28.10.2018 (Day 163: Castellfollit de Riubregos-Barcelona):
The rain stopped shortly before we started and soon we even enjoyed some sunshine. Like on the first day in Spain, we smelt many pig farms and therefore knew where all the Spanish ham is coming from.
After a Halal-kebab, we reached the first suburbs of Barcelona and were surprised why there were no people and cars. Soon, we realized that there was a football game and therefore all the people either on the way to the stadium or at home in front of the television. In the city center, we had to cross thousands of supporters, who blocked all roads and sidewalks. Finally, the FC Barcelona won 5:1 against Real Madrid. In the evening, Fabian met his girlfriend Bettina and Adrian his parents to taste the kitchen of Barcelona.
29.10.2018-1.11.2018 (Day 164-167: Break Days: Barcelona):
In the beginning of our visit of the second largest city of Spain, we met for a free walking tour in the city center. With the competent and enjoyable guide, we explored the crooked streets of the gothic quarter and ended the tour at the old port of the Catalan capital. From the port to Torre Sant Sebastià one can take an overpriced cableway. Not far from the harbor, there is a museum with lots of pieces of Pablo Picasso, who spent part of his life in Barcelona. Besides many palm trees, one can find many green balconies, which gives the city image a nice flair.
Everywhere in the city are many independence flags and letterings on the balconies and yellow ribbons as a symbol of solidarity for politicians and activists, who were charged, arrested or fled to other countries after the once more stirred up situation last year. This resistance is based on the controversial, quite provocative independence referendum in Catalonia and the aggressive and repressive reaction of the national government.
From the Park Güell or rather the surrounding park, one has a free and breathtaking view over one of the most visited cities in Europe. Overtourism is a topic, which is increasing in importance in Barcelona and is more and more popular in politics.
Many constructions in Barcelona, inclusive the Sagrada Familia were designed by Antoni Gaudi and shape the cityscape extremely. The Sagrada Familia or unofficially called the never-ending construction site is a basilica north of the old town was on our sightseeing program as well. Since the tickets for going inside were expensive and the enormous tourist masses shocked us, we only looked from outside.
During our visit, we learned more about the Spanish kitchen and tasted a wide variety of Tapas. We were looking forward to the Mediterranean dishes, since Barcelona was the first city on the Mediterranean Sea on our trip.
2.11.2018 (Day 168: Barcelona-Cambrils):
After a traffic light festival when we left Barcelona, we crossed the highway and cycled from suburb to suburb. Soon, we reached a beautiful coastal road, which is built into the mountains and therefore met the sea far below us. We had a beautiful view and saw beaches, harbors and hills around us. Many deserted tourist towns followed and we could only assume what was going on in the high season. After we passed the petro chemistry industry and PortAventura World an entertainment resort after Tarragona, we searched for an overnight place in the middle of a tourist town near a river.
3.11.2018 (Day 169: Cambrils-Vinaros):
The landscapes changed a lot since we crossed the Pyrenees. The forests and meadows were replaced by sparse rocky landscapes and completely different foodstuff are cultivated. After the breakfast at the beach, we cycled along mandarin-, olive- and parsley plantations. In the direction inland, we saw high mountain chains that separate the sea from the central part of the country. The whole day, dozens of German campervans passed us and we were asking ourselves where they all want to go. In addition, we were surprised about the lightly dressed women at the side of the road, who were neither selling fruits nor vegetables.
4.11.2018 (Day 170: Vinaros-Llano de la Torre):
On the highway N-340, which accompanied us in the last few days, a group of cyclists suddenly overtook us. We decided to follow them to benefit from the high speed and the slipstream. Despite less modern cycles and a lot of luggage, we followed them around 15km with approximately 35km/h, until they took a break and we passed the surprised group.
Today, we passed the 10’000km mark and celebrated this with pasta at the beach. The last kilometers, we cycled passed a gigantic industry area to get to the beach again and found a beautiful spot on a rocky beach, protected by dense reed. Under the sound of the sea and the barking of dogs, we both slept eventually.
5.11.2018 (Day 171: Llano de la Torre- Valencia):
Directly in the morning, we crossed a small stream and were able to prove our skills on a gravel road again. The roads were constantly surrounded by different fruit plantations and woke our desire for fresh fruits. In the early afternoon, we reached Valencia and were warmly welcomed by Valentin and Elsa. After a shower, we were invited to a home-cooked dinner as well and had a sociable evening together.
