Spanish Figary & Other Stories

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Day 55 Saturday May 21

Heat Induced Day Off

Well, it's official - there is a heatwave taking place. The newspapers and TVs are full of warnings about the heat. It's a tad worrying to be honest. Spain is no stranger to heat, excessive heat by my Irish standards so if they are worried I should be too! In any case, a good excuse to take a day off. So I did.

My camping spot overlooking the highest* town in Spain

* It's not! It's surprising but there can be debates about these things. I think some of the confusion might relate to the status/definition of town. I can't claim to be disappointed since I didn't know ^_^

With little to do at the campground I took a wander into the town, taking the bike. I wasn't expecting much but as it turned out I was very pleasantly surprised.
Given the complete lack of traffic I can't really be criticised for not realising that I am actually travelling a signed tourist route. Unlike Pitres yesterday, this town is actually set up for tourists with a ham museum and a bunch of shops selling touristy stuff, mostly based around ham. Mind you, I wouldn't see that until later because Trevelez is an unusual little town.

There's better pictures, more interesting subjects but..... I ❤️ this about Spain. Outside of the town a place to sit. Just sit. Relax. Rest. Take in nature. Other than a sweaty cyclist there's no-one else around. Little touches like this point to something, I think, something simple but good in the local psyche

There are actually three levels to it and I arrived into the "top" level by virtue of choosing a high road as I approached the town. This brought me past amazing views and a heli-pad which I think is for emergency medical service.

For a town that claims to be the highest in Spain it's no surprise that it's a bit hilly! Streets don't just veer left and right they rise and fall

Arriving into the town proper I was glad that I don't suffer from vertigo since one road veered sharply downwards while another rose higher. It was quite disorienting. Since the road downwards was wide and big I concentrated my efforts on what was above me and wandered the steep, narrow, winding streets.

The "upper" town with a bar and handpainted sign as well as a "mountain" car, the ever reliable Renault 4, then below the "lower" town on the main road, set up for tourists

There's little that I can point to and say "Oh, that X was very interesting", it's more the combined and cumulative effect of narrow, twisty streets, steep junctions, vastly different buildings cheek by jowl and the sometimes wonderful mountain views glimpsed between buildings that entertain me in these places.

Spying a small supermarket I parked up outside just before it closed for Siesta and went supply shopping.

More split level (narrow) streets on the left and on the right another thing I like about these towns - reality. I like the laundry hanging out. If you follow the road along it drops away precipitously

These little supermarkets can be chock full and seem totally disorganised to the interloper so I was busy concentrating on hunting down a few things when the man of the shop finally caught my attention. I had successfully blocked out the sudden rumpus on the small street outside but had actually been the cause of it. The mere fact of my unladen bike leaning against the shop had rendered the street impassable to a car who was furiously beeping his horn!

These entrances draw me away and invariably up narrow, winding alleys

I thought I'd seen all I had to see so headed downhill on the big road to the bottom where it seemed like I hit a whole new town! This was where the main road ran through and it was lined with ham shops, restaurants and even a museum! I thought I'd be going back for a lazy afternoon but now I had more exploring to do!

Ham country! Whoever placed the ham in front of the sign needs to rethink!

The museum, while not closed (it's actually a processing plant) was not taking visitors and most of the restaurants/bars/cafés were closed or closing. Even the river was dry!

Instead, I discovered what I had missed on my way down, a middle section of the town, completely residential with a confusing maze to get around. Truthfully, more interesting than the more touristy areas.

Some homes are a little bit magical......

These towns can be steep!

What a place for a municipal sports complex! It teaches good ball control if nothing else! And below a door shop with lots of examples outside!

it was back to the campground for a lazy evening at a commandeered table with lots of food!

I had my book, a rugby match to listen to (we won!), the stars twinkling above me and lots of time to write up my notes. As evenings go, not bad at all!

Day 56 Sunday May 22

Another Road Day

It was a stunningly beautiful morning and despite a day off yesterday I was in no rush to be going.
I had a descent down to Trevelez which gave me a great view of this layered mountain town, then a sharp turn and I was heading steeply up in the opposite direction on the opposite side of the valley to yesterday. If that sounds boring the reality was anything but!

Looking at the photos now, months later, they're not doing justice to the obvious enthusiasm in my notes. There was little that was spectacular today but there was a whole lot of things that combined to make the road very varied and interesting. I like cycling beside cliffs and put an interesting tree into the mix and I'm pretty content


My steep climb became a gentle, long descent interrupted by short, stabby climbs through some wonderful country.
I had wonderful tree coverage or open views. I love cycling through the trees but when they disappeared from the roadside I had some stunning colourful displays instead. When either was lacking I often had a cliff face on my left. Never a dull moment!

The country seemed to be in a constant state of flux. These two shots are about 35 minutes apart. Now that's a HobbesOnTour 35 minutes - so no great distance at all! On top of the variety I have the question of just how did that rock formation end up there and then, later a wonderful tree to contemplate

Leaving Trevelez I had been passed by some motorbike tourists (they're very common in Spain) but one was riding a trike and it took me a while to realise that he was operating his machine without the benefit of legs. A timely reminder as I was bitching about the climb that I'm incredibly lucky to be where I am doing what I'm doing.

The road had no dividing line but there was so little traffic that it made no difference. Any traffic was more than respectful of me.

And these two are less than 10 minutes apart. It's very easy to feel like I'm covering huge distances when I'm on a road like this

Near the village of Juviles I came across a cemetery with the most wonderful views and stopped to investigate. A bit unkempt, the views more than compensated and it was interesting to see the modern and more traditional style tombs mixed amongst each other. Burials here are above ground.

Juviles was small and very quiet. It would have barely slowed me down only I was hungry. Spying a bus stop I pulled in for lunch and near the end was joined by a silent lady pilgrim who also ate from her backpack. The "Camino" is often misunderstood and thought to be "one route", but in fact there are many, many routes to Santiago (and many variations of those routes).

I headed on to Alcútar along a different valley. Since Alcútar was actually well below me and I had a bird's eye view I continued on enjoying the road and the ever changing landscape. The mountains were looking drier now. In fact, I passed a sign announcing that I was leaving the Sierra Nevada National Park and I felt quite sad to be leaving the mountains. Except I wasn't!

Some wonderful colours are on display, and below (literally!) is Alcútar. With such a great aerial view I felt little need to punish myself by physically exploring the place

Mecina Bombarón was the next town I passed through and then on to Yegen.
Truth be told the towns weren't the focus today - the road was. It was fabulous! Weaving up, down and around and passing through some very interesting landscape, small mountains pushed together as if someone was attempting a scale model of the Andes. Fertility varied too, sometimes the land looking quite verdant and green while at others it seemed barren and dry. Regular ruins hinted at the history of the place and occasional rushing water testified to what kept the area alive.

Yes, it's a crap photo but those "mountains" down there were intriguing. "Pygmy" mountains I christened them because they seemed like a scale model of some larger, more epic ones

It was brutally hot but the wind helped me manage. Taking a shady break in the little Plaza in Valor I was delighted and rejuvenated by a bunch of lavender growing, the air rich with the aroma.

I headed off again but now into a sustained, brutally steep climb. My slow progress was complemented by the incredibly interesting landscape. If anything, the views became more interesting due to the falling sun and the magic that light can bring.

Spain really is great at giving us places to stop and appreciate the views. Of course, on the bike I have a great advantage over anyone in a car or bigger because can stop where I like, pretty much

On the edge of Mairena, I was either resting or enjoying the view (interpret as appropriate ^_^) when two guys on brommers (motor scooters) pulled up for a chat. Germans, their cycle touring days were long in the past so now they travelled on these, packing as much as would fit under their seats. They had a good poke at my gear, expressed satisfaction at the tent and admitted that these days they couldn't handle a tent. It was a lovely chat and a reminder that there are all different kinds of ways to explore.

