Day 24: Penaflor to Sevilla - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 1, 2024

Day 24: Penaflor to Sevilla

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We are always happier if we can sleep close to our bikes. It's not just that we get lonely otherwise, but being close allows us to ferry water bottles and batteries and such back and forth, and so to be ready to leave quicker, when the time comes. Last night we had the bikes in the room, and when I went to tuck them in and shut the lights, I noticed my front tire totally flat. I was so tired and sleepy, but there was nothing for it. Without waking Dodie, off came the wheel. 

If you are having to deal with a flat, the best condition is to have light, warmth, and especially water. I had all these, so there was really no problem. When Dodie's eyes opened a bit, I could then report that the problem had come and gone. And in the morning the tire was still inflated, so great.

The church by our place in Penaflor is called St. Peter the Apostle. It is just a village church from the 18th century, but there were lots of photos of it in the apartment. And yes, its towers are rather handsome.

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St Peter the Apostle, Penaflor
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The street by the church. Narrow and deserted - the best way to be.
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We debated a bit over whether to follow our track, as we had brought it from home, or to take the highway. We figured we should give the track a chance, but when it turned out to be a gravel road, we gave it the boot.

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That landed us on the road below, that is, the classic decent shoulder but high speed traffic. For a very short time to start, and at a few points during the day, the traffic was light and the riding was good. But for really the greatest part, there was that condition of a car passing every five seconds or so, and there were a lot of big trucks - either semi trailers or slightly smaller loaded and unloaded orange trucks.

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Noisy, nerve wracking.
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Karen PoretBut! The Michelin Man ( men) are watching over the rig ;)
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1 month ago

That is not to say there was no fun and nothing to look at. We had left mountains behind, and on this river ride there were fields of crops (like broad beans, and artichokes), and orchards, mostly of olives. Some trees in bloom were pink, and I would have labelled the almonds, except for the signed almond orchard, with white blossoms:

If these are almonds,
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...what are these?
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Bill ShaneyfeltHeavily pruned, so I would guess fruit... Possibly peach?

Seems to fit peaches!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3GfyjvXXjE
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1 month ago
Eurasian Spoonbills
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Gray Heron
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Whether on the highway or on our track, there were almost no towns along the way. Having had only a small breakfast, we were looking out for a grocery, and had hopes for Los Rosales. But while the town had most things - a hardware store, Chinese bazaar store, real estate office, and so on, there was no food store of any type.

Meanwhile, either my flat repair had mostly failed or I had a new micro leak, because my tire grew soft after 30 km, and then needed pumping every 5 or 10 km thereafter. The complicating part is that Dodie's tire now got in the act, and also required pumping every 5 or 10 km. As long as pumping sort of worked, we were not about to launch any real repairs, preferring to hope for light, warmth, and water  when we would reach our hotel on Sevilla.

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Would rather do this than to address the problems head on.
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Our road out of Los Rosales, A-8005, got busier the closer we got to Sevilla. It became really a bug - noisy, dangerous. Things got more complicated  when we came to what in France we would have treated as a routine "route barrée", which we normally would just blow right through. But something about the situation - being pummeled by the traffic, or not speaking the language, caused us to obey the signs. We don't know if the road would really have been impassable, but as you can see from the map below, the detour just routed us straight into trouble, by trying to put us on the Autovia.

The hard right toward the big road was not good.
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When we got to the big road, we thought we were really screwed, until we spied a bike way, down a hill and over some barriers, so we could not reach it. We then walked our bikes backwards on the Autovia access ramp,  until we could get to the bike way. Imagine our dismay to find the bike way also barree!

Of course, especially when the reason was given as "wet paint", you can imagine our reaction to the barricade!
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Away we go!
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When we reached the first outskirts of Sevilla, I was really hungry, and eagerly looking for the first grocery store. But what we ran by first was Burger King. I had last visited Burger King about 25 years ago, when I decided that they were dreck. But now hunger put the idea in my head that maybe out here in Europe they might have learned a few quality tricks. I kind of saw that in France, where McDonald's offers quite good quality baked goods. Well no, I can  ruefully report that Burger King has faithfully upheld all their low quality American standards. It's admirable in a way. How can they even source dreck way out here?  In the 25 years, some things had indeed changed. Now I had to order through a touch screen instead of a person. And that screen relentlessly tried to upsell me, on sizes,  condiments, drinks, and french fry variants. And like with a budget airline, things that ought to be included with my "Whopper", like cheese and bacon, were added cost extras. Also a bag for my take out was extra, and mayonnaise would be extra, though they broke their hearts and were ready to throw in a free ketchup, even for those regular fries!

When the screen gave my order to the actual staff, we did get a European touch - it took them 30 minutes to come up with the food. In that time, when Dodie asked for the "bano?" a staffer replied "no" and Dodie came to tell me they had no washrooms (also no napkins and no straws). I called bullshit on the bathrooms (but I think they really do have no napkins or straws)  and told Dodie where they were. Maybe she had used the incorrect (Mexican) term? Here, they are "aseos".  But when Dodie went to berate the girl who had misled her, she got only "no comprendo". 

