don't think I told you about the acorn-eating pigs. We found out in Seville that Spain has a special rating system for ham. The highest quality ham comes from pigs that are raised exclusively on acorns.
Monsaraz has a castle on top of the hill that looms over the small, 100 resident, walled city. At night it is lit up and is quite spectacular. We drove through it on our way back from dinner. It has NARROW, cobblestone streets that, as always, run all directions from each other. They are so random in direction from each other, I wonder how they came to be. They weren't laid out in any obvious manner.
Dinner tonight was in an old olive oil factory. The owners converted it to a restaurant and museum just five years ago. The food was very tasty and very plentiful. The owners were VERY kind and cooperative. They even let us use their office phone (because the bar with the public phone was so noisy) to call our attorney on an old, pending matter.
The owners were so kind that they let the Odyssey riders who were planning to camp throw their sleeping bags anywhere in the restaurant or museum rooms because the campsite (an open field) that TK&A had arranged for was inundated in mud and water.
We're staying in a beautiful, old Spanish hacienda style mini-suite in the Horta da Moura Hotel. It's an old, elegant hotel. (The walk-in closet is about twice the size of our tent.) VERY nice!
Love to all, David and Lisa
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