On the climb up to Mairena two guys seemed to be moving a flock of hungry, obstreperous goats. It was the perfect excuse to stop and soak up a taste of "real" Spain with an authentic soundtrack of goats making whatever noise they make.

I had a chat with some old boys gathered on the Plaza in Mairena as I topped up my water and rested. Water had been scarce for most of the day. Back on the road I was passed by a posse of E- MTBers and was amused to see one get off and push. A feckin´ E-bike and he's pushing! His buddies didn't wait for him either. (Later, I encountered them again on a descent and they were ignorant as hell, passing silently way too close for my comfort.

Always take a moment and look back..... and down!

I finally reached the town of Laroles, another incredibly steep place and was horrified that I had another brutal climb to get to the campground on the far side of town. In fact, the direct approach was far too steep so I looped around on the road since that was less steep, but longer. On arrival I passed the tent area and faced with a cliff-like drop to reception. I parked the bike and walked down. Foolish or not, I have no worries about my gear in these little places.

I checked in but discovered that the promised shop was nonexistent and I thought in horror of the brutal drop and subsequent climb to get to a store in town for a cold drink. In this weather a cold coke can be one of the greatest pleasures known to mankind. Honestly, if I was given the choice of a cold coke or Marissa (Tomei) these days I'd struggle to choose!

So in need of rejuvenation was I, that I left everything and walked back to town for a cold coke before setting up on glorious grass and having a shower and a simple supper.

Earlier in the day lots of trees and greens. It's amazing to me how every gully, it seems, is filled with trees

If I thought my day was over I was well wrong. In the dark the valley put on a display that put me in mind of Colombia. The sky was perfectly clear and filled with stars. Best of all, the little towns and villages along the valley were clouds of light floating in the darkness. A beautiful scene at the end of a long day.

Two of the great things about a day like today. First of all, the views and the satisfaction of looking down and thinking "I've climbed from there" and later, Laroles. Now, imagine night has fallen and the town is lit up, softly, as is the way here. In the darkness these mountain towns are magic pools of warm light floating in the darkness. Magical!

Day 56 Sunday May 22
Trevelez to Laroles 50km Total KM 2198
Min Meters 810 Max Meters 1527
Total Climb 874, Total Descent 1274
Min Temp 25 Max Temp 47 Ave Temp 36


The Towns Along the Way
Day 57 Monday May 23

All the colour!

If I could only pick one photo of today it would be this one! About 12:30, I haven't hit the first town yet and I couldn't give a damn whether I ever made it!


While disappointment and frustration were the main feelings when I arrived here last night my camp spot was actually very good. Pitched on grass I had lots of space away from (and above) the folk in their campers and caravans. My solitude was hardly disturbed by the arrival of a motorbike couple, although I was a tad jealous of their big tent!

So nice was the spot that, despite being up and out at 7 am I lingered, savouring a flask of coffee and adjusting the rear brakes.

I packed up then left everything as I walked down to the town for a spot of breakfast - there was no way I was going down fully loaded and besides, I'd have to climb all the way back up to continue. A walk was easier!

So relaxed and laid back was my morning that I changed my plans on a whim. Originally, I'd planned to cut through the mountains to Gaudix but I felt the sea calling me more urgently. Truthfully, a scary looking climb was also a factor. I decided that I'd head directly for Almería! (How long ago is it since I said I'd head to Almería? ^_^). Too far away to reach today, most likely, I'd have a shortish day to a campground and hit the sea tomorrow. Excited, I set off - up a bloody big hill!

My lazy morning wasn't the smartest from the point of view of temperature - the sun was well up and burning - but a generous wind kept me coolish. Best of all though, was the road!

Imagine if you will...... It's night, darkness draping the land but this town (Bayarcal) is one of several just floating in that inky blackness

Simply put, this is a great road - fantastic views, hardly any traffic and a decent surface. Lots of places to stop and fair numbers of trees for shade and others for just gawking at. Lots of crash barriers to stop and rest but I'm still learning and burnt my ass a couple of times. They get hot in the sun!

However, the highlight was all the colours!!!!

This is feckin' fabulous! Helped, it has to be said by going down

At one stage I passed some kind of outdoors sports complex that had a couple of busloads of school kids enjoying themselves on a zip line. After that a thrilling, twisty descent followed by a brutal climb up to the first town of Bayarcal. It was already siestaing so I had the little shaded Plaza to myself so that I could admire the simple, old church. With shadows from trees the exterior was amazing.

Bayarcal where I had the shady Plaza and atmospheric church all to myself.

Onwards I went, really struggling on any kind of a climb due to the heat but the road was a real pleasure with constant subtle changes in scenery and really vibrant colours on display.

The little road to Bayarcal. This is Cowboy Country! * Those yellow bushes on the side of the road are so much more vivid in fresh air
* It really is Cowboy Country. Had I headed through the mountains to Gaudix I'd be close to where some Clint Eastwood Westerns were filmed. I believe the remains of some of the sets are still visible.

Finally, the majority of the climbing was over and I started a long descent through a series of small towns with the result that the road became larger and traffic picked up - slightly.

I was descending into a fertile valley and the colours changed to shades of green. I crossed ríos long dried out. The landscape changed - greener, softer, smoother and less rocky than earlier.

Before the descent let's just stop and appreciate.

Due to a combination of speed (I was descending!) and siesta the towns I passed received only a perfunctory exploration but that changed when I arrived in Fodón. It stopped me dead! A glorious church, a big fountain and a stunning house (it really is someone's home!! I asked!)

A better photo to appreciate the colours. There's a life here that's hard to put on (virtual) paper. Given that here's hardly any traffic I'm weaving over and back like a drunken sot, soaking it all up

On a whim I asked in the only hotel on town for a room - too expensive. I checked Booking and Google but nothing else. I really wanted to stay.

A big church slap bang in the middle of nowhere........ But is that a road up that far off mountain or a firebreak? Wouldn't that be a fun ride? ^_^

I took another little walk around (no fear of leaving the bike unattended) and said feck it! I returned to the hotel and was upgraded to an apartment by the friendly receptionist who wouldn't budge on the price.

The sun makes it difficult to capture the full glory of the colours, but trust me, they're vibrant. And varied!

I had a long hot shower washing myself with the very fancy supplied unctions, finished off with a delicious cold blast and then out to explore.

If I hooked the town up to an ECG machine it would hardly register a heartbeat! Uh oh.

The house home that stopped me in my tracks. 27km on the clock and I called it a day. Something was singing to me about this place.

Day 57 Monday May 23
Trevelez to Fondón 27km Total KM 2225
Min Meters 853 Max Meters 1312
Total Climb 402, Total Descent 660
Min Temp 26 Max Temp 45 Ave Temp 35



The Towns Along the Way
Fuente Victoria
Laujar de Andarax
Paterna del Río

Whole Day:
Day 57 Monday May 23


What was it that drew me to Fondón? I was ultimately disappointed because after a good exploration there was very, very little to do and leaving the next morning I felt a bit cheated although very well rested. Now, months later I see it differently. Looking at my notes and especially the pictures I think it was a very good decision.

Some wonderful street art. The text says "Hands achieving life"


I think it was the "Fuente Grande", the big fountain that first made an impression. Its location - right on the road through town - and its size suggested something of a welcome for the traveller.

The Fuente Grande, located on the main road through the town. It struck me as very welcoming. Unusually, however, it had no reservoir that animals could drink from. But this is Spain so of course it did - around the back ^_^

Then I spotted the house with all the flowerpots and that struck a chord. An archway under a building exposed side streets to explore. It was only 5:30 so I figured, wrongly as it turned out, that there would be more people out later.

