Sunday, May 22, 2016

Córdoba, Spain: Chasing Windmills and Don Quixote

In the comfort of our hostal room in Segovia, John sucked up the wi-fi, alternating between the weather forecast and Google Maps, trying to decide the best route to Madrid.  There are only a few options, and the most direct involve crossing mountain passes.  As far as navigation goes, I trust John completely and and will follow him wherever he goes, content to pivot my gaze, looking for photo opportunities. 
Gaining elevation toward the pass, trying not to let that fresh snow from the previous days of rain concern us.
The morning we left Segovia the sun was shining, the first time we can remember for many days.  It was a gradual but persistent push to the pass, stopping only to inhale a few muesli bars for energy to beat the clouds gathering on the mountains.  We made it up and over, and in 30 minutes we descended the elevation it took us the three previous hours to attain. 
Once we reached the pass we bundled up in all our layers for the descent.  
Ten days of travel took us from the clogged streets of Madrid,through the open and sparse countryside of La Mancha, and winding through mountains and over passes back to Andaluisia.
One more day of cycling brought us into the urban core of Madrid, where taxis far outnumber cyclists.

Madrid making its position known on the biggest issue currently facing Europe.

We were impressed by the tidiness and many small parks and green spaces throughout the downtown.
We spent an afternoon walking the city, the sidewalks full of people, and maybe a few tipping a glass of Tio Pepe.

The road leaving Madrid to the south is the definition of flat.

Approaching our next cultural stop -- Toledo (Spain, not Ohio)

Toledo showing off its more picturesque side.
Workers were installing canopies above the streets in anticipation of the inevitable summer sun.

The old part of Toledo has something old and interesting at each turn.

Wed spent a couple of hours in the Museo de Santa Cruz, where Roman mosaics from the area were on display. 

The sturdy fortifications of Toledo.

The exterior of the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz, a mosque built in 1000 AD, and later converted to a Christian church. 
During excavations outside the mosque a portion of a Roman road and overlaying a sewer were found.  So typical of what we have seen all over Spain, where the new ruling civilization builds on top of the previous one.
After leaving Toledo we were n the heart of the La Mancha region, where the deep colors of earth, tree, and sky meet.

And like Don Quixote, we were looking for windmills.

I am merely the Sancho to John's Don Quixote.  We have been casually looking for a copy of the book in English at used bookstores without much luck. 

Red poppies!  The joy of Spain in spring!

We passed through the small town of Almagro, where the main plaza is completely surrounded by timbered structures, unusual for the region.  The end is in sight for these painters.

We stealth camped one night on a reservoir.  In the evening two gentleman walked by and were placing strips of paper with numbers along the shore.  They told us the next day there would be fishing.  We didn't quite know what that meant until the next morning as we were leaving a caravan of cars with fisherman arrived to sett up for the annual derby.  We left just in time, I think!

I said to John, not a few minutes before, that we had not seen storks for a while.  And then we came upon this stork condo!

The second and highest pass we crossed leaving La Mancha and returning to Andalucia, on our way to Cordoba.

Spain has areas designated as Parque Natural, which we are not quite sure that means, since there still are plenty of houses and grazing.  But we do find some open areas.  We found this oak forest with a clear and cold running stream nearby, one of the better stealth camps.

Morning light as we were dropping from the mountains into the valley that will lead us to Cordoba.

Flat and hot, that is what I remember from the last stretch to Cordoba.

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Bonnie said...

Hello Bicycle Explorers!
Great photos, as always. Love the fountain shot, the cute little windmill, your long shadows on the road, and I will have to check out some "Tio Pepe". Dry sherry sounds interesting. Never read Don Quixote, but will see if it is in the J.L. Library today. Happy last stretch of your journey. Bon

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