6.11.2018-7.11.2018 (Day 172-173: Break Days: Valencia):
Elsa gave us a short city tour right in the morning of our first day in Valencia to give us an overview of the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city of Spain. Afterwards, we climbed the tower of the cathedral of Valencia, to enjoy the stunning view. We refueled and enjoyed an awesome sports massage, sponsored by a thoughtful listener of the radio interview. Gladly, we will receive further donations for a massage or other treats.
Besides Paella, the city is known for the annual celebration of «Falles», in which up to 30-metre high figures made of different materials take part in parade through the city. The city lays at the estuary of the river Turia, which was redirected around the city due to the disastrous floods in the past. After the death of the dictator Franco, a central city park was built in the dried riverbed instead of the planned highway.
Elsa accompanied us to a local bike shop to help us clarify a couple of things regarding our bikes. Tomàs from Bicitaller looked at our bicycles and told us what we should replace before Africa and gave us a contact in Sevilla, where we could order the components in advance. On the way back, we tasted the local specialty “Horchata de Chufa” a refreshing drink made of tigernuts, which is traditionally served with “Fartons” a longish yeast pastry. On our last evening with our Warmshowers hosts, we spent a nice evening with Martin, the father of Elsa. He gave us some tips regarding our route through Spain, since he is an enthusiastic touring cyclist himself.
8.11.2018 (Day 174: Valencia-Cullera):
Accompanied by Valentin and Ona, the dog of our hosts, we left Valencia in the drained riverbed and soon reached the port. Shortly after, we crossed the river Turia and cycled to the beach. At the promenade, we followed the cycling path and Ona accompanied us for a bit on foot instead of inside the trailer. Before Cullera, we pedaled passed a lake and were surprised to find rice being cultivated inside. This rice is used for the preparation of the local Paella. After arriving in the holiday residence of Elsa’s mother, we enjoyed the beautiful view of the ocean and the surrounding mountains.
9.11.2018 (Day 175: Cullera-Bocairent):
Woken up by a rescue helicopter, we had breakfast on the terrace with sea view and enjoyed the view. After we cycled along the Mediterranean coast of Spain the last few days, we changed our direction inland. This meant that our climbing skills were tested once again. The recommendations of Martin and Elsa lead us through beautiful valleys with mandarin-, orange-, cherry- and olive plantations. Elsa gave us the contact of Juan last night, who has an olive plantation in Bocairent. We contacted Juan, who forwarded us to his son Alberto and after we arrived, he guided us to the olive oil factory of his family. There, we could spend the night and even had a fire in the chimney.
10.11.2018 (Day 176: Bocairent-Molinicos):
Before we started cycling, we got a short tour by Alfredo through the small olive oil factory, which is owned by the family for centuries. The high quality olive oil is exported directly to Japan, where the product won several prices in the past. Today, the production phase of the precious oil starts and will take around two weeks.
Despite strong headwind, we made good progress and reached the high plateau shortly before Villena. After a short break, we followed a small group of cyclists, to profit from the slipstream. A few kilometers later, we started a conversation and Jose, one of the cyclists, invited us to his house. Even with insufficient knowledge of the English language on one side and the fact that for us everything seemed to be Greek, we could still communicate. Jose offered us a place for the night and the house for taking a shower and to cook some food. We prepared some pasta and declined the offer, since we wanted to continue cycling today. After approximately two hours, Jose came back from meeting his father and we said goodbye to the enthusiastic touring cyclist, who pedaled himself from Spain to North Cape. In Jumilla, we met a Ghanaian guy in a supermarket, who told us to send some contacts from home. After some days, we finally slept in the tent again next to an olive plantation.
11.11.2018 (Day 177: Jumilla-Molinicos):
With warm weather and steel-blue sky, we cycled through the hilly and very dry countryside of Spain. Through Warmshowers, we found an accommodation in Molinicos and were looking forward to a shower. When we arrived in the small village, the sister of Pedro, who is currently travelling in the Philippines, welcomed us. Because of the usual language barrier, a young translator accompanied the sister from the village and many kids, including her mother. They showed us the house and handed over the keys with full confidence. Since we left the touristic Mediterranean Sea, we daily experienced the Spanish hospitality. Later, it happened that a stranger knocked on the door and brought us Paella. In the afternoon, we enjoyed the calm village and recovered from all the climbing of the last days.