A living crucifix outside the church

I did hit the supermarket (it, a bar and a pharmacy were the only open businesses - a bakery was already closed for the day as was another bar) and the shopkeeper was very keen to sell me a big, kilo glass jar of honey. Explaining the perils of trying to carry a glass bottle in a pannier he was quick to offer a plastic jar that I could use instead of the glass - for a fee! In fairness, it was locally produced honey but the thoughts of dragging a kilo of honey around was just too much. I guess am a weight weenie ^_^

You'll have to take my word that it's a pretty church. It's certainly impressive, dominating the town. The bright sun seriously reduced my photographic options

Exploring the town I came across a car parked with the engine running - and no-one in sight! Trying not to look like a malingerer, I malingered waiting to see who would show up. No-one did as long as I was waiting and the idea formed in m head that perhaps the owner was watching me watching the car and didn't fancy an encounter with the stranger! I think that spoke volumes about the place.

Not everything is pretty or perfect. In truth, this is the type of thing that makes these places feel real to me

If I'm understanding the enigmatic language correctly, a monument to the victims of the Civil War. It talks of the Hero, full of lead and bleeding. I took it as a reference to the many, many "ordinary" people who suffered.

A colourful, well looked after street shrine outside a house spoke to a sense of community. Maybe not everyone was tending to it but certainly no-one was messing with it. Similarly, the signs on the likes of the old cemetery and churches and the explanatory boards suggested a certain pride of place and an attempt, subtle as it was, to seduce tourists. Not that any tourists would really have a place to spend their money.

A colourful complement to a religious shrine and a wonderful "house plant"

Other than the man in the shop and a couple at the only bar where I went for a vino tinto I had no-one else to speak to. Not that the place was unfriendly, just that no-one was out. I could hear some evidence of life behind closed doors and curtained windows as I explored later, but by no means as much as a town of this size would generate elsewhere.

Something like this just fires up my "explorer" juices. The old boy wasn't up for a chat

I think the highlight though, was a street of historical, local photos, all featuring women and a simple dedication "To all the women who silently have built the history of our towns". I love it when a town looks to its own and celebrates them. It wasn't the main street, just a side street (the kind that I happily set off down for no reason other than its there).

A quirky little house and a more traditional, elaborate entrance. And a "Juliet balcony"!

Fondón turned out to be a little slice of small town Spanish life.

Definitely the highlight: a street dedicated to the women of the town. I could imagine the call going out and photos being gathered and long discussions over many vino tintos making selections. Stories shared, lots of laughing and tears. The town was so quiet, almost dead, but life was demonstrated in a very original way. ❤️

Day 58 Tuesday May 24

The day of all the towns!

I woke up very well rested but feeling cheated. Whatever magic I had felt on arrival seemed to dissipate over the course of the evening. Even this morning there was no-one around and nowhere to grab a coffee. The two bars were closed! And, of course, by the time I discovered this I was outside and the door locked behind me - I was the only person in the hotel, staff included! I hadn't bothered making coffee since I really wanted some human contact. DumbAss!

Looking back on my first climb of the day. What glorious countryside! Barely any traffic, I had a lovely wide road pretty much to myself but I was far from alone. Multitudes of bees were buzzing in and around the many colourful bushes along the road and I paused also to watch a family of wild goats (presumably) clambering around. Not a bad start to the day!


Not helping my mood was a brutal, red climb from the town (my fried Gizmo is unfried and ready to go again so gradients are back to being coloured!). However, the morning light was glorious and was soon working its magic on me. A few buzzing bushes had me stopped as I tried to locate the noise and then had me scurrying off again once I figured out what it was!

Watching some goats clambering up some of the ridiculous slopes around was another interesting reason to stop.

My water which had spent all night in the fridge (the luxury!) was a real pleasure on that 200m climb.

What a beautiful road on such a beautiful morning!

One advantage of my stay last night was the chatty receptionist (I don't think they get too many cyclists) who had suggested a visit to the next village, Almócita. In all likelihood I'd have passed it yesterday if I hadn't stopped since it was away from the road and involved climbing but today it was a welcome chance for coffee.

It's a quirky and interesting place that merits not one but two exits off the main road - Almócita North & South. For a tiny place that could be seen as pretentious ^_^

There's a definite hippy, alternative type vibe to the place but it charmed me. Murals on walls, poetry too, it seemed to be a real community. There's a lovely old church and since it was market day one man was selling household wares out of his van. A one man market!

Just one example of lots of varied, interesting and high standard street art in Almocita. A charming town, very lively at this time of the morning

The sense of a community was cemented when I hit the local café for some coffee. Thronged inside, it was a meeting place for the older folk emitting a real energy. I took my coffee outside and 7 schoolkids passed by under the watchful eye of a teacher. They were ranging in ages probably from 4 to maybe 7 the way small rural schools often are.
I had no qualms leaving the bike in the peaceful and calm little Plaza to explore some more. It didn't take long - the place is not big - but it had more life than Fodón yesterday.

Back on the road again wind was becoming a bigger factor but I figured the more wind the cooler I'd be. That thought probably wouldn't hold up to too much scrutiny but I see no point in tormenting myself about such things ^_^

Looking in the general direction of the sea and early morning mist still hanging around before it would get burned off. Normally, my head would be planted firmly on the sea but today the road and towns were so charming that is stayed distant and far off until I actually arrived

Padules was next up, another town off the main road that I may well have avoided but Almócita had whetted my appetite for exploring. I turned off.
A very different vibe, almost deserted (except for when I hit a street with the market) I was impressed by the photographs of locals decked out for what seemed like battle re-enactments. I'm assuming (and could well be wrong) that it's a reference to the recapture of Spain from the Moors.
Taking advantage of a little ringroad (around such a tiny town!) I was rewarded with magnificent views across the valley and arrived at a giant mural which I had spotted on my way in. Such is my luck that a car pulled in front of it as soon as I stopped and took out my camera! ^_^

The huge and fabulous mural, visible from a long, long distance. That car pulled up 30 seconds before me! I suppose it's useful for scale!

Next up was Canjayár, requiring a drop down to explore. I didn't hesitate but I did baulk at the brutal ascent to visit a distinctive church. Another very quiet town with a pleasant church inside and out, the highlight for the world's worst bike tourist was a proud, solitary tree on the edge of town!

The landscape was constantly changing and keeping me entertained. More ruins, more history.

It's very interesting to me how patches of land are utilised to farm. And then there's all those dusty roads to explore!

Then I was running along a river valley passing by Ragol and turning off again to explore Instinción. Another delightful and simple sleepy town. I found a shop just as it was closing for a cold drink and had a picnic beside a delightful little Plaza. Again, hardly a sinner to disturb me. The exit back on to the main road was particularly bright and pleasant. There's a lot of pride in these towns.

Looking down on Canjayár. Another day I'd baulk at the drop (it's steep!) and subsequent climb but today my "explorer head" was firmly fixed on

This is really very pleasant travelling!
(Photo edited to try to do some justice to the colours of the flowers in blazing sun)

Canjayár (L), and for me, the highlight of the little town was this glorious tree, standing alone and proud on the very edge of town. Villa de Illar (R) made difficult by huge roadworks and unpleasant by hanging "bodies".

To Be Continued.........
Day 58 Tuesday May 24

The day of all the towns! Part II



Villa de Illar was next up so I pulled off to explore. Another quiet town and travel made difficult by some major work taking place renovating streets and the Plaza. Unusually, my eyes were drawn to what appeared to be bodies hanging from streetlights! A closer inspection suggested human forms of straw dressed in clothing. I had no idea and there was no-one around to ask. It was pretty sinister!

It was just after seeing these that I had an unfortunate flashback to Colombia and a reminder that I still haven't put the last robbery to bed.

