Tabernas - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 29, 2019

Tabernas

Today’s ride

We have a short ride today, more or less straight north to Tabernas, a small town in the heart of Almeria’s desert.  It’s an easy climb, and one that becomes increasingly dramatic as we leave the city and its suburbs behind.  Almeria is a surprisingly easy city to bike out of going north, with a well marked bike route to its outskirts.  Beyond that we have a good shoulder through the suburbs, until we finally break free completely and find ourselves surrounded by bare eroded hills with the occasional western frontier town or Comanche settlement.

If you’re any sort of movie fan at all, this country will seem familiar.  It’s been used as a film set for countless movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Three western town sets - Fort Bravo, Oasys, and Western Leone - are the main tourist attractions here.  The host of our B&B has signed photos of film stars on his wall, and (I think) told us that he was an extra in a film or two when he was younger.

The Alcazaba, partially seen from the roof of our hotel. We could get a better look if someone would cut down those annoying palm trees in the plaza. Where is Pablo Vunjon when you need him?
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Ron SuchanekStupid palm trees!
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4 days ago
Well, they actually look pretty nice from street level. I guess they can stay.
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We’re on another Camino! This is the Camino Mozárabe, which angles northwest through Granada and Córdoba to Mérida, where it merges into the Silver Way. It’s hard to imagine how arduous this must have been long ago.
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It takes about ten miles to get past the outskirts of Almeria and its suburbs, but after that we’re in this country, on an empty road paralleling the highway.
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This could be an authentic ruin, or then again it could be part of an old film set.
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Video sound track: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone

We’re tempted to spend the afternoon at Texas Hollywood, especially with the lure of a free swimming pool and a live show, but we decide to save some euros and take a hike instead.
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Ron SuchanekI would have done the film studio tours. But that's me.
Here's what you can do: backtrack and do the studio tours and post some pictures. You're retired. What else do you have to do?
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4 days ago
It’s nice enough just seeing at a distance. We especially like the Injun encampment off to the left.
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Tabernas and its ruined 11th century Moorish castle. We should go back through our notes to see what percentage of our overnights had a castle hovering over them. It must be well over half of them.
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The bull ring in Tabernas is a few steps down from the huge, elegant one we saw in Málaga.
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Today’s hike

Our twenty mile ride didn’t take much out of us or of our day, so we have the whole afternoon free for a walk.  With paths and ramblas (seasonally dry stream beds) crosshatching the land in all directions we have plenty of choice, but we settle on a nine mile loop through the low hills south of town.  

The loop isn’t quite what we’d expected - we’d envisioned something more rugged and more desert-like - but it’s a very pleasant walk and we’re almost utterly alone once we leave town.  We hear one person far off and out of sight somewhere, and amazingly enough see a pair of adult ibex clambering up a steep cliff.  They’re everywhere!  They’re starting to feel like almost a common sighting, and for the rest of the walk we keep an eye out for them.  That’s it though, until not far from the outskirts of town three youngsters stop me cold when they cross the road in front of me, dive down a steep slope into a rambla, and then run up the other side.

We’re here for two nights.  There’s still time for us to check out Fort Bravo tomorrow, but I suspect we’ll just go climb a mountain instead.  To each his own.

And, no video again today.  We’ll post it when we get sufficient service.  In the meantime, you can be whistling the theme song to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to put yourself in the mood.

The Rambla de la Sierra, one of the many intermittent stream beds that functions as a walking route when it’s dry. I wonder if flash flooding is a concern here.
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Many of the walls look like this, a mud/stone conglomerate.
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These ramblas featured in many a western. Easy to imagine predators waiting to ambush you just around the next bend.
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We’re out at a good time of day, in a good season. This would be unbearable in the full sun in a warmer time of year.
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The unfortunate innocent rounds the bend, never to be seen again.
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So is this just another ice plant? I associate them with coastlines, not deserts.
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Bill ShaneyfeltYes. We had that species growing in out garden in Mojave, CA as a kid back in the 50s and 60s, just like many neighbors.

Lots of different species in the ice plant family.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aizoaceae
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1 week ago
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I was taken with this ruined house, and got a bit carried away with the camera. Bear with me.
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A kiln or oven of some sort?
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It would be very easy to get lost out here in this maze. We’d never attempt this walk without a GPS.
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Phew! She came through after all.
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We’ve timed our walk perfectly, and return to Tabernas just before sundown.
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Another! This one is one of three youngsters that ran across the trail just ahead of me. They dashed down a steep ravine, up the other side, and then stopped to look back.
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Looking up at the outskirts of Tabernas from the rambla beneath it.
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We pass one last ruin as we climb back up to town.
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Ride stats today: 20 miles, 1,800’; for the tour: 2,061 miles, 76,600’

Today's ride: 20 miles (32 km)
Total: 2,061 miles (3,317 km)

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Ron SuchanekGBE and a Fistful of Dollars are two of the best! Beautiful area.

If you get to Burgos, there is a town called Santo Domingi de Silos to the southeast. The cemetery scene in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly was filmed there and they've recently reconstructed the filming site. There's also a good documentary about it called Sad Hill Unearthed.
https://m.imdb.com/title/tt6997426/
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4 days ago
Ron SuchanekOk, so reviewing the pics here, that was an awesome hike. But my suggestion to.m backtrack stands. It's easy to make suggestions from the comfort of my Ikea Poang chair in the suburban metastasis of Denver.
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4 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekWould love to, but we’ve about used up our visa and are due to get kicked out of the zone. Better you should go yourself and report back.
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4 days ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonI think we're gonna do it!
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4 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekOh, that would be so awesome. We’ve thought of you two so many times on this tour. I think you’d both really love it.
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4 days ago