Écija Out and Back - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 16, 2019

Écija Out and Back

It is 35 degrees out this morning, the coldest day of the season so far - a bit ironic, because Écija’s nickname is the Frying Pan of Andalucia because it gets so hot here in the summer.  We impatiently wait in the room until 8:00 when we understand that Cafe Roma opens, and then speedily walk there for our morning coffee and breakfast.  It’s a bit of a shock to be out when it’s so cold, after experiencing two months of such mild weather.

Cafe Roma is dark when we arrive.  Not open, no sign of life when we peek in its window.  Maybe the hours posted on Google are incorrect, or maybe they open late because it’s Saturday?  We dance around in the cold a bit while deciding what to do when a woman arrives, unlocks the door, and informs us that the cafe will open at 8:30.  Too long in this cold to wait here or wander the streets, so we hustle back to the warmth of our room and wait a bit longer.

When we return, Cafe Roma is still dark.  Rachael tests the door, thinks it’s locked, then turns away with a disgusted look.  I give it a second test though and push the door a bit harder.  It opens, the lights come on, we’re the first customers.

Two rounds of coffee and pastries later we leave the cafe.  Oddly enough, it’s still quite cold out.  Rachael decides to head back to the room and keep warm, but I want to see a bit of the town so I make the rounds with the camera for about twenty minutes until I’m ready to thaw out also.

San Juan Batista’s bell tower, from our room again. Photos can be deceiving - it could just as easily be 90 degrees out as near freezing, as it is this morning.
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Too cold to see the town quite yet, sensible Rachael crosses Plaza de España and heads for shelter. She’ll come back out again later in the day when it’s warm and comfortable.
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Écija is quite a special place apparently, because it merits two nicknames.  In addition to the Frying Pan of Andalucia, it’s also known as the City of Towers.  As I take my brief, brisk walk through the neighborhood it’s easy to see why.  Every other block I come across a striking baroque or mudejar tower rising above the street.  There are apparently twenty towers in this fairly small city, though only about a half dozen are tall enough to dominate the skyline.

It’s too cold to slow down and take notes, so I’m not sure what most of these structures are.  Just a gallery of photos, from another memorable town in Spain that’s worth more time than the brief pass-through we’re giving it.

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Lap warmer/foot warmer for a cold morning.
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One thing I can say about Écija - the people are tough here! Everyone is bundled up against the cold, but it’s not keeping them indoors.
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San Juan Batista Church again (the one outside our hotel window), seen from the street level this time.
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Palacio de Peñaflor
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Écija would be a beautiful city to linger in and visit the interior of some of its churches and palaces, but not today.  It’s absolutely beautiful out, and once it warms up enough we’re off on a ride.  The weather is changing on us, and we don’t want to to pass up a gift like today. We can slow down for sight seeing when the rains arrive, which looks like it will happen disappointing soon - like tomorrow.

Today’s ride is the first we’ve taken without luggage since we climbed up to Marvão three weeks ago.  And, it’s Rachael’s favorite type - an out and back, where she can ditch me at the first photo opportunity and ride free until the turn back point - which she does.  A mile out of town I pause for a look back and she’s gone, not to be seen for another two hours almost.

Leaving , we cross the Genil River. One of the main tributaries of the Guadalquivir, it flows east after rising in the Sierra Nevada range east of Granada. Our ride today will generally follow the Genil upriver, although we won’t see it again until returning to town.
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I stop for the first photo, and Rachael immediately pulls out of range. With today’s fast riding conditions, I won’t see her again until she turns back.
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Looking back west toward Écija. From this angle it’s easy to see where it gets one of its nicknames.
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Jen Grumby¡Sí! ¡Muchas Torres!
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3 weeks ago
And she’s gone! Two miles into the ride, and she’s almost out of sight already.
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Which is fine for her, and fine for me.  I keep a good pace, when I’m moving - the weather is absolutely perfect for a ride now that it’s warmed up sufficiently, and the road we’ve chosen is excellent also - minimal traffic, smooth, picturesque.  Picturesque country is made for pictures of course, so there are many reasons to stop and snap.  

The color in the hills here is extraordinary.  I think I could never tire of cycling in Andalucia.

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The residue from this year’s cotton harvest.
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Cotton and olives
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Arroyo del Salado, one of the small tributaries of the Genil River that we’ve been generally following. You can’t tell from here, but the river is full of black winged stilts.
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Eighteen miles later, I see her in the distance biking my way.  I turn around to join her, and we speed back toward Écija, stopping only for a brief lunch stop on the shoulder of the road.  The ride back is just as lovely as the ride out, but there’s no call to stop for more photos.  We more or less ride together, and make quick work of it.

Back in town, Rachael steps out for her own look around and to bring back some coffee that she plans to drink cold in the morning rather than waiting for Cafe Roma to open (at 9ish on Sunday).  For dinner we head back to the same restaurant at the museum we ate at yesterday.  Both of us enjoy our meals, but I think we’d have each been happier if we’d just had the same dishes we were so excited about the first time.

So why is this convoy of four farm vehicles driving through our peaceful picnic spot?
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Jen GrumbyHow rude of them!

Maybe you could carry signs to put up on either side of your picnic spot .. "Road temporarily closed for Anderson Picnic. Please wait patiently." or "Via cerrada para El Almuerzo de los Anderson. Favor de esperar con paciencia."*

(Maybe this will encourage you to re-think towing me in a Bob Trailer on your next tour in exchange for a few ideas?)

*I have not spoken Spanish regularly for about 25 years, so this may/may not be correct.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI knew it! I was halfway through reading this, thinking that I’ll bet you’re just angling again for a spot in our panniers.
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3 weeks ago
Back at Arroyo del Salado, I do find one reason to stop - a black winged stilt. I wish this were a better photo - he’s too far off, and backlit at that; but I can’t wait for possible improvements if I hope to keep up with Rachael.
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Jen GrumbyI'd say the perfect reflection compensates for any lighting deficiencies.

Another handsome bird!
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3 weeks ago
Well, there’s time for one last photo at least. I’ll bust a gut and catch up on the next hill.
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Video sound track: Alabao, by Enrique Eglesias

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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 1,800’; for the tour, 1,689 miles, 52,100’

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,688 miles (2,717 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 5
Steve Miller/GrampiesOut of curiosity, are your ride stats (distance) based on your or Rachaels distances?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWhichever s greater, of course. We each want full credit!
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3 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyI know it was a comfortable day temperature-wise, but the glowing sun in the video explains the Frying Pan nickname.
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3 weeks ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonAdd them together.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekOf course! I’ll take it up with the standards committee to get their approval, but it’s a great idea.
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2 weeks ago