On a little street trying to get away from the roadworks, a guy passed me on a motorbike with a long tool over his shoulder. I'd seen guys working in the fields with similar, something like half pickaxe, half hoe mounted on a longish broom handle. It was when he stopped outside a house, hopped off the bike and brandished the weapon that my blood froze and panic surged. But only for a moment. There was no threat. Just a guy going home after work. "Brandishing" was him simply moving the thing to get off the bike and open his door.
I struggled up a hill and rejoined the road willing my heart to calm down. A little more work is needed, it seems.

Houses hacked out of the cliffs. There would be more of these in various forms for the rest of the day. More history, more imagination fuel

I skipped past the next town, Bentarique, but was drawn off course by Terque. I found an open bar so parked up under a tree and got a coke. Ice cold, served in a glass with big ice cubes it's difficult to overstate just how refreshing it is. A weary couple worked the bar with three regulars sitting at the counter. My entertainment came from a row that started when one of the customers made a song and dance over his glass not being cold enough. In such a silent, still town the shouting was chilling. I rolled on.

There's a little río down there and the contrast that it brings to such an arid area is clearly visible. Once again, I'm enthralled at how people have carved out areas to grow

In between all these towns I was really enjoying the road, helped by a lovely descent and interesting country. But now I had a decision to make since Alhama de Almería was coming up on my right, a possible diversion. I could have diverted after Villa de Illar but I preferred the smaller, back road and now closer I had a peep on Osmand. A wicked climb! Staying on the road I was on I was still only about half way to Almería. Adding on a big climb was putting all kinds of pressure on me. I kept going.

A dry río. Nothing farmed along here!

I was rewarded when things got even more interesting as I came across some cliff houses! Yep! houses built into a roadside cliff! Perhaps I'm wrong and they're just old storage spaces hacked into the cliff but later I came across more that definitely looked to have been lived in in years gone by! This road is really delivering! I stopped for a poke around but, of course, these days they're filled with rubble and rubbish.

Thousands of reasons to visit us! Not just "visit" but "visit us". This wonderful, tiled sign shows the old railway bridge and the super duper new highway

I flirted with the edge of Gador, passing more cliff houses and then stopped in Rioja. This is nowhere near Rioja wine country but it still gave me a bit of a lift. A very pleasant church, palm trees and a dry fountain! I found a shop for a cold drink and ate another picnic then set off on the last leg to Almería.

Dry country, big road but interesting nonetheless. At times the wind could be ferocious, but as I was going generally downhill I was enjoying myself anyways. In the bottom photo I felt like I was in Egypt - it was hot enough!

More cliff houses!

Two photos to attempt to capture just some of the contrasts today. Bottom is following the río and all the greenness, then above is later and all the dryness. I don't cover great distances stopping as often as I do but Spain certainly creates the impression that I'm traversing huge distances

It was very dull by comparison to earlier, at least until I saw the sea!

I am such a Dumbass! I forget just what a thrill it is to see the sea! I advanced down a narrow, shaded street to the beach and once out of the cover of the buildings I was blasted by the wind! Not a feck was given!

Not the greatest of photos, but my first view of the sea! The Med! ^_^Again! ^_^ There must be something wrong with my wiring but I am always blown away by evidence that I am close to the sea. Like a kid on Christmas morning I was.

I stopped to soak it all up for a while. It was beautiful and there was a bit of life! Decent cycle paths made getting out of town easy as I set off for the nearest campsite - on a beach! Unfortunately, the cycle paths ran out and I had to join a very busy highway, then cross it on to another that was closed. Uh oh. Another cyclist told me it was ok for bikes so I ended up having the road all to myself, big cliffs on my right and the Med below me on the left. Bliss!

At least until I hit the campground! The grumpiest man from Grumpy town checked me in and the beach I had been so looking forward to was a tad disappointing. But feck it! I'm at the sea!

The last run along to the campground. The Touring Gods had arranged that the road would be closed so I could savour riding along the sea.

Day 58 Tuesday May 24
Fondón to Almería 74km Total KM 2299 (Sorry Ian! ^_^)
Min Meters 2 Max Meters 1009
Total Climb 705, Total Descent 1488
Min Temp 19 Max Temp 43 Ave Temp 31

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along The Way
Villa de Illar

The Whole Day
Days 59 & 60 Almería Wednesday/Thursday 25 /26 May

Ah! Almería

I'm a slut.
I've fallen for so many places on this little adventure. There was México, in general, my Mistress of the smiles, then Morelia, to be more specific, then the sleepy, seductive México City, with her just-out-of-bed demeanour and then her stunning Palace of Fine Arts. Before all that there was Texas, huge in size, but distillable into a road that was about 10km long. There were places that stole my heart all the way down to Ecuador (stole a few other things too!). Hell, even Panama delivered up at least one and Colombia had places that seduced me over and over and over again. Here in Spain? Toledo, Sevilla, Tarifa have all had their way with me. And now Almería has too!

The facilities for bikes in Almería are pretty good!


Almería was picked out as a destination way back when I decided to pack in my fool's adventure of following Don Quixote. It was bitterly cold and Almería was on the coast. I could have had a relatively flat run down but my figaries put that notion to bed. I knew nothing about the place other than it was south (and therefore warmer) and on the coast and I do like the seaside.

Either I'm the luckiest sod for picking out good places (and I happen to think I am!) or Spain really is a place to indulge in fantasies of exploration (it certainly is!) but Almería turned out to be a jewel.

I came for the sea...... and the sea delivered!

Not a jewel in the way that Tarifa was a jewel because it's entirely different to Tarifa. In fact, that's part of the beauty and charm of the place. Both places are so different there's no point in comparing them - I can just enjoy them. Different places, different jewels.

We'll forget the campground, about 6km out of town because it was one of the unfriendliest places I've come across. It was nice, certainly, and I got over my initial disappointment of the beach when I realised it was pretty much empty all the time. I had two wonderful, incredibly indulgent dusk picnics there!

I couldn't keep the birds away!

As for Almería itself?

I can't put my finger on any one thing. A bit like a jigsaw, it's a number of things that come together to make a very pretty picture. In fact, it's a whole lot of things!

It's got boats! Lots and lots of boats! All kinds of boats! Big boats, little boats, ferries and cargo ships. When I was a kid one of my favourite things was to play with boats in the bath. I didn't get in with the boats here …… but it was a close run thing! ^_^

Not a bad beach, at all

Where there are boats there's water and the water here is the Mediterranean. As bodies of water go the Med ain't bad! :-) There's the Med at the beach and that's not a bad view. Then there's the Med on the way out to the campground, green and blue, blue and green, alluring and seductive and so clean and clear. It is stunningly clean! Then there's the Med at the little beach at the campground where I can sit in the warm dusk and the gentle waves wash the rest of the world away…..

There's the beach, huge, long, deep, used but not packed, far nicer than what's in Tarifa, great facilities with water, showers, playgrounds and volleyball courts. The sea is a bit far away but that seems churlish to hold against the place. It's also unbelievably clean. And "proper" sand. Golden and fine. The sun is blasting but the wind is strong and tempers the worst of the sun.

These enamoured me! These are recycling bins (sponsored by Disney) to encourage kids to recycle. Simple but genius! ❤️

There are colours. So many colours! I met my old friends from CDMX, those wonderful purple trees. Not just a treat for the eyes, but for the heart and soul as well. There are just so many trees with different shades of green everywhere and wonderful trunks and this being Spain, they're in a long, long line, park park, part bike path interspersed with little Plazas. Tolkien trees scattered around. I could lose myself in the trees, take a wander to the beach and lose myself gazing at the Med, a ferry coming to port would metaphorically bring me back to land and I could go back to the trees and see them from a whole new angle in a different light. for a water loving, tree adoring boat freak this is as close to Heaven as I can expect!