12.11.2018 (Day 178: Molinicos-El Tranca):
We started the day with a 300m climb, following a beautiful side road. After a few kilometers on the main road, we turned in the direction of the Nature Park Sierras de Cazorla. The next challenge was to climb a mountain pass at more than 1’100 meters. Then we cycled in a valley full of olive trees. The rocky peaks above the olive plantations have stunning shapes and create a special landscape through that. From far away we could already see the village Hornos, which was built on a huge rock, far above the valley.
Shortly before reaching the El Tranco de Beas dam, we wanted to buy food and got it, despite Siesta, since we asked quite energetic. Above the reservoir, we found a beautiful rest area and decided to stay there.
13.11.2018 (Day 179: El Tranca-Vadillo Castril):
The first few kilometers in the coniferous forest along the artificial lake, the surrounding country looked mystical, because of the fog patches above the lake. Soon, the sun pushed through the fog layer and we could see the surrounding mountain peaks. In the last village for the next 80km, we bought food for two days. Afterwards, the road went up and we reached the junction, where we turned to a small side road, which climbs to the mountain pass. Already a few kilometers later, a gravel road replaced the asphalt road and approximately one hour later, we reached the source of the river Gualdalquivir. At the origin of the fifth longest river in Spain, we did our lunch break, before we fought our way up to the top of the pass. The strenuous ascent on the road with small and large rocks was totally worth it since we had an amazing view on the rock formations and peaks around us. The whole day we saw foxes, red deer, chamois and deer on the road or next to it. Finally, we pitched our tent on 1’800m and therefore the highest point of the road and on our journey as well.
14.11.2018 (Day 180: Vadillo Castril-Villanueva de las Torres):
In the cold night, we woke up by wild pigs, which were sniffing around our tent. In the night, the wind increased in strength and it rained constantly. During packing our equipment, a car stopped and two rangers told us that is was not allowed to camp and next time we would get a fine. On the way downhill from the pass, we were shaken completely and we were covered head to toe with dirt.
In Pozo Alcon, we warmed up our bodies in a restaurant. Then, we cycled through infinite olive plantations. Spain is famous for its olive exports; it covers more than 30% of the worldwide consumption.
The hills and mountains around us were unbeatable in the variety of colors. After a short ride in a valley, we reached an asphalt road again and arrived in a small village. There, we had to wait a couple of minutes until the supermarket owner came back from his siesta and we could buy our dinner. On the village square, we tried to have a conversation with a couple of older local men. Using his hands and feet, one of the men explained, that he was in Interlaken as a truck driver. Shortly after, he showed us an empty house, gave us the key a few minutes later and said goodbye.
15.11.2018 (Day 181: Villanueva de las Torres-La Zubia):
After a relaxing night in the empty house of Carmelo, we put the key in the agreed hiding place and pedaled in the direction of Granada. First, we followed a valley and enjoyed the beautiful rock formations with the different colors. Suddenly, we realized that we missed a turn and either climbed 300m too much and had to back or ride a short part on the highway. We decided to cycle 5km on the highway, despite the clear prohibition sign at the entrance. After only one driver used the horn and luckily, there was no police car around, we went back to side roads. One of the roads even led us through a dry riverbed for a few hundred meters. Before we reached Antonio’s apartment in the suburbs of Granada, we had to cross a mountain pass at about 1’400m. In the evening, our host from Warmshowers cooked a delicious local dish and we talked about god and the World.
16.11.2018 (Day 182: La Zubia-Granada):
On our first rest day since a long time, we slept late and enjoyed the company of Antonio, who is an enthusiastic cyclist himself. After we modified the route of our next days with the help of some local cyclists, we pedaled into the center of Granada. We spontaneously booked our first night in a hostel since a while. In the afternoon, we walked through the oldest district «Albaicin». From this part of the city, which is on a higher elevation, one has a stunning view on the surrounding mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the castle Alhambra. In the evening, we treated ourselves with tapas and beer and enjoyed the positive atmosphere in the countless bars until early morning.
