Day 26: Sevilla to El Rocio - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 3, 2024

Day 26: Sevilla to El Rocio

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Yesterday I reported that we had "smuggled" our tire tubes into our room. This smuggling was necessary because the hotel manager had defined our bikes as "machines", which he was forbidding in the room, and not as luggage, which is apparently permitted.

But a tire tube is not a bike, it's just a bike part. So maybe that's ok. And if so, could other bike parts legally join the tube in the room? How about handle bars?  The manager hung his argument on "machines", so what is à machine, anyway?

I was wondering these things in the bath, which for me is the best place to mull abstract topics, or to read complex material. Paradoxically, this was the same bath recently vacated by those bike tubes! Moreover, since the bath in this luxury hotel is less than 4 feet long, I could not figure how to get out, potentially giving me lot of mulling time.

I remembered from high school physics (and then checked online) that the basic machines are the inclined plane, the wedge, the screw, the lever, the pulley, and the wheel and axle.  So I think should it come to court, the bike tubes are cool, and maybe the handlebar, but not the brake levers!

Fortunately we left the Europa before any other conflicts could develop. Well not quite, the lame breakfast area lacked any cutlery and I had to send the girl scurrying to some distant back room to have a spoon for my low quality yogurt. Also,  when we asked for the distant garage door to be opened, the desk man at first neglected to hit the button, so when we got there we had to send Dodie back to encourage him  to get on it. Then the door opened but Dodie was not back, so I had to act as a human door stop, as it soon wanted to close again. It actively tried to crush me in my doorstop role. And finally, it took us 20 minutes to load our bags onto the bikes, in the garage, and in that time the lights went out 20 times, and we had to run around waving our arms each time.  But as I say, our departure was fine!

On the bikes, we swooped past the Golden Tower at the river in very short order, and we crossed the bridge for the continuation of our westward journey.

In the morning light we hoped the Golden Tower would be at its most golden.
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Karen PoretLovely shadow of palm tree, too!
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1 month ago
Crossing the river, leaving the Golden Tower behind.
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We were kind f watching for how far it would be until we would feel we had exited Seville. At about 6 km, we did not feel out, exactly, but more like in a different contiguous town. This was San Juan de Aznalfarache, which we recognized from last year, as the site of the Sacred Heart of Jesus monument. It kind of strikes you at this point, because the fancy stuff in Seville feels far behind, and suddenly there is this big thing on a hill.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus complex.
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Another big find was a post box - not all that easy to spot. In went a card for Marius and Sandra. So Marius and Sandