We woke to a chilly morning in the forest after a night of new and interesting “night noises” – lots of owls hooting, dogs barking and things going bump in the night. I jumped at the chance to do a run this morning and make use of the nice path than ran through the trees, so in a chilly 4C degrees, pre-dawn darkness and fog, I set off for a nice gentle 4km run through the forest, with Steve cycling behind me as chaperone. It was a lovely early morning run.
We packed up the tent and loaded up the steeds and set off for Seville. After a chilly morning, the day soon warmed up into another stunner and hit 30C again. The legs felt a bit tired getting started this morning…in fact the legs felt very heavy and very tired. This folks, is what’s known in the business and “cumulative fatigue”! When I train for a marathon, I do long runs after hard workouts to generate “cumulative fatigue” and train the legs to run when they feel tired. Well today, my legs felt like they were in a marathon. When I got up this morning, my legs didn’t feel completely rested from yesterday’s long ride and then setting off today, they felt very heavy. Then came the hills. Oh boy! I was riding on the fumes of willpower today, because that’s really all that got me up those hills. Compared to Portugal the hills weren’t even that steep or that long, in fact compared to the hills we tackled in Portugal, the ones today could probably be classified as nothing more than speed humps, but my legs were burning like never before. They were absolutely spent, nothing left to give, just completely had it! There were no more gears to click down, so it was just a matter of clicking up my brain and willing myself to keep going and keep climbing and that’s all that did it because that’s all I had left to give.
We rolled into the nice little town of Aznalcazar to stop for elevenses.
I felt like we were a couple of strangers riding into a wild west town where the piano player stops playing and everyone stops and stares! That’s sort of what it was like, we got a lot of stares! It was a nice little town though and we sat in the sun for a snack and watched a town worker hosing the square in front of us. It just looked so strange, to see him using this big fire hose to hose paving and all this water rushing down the drain. Water is so precious at home that you risk getting dirty looks just watering a garden or washing a car and to hose a path would be an absolute no-no for the waste of water. So we sat and watched quite intrigued by the huge flow of water being used just to wash some leaves and dirt off concrete.
Then we watched the gas bottle man in his truck driving around the square and around the streets honking his horn, so I guess people who want their gas bottles filled, race out and flag him down as he toots past. On his second lap he gave us a wave and a smile, then on our way out of town, we passed him again and he gave us a wave. We pedalled out of town down some very confusing one way streets. It seemed that every way we turned we hit a No Entry sign and found ourselves going round and about street after street and hitting a No Entry until we just had to follow a one-way street around and around for about 1km just to get out of this little town. Mind you, our skills at reading Spanish road signs have been pretty lousy so far, so what we saw as No Entry signs, probably actually meant “Go This Way”.
On we went with some more pedalling and more hills and more burning legs. We passed lots of olive groves and orange trees again and then found ourselves on the outskirts of Seville.
We stopped in Espartina for a quick lunch and to brace ourselves for what we knew was going to be a busy and traffic frantic ride into the city.
It sure was that. Lots of roundabouts to get around one handed and signalling, lots of traffic and bike paths that went nowhere! We would see a bike path and head for it to get out of the traffic and within about 20m, it would just run out at a gutter! Just like that, it would stop and we’d have to fling on the brakes and do a shuffle-shuffle-shuffle turn around of the bike on foot and then head back the way we came and get back on to the busy road. I’ve decided I’m actually a bit scared of the drivers in Spain. They’re the complete opposite of the drivers we experienced in Portugal. Here they don’t stop for us, don’t give us a wide berth and don’t stop for us at pedestrian crossings, even when we have the green man and should be able to walk, the drivers just drive right on through. When we ride up a narrow street, the drivers keep going and try and squeeze past us, whereas in Portugal they always stopped and waited until we went past, before driving on. So it’s a bit disconcerting riding in traffic here.
We eventually found ourselves in the centre of Seville…finally! Only 3 weeks late! This journey we’re on was supposed to start in Seville, where I was to do the Seville Marathon, until my foot decided not to play the game and we had to change our plans. So now, we’re finally here! After some wiggling and turning around some rabbit warren little streets looking for our hotel and with Steve doing some frustrating but excellent navigation, we found our hotel. Steve finds it really frustrating trying to follow the GPS, which isn’t always accurate and easy to follow, but considering we were going through narrow back streets, with nothing really to see to help with getting our bearings, I think he did a brilliant job to ride and keep an eye on the GPS map and try and locate things all at the same time. We eventually came to our hotel and, thankfully, they were able to accommodate us and our bikes. There began the longest check-in process we’ve ever had, simply because our check-in man was so delightful and so brilliant!
