Today we change from our nice but small Hobbit hut in the old town to a shit hotel near the airport bus.
It’s the worst day of weather we’ve had in two weeks – a little overcast and windy, very windy. Windy app said up to 50mph gusts.
We decided to risk a ride so after leaving the hobbit hut we headed east along the coast. We were cycling directly into the wind which made it hard going.
Windy.com was right – the sea was wild with surges up the beach and waves spraying the roads. Don’t think this cafe will be opening today…
After a pleasent lunch at one of the beach restaurant that wasn’t flooded we headed back to the shit hotel – Hostal la Hispanidad. When I say it’s shit I mean the rooms aren’t great. The staff are lovely though and sorted us with an “out the way” area to pack the bikes away.
With bikes packed we went to the bus station to check out bus times to the airport. It’s “Line A” bus to the airport all for the princely sum of €4
We then went for some food in the restaurant next to our hotel. It was devoid of customers which is normally a bad thing. The manager/waiter/chef (same guy) was lovely. Just as we were leaving we heard marching band music – there was a religious parade with the baby Jesus carried by a group of men.
Feeling full of god it was time for bed – big day of travel tomorrow. I think praying for a first class upgrade on a Jet2 flight may be more than god can deliver…
The day started with the best breakfast we’ve had so far. A buffet of everything – we ate and drank well for our €7 ?
The climb out of Alhaurin was a brutal wakeup with our full bellies. The road then undulated through countryside the 11km till Mijas.
We stopped in Mijas for a drink before descending steep roads to Fuengarola where traffic got busy.
The plan (Sarahs) was to pick up the Eurovelo 8 cycle path to Malaga. I’d got the gpx files from my favorite site http://www.waymarkedtrails.org and loaded them into my mapping apps. So should make navigation as simple as following the line !
In the past all the Eurovelo routes have been great. Well thought out and as traffic free as possible. This part of the EV8 is an exception. Busy roads, one way streets (wrong way) and off road sections didn’t make for fun riding ☹
We stopped at a beach bar for a coke & on leaving I found I’d got another rear puncture. The cause looked like the tub tape had rubbed a cut in the tube ! Never had that before ! Anyway second fix of the holiday before continuing to Malaga.
We were now running late and started getting calls from the apartment owner wondering when we’d turn up. We were only 6km away but it took for ever to find our way through the outskirts of Malaga.
The owner needed to return to his office so came to meet us on his motorbike with the keys about one km from the property. WhatsApp live location is great ?
We got into our apartment about 5:30pm tired and hungry. All we had was some sweaty cheese that was surplus from last nights meal. (Sarah’s starter was just one huge plate of cheese).
We showered and went out for a lovely meal with real veg. The streets and cafes were busy with a nice vibe. After an ice cream & a short walk home it was time for bed. Weve christened our apartment the Hobbit hut…
Disasters: zero (unless you count mile long hills at 8% a disaster. If so then there were loads)
The day started badly with my pigeon spanish letting me down again. My breakfast order came back as plain toast (no butter) with a pot of tomato puree. Not exactly what I’d ordered – toast, butter and jam ! At least I got coffee right.
In reality a plain breakfast was required as I’ve had a bad stomach for days now. So following breakfast we had a trip to the chemist for some Bisto tablets.
Getting out of Rhonda was easy & we soon hit the open country on quiet roads.
The road climbed and then descended all the way to Yunquera. Long uphill & long descents never greater than 10%.
Now Sarah was loving the route I’d chosen. Apparently…
“I’ve not fucked up yet – but have potential !”
Flushed with success I routed us on a quiet back road from Alozaina. This quiet road took us nearly to Coin before we had to join the main road.
Navigating through coin was a sense of humour test. It’s a rats nest of very hilly streets and was quiet busy as well. Also Windy Maps routing let us down – well my version did anyway.