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Ok, so 16 euros got us two like this:

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I know that food photography is a whole field, and a shoot for a fast food company can take days and cost many thousands. But how about some basic honesty. Compare my photo to the one of the supposedly same product on their sign.

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Final comment. I promise this is not a biased or hysterical one. Our Whopper Combo actively cost us strength and the feeling of well being. We left feeling sick. But how could it be? Bread, lettuce, tomato, ground beef - these are all legitimate foods. Well, it's some kind of scientific miracle because  I am writing this four hours later and I still feel sort of poisoned - just not strong.

We could have done with some extra power, because it took about another hour to penetrate the layers of the new city, trying to reach the sweet core of Sevilla. This is the reverse of the process we did for leaving Cordoba. Onlything,  Sevilla is twice the size of Cordoba, so going in and out should be about twice as tough.

Sevilla scenes: trying to get in.

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We did of course have the guidance of the GPS, and some bike ways, but the appearance of six caleches in a convoy was encouraging. Maybe we could just follow those guys?

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When we finally did get rather near the old city, the number of people on the street increased dramatically. They were walking and dining and enjoying themselves a lot. Maybe these cities do appreciate having their historic sections still there!

People are happiest when they can walk, and dine, in pleasant surroundings.
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We reached our "Hotel Europa Sevilla", and I got sent in first, as now seems to be our procedure. The lobby is quite nice, as you see below. And everything was swell, until I mentioned the need to store the bikes, currently out in the street. The desk girl made a phone call, and told me I would have to cool my heels while she waited for some kind of ruling on this momentous issue.  I asked her what she thought the answer would likely be, since I wanted to get Dodie either unpacking on the spot, carrying the bikes to the lobby, or preparing to wheel to an underground parking, or whatever, as soon as possible. The girl said she had no idea, and I asked if this was the first time she or the hotel had ever seen a bicycle. From there the whole discussion went downhill, way downhill.

The answer when it came was that they had no place for bicycles, any which way. I asked if they had a garage, and the answer was yes. "Ok, we'll put them there". But no, and why not? "We can't take the responsibility". "Do you have cars in the garage?" "Are you worried about responsibility for them?" This got me nowhere. I went to look at the 2nd floor room - teeny tiny, but no matter, I would put the bikes there. "No, the rooms are for people". "Do you permit baggage in the rooms - yes? - the bikes are my baggage". "No, bikes are machines, not baggage".

By now we had both Dodie and the hotel Manager in on the discussion - in the street. "ok ok, you can put the bikes in the garage, for 10 euros per day" "For one or both? " "For each!" "You want to charge me 20% of your room rate to put two bikes in a corner of a garage??". Manager: "It was your decision to to travel with (stupid) bikes, don't try to blame me or the hotel for the consequences of your preferences".  Dodie: "Let's abandon our two nights' payment and go find a real hotel"  Steve: "You can't be serious about the 20%. If this is your garage, then let's have you set a reasonable rate". Manager: "Ok, ok, 5 euros per bike per night". Steve and Dodie: "Done!"

The lobby looked quaint, anyway.
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Although annoying, the resolution was good, because the room turned out to be teeny tiny. Carrying up two floors to that room would have been possible, but no fun. Again, had we been in our own country we could have contested the Manager's claims about what purposes or objects the rooms are or are not rented for. He kept saying we should read the Booking listing to get educated on that. I looked at the listing, and there is no policy on bikes  one way or the other. I did notice that the photo of our supposed room lied, by showing a full length door/window with some kind of view. Our room has a small window that looks out on a blank wall. I should charge the guy 10 euros per day for that oversight!

Today's ride: 85 km (53 miles)
Total: 1,066 km (662 miles)

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Scott AndersonTough day! Thanks for the prompt about the hotel. We first stayed in Seville about 25 years ago, and it’s the only place I ever recall having to change our hotel because they couldn’t find a place for the bikes. I’d better check in on the one we’re staying at next month.
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1 month ago
Ben ParkeTry traveling by velomobile. That really complicated finding rooms. Surprisingly only one place I contacted for my summer tour said they didn’t have room. The others all claimed it was no problem, but I suspect a lot of those responses were automated and didn’t involve actual people. If they complain, I will be showing them their responses on booking.com!
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonGood idea to check in advance. We are right in the old section and it is definitely short on space. However, we saw several hotels with parking garages, and indeed our place did in the end, grudgingly, let us put the bikes in the parking garage, which was just fine.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Ben ParkeWe can only imagine the difficulties. On the other hand you might have had better luck trying to convince our annoying hotel manager that your velomobile was not a bike, but rather a weird small car and therefore quite eligible to go into the garage.
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1 month ago
Ben ParkeTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThis is quite possible. I suppose first there would have been a long discussion about whether or not it had a motor. I have only once had an issue with a hotel claiming no place to store a bicycle. This was the Ibis in Bamberg. However, once I informed them I had a reservation already, they relented and magically had a gated area near the trash bins for my bicycle.
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1 month ago