These things speak to me so much. There is a huge, and I mean HUGE amount of plants and trees in public spaces. The "bean counter approach would have plants of minimal maintenance. But not here!

It's not perfect. The old town is newer than what I'm used to. (Ha! What an arrogant SOB :-)) ) The Cathedral Plaza is a real disappointment, being bare and dead. A couple of restaurants have menu boards with pictures. Hamburgers, Palm trees and a beautiful Cathedral? They don't fit. Spikes on some buildings to deter people setting up home chilled me in the heat. I haven't noticed these here before.

This is the Cathedral Plaza. A wonderful church and Palm Trees. Palm Trees! And I go "meh".

There is an old Arab Fort atop a (steep) hill overlooking the sea and part of the town. The poorer part of the town. It's being refurbished so is closed, but afforded a great view over the sea.

What really struck me about the town was the feeling it induced. Almost total calm. A deep peace took root that was really something to feel. I know that it was out of season and it'll be busier later but for now? It was pretty damn special. I lost so much time. I'd stop on the way into town to watch a little fishing boat bobbing in the sea. I'd get lost walking around a tree. and under it.

There is something so "usable" about the beach. It's for everyone.

I got to thinking about those mountain villages. With this just down the road they became even more attractive. Some did seem to be on life support and a couple were too touristy for me but with the move to working from home what a place for a home! In the mountains then pop down to the sea. I tried to imagine what it must be like to pop down here for an afternoon. Would it be the same?

The Arab castle overlooking the town and the view from it showing the docks. The docks were so small I could get quite close to the ferries. More time lost!

Another thing happened in Almería. I got a destination! Friends had been in touch about coming to see me. Where in Spain would I be in August? Feck knows! I thought about it and sent a message. It didn't have to be Spain, I said, in that time frame I could make it to France or Germany, Italy, or Greece.

What's happened to me? Looking at a map of Europe I'm just picking out places and saying, incredibly casually, "Yeah, I can bike to there!".

As it turns out, the family holiday needed to meet a range of family requirements so I've to be in Barcelona for the end of the first week of August. Well, close to Barcelona. Now the little fella who reaches into my chest and squeezes my heart every time he asks me "When are you coming home?" will hopefully pipe down and my main reason for making it back to Ireland has been postponed. Ireland's coming to me!

Not for the first time on this trip I had cause to reflect on just how lucky I am. And in such a wonderful place.

For a coastal spot there is a huge number of trees. No doubt the shade is a boon in the height of summer but now they create a wonderful, calming, peaceful environment

To Be continued......
Days 59 & 60 Almería Wednesday/Thursday 25 /26 May

Ah! Almería Part Two

The town is pretty new looking but the beauty stretches well away from the beach and the sea

Evidence that it is touristy.....

Old friends!

Wonderful trees everywhere

There are wonderful splashes of colour everywhere. There are teams of municipal employees out early in the morning

I'm sure in July it's thronged. I'm just glad I'm here now. I hope she's not helping him and they're holding hands because they want to

There is a lot of public art.

Is it any wonder that I lost time again and again and again?

Looking at Almería from the road. That sea is just wonderful!

The beach at grumpy campground. It grew on me. At night, with it all to myself, it was pretty nice

The road so far......

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Day 61 Friday May 27

The land of volcanoes

You meet the strangest people in campsites. Last night, a German couple in the campervan beside me were playing music over their van's sound system. No problem with that. Live and let live. When I returned from my picnic on the beach it was already late. At midnight as I was turning in I was quite surprised that they were still playing the music. Most campsites operate a "silent" period normally from 10 or 11 at night through to the morning. And Germans love their rules. Ordinarily, music wouldn't bother me but this was pan pipe music. And cover versions of classic songs at that. It was like listening to a loved one being tortured. Endlessly. When they finally fell silent another loved one went on the rack and the torture started anew.

I got ready for bed, laid down, picked up my kindle and just thought "No!" I rolled over, opened up the door and asked them in my best German to turn off the music. To say they were shocked was an understatement. (Given my appalling skills at languages perhaps their shock was well merited ^_^ )

Dawn on the Mediterranean with a coffee in hand. Damn but I'm one lucky sod!


I was still up early, though and savoured my morning coffee as the sun came up. On the beach. This bike touring lark is tough! Had the campsite been a bit friendlier and the neighbours had better musical taste I may well have stayed but I packed up with a fair degree of enthusiasm.

I was heading off into the great unknown today, heading northwards. My understanding is that the road will take me away from the coast despite CycleTravel showing the EV8 running along the Med. I'm thinking that it may be like the southern coast and rough, if it exists at all. With my dodgy front wheel discretion may well be the better part of valour.
What I do know is that there's a National Park ahead of me and not just any National Park - one formed by volcanoes! I haven't seen a volcano in ...... oh it must be at least three months! :-))

The far side of Almería. There are a few ríos heading for the sea, most of them dry and an interesting wildness right outside the town.

Official camping options are limited although the landscape looks pretty sparsely populated so wild camping may be an option. In any case, today can be as flexible as I feel like but tomorrow I need WiFi, at the very least. It's European Cup Final day (Rugby) and my team are looking to win it for (an historical) fifth time.

Don't judge me!

I used to read blogs of long journeys and be a tad judgemental when the writer ducked off to watch a football match or similar. I thought it was a lack of commitment to the here and now and judged them for indulging something from home when in a whole new world.
Well, having been on a bit of a long trip I've totally changed my mind! Win or lose I plan on enjoying the match.

A little further out of town and I'm on the official EV8 bike path. It's a tough, old life ^_^

It was just after 9am when I wobbled up and out of the campground. Of course, there was no-one around to open up the barrier so a bit of manoeuvring was required. Then I set off onto the empty road.
Merging with the motorway was unpleasant, having to cross two busy lanes from left to right. The first four cars ignored my predicament but the fifth slowed down enough to let me across. Then it was the familiar run along to Almería.

I resupplied in town needing coffee, cous-cous, honey (1,5 kg for those three items) and other bits and pieces. (new sandals). This is one of the big differences on a longish tour. On a short tour I can pack what I need but on a longer one I need to resupply and buy the weight/quantities available. After two days riding unloaded, resupply and extra food in case I find a nice wild camp spot everything was a bit wobbly.

Still separate from the road and the sea is right there! It is blisteringly hot, though! Average temperature for the day is 35C

Surprisingly this was the busiest I've seen the place! Everyone was out - and a lot with their dogs. Watching some people clearly going to work I took a moment to remind myself just how lucky I am.

At one stage I met a class of 10-12 years olds walking in the cycle lane, all on one side. The lads at the back (always lads, always at the back ^_^) didn't stick to one lane like their classmates so a lady teacher with that exasperated expression so common yelled at them to get the hell out of my way.

With so many people out and about I decided to soak them up a bit by stopping for a coffee & toastada.

Parents, or grandparents, are out with babies, toddlers and dogs. Some serious beach people are already setting themselves up for the day on the sand, sand that has been recently smoothed out by a man on a tractor.
In fact, there are a load of Municipal workers who are cleaning and tidying the parks and plazas along the way.
The open air gyms already have people, individuals or groups that seem to have an instructor. On the beach other groups are doing more gentle exercises.
The cafes that are open along the beach are pretty much serving retirees out for breakfast and a chat, couples and groups mainly, hardly any single people. Very social.
I watched all this while enjoying my coffee and a delicious tostada of olive oil, tomato and avocado. Then set off.