After we cleared Coin it was a slog to Alhaurin el Grande where I had my emergency gel. To this point we’d only had breakfast, a can of coke and a bag of crisps all day.
There’s not much accommodation round Coin but the Alhaurin Golf hotel were offering rooms for €50 on Booking.com
The hotels lovely but in the middle of nowhere ! Chilling out before food Sarah worked out we’d climbed 20,004 ft in total. Not bad ?
After chilling we decided to eat at a local resturant. The thought being that the hotel would be a ripoff.
So off we walked the 250 yards to a group of 4 resturants, picked one & went for food.
Big mistake. Poor quality “chips with everything” food & pricy. Oh and frozen mixed veg. Grrrr. Such a contrast to what the spanish eat. Suppose its to be expected in an area where the Brits come. Anyway we needed carbs before bed.
Today was always going to be a hilly day. Spain is hilly and Rhonda is at the top of a big one.
Our hotel is a little run down but the staff were lovely. We came down to breakfast & no one was there so we went and brought cake for the journey. When we returned @9am the staff were there. Cheese on toast again + jam this time.
After breakfast we paid & were given a large jar of local honey. A lovely thought but really the last thing I wanted to carry up the hills. I bet Froomy doesn’t have this problem…
We stopped at a roadside petrol station in Montecorto. Strange place with plastic tables in the forecourt by the pumps. Most tables were filled with pissed old blokes who’d obviously driven there ! We thought they’d be very local to the petrol station but we had a close pass by one of them with his horn blaring. Nearly made Sarah shit herself !
After a loads of climbing (and some shit navigation by me) we finally made it to Rhonda.
Our hotel tonight is shit but cheap. The Hotel Virgin (actually the Hotel Virgen de los Reyes). The showers ok so were happy. So quick shower & out for a wander.
After a few beers we had pizza at a restaurant next to our hotel. It was a little chaotic but had a lovely atmosphere. Sarahs salmon starter was huge.
The food was cheep as well. I can’t remember the price but it made us wonder what the average wage is in Spain. Google told us it was ~$35k compared to the UK’s ~$50k. Not checked that but could explain why food is cheaper.
We expected today to be long and hilly so we started early for us – 08:20. It was not fully light & there was a heavy mist.
As Jerez was our far point we retraced our route as far as Arcos on quiet roads. We made good progress through the mist and were both covered in condensation.
At Jedula and stopped for breakfast – the standard cheese on toast as the waitress didn’t understand how I asked for eggs !
Getting on my bike after breakfast I noticed a rear puncture. So it was bags off to investigate. A large glass shard was the cause – grrrr…
Puncture repaired & on the road again to Arcos where the traffic was heavy. Out of Arcos we found one of our roads just didn’t exist ! Rerouting required…
From Arcos our new route was hilly and on a main road. It was reasonably quiet but Sazz decided quieter roads were needed. So we detoured onto “C” roads.
The “C” roads then turned into a miserable bumpy dirt track. Sazz said this was great fun and part of the adventure. I just felt it was like riding a fully laden touring bike over a ploughed field. Hence no photos.
Anyway we made it to El Bosque about 3:30ish. We sat on a bench and used booking.com to find a room. For €42 the hotel El Tabanco seemed a bargin. It turned out to be a little tired but with friendly staff.
Lazy start and breakfast at a street cafe… So far during our travels my Spanish has not been received well by the locals. Despite my best efforts nobody’s understood a word I’ve said and then had to ask (in English) what I want.
…until today. I ordered cheese on toast and two coffees for breakfast. Not only did the guy understand me but he complimented me on my Spanish !
…and again at lunch. We had drinks and tapas in a back street bar and again the guy understood me.
Following a long lunch discussing our route to Rhonda we decided on a tour of the Tio Pepe winery for the afternoon.
