Trading Bike Wheels for Train Wheels

Today we said goodbye to Seville. This has been one of my favourite places and it’s a place I could  certainly happily live for a while. Not long term obviously, but I could happily spend an extended period of time in Seville. It has beautiful buildings, parks and plazas, nice weather, it’s very vegan friendly and you can get around easily without having to drive. It’s just a really nice city.

We packed up the bikes and headed for the train station, where we arrived nice and early and had time to sit and relax before our train arrived. While we were sitting, a man came up and asked us in Spanish is we spoke English. When we said we did, he began speaking to us in English and asking about the bikes. He was from the U.S. and asked if we were taking the bikes on the train and when we said we were, he was quite disappointed that he hadn’t brought his own bike with him. He wasn’t sure if he could take them on the trains, so had left it behind, so was interested to see us all loaded up and about to put our bikes on the train.

When it was time to board the train, I’m so glad I had Steve with me because I would have struggled to get a bike on myself. The bikes had their own tickets and there were three designated spaces for bikes, but these spaces were hooks on the wall to hang the bikes from. So we wheeled the bikes on, unloaded all the panniers, stowed them in the luggage rack, then had to lift the bikes up and hang each one by its front wheel, then put the back wheel into a stand on the floor to hold it in place, then put the attached cable lock around each one and secure them. I think I would have struggled to lift a bike up to the high hook and hang it there, so I was grateful for Steve taking charge of that process. We found our own seats and settled in for the journey that was to be just short of three hours. At the start of the journey I began reading a book, but that was a dead loss…with the sun streaming in the window and the gentle rocking of the train, I was soon snoozing away! After a short little nap though, I was awake and taking in the scenery. We passed small towns and farm land. More olive groves (by the way, the olives here are AMAZING! Like no olives I’ve ever had at home, just beautiful and fruity and utterly delicious). Then we passed some of the most spectacular views I’ve seen anywhere – huge canyons with sheer rock walls and the river meandering below. These rock faces were high and imposing and completely sheer, just straight faces, straight down. Weaving along the outside of these sheer rock faces though, hundreds of meters from the river below, were wooden foot bridges! I couldn’t believe that anyone would choose to walk along those precarious looking structures, but obviously they do! The canyons were simply spectacular though.

We arrived in Malaga at 4:00 pm and had a 30km ride to our campsite, so we set off, thankfully along a bike path. Malaga was what I had expected it to be – very touristy, palm trees, high rises and very busy. It didn’t feel gaudy though and the ride along the coast was lovely. We had a nice flat bike path most of the way and even though the area is very built up, the coast line was nice and riding along the beaches and through tunnels was a really enjoyable ride.

Arriving in Malaga
Arriving in Malaga

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As we were riding along, I couldn’t get our little Trangia stove out of my mind! I was so looking forward to firing up that little thing and making a cup of tea. The thing with hotels here and Portugal, is they have no way of boiling water. The rooms don’t have a kettle and there’s no coffee machines or anything like that where we could get boiling water, so I’ve just had 4 days without any way of making a cup of tea, so I was soooo looking forward to a cup of tea with proper boiling water (I’d made a couple of cups with hot water from the tap in the hotel, but as you can imagine, it was pretty ordinary). I was so focused on that, as I was riding along I wrote a little Trangia song in my head! I later sung it for Steve as we were boiling the kettle! I won’t bore you with the lyrics, but it’s a catchy little tune! So 30km later, we arrived at the campsite, about 6.00pm, set up the tent, lit the Trangia (accompanied by my little song), had a hot shower and set about getting something to eat.

We attracted some comments today too. I’ll backtrack…I think the man who checked us into our hotel in Seville must have been telling other people about us, because the day after we arrived, we were walking out the door and a British couple said hello and said, “You must be the Australians with the bikes.” We said we were and got chatting with them about what we were doing and they told us where they were from. They finished by saying, “Oh, you must be mad!” (to do what we’re doing).

Then… today as we were leaving with the bikes all loaded, a Dutch couple stopped us in the hotel lobby and said, “Oh, you must be the Australians on some sort of sabbatical with the bikes.” We again chatted to them and they told us how good Holland is for cycling and we told them what we were doing and they finished by saying, “You must be mad!” Hmmm, sensing a pattern emerging here! Is this trip really so crazy!?

Then… today we had stopped in Malaga to take a couple of photos of the coast and for Steve to pump up a tyre and a voice behind us said, “Do you speak English?” When we said we did, a couple began chatting to us and asked us where we were from because they’d noticed the bikes and assumed we were touring. It turned out they were from Vancouver (so I said I had connections with Vancouver and I loved that city) and they had been told they should cycle Europe themselves but weren’t game enough to do it and certainly not unless it was really warm. They couldn’t believe we were doing it when the weather was still quite cool and doing it in a tent. “You guys are amazing!” they said. Well, that made a nice change from being told we were mad!

Then…when we arrived at the campsite and were putting up the tent, a lady walked past and stopped and asked in a Dutch accent, “You were just in Malaga one or two hours ago?” We said we were. She smiled, “Oh, we saw you, we were waiting for the bus and my husband said, oh, how can I put this in English…you have much courage! We saw you there and now you are here!” We smiled and said thank you, because that was a lovely thing to say and again, it was a nice departure from being told we’re mad! So we got noticed a bit today with mixed reactions!

We’re not quite sure where we’ll head tomorrow, we’ll plot our course a little later. As we pedal along I’ll ponder the comments from today. Are we mad? Or courageous? I don’t think we’re either of those things. I think we’re just a couple of Aussies lucky enough to be able to take some time off and do a bit of bike riding in new places. That’s all it is. Going for a bike ride each day and seeing new things. We’re very lucky and grateful to be able to have the time to do it, but I don’t think there’s anything mad or amazing about what we’re doing. We’re just doing some riding, some running and some roaming. We’re just lucky enough to do it in some fantastic new places. That’s all. I think that’s how I’ll sit with the mixed reactions from today.

One "mad" Tasmanian
One “mad” Tasmanian
Two "mad" Tasmanians
Two “mad” Tasmanians

So while we’re down here on the Costa del Sol where “mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun”, these two mad Tasmanians, will pedal the open road and while we might not be amazing, some of the things we see or experience are bound to be! Roll on!

2 thoughts on “Trading Bike Wheels for Train Wheels

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  1. Lol, as I started reading, I thought, you must be writing for a travel agent as you are making me want to do this trip!!!!! So the positive comments are the right ones 🙂 I would love to hear the song … so c’mon send us the clip 🙂 🙂

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    1. When you do the trip, I’ll be your travel companion! I now can’t get that darn song out of my head…very catchy! I couldn’t inflict that on you!

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