Then out by the Airport. Ryanair fly here if anyone want to check out this jewel

I left town on a stretch of palm tree lined bike path! Glorious! Then a dedicated and separated bike path along the coast with limited shade.
Eventually that ran out and I joined a two lane road along the airport heading inland, planes taking off beside me.
After the airport Mother nature came to the fore and the land around me was scrubby, wild but wonderfully colourful, especially in the bright sun under a brilliant blue sky.

The bike path is no more and the landscape is changing. Lots of colour, though

There was a MTB path beside the road (on the opposite side of the crash barriers) but I saw no need to join it even if traffic on my road wasn't light.
I wasn't long inland when I saw a touristy sign and a road running straight back down to the sea. It looked so inviting I couldn't help but turn off and explore.

Could you resist this road? I sure as hell couldn't! You can see that I'm steadily moving inland (well, I would be if I wasn't heading back to the sea!)

With absolutely no shelter there was a fierce wind but there was an old tower, unfortunately with no information whatsoever. There was a path of sorts running parallel to the sea but I quickly decided that it was far too rough for me so turned around and headed back to the road. But what a view!

That's all there was for my diversion..... an old tower without a shred of information. There was a road that ran parallel to the sea but it was too rocky to be comfortable in this heat.

Back on the road the clock had tipped past noon and I was feeling the full force of the sun. So bright was it that my eyes hurt.

And this beauty is my road back to the main road. Feckin' glorious!

One of the oddest churches I have come across on my travels

To be Continued.......
Day 61 Friday May 27

The land of volcanoes Part II

A little later I took another figary to visit an interpretive centre for the National Park. There were some renovations taking place, a few workmen doing more chatting than working and one or two very surprised staff. It was free (I'm not sure if it always is) and best of all it's set up for kids. In my element I was!

It went into the flora and fauna of this peculiar landscape (a lot of the animal life is in the sea) the climate and its history. I found it very interesting, helped by a lot of information being available in English and kid friendly interactive displays. I think the poor staff were taking pity on me and thinking that some village was missing its idiot!

These were the "Salt Flats" I detoured miles for! Me and my figaries!


I kept on heading on enjoying the landscape, the odd glimpses of the blue sea in the distance until I came to a roundabout. My "plan" such as it was, was to continue on straight, staying inland. The alternative was back to the coast to a village, along a road past some Salt Flats and then a backroad over some hills which I had dismissed as too rough. I got a cold drink and a bocadillo in a very friendly café attached to a filling station then fecked the plan and headed back to the coast.

The village of Cabo de Gata was a disappointment and barely held my interest (except for all the boats pulled up on the beach) so I set off to look at the salt flats. I'm a big admirer of John Steinbeck and any mention of Salinas and salt flats always gives me a thrill. That's why I was there, in the wrong place on the wrong road. Some ridiculous, far fetched and completely geographically wrong reference to an author I like. ^_^

Back at the sea and the wind has (finally) picked up.

The road beside the sea was my kind of riding but the view of the salt flats was dull. I actually had had a better view on my way to the village! So disappointed was I that I lost my momentum for the adventure road and turned back, rejoining the road and continuing along my original plan, despite EV8 signs telling me that this was the way to San José! No map I had showed a road once I hit the hills and EV8 has caught me out before on the way to Tarifa.

The road runs out down there and a gravel road snakes up through those hills. There are EV8 signs.... but I don't trust them! No map I have, digital or paper shows a road up there. It would be slow going and in the heat I thought discretion was, unusually, the better part of valour

Despite being back inland I wasn't missing the sea, being kept amused by an interesting landscape. It was very "Western", I thought, Cowboy country. That always speaks to me. And now well into Siesta time the traffic had dropped right off.

This was my alternative and I was well pleased!

With 70km on the clock I had another decision to make. Take a right on what was effectively a Cul de Sac to San José or continue on towards La Isleta del Moro where I knew I'd pass an open campsite. The latter it was.

The road was incredibly straight but I found the countryside interesting. Best of all there were regular odd buildings dotted along. The times I wasn't in a Cowboy story I was in a Fairy Tale.

I was regretting my decision when I realised just how much like a resort the place was and that it was packed with people. Not helping was the fact that the bathrooms were being renovated so that prefabs were in use for showers and toilets. Not exactly ideal, not particularly clean. My pitch was gravel but - and this is important - it had a net hanging over the top that gave me shade! It was pretty much all made good, though, by a very helpful chap in the onsite minisupermarket who obliged me by opening up after it had closed. He'd seen my arrival on the loaded bike and figured it was the least he could do. In such a big, crowded, resort type place he really struck a chord with me.

In real life the colours are amazing. The greens of the hills, the yellows of the wild flowers, that blue sky!

I wanted to have a peek..... but too many tales from the brothers Grimm had me in fear of a wicked witch!

Ah, I'm not even going to bother with a caption

Cowboy country! Volcano Land. Fairy Tale Heaven. Still the luckiest sod!

Ironically for a place that was almost wall to wall packed with kids it was quieter and made far less offensive noise than the two Germans last night and their Pan feckin' Pipe cover versions/torture sessions

These shady things are about to become a feature of campgrounds. They're great!!!

Day 61 Friday May 27
Almería to Camping Los Escullos 72km Total KM 2371
Min Meters -3 Max Meters 108
Total Climb 265, Total Descent 240
Min Temp 20 Max Temp 42 Ave Temp 35

Cycle Travel


The Towns Along The Way
Cabo de Gato

The Whole Day

Cabo de Gata - Níjar Natural Park (Wiki)
Day 62 Saturday May 28

Not a 5* day on the pitch. (But more than a 5* day on the road!)

Today was one of those days that I wanted to be focused, to be one of those destination focused tourers. A big rugby match, the need to be settled in and comfy (with WiFi) to listen in on the radio. But...... I'm just not that type of tourist and Spain certainly isn't that type of country!
I set off earlyish by my standards but not that early.

The first few roads were just magical. After leaving a busy, frantic campground within seconds I was on a palm tree lined road with no-one around. Then I was heading for the sea! The Touring Gods weren't just smiling, they were beaming!


I was inland, heading for the sea, beside the sea for a while then back inland for most of the afternoon. Later, I'd be back beside the sea again. It was to be a diverse kind of day!

Still early and stopping to look behind me.

I was on a beautiful, quiet road passing through wonderful country before I knew it. Every day should start like this. Cycle Travel had me following the route of EV8 for today, something I was happy to do as a quick glance confirmed that I'd be on paved surfaces. Some climbing though!

I took a turn off to visit the sea then went back on track. I can't resist the sea! ^_^


I encountered a bit of an oddity in Spain - a grumpy cyclist. He was on a MTB and I slowly caught him (all the time while gazing around me). With me being loaded and himself out for what seemed like a training ride (he was working hard) I modified my speed but after a while, thinking of rugby, I resumed my normal pace, pulled out and slowly moved alongside. My cheerful "Good Morning" (en Español) received a cold stare before he brought his eyes back to the front.

A little later, I did what I do and stopped for a photo. "Beautiful country", I called out as he caught me up but he just ignored me, dislike oozing out of him like the sweat that made him shiny. I resumed my journey, caught up with him again, but this time didn't modify my speed and passed him again. Again my small talk was ignored but I could see the tension in his body. He was not a happy camper!

Coming to the village of Rodalquilar I was surprised to see him in my mirror pounding hard on the pedals to catch me. He zipped past me as I slowed down to get a feel for the village.

Looking North, looking down (out of shot are some divers), looking South

I did my usual, weaving over and back, up here, down there, admiring and nosing until I discovered the little church with a pleasant planted area around it. Perfect for a little rest in the shade and a drink. Except I wasn't alone. Grumpy cyclist was there, already hogging the one seat in the shade, panting like he'd won a mountain stage on the Tour de France. He looked at me with complete disdain and I have no idea why. "Oh, hello again", I smiled, "how's it going?" only to be looked at with even more disdain.