Really interesting tour… did you know there are only two grape varieties used to make sherry. Also Sherry is a protected name like champagne. Anyway they’ve got quite a bit of Sherry here…
Rows of sherry casks – oldest at the bottom & youngest at the top. There’s a decanting process. Sherry is taken from the bottom casks. Then younger Sherry is decanted into the older Sherry barrels to refill them. 500 litres per barrel – now that’s a session ?
We then went for a tasting… ?
I’ll not bore you with the tasting notes but interestingly Croft is the only one that the Spanish don’t drink. It’s produced and exported solely for the UK !
….or “I’m going to get a taxi and you can’t stop me.“
Todays mileage: 40
Total mileage: 146
Disasters: Zero ?
An early (for us) start today at 9:30am with Jerez as our target. Nothing special or spectacular about the mornings cycling, it was just pleasent rolling countryside.
We stopped for a late breakfast at a roadside cafe on the ring road round Arcos de la Fontera. It didn’t look much but the guy was lovely and really welcoming. He got us a toasted cheese sandwich but also brought tomato & tomato sauce. Now that’s not the Heinz type but proper pureed tomatoes. A lovely brunch for €6. Great value that would even make a Yorkshireman smile !
From Arcos we got lucky with some cycle paths along what could have been busy roads. Then we followed a “service” road parallel to the motorway. This was really quiet and took us to the outskirts of Jerez where we passed the famous racing circuit.
After this it started to get busy. I used Windy maps to navigate to our flat for the next two days. Windy’s navigation worked well and took us down cycle paths right into the centre. Well done Windy but really well done Spain for having such great cycle paths. Have to say Sarah doesn’t like busy roads. Her catch phrase of the day was “I’m going to get a taxi and you can’t stop me” (Now Sarah says I need to qualify this – busy = big fast lorries on narrow roads. )
Our apartment for two nights is lovely and very near to the centre of town. Again €70 for two nights is great value.
We wandered out for food & had a lovely meal at this spot.
Then a drink outside a local bar – the tree gives a clue to the climate here…
The airbnb apartment was lovely – right in the centre of the Old Town. The only problem was it was right near the town clock who’s bell chimed every hour. This made for a broken nights sleep. The decor was a throwback to the 70’s but for €40 we couldn’t complain.
We slept in late and had breakfast on our roof terrace.
After a lazy breakfast we walked up to the fort and paid €2 for a look round.
Inside the fort was Wolfgang Berus coffin. Haven’t a clue who he is so I’m going to google him when I’ve a minute…
We then started todays ride. We’d chosen the Via Verde de la Sierra. It’s a 25 mile long cycle path from Olvera to Puerto Serrano.
If Carlsberg did cycle paths this would be it….
No cars ✔
Stunning scenery ✔
Eagles flying above you ✔
Bars on route ✔
Blazing sunshine ✔
30 tunnel and 4 viaducts ✔
25 miles long ✔
DOWN HILL ALL THE WAY ✔
Oh and did I mention it was down hill all way ? Originally designed to be a railway but never finished and turned into a cycle/walking path. If you’re a cyclist & in this area then the Via Verde de la Sierra is a must !
On reaching Puerto Serrano we discovered there wasn’t much accommodation. Provably because its a bit of a hole & no-one would want to stay there. So we pushed on to Villamartin where we got a 1 bed apartment for the night.
We booked it through Booking.com which was easy. They gave us a confirmation, the door code and maps to get there – what could go wrong…
Well the door code didn’t work & the contact we called no hablo englasie.
Anyway he obviously understood we couldn’t get in & came round. All sorted in a ground floor flat. Clean and a querky design – the only thing I don’t like are the plasticised paper sheets on the bed. Never had these before & really not comfy – feels like I’m sleeping in a bastard paper bag ?
Our evening meal was at the Los Cazadores resturant. It was a husband & wife operation – she cooked & he did everything else. The food was lovely but he was the most miserable unwelcomeing bastard possible. Now I was thinking Brits & Brexit but he was miserable to the locals as well. The bill was only €37 including beers & wine so I suppose courtesy was extra.
