Day 23: Cordoba to Penaflor - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 29, 2024

Day 23: Cordoba to Penaflor

Cave Dwellers!

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We passed quite quickly beyond the walls of the old city, but not before stopping at our favourite  Carrefour Express, where the "pains aux raisins" and the croissants are surprisingly good. We took on enough supplies to be able to survive the fact that this night (and tomorrow morning) in Penaflor would be in an apartment in the middle of nowhere.

The city wall.
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It was in Santiago de Compostella that I first appreciated that no matter how much we as tourists focus on the UNESCO World Heritage stuff at the centre of modern cities, the cities go about their business scarcely noticing these attractions so beloved by tourists. It makes me wonder, if we want to visit the "true" Santiago or Cordoba, should we stay out of the historic cores?  The answer is that we don't want to visit these true cities, because why would we? The architecture generally sucks, and the places are overrun by cars. Maybe we could hook up with local people, and explore what they are doing and thinking? But nah, just put me on a quiet old street in the shadow of the church or cathedral, and I'm happy!

Ok, so there is a bit of a bike lane here, but what else.
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The people here could care less about the mosque downtown, I bet.
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Our main interest in getting out of a city is in bike lanes. With Cordoba it was not too bad. Sometimes we could not figure where they wanted us to be, but for about 10 km we found acceptably safe ways.

Yeah, bike lane.
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And this one looked like it would last, until it didn't.
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We could tell we were out of town when we ran into the fields of oats, and something else:!

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Yes, storks everywhere!

24153 White Stork. We were suddenly in stork territory. And it surely is Spring, because they are paired up, sitting on their nests.
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Mr. Stork flew down to look for more straw.
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Mr. and Mrs. Stork adjust their nest.
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In the cities we have admired the tiled street surfaces. Here, one could buy all sorts of pavers.
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Our track for today was a flat feeling way through agricultural land, featuring olives and probably almonds, flowering now. After  while it switched to oranges. Though oranges seem to have fruit year round, the trees are definitely flowering heavily now, filling the air with scent.

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Bill ShaneyfeltRe: oranges in text above. The fruit starts to ripen in Dec. and trees flower in Jan. Ripe fruit just hangs on, I do not know how long, but for the whole summer and into fall from what I remember in AZ. That said, it likely depends on the variety.

A schoolmate who did not eat grapefruit invited me to pick some from his tree. It was Dec. and had ripe fruit as well as much larger ripe fruit from the previous season still hanging on! I took some, which were nearly as large as my head and when I opened them, they had germinated seeds with 2 inch roots! The skin had been all that grew, and it was over an inch thick and quite loose surrounding normal sized flesh. The flesh was maybe the best tasting I have ever had.
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1 month ago
Although our "official" track wandered around a bit, we stuck to A-431. We decided that here, "A" probably means "Andalus" and not the dreaded "Autovia".
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We passed near Almodovar, but did not go in to the town. We did get a view to the castle. The castle was built in the Moorish era, in the eighth century, and therefore has hundreds of years of history attached. We started to read that on Wikipedia tonight, but after a day of cycling, who has the strength!

Almodovar Castle
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The quest for bike lanes was by this time long gone, and the ride settled down to what we have mostly found on the tour thus far: decent shoulder on noisy high speed road.  That at least is better than riding the white line on a narrow, busy road, but we do hope that quieter, country roads are in our future.

Decent shoulder, anyway.
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Common ravens - same species as at the dump, back home.
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These are the first cattle we have seen since the tour began.
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We passed the elaborate gate below, with two wild boars on guard, and some sort of chateau visible beyond.  There was no signage, but I was confident that Google Lens would later give me the story. Actually, I got an eyefull. This place is called Moratalla Palace and Gardens, and though it apparently has a website with hours of operation, people on Tripadvisor are livid, because it is never actually open. The theory is that somebody is holding it to generate tax breaks.

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A-431 continued to reliably take us to Penaflor. We are really on a classical river route here, since the Guadalquivir river runs quite directly from Cordoba to Seville, before continuing to the Atlantic at the Donana National Park, also on our route.

Embalse means reservoir.
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Karen PoretThis sign is actually lined up so you can read it without squinting.
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1 month ago

When we arrived at Penaflor, we had the usual treasure hunt of trying to find the person with the key to our apartment. The apartment turned out to be something special, since  it is partially a cave! As such, it seems to have some sort of protected status as well.

"Peñaflor is a small town full of great historical and architectural treasures. This town in the Vega del Guadalquivir region owes its splendour to the Roman period, when it was called Celti, and even minted its currency. Its rich historical heritage includes San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church, popularly known as ‘La Vega cathedral’. However, the cave houses in what used to be the Roman necropolis are the most striking elements. These caves were used as dwellings by some townspeople until the 19th century. "

See our bedroom!
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Karen PoretMaybe this is where the Madonna Inn in SLO got the idea?!
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1 month ago
Sitting room, bathroom, all have rock feature walls.
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Here is our street, and as you can see it satisfies the objective of being in the shadow of the church.

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We went for a walk, to hunt down the grocery store, but anything supplying food in this town was either closed or non existent, despite showing up in the GPS. We did walk past lots of orange trees, but we have been through this already - not really edible. There were also lemon trees, in flower, and yes as the song says, the lemon flower is sweet.

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Tomorrow it's rather a long ride to Sevilla, but we still have food left and will be ok. It has been chilly in the morning, but we have warm clothes too. So we are in good shape.

Today's ride: 62 km (39 miles)
Total: 981 km (609 miles)

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