I wasn't taking that lying down.

I reached into my barbag, pulled out a ciggie, lit it, and pulled the first draw all the way down to my toes before exhaling it all with a contented sigh.

Yes, it's incredibly petty and I suppose I must be pretty fit by now and perhaps he's only starting off or perhaps is ill but I just found him to be rude. In any case he hopped on his bike and took off like a rocket leaving me alone and strangely satisfied in the lovely churchyard. And it wasn't even a Chesterfield!

Too good to be left in the album of the day. One of the more fabulous "tile pictures" on the roadside

I was now well inland and wouldn't be close to the sea for a while. Ordinarily, I'd be missing the sea, especially given that I'd a big climb to do inland, but honestly the road was great and the countryside fantastic and colourful. The hills around me presumably were volcanic in origin. Not high, but steep buggers. I had a 200 meter climb, not normally something to be too worried about but Gizmo was showing lots of red and I'd be hitting gradients of 20%.

This really was a day of contrasts. Saying goodbye to the sea and heading inland

After that I had a long descent back to the sea and the town of Agua Amarga (bitter water!). It turned out to be quite a salubrious place and I could find no cheap place to eat. In fact all the eating places were rather fancy and rather full. I didn't even feel comfortable sitting down too close to people to have my picnic such was the gulf in style between the folk and the biker. I also needed shade, badly. The sun was blasting! In the end, for comfort, I ate on a shaded bench away from the crowds near the small beach.

On the way to Agua Amarga. The colours! The variety!

Then another short, but red-steep climb out of the town and into the country for the last time. It was on the fast, swift descent towards Carboneras that I felt the back go soft. This really wasn't ideal. The sun was blasting down and there was precious little shade. I pulled up against an old wall of a building and quickly set about fixing the puncture. Not moving I could really feel the effect of the sun. Sorted, I repacked the bike and headed off.

A reminder that I'm still in volcano country

I wasn't too far from Carboneras but at this time (3:30 ish) any open places were full, and again all looked very fancy even if they were filled mainly with families. I did find a bench with some shade in a little park and sat for a while, sipping water.

In some pretty tough conditions Mother Nature was still bringing some colour.....

Hitting the sea again before Carboneras


To Be Continued........
Day 62 Saturday May 28

Not a 5* day on the pitch. (But more than a 5* day on the road!) Part II

Feeling a tad more refreshed I set off again from Carboneras. More red climbing ahead of me but this one was pretty epic and I thoroughly enjoyed the views. Tough work in the heat, but rewarding.

Going Up! Have a look up there on the top left! And that ain't even the top! Not a long climb, but bloody steep! Beautiful, though


A refreshing descent and two more humps got me to Mójacar Playa where I was feeling unnecessary pressure to find some wifi. Unnecessary because I was in the wrong time zone and had an extra hour to play with. ^_^Sometimes I am amazed that I've managed to make it this far!

On such a weavy, twisty-turny road my views were always changing. I'd had a puncture, the sun was frazzling me, I wanted to get to civilisation for a rugby match and then this was my road.......

As luck would have it, I came across "The Irish Rover" right there on the cycle path! I generally avoid Irish Pubs abroad and especially ones with that name (long story!) so continued on looking for somewhere else with Wifi - I'd be happy enough to listen to the radio. But as I got further away the thought of a tv screen, some shade and a cold drink started to gnaw at my willpower. I turned around.

They say that pride is a sin. Feck 'em! ^_^

It didn't look like any Irish pub I've ever seen in Ireland and the people working there were English. It took quite some time to figure out if they were showing the rugby because no-one seemed to care. They were. It took even longer to get a drink and my food came promptly at half time. I was customer number 4.

There are better pictures of better roads.... but this one is pushing all my buttons

The rugby was intense, nerve-racking and thoroughly enjoyable on a big screen. Unfortunately, we were beaten with the last play of the game!

Now, remember kids, if you want to do this bike touring thing - pack light! :laugh::laugh::laugh: And you definitely need a new bike!

Trying to pay was a nightmare. I do not have my bank card set up for contactless payment and no amount of explanation would satisfy the girl who insisted on taking my card to the machine rather than bringing the machine to me.

Looking back from the top!

Eventually, I got going again. From this point on I'd be along the coast for as long as I wanted to with a few camping options. I didn't make it far. There was a large, rundown campsite just on the edge of town. That'll do.

This beauty at the top deserves a bit of attention. Nope, I've no idea. I just thought it was very interesting and pretty

I checked in, picked a spot and hightailed it up to a supermarket to buy a bottle of beer. I was dreaming of a cold beer. It was warm! Such was the day. So near, yet so far.

My descent on the other side!

When the roadsigns here warn of deer it's worth my while keeping my eyes open.....
If the "What is a Cyclist" definition folks saw me jamming on the brakes on the descent to watch these guys they'd revoke my license


An older German man popped over for a chat and to offer me some food and a cold beer. In a converted van with his wife they were far better set up than me. I declined his offer of food as I was already carrying too much but couldn't resist a cold beer. A lovely chat was had. And not a note of Pan Pipe music! Maybe they were feckin' Austrians in a German reg campervan back in Almería ^_^

To make matters worse I'd managed to leave my tyre levers at the puncture site!

From the mountains back to the sea once again. Today really was full of diversity

Day 62 Saturday May 28
Camping Los Escullos to Mojacár Playa 64 km Total KM 2435
Min Meters -1 Max Meters 256
Total Climb 1112, Total Descent 1001
Min Temp 20 Max Temp 39 Ave Temp 34

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along the Way
Agua Amarga
Ventanicas al Cantal* Truth be told I'm not sure of the name of the last urban area. I think separate villages have merged over the years

The Whole Day:
Day 63 Sunday May 29

I am never feckin' happy!

I wasn't up particularly early, feeling very tired, having slept poorly on what turned out to be an uneven surface. Maybe it was just the anti-climax of yesterday fogging my head. The rugby result was a disappointment (even if the game was gripping), the "Pub" was a disgrace and the campsite was meh. But I had my coffee, then some breakfast and got organised.
My German friend was as cheerful as ever, though when I passed for my morning ablutions. There was no toilet paper in the bathroom (it had run out - one roll to be shared between all cubicles!) so I was glad to have my own supply. One thing that camping in NL taught me!

Setting off into steady, bunched traffic (it's Sunday). I didn't set off with lots of enthusiasm and my environment did little to change that. Very commercial, very touristified, it just didn't feel right. Yep, Johnny Foreigner gets to decide what is, and isn't genuine ^_^


I set off tired, hot and a tad grumpy at about 11:30 with no particular destination in mind. There was a reasonable scattering of camping options along the coast so there was no need for any intensive planning.

Initially I was heading through a conurbation, each little "town" merging with the next, along the sea. Wind kept me cool but traffic kept me on my toes. There was quite a bit, typically in bunches. Drivers were respectful but it would be a foolish cyclist who relaxes too much.

Very surprisingly for me, I could drum up little enthusiasm for the fact that I was riding beside the sea and even more surprisingly, perked up when the road veered a little into the countryside. I even put on some music.

There were gaps though, where Mother Nature reasserted herself. Unfortunately in blazing sun and intense heat and regular traffic stopping, relaxing, soaking wasn't terribly pleasant

The early stages were mainly a bit bleh. Where was interesting was a bit uncomfortable to stop and the rest was just dull

I arrived into Puerto del Rey humming away and was stopped by a Dutchman asking me if if I was OK. "Beyond OK", was my cheerful answer which led on to an interesting conversation with himself and his wife. Relocated here since September due to the stress of living outside Rotterdam they run a small stroopwaffel stand at local markets. They love their new life, presenting me with a waffle, gratis, as we chatted. Dutch people giving something away for free??? It's another world!

