Happy New Year Gang! I hope this finds everyone making new years resolutions to travel more and do more of what makes you happy. Life is short.
Ville and I are in Spain, riding our bikes and in our happy place. The last time I wrote to you, we were just beginning to climb and by golly, climb is what we did! For three days we climbed over 1297 meters (2,992 feet), which doesn't sound like much after the Peruvian Andes, but it ended up including a lot of disappearing roads where we pushed our fully loaded bikes up washed-out ravines, canyons and mountainsides. We purposefully chose 'mountain bike routes' on our GPS and Maps.me, but the routes that were marked were for downhill riders, not uphill and we did not realize it until we were deep in it and headed uphill. As exhausting, thrilling, maddening and wild as the routes were, it made for a fantastic adventure and that is always what we are after. As Ville likes to remind me, no one becomes a good captain without navigating through many rough seas.
On the way up, we also got food poisoning and each spent a night sick as dogs in Guadix, followed by a day of riding on empty energy tanks. We did have some spectacular scenery and it made it all worth while when we reached the Puerto De Los Blancares Summit and dropped down into the city of Granada. Since everything was closed down because of the holiday, we spent Christmas there and were able to see the La Alhambra (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and walk all over the narrow cobblestone streets. Before leaving Granada, we met a super friendly guy from South Africa, Johan and his wife who invited us to their house for tapas and a chat by the fire. It was really nice to make some friends!
While in Granada, we learned that Ville's brother, wife and two kids would be flying into Alicante, Spain (a town along the coast we had passed through soon after leaving Valencia) and changed our plans a bit to make a trip back to see them. To do so, we rented a car (trains and buses do not allow bikes on them in Spain) and drove west to the port town of Cadiz. From there, we rode northeast to Seville, and had a very eventful couple days to get there. We met a very sweet old man on a bike who led us to a hotel in Lebrija, which was an unplanned stop but ended up being one of our favorite towns because it was full of the friendliest people. Up until then, we had traveled along the coast and through more touristy areas where Spaniards were not as thrilled to meet two touring cyclists and where we had met very few friendly people. Lebrija was a surprising exception. People came up to us in the town square to talk to us, an old lady came up to me to tell a joke while I waited outside the post office and people even waived to us! It felt really nice to meet kind, friendly people.
With only 35 miles left to ride into Seville, we were sure it was going to be a fun, easy day. Oh how wrong we were. After a week of rain AND the fact that we had chosen to ride farm roads through an estuary called Brazo del Este Natural Area (didn't know it was a flooded plain until we were, again, deep in it and our bicycle tires were covered in mud.) It felt like riding in glue and Ville's clearance between his tire and bike frame did not accommodate all the mud that was sticking to his tires and he continually had to get off the bike and carry it, digging out the mud with sticks repeatedly along the way. Let's just say, he was not a happy camper and nor was I. We decided to detour into headwinds far off our route to get onto a paved road and then head back north on a highway into Seville.
Once we arrived in the city, Ville booked us a really nice hotel in the downtown with a balcony overlooking the cathedral for my birthday! What a guy. We spent my birthday walking around the city, not getting into any of the sites because you had to plan ahead (which we do not do) and book tickets into everything and went ice tubing in the Winter Park instead. It was a blast! See the videos below.
After New Years, we rode to Cordoba. It took us two long, boring days along a highway and we had an excellent night camping in the backyard of a truck stop, sandwiched between the train tracks of the bullet train (which travels at 180 miles per hour) and a bunch of parked road construction equipment. The nicest lady working there gave us the OK to camp. In the morning, we watched car loads of farm workers gather and carpool to work, many of them African immigrants. We had a typical Spanish breakfast of pork leg and tomato puree on a white bread roll and shoved off towards Cordoba. We arrived by the end of the day in the city and have spent the last two days exploring the Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos (Castle or Fortress of the Christian Monarchs) and walking along the Guadalquivir River.
Tomorrow we will head to Madrid, then take a train back to Alicante to see Ville's family. Really excited we get to see Ville's family on this trip to Europe. I will try and post again soon, thanks everyone for emailing us and following along. Have a fantastic beginning to this new year and we hope to see you all soon. Until then, keep on keepin' on ya'll.
K.G. & Ville
In New Zealand on bikes.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson