Huelva - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 9, 2019

Huelva

We get an early start today and are out the door by 8:30, not really all that  much after sunrise.  We push ourselves to get an early start because we have a longish ride ahead with a ferry crossing to time ourselves to - the ferry across the Guadiana, which runs hourly.  We want to make the 10:30 departure to leave ourselves plenty of time on the other side to complete the ride.

There are quieter, more scenic routes to the ferry terminal at Vila Real de Santo Antonio, but we’re in no mood to experiment and risk missing our ferry.  We stick to the highway the whole way, which is reasonably quiet on Saturday morning, and arrive with almost an half hour to spare.

If you come this way, you should definitely cross the Guadiana using this ferry.  There is a high, scary looking bridge upriver a ways, but I wouldn’t want to be up there.  The ferry is perfect and makes a scenic way to enter Ayamonte and leave Portugal behind.

Leaving Tavira, crossing the Roman bridge.
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Looking back at Tavira one last time. The first time we were here we just rode through and were sorry we didn’t stay overnight. This time we did stay overnight but leave wishing we’d stayed even longer.
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The Guadiana ferry arrives. Before the bridge a few miles upriver was completed in 1991, this was the only crossing option on the lower Guadiana. The ferry also supports a very few cars, but it must have been a great bottleneck.
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The ferry departure and fare schedules. Another posting on board states the capacity; 80 passengers in good weather, 43 in bad - presumably the number you can crowd inside the cabin.
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Rachael engages in a lengthy, rather one sided exchange, entirely in Portuguese. His contributions: endless commentary on a variety of topics. Hers: polite smiles, knowing nods.
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Ayamonte, our port of entry in Spain.
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The Guadiana ferry, docked at Ayamonte and waiting departure back to Portugal.
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Andalucia!  We love this part of Spain, and are excited to be back again.  It is so colorful and just has a different feel from other parts of the country. We feel and see the difference immediately once we enter Ayamonte’s lovely historical center.  We hear the GBO squeaking that he wants to see too, but we tell him to pipe down and go back to sleep.  His time is coming.

This attractive plaza in Ayamonte shows us immediately that we’re in Andalucia. It’s always startling to see how much changes when you cross a border.
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Ron SuchanekGBO has always loves Andalucia
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3 weeks ago
Ayamonte is a very attractive place - warm, colorful, accessible, full of life. Like our first visit to Tavira, we leave here wishing we were staying overnight.
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In Ayamonte
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These two women crammed to the left under the bougainvillea make the photo look so out of balance, and like their bench might tip over. I considered asking them to shift over to the right end but thought better of it.
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Ron SuchanekScott: "Excuse me, ladies. Could you please move more to the middle so the bench won't tip over?"
Ladies: "tu cucaracha!!!!"
Scott: "Oof!" (Doubles over in pain)
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3 weeks ago
In Ayamonte, in Andalucia. Things look different here.
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Leaving Ayamonte.
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Leaving Ayamonte, we bike past a long market that lines the canal, one of those where it looks like you can buy anything from cut flowers to washing machines, and soon are on the Via Verde crossing another broad marshy expanse that feels like a continuation of the Ria Formosa.  

We could ride the Via Verde most of the remaining thirty miles to Huelva, but that’s more sand and gravel than Team Anderson cares to invest in today.  After a few miles we hop off and on to the first quiet paved road we come to and follow it to Lepe, where we stop for lunch.

We weren’t sure of our route here until that biker ahead of us stopped long enough to assure us that this is the route to Huelva.
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A new species, the common redshank. Such an attractive bird, with those bright legs and bicolored bill. Doesn’t look so common to me.
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The black winged stilt, an old favorite we don’t get to see often enough.
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Several miles east of Ayamonte we leave the unpaved Via Verde for a several mile tour of Plasticland.
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Rolling out the sheets. This must be the season - there are piles of plastic all over.
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I was surprised by how long this sheet is. I hadn’t realized that these greenhouses were created from a single sheet.
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Lunch stop, Lepe.
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Not far beyond Cartaya, the next town past Lepe, we leave the pavement again for a route that crosses a low, pine-covered ridge.  We’re going this way because in my reading of the map the paved route goes through a tunnel best avoided.  Now that we’ve tried this alternative though, I might look at the map again before coming this way - maybe we should have just stuck with the Via Verde the whole way after all.  This path becomes exactly that - just a path for a few miles, and barely cycleable.  Very pretty and peaceful, but we’re more than happy when we come out the other side and find ourselves on pavement once more.

The remaining miles to a Huelva are wonderful - awesome, really - on a completely delightful bike path that carries us the final five miles to the city, first weaving through pine forest and then following the lagoons and marshes that border the Odiel River.  

In the the evening we are reminded of how much we hate Spain after all.  We head out at 7:30 looking for a bite to eat, and nothing is open yet - not even the tapas bars.  The restaurants we test say they’ll open at 8:30, perhaps - or maybe 9.  Finally we find an Italian place that opens at 8 and have a decent meal and an enjoyable chat with our Romanian server.  He has plenty of time to chat with us - there are still no other diners when we leave at 9.  Why would there be?  This is Spain, after all.

Approaching the towering ridge ahead, we shift gears, bear down, and give thanks to our tailwind. A big 100’ climb over the next mile will put us up over 200’ elevation, the high point of the day. We’re spurred on by visions of the fantastic views we can expect at the summit.
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Surrounded by view-blocking pines we don’t get the views, and feel cheated. Instead, we get this interesting vegetable/mineral surface for the next three miles: a variable blend of sand/pine needle and tree root/gravel. We have to dismount regularly to avoid slipping in the sand, and average about 3 mph for awhile.
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Gregory GarceauDarn view-blockers! I've been trying to warn people about those things for years.
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1 month ago
Another instance when we’re elated to come to a normal dirt road.
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Pavement! Such a beautiful sight. We were starting to wonder if we’d reach Huelva before sundown.
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The pavement holds for the remaining ten miles to town, giving us the best riding of the day.
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Dropping through Aljaraque, we get our first views of Huelva.
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The final five miles to Huelva are a delight, on this paved, dedicated bike path.
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Crossing a channel of the broad Odiel River, we approach Huelva on the other bank. What a great way to approach this city.
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Flamingos! There are hundreds of them in the lagoons that line the West Bank of the river.
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Video sound track: Que Nos Paso, by Kany Garcia

The terminal of the former rail line that brought ore to Huelva from the open pit Tharsis mine.
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Ride stats today: 49 miles, 1,600’; for the tour: 1,483 miles, 47,500’

Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 1,483 miles (2,387 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jen GrumbyWe probably wouldn't have fun with that 3mph trudging through sand, but the paths and dirt roads in the photos & video look pretty great.

On a side note, I've been looking at that temperature map on Weather Bug and it seems like you are in a perfect weather bubble between cold air masses to the north and south. It must be the good luck of travelling with the GBO!

Sorry to hear about the break in the AFD streak, though. Hopefully you can find a good replacement for your jersey soon, Rachael!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI could give GBO the credit but it would just go to his already swelled head. I prefer to think it’s due to the excellent work of the Team Anderson planning crew.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyTrue! Team Anderson has certainly been on a number of incredible tours without the GBO.

Don't tell him I mentioned the possibility of him being a good luck charm, because you're right. An idea like that would just inflate his ego and get him in trouble.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyMum’s the word.
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1 month ago