There are a lot of settlements, holiday villages, perhaps along the road. They barely stirred me at all. The roads between them though were more interesting.....

I set off again in better form after that encounter, bemused to see real estate advertisements in Dutch with clearly Dutch names. I'm not too far from the town of Vera, a place that is supposedly an enclave of Dutch & Belgians, and was passing through "Vera Playa", the beach of the town. I'verarely come across a place so sterile. Planned to a meticulous detail, lots of parks and wide streets it flattered to deceive, being all show and little substance. The green spaces, of which there were many, were pretty much useless, having few seats and fewer trees for shade. In scorching, blasting sun, they looked very out of place. I did find one half-shaded bench to stop and make a wrap and felt very conspicuous to the very few, very expensive SUVs that drove by. I could feel the stares through the heavily tinted glass.

The good and the bad. Oh to be a kid again when I saw the boat climbing frame! ^_^ And an Expat real estate agent

When the sun moved I lost my shade so moved on. Now the towns were more spread out and the road veered from the coast inland up and down rolling hills to arrive back at the coast for the next town. The heat made it tough, even a gentle gradient raising a sweat, the wind disappearing as I weaved between hills only to rush back at the sea to embrace this very welcoming sweaty mess.

Normally a sucker for a good beach, there was no shortage of them today but......

The towns didn't speak to me at all. Each was different, unique in its own way, some with "perfect" beaches, others more stones than sand, still others with black stones and sand. The building styles were similar and the one commonality was that the few restaurants were packed. Beaches had people but were in no way packed.

What was missing in every single place was shade. There were no places to stop and soak without getting scorched. Public water fountains seem to have disappeared too. With no reason to stop and extreme discomfort if I did, the towns were little more than a blur. My earlier enthusiasm was fading again.

Not speaking to me at all.....

Spying a rare bench under a tree I paused for a few minutes that became an hour. it wasn't a particularly attractive place to stop but the shade did it for me. This is the EV8 route but I saw feck all signs today. Certainly no directional ones. I understand that this section is still under development but it's not for the unprepared to follow.

There were quite a few beaches in the middle of nowhere, normally down a steep, rocky lane

Looking ahead I had a couple of close camping options but then nothing for a while. I also started to think about heading back inland.
Away from the sea? That's not like me! I really enjoyed Almería but these little seaside towns aren't sitting well with me. On this road there are numerous sideroads, too steep and rough for me at the moment. My rear wheel seems to be a bit wobbly and my front has some rim damage that I'm keeping an eye on. I'm sure I could camp close by (ignoring the signs) but water is the concern. I'm drinking loads but once warm, the water is barely palatable. Fresh water is a necessity.

There were patches of interesting cycling, but only patches

I picked a campsite and headed for it, outside the town of Águilas. A pleasant, small place, they sent me off on foot to find my spot before returning to get checked in.

I'm crap in such situations!Too much choice! I did too laps of the place trying to evaluate the "best location" in terms of shade, proximity to bathrooms, likelihood of Pan Pipe torture and proximity of friendly dogs. I'm getting fed up with all the gravel, though. As well as being tough on the tent it's bloody painful on my knees getting in and out. I was able to pick a spot in shade with a low wall that would give a workspace for cooking/eating. Then I realised their little pool was open!! A shower and off for a dip. Sooooo relaxing.

Even the odd ruin thrown in for good measure

Then I had a look at Roccado to check my rear wheel. Not good. It's nowhere near true. I can true a wheel enough to get me somewhere to get it done properly but with my load I think an expert is required. Maybe tomorrow.

A late dinner of sandwiches (too hot to cook) and a lazy night reading my book.

Day 63 Saturday May 28
Mojacár Playa to Águilas 43 km Total KM 2478
Min Meters -8 Max Meters 49
Total Climb 353, Total Descent 331
Min Temp 24 Max Temp 40 Ave Temp 34

Cycle Travel:


No town photos today becasue so many places merge together and aren't even named on maps.

The Whole day
Day 64 Monday May 30

A day off for repairs.

Aguilas, where I took a day for repairs


Looking at the bike last night and especially the wheel I decided to get some help. I'm heavily loaded, have a grá for the rougher stuff, and am beside the sea so waiting around isn't exactly a hardship.

My photography skills don't quite do the scene justice but I really enjoy this kind of public art. It's cheerful, bright and makes something chilling (a climb!) something pleasant

Because of Siesta, I had to be up early and organised and rode the few kms into town, located a bike shop and pushed Roccado in. Unlike Tarifa, there was no snootiness and a pleasant, smiling man took a look at the wheel and bumped me to the the top of the queue! An hour, he replied, with a big smile, come back in an hour! Customer service, I find, is less about the process and more about the connection. The smile made the connection.
I also asked for a new chain and he said he'd fit it for me.

I find that a fort overlooking a town sets a certain historical perspective and makes me wander through time as well as streets

This gave me the time to explore a little of Aguilas and the Touring Gods shone on me as this was one of the more interesting towns along the coast. That early in the morning it was lively and interesting.

There was a fort atop a hill, a lovely Plaza with lots of trees for shade, some interesting "stair art" and a whole load of boats to admire. It was the boats that made it! :-)

Boats of all kinds tied up and waiting to be used.....

I popped back to the shop and the wheel was perfectly trued and my new chain was on and ready to go. €10 for the truing but the price of the chain made me weep! (No charge for fitting it) Covid is still having an effect on prices!

But the older, simpler ones capture my heart

Then I toddled out to Decathlon for a new pair of shorts and took in a wider view of the town. Interesting centre full of character, a more modern, urban periphery but lots of trees and plants bringing life and colour.

Another example of my poor photography but also of a different style of Public Art

I had lunch at an outdoor table beside the Plaza and enjoyed a Menu del Día featuring Paella. Too many times Paella is only served to two or more people - a significant discrimination against the solo traveller - and I was a little fearful that mine might be a little light but it was delicious and enjoyed thoroughly.

There are always interesting buildings.... interesting in their own right but also in relation to what's beside them.

This was a different kind of lunch to my recent picnics and I enjoyed the accompanying wine.

The shady Plaza which became my lunch spot. Busy early in the morning, dead after lunch it was full of plant and bird life with some wonderful trees

A school tour passed by the Plaza and I was amused watching the clearly exasperated teacher trying to keep a bunch of teenagers in line. Beggars were also a feature, wandering from table to table.

After lunch the place pretty much went to sleep and I had the town almost to myself. Without the benefit of movement I was really feeling the effects of the heat - the sun was blasting! - so my wanderings were tempered. I found a shady bench and looked at the boats bobbing. So easily pleased.

A tree to inspire a hundred tales.....

Later, I was joined by a young family, the kids hopping out of a big car to have a look at the boats too. Just then, a young bird fell from a nest in a tree and lay on the path under the blazing sun. The quickest to react was a young boy, no more than 5, who was quickly kneeling down beside the fledgling, putting his head on the ground to make eye contact with the bird. His mother called out warnings not to touch the bird for fear of hurting it more then joined her son. She carefully lifted it up and placed it gingerly and carefully back in a little nest in the tree. Like magic, a symphony of bird song burst out of the tree! It was really quite special.

I've always understood that birds don't appreciate humans going at their nests, that they will often abandon nests and eggs if a nest has been disturbed. Now, I don't speak "bird" and I suppose it's possible that the chattering and singing I was hearing was angry but it sure didn't sound like that.

I do like a nice lighthouse!

With a warm fuzzy glow I headed back out to the campground where I took advantage of the little pool and had a lazy evening. In truth, I could have continued on today since the wheel was sorted before lunch but I enjoyed my day wandering around. I was lucky that it was such an interesting and pretty town.

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