17.11.2018 (Day 183: Granada-Huétor Tajar):
After a rather short night, we visited the part of Alhambra, which one does not need a ticket and walked through the beautiful alleys in the center of town. In the afternoon, we left the substantial student city and found a nice camp spot after 50 km in an olive tree plantation.
18.11.2018 (Day 184: Huétor Tajar-Pizarra):
Before we started our cycling day from the immense olive plantation, it started to rain during breakfast and stopped shortly before we actually left. We pedaled across hilly roads and directly towards a storm front. Suddenly, it started to rain heavily and we saw the thunderbolt before we heard the thunder right after. The storm directly above us drowned our music from the speakers immediately. Soaking wet, we reached Antequera with its southern charm and an imposing fortress on the top. In a small supermarket, we ate local sweets and bread to increase our energy levels again. Soon after, we continued our journey. From now on, it was mostly downhill and since one week, we reached an altitude lower than 500 meters for the first time. A few kilometers after Pizarra, we were warmly welcomed by Ismael from Cortijo Rosas Cantares and got our own holiday house. We got this accommodation because of a generous offer from friends.
19.11.2018 (Day 185: Pausentag: Pizarra):
After an extensive breakfast with bacon and eggs, we dealt with things that we wanted to do since a long time. Wash clothes, seal the seams of our tent, clean the bicycles etc.
We enjoyed the unusual luxury of our own home with a kitchen, a hot shower and our own bed. Thanks a lot for this unique luxury!
20.11.2018 (Tag 186: Pizarra-Montecorto):
After two relaxing nights, we swapped the luxury life with the adventure life and left Cortijo Rosas Cantares. Right in the beginning, the road ascended a lot and we reached significant altitude fast. At many places, we saw the damages of the storm we witnessed on Sunday. At several spots, streams and rivers overflowed and transported all kinds of material on the road. After we climbed the “Puerto del Viento” pass on 1200m, despite rain and strong headwind, we reached the city of Ronda soon. The tourist town is famous for its location; the old town is built on a rocky plateau and can be reached using several imposing bridges. During lunch, a young touring cyclist from Israel talked to us and we exchanged experiences. Before we pitched our tents right next to the main road, we had to master another pass and the rain did not even stop during that.
21.11.2018 (Tag 187: Montecorto-Sevilla):
The rain did not stop during the night and accompanied us the whole day until we reached Sevilla. After we left the hilly region behind us, the roads were getting more flat and we did not have to accumulate many more meters of altitude. Most of the day, we cycled on the service lane of a main road that was not extremely busy. At a fuel station, we took a break and strengthen us with a Monster energy drink and a warmed up Pizza. The owner of the shop felt pity when he saw us and gave us a sticker for our rides. Finally, we reached the fourth largest city of Spain and Fabians sister Katja and her boyfriend Tinu were already waiting for us in the hostel. During an evening with many beers and tapas, we learned how to order a beer in Spain in the correct way: “cuatro Sevilla por favor”.
22.11.2018 (Tag 188: Pausentag: Sevilla):
After we visited the bicycle shop, with which we were already in contact in Valencia and ordered different spare parts, we joined a free walking tour. The increasing rain convicted us to leave the tour and flee to a restaurant. Sevilla is one of the hottest and driest cities in Europe and has only 50 rainy days in the annual average. The probability was not on our side this time and we spent the rest of the day mostly indoors. In the evening, we prepared an extensive aperitif and had a nice evening.
23.11.2018 (Tag 189: Sevilla-Adriano):
Tinu sponsored us a solar panel, with which we can charge our electronic devices in the future. The solar energy expert organized a light, compact device for our journey through Africa. Thanks a lot!
After breakfast together, we said goodbye to Katja and Tinu and pedaled back to the bike shop. Jorge organized already all the spare parts and checked our bicycles with his expert knowledge in detail. He showed us some important tricks for the continuation of our journey and sawed part of the mudguard fixture off, so we have more space between the tire and the mudguard. In the last few days, we had often problems on gravel roads that dirt was stuck at the extremely narrow passage and therefore blocked the wheel. Our shopping list contained 4 chains, 2 sprocket clusters, 2 spare tires, 1 spare disk break and a new pump. Since Jorge was really enthusiastic about our journey and happy to help us, that he did not charge us for the work and even gave us the service, several brake pads, chain lubricant, bike detergent and a chain gauge.