He helped us carry our bags in and helped bring the bikes in, then we stood at the reception desk, while he offered us a complimentary drink. So Steve stood and had his orange juice and I stood and had my cup of tea, while this fantastic man basically sorted our stay for us! He asked which way we were travelling from Seville and we said we hadn’t decided, so he started suggesting a route for us that would avoid the big hills and take us along the coast, so he was basically being our on-the-spot travel agent, suggesting the best way to cycle through Spain and up into France. Then he showed us a city map and began circling the main things to see. Then he began writing the names of the good restaurants on the map. He asked if there was any particular food we ate and Steve told him I was vegan. Well…he was off and running! He had the big screen computer on and began showing me pictures of traditional vegan meals so I knew what they looked like and what was in them, then he wrote the names of them down, so I could have that list with me if I wanted to order any of them in a restaurant. Then he showed Steve the pork to eat and the beer to drink and kept bringing up the pictures of everything for us, so we could see what he was talking about. Then he showed us pictures on the computer of the various places to see and while he was using Google images to show us a museum, amongst the pictures was a picture of a bull fight.
“That is another of our traditions,” he said, “but I’m for the animals and I don’t like it, I wish it would stop. People say the bull is happy (and here he pulled an “as if!” sort of face) but the referendum is split between the young people an the old people and some think it’s important to keep it and others want it to stop. I don’t like it. I feel sad for the animal.”
Well, I was warming to this man more and more! Then he printed off the list of meals he had searched for and we finally headed to our room with our map, list of vegan and meaty food choices and warm glow from the fervent anti-bullfighting declarations from this nice man! Although, the whole time we were standing there talking to him and listening to his suggestions, all I could think was how awful and stinky we must have been and there we were standing in his nice hotel, being helped so extensively by this nice man and all we could give him in return was the perfume of “Eau de Pongy Bike Rider”!
After a shower and freshen up we felt a little more like we could mingle with civilised folk, so we set off for a short roam around the streets and since it was now after 6:00, we thought we’d find somewhere to eat. Boy oh boy did I strike the jackpot! I had found a place here on my Happy Cow App, that lists vegetarian and vegan restaurants and there was one only 1km from the hotel, so we set off there. I’d already read that people eat later here and some restaurants don’t open until 8:00pm and people have dinner at 10.00 and this was one of those places. It didn’t open until 8:00 and we were really really hungry, so we did a bit of wandering and then stood across the street from the restaurant with our eyes glued to the door. As soon as it opened we almost fell through the door and collapsed in a hungry heap. Then…we treated ourselves to our first restaurant meal since we’ve been away and made it count by ordering three courses! It was amazing for me to be able to choose anything on the menu…that never happens! For starters I had absolutely delicious oat and shitake croquettes and Steve had corn and macadamia croquettes, then for main Steve had a veggie burger, chips and a salad and I ordered the quinoa, chickpea and seitan pilaf, but the waitress soon came back to say that was unavailable, so I went for the grilled vegetables and they were delicious, then we topped it off with dessert – Steve had the apple and plum cake with soy custard and I had the vegan chocolate cake which appeared as two big slices of rich chocolate cake and I can tell you, I did not leave a crumb! Every one of those meals was enjoyed with relish and polished off without a trace of them having been on the plate! Steve found it all delicious too and he gets next choice of restaurant where I should still be able to find something to eat, thanks to the assistance of the amazing hotel man! So we now feel full and supremely nourished and it was well worth the treat after a 57km bike ride today in 30C heat. We were also the only ones in the whole place (we’re making a habit of this – having places to ourselves!), so we obviously eat way early than the regulars! The meals also came out bang-bang-bang, one after the other. As soon as one empty plate was taken, another course was placed before us. Maybe they were wanting to scoot us out before the 10.00pm rush! Anyway, it was a delicious meal and as we were leaving I saw the chef and said “Gracias!” and gave her a clap and put my fingers to my lips in the “perfect” gesture and she laughed and said “Gracias“, back.
We’ve decided to spend three days in Seville and have some rest and solid roaming time and I’m looking forward to some rest from the bike so maybe I can do some more running. So the day was a bit of a tough one, leg wise, but was finished off with the perfect antidote to that…friendly people and…cake! So in the dulcet tones of Tammy Wynette, I say…
P-E-R-F-E-C-T was the end to terdaiyeeee!