Both of us didn’t have the best nights sleep for no particular reason so we woke late ~9am Spanish time. After final packing and pumping tyres it was time to store the bike boxes for the two weeks.
We hit the road about 10:20. Luckly it’s sunday & the streets were relatively quiet. We’re using Maps.me on my phone with pre-prepared route overlays (kml files). This made navigating city streets relatively easy.
We were stopped by a man with a gun for 10 mins while the Malaga half marathon went by.
We continued through urban sprawl till Pizarra where we stopped for some lunch. It was a busy locals cafe with three large horses tethered outside – suppose that beats the drink driving rules.
Now my Spanish is pretty shit but we managed to order two coffees and two cheese toasties. Coffees were lovely – almost up to Costa Fryers standards !
As we’d a few miles in our legs by now (no breakfast) we ordered the same again – or so we thought. Two takeaway coffees and two wrapped toasties were delivered – not sure what we said to order that ! Anyway coffees were drunk and toasties saved for later.
From Pizarra the traffic thinned and we started climbing into the mountains. Hot going – Garmin said 24°C.
Talking of traffic I have to say that the Spanish are very courteous and respectful drivers. Everyone slowed to pass us and gave us plenty of room.
We saw loads of club cyclists so I think the route we’d picked was a popular cycling route with numerous signs on giving cyclists room. Such a contrast to the UK.
El Chorro’s small but quite busy with tourists. The draw is walking and climbing. El Caminito del Rey is the famous walk which passes through stunning scenery, at times on elevated walkways along shear rock faces.
We’d booked the hotel La Garganta while having lunch. It turned out to be lovely – a hotel with character. The room is over two floors with a spiral staircase up to the bedroom & bathroom. Trouble is the spiral staircase is TINY. How you’d get a suitcase up is beyond me…
Another quirk of the hotel room was the shower. A precarious climb in when wet & the highest water pressure I’ve ever experienced in a domestic supply – great for massaging aching limbs but far too strong for the family jewels ?
The hotel restaurant was lovely but again my Spanish let me down. I tried to order a jug of water for the table “jarra de agua” but the waitress couldn’t understand my pronunciation. Made her laugh anyway before coming back in perfect english. Well it wasn’t perfect but better vocabulary than a few brits I know.
Todays journey to Malaga started with an unhappy face. Jess didn’t want us to leave her. Nice to know but I’m sure she’ll be spoiled rotten by Keith & Joanne.
The journey to East Midlands airport went smoothly with the only hiccup – being charged £5 for rapid drop off. Rip-off Britain – Grrrrr
The airport itself was quiet & baggage check-in was smooth with no queuing. Surprising given we had two bikes.
At the outsized baggage desk I went first. Lucky I did because the computer selected my box for a random inspection. Mines a bike box Allan so was easily opened. Sarah’s bikes taped up in a cardboard box which would have been a nightmare to open & re-tape after.
After the bikes & bags had gone down the conveyor for a good kicking we went outside and ate our lunch on a concrete anti terrorist block. Not the best location but away from the great unwashed in the terminal.
We went through security (randomly picked for a scan) and through to duty free shops. Here Rip-off Britain went into overdrive with a bag of M&M’s retailing at £6.
The flight was only 2/3 full and pretty uneventful. Malaga airport was efficient except for the Spanish immigration officer who threw our passports back at us. A consequence of Brexit I would imagine. But pretty disappointing as I’d said hello and thank you in my best Spanish ?
The plan was to get a bus from the airport to our hotel in Malaga. The internet said it was “Linea A”. In the end this worked well but not till after a little asking around.
The hotel is basic but clean with friendly staff. A randon drunk guy helped with the biked up the stairs to the hotel reception. Friendly and articulate (in English) unlike your average uk pisshead. I tipped him €5 which he was well happy with.
We built the bikes up and then went for a quick meal.