We wanted to warmly say thank you again for the generosity!
In the afternoon, we left Sevilla and crossed the first touring cyclist in a long time. After an interesting conversation with a Russian touring cyclist, we found a place for the night next to a cactus fence just leaving the village Adriano
24.11.2018 (Tag 190: Adriano-Cadiz):
During breakfast, two kids cycled past us and we greeted each other. A few minutes later, they came back and asked us something. Like most of the time, we did not understand much and gave them one of our business cards. In return, we got a dozen bonbons back. They probably got them in the meantime at home.
The rather flat landscape appeared special to us after we spent many days in the mountains and we missed the views. On the way to Cadiz, we were surprised about the many cotton plantations in this region. We saw many storks that already established their winter habitat in the South and once again a pig farm. To reach the peninsula on which Cadiz is located, there are two bridges and another access further south. In the unknown that cycling across the bridge is forbidden, we were standing in front of the prohibition sign, shortly before dawn and discussed whether we wanted to risk the fine or cycle the 30km detour around the bay. We decided to choose the easier option. Therefore, we pedaled the four-kilometer long bridge and reached the other side without any problems. Shortly after, our hosts Nacho and Cristina warmly welcomed us. In the late evening, we met friends of them and were introduced to the local cuisine. The fried shark with lemon juice we liked the most.
25.11.2018 (Day 191: Pausentag: Cadiz):
After we booked the ferry from Tarifa to Tanger and contacted some potential hosts for the next cities, we walked to the old town of the harbor city. The wind on the beach side was strong and accompanied us until we reached the city gate, which marks the entrance of the old town. Many small restaurants and bars characterize the small, extremely contorted center. Quite a number of older buildings were built with rocks, which contain corals and shells and are interesting take a closer look. In the evening, we cooked “Älplermagronen” for our hosts and learned many new facts about the South of Spain and Cadiz.
26.11.2018 (Day 192: Cadiz-Jimena de la Frontera):
We left Cadiz with sunshine and profited from tailwind the first few kilometers. Surrounded by marshy landscape, we pedaled north again, to reach the Nature Park Los Alcornocales after a while. In this Nature Park, there are the largest cork oak forests in the Iberian Peninsula. Every nine to twelve years, the cork is usually harvested. However, this can vary from region to region. We barely reached the Park, the road continuously ascended, and we were challenged once more. When we reached the highest point, we were treated with a stunning view over the surrounding hills and forests. In addition, we observed many eagles and other birds of prey wheeling above us. Before we left the extremely humid and therefore green area, we cycled along a beautiful river and watched the sunset.
27.11.2018 (Day 193: Jimena de la Frontera-Taraguilla):
On the way to Gibraltar, we met many road cyclists and greated us friendly like always saying “Hola” or “Buenos”. In the town of Taraguilla, we asked at a “Hostal” if we could deposit our luggage somewhere, while we would visit the British Oversees Territory. The owner showed us a huge garage and said it is no problem to store it there. After he said it would be easier to get to Gibraltar by bus, we left the bicycles there as well. After crossing the border (including a new stamp in the passport), we walked over the airfield, which was closed for all traffic just after. A small aircraft from British Airways took off a few minutes later. It is the only airport in the World where the airfield is crossed by a four-lane road. After we passed the city center, we climbed up the Rock of Gibraltar, which lays more than 400m above the harbor. Shortly after reaching the top, we already saw many Barbary macaques. From the highest point, we saw our next continent: Africa!
We left the only wild monkeys in Europe, after we enjoyed an ice cream and a beer, behind us and took the bus back to our bikes. When we asked the owner of the Hostal, if he has a garden to pitch our tent, he said we could just sleep in the garage. We liked the idea and setup our night’s lodging.
28.11.2018 (Day 194: Taraguilla-Tanger):
We left the garage and cycled past Algeciras, then over two passes down to Tarifa. From the hills, we had a glimpse to the coast of Morocco and Gibraltar. Tarifa is the southernmost city on the European mainland and has the shortest distance to the African continent. At the wind-protected beach, we swam for the first time in a while in the sea and enjoyed the warm temperatures. In the evening, we took the ferry to Tanger and reached the large city in the dark. Only after a few kilometers, we reached the residential block of our host Muyi, who lives in Morocco since several years.