Malaga - Andalucia, Take One - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2004


Fifteen years after the fact, I’m finally getting around to writing up our first tour of Andalucia.  Why now after all this time, and why didn’t I write it up sooner?

The short answer is that I was prompted by a comment in our Southern Italy journal from a reader who asked if I had published this tour after I had mentioned it to her in passing.  Also, we plan on returning to Andalucia this fall so our first visit to the region has been much on our minds lately. It wasn’t published at the time of course, because we weren’t blogging any of our tours yet; but even worse, I either didn’t write anything down at the time or lost the notes.  

This tour is one that unfortunately fell in our Dark Ages - I’d stopped keeping a written journal a few years earlier, so all we have to go on now  as a record is the photographs and our increasingly spotty memories.  This was quite a memorable tour for us though, and one we often relate to others and are still drawn back to reminisce on.  We have a clearer memory of it than of some of our other undocumented tours, and have managed to not lose a decent gallery of photographs to fill in the gaps.  Better to set something down now before any further memory erosion occurs.

This was fifteen years ago now, so of course we were both still working full-time and were time-bound by whatever vacation and leave we could negotiate with our employers.  At 3-1/2 weeks, this was one of our shorter overseas tours, but we had already used part of our annual leave budget back in January on a cross country ski trip to Pontresina and Seefeld.  

Here is the map I created at the time to include in a slide show for the office after we returned.  

Who knows where we were planning to go next?
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It ends in an odd spot, Ubeda, which isn’t near an airport.  This was not the planned ending for the tour; and in fact I don’t remember now what the plan for our final days originally was.  I think maybe we were planning to continue biking to Cazorla and then catch a bus back to Malaga; or maybe we were planning on biking north through La Mancha to Madrid.  I can’t get it back now, which surprises me.  We’ve discussed the aborted conclusion to this journey countless times, but I’ve lost completely what Plan A looked like now.

So, let’s get started and do the best we can at piecing together a suitable narrative.  You should take it with a grain of salt, but we remember the major events well enough that as a whole it should be a fair representation.

To start at the end though, we’ll begin by leaving you with a few lessons learned:

  1. Don’t go to Andalucia too early in the fall, unless you really like the heat.  We started this tour in mid-September, and it was still too hot for our comfort.  When we came back to Andalucia in 2013 we were here a month later and found it wonderful.
  2. Keep a journal.  Years down the road, you’d be amazed at how much you’ve forgotten, if you could only remember what it was.
  3. Be careful what you drink.  It could make you sick.
  4. Don’t, I repeat don’t, ever lose your passports.
  5. Slow down.  See more by seeing less.
  6. Do your research, and validate your resources.
Our tour begins in Malaga. We arrived late in the day, assembled our Cannondales at the airport, and biked east into the city. We arrived too late to do anything more than take a short stroll from our hotel and grab a meal.
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The bull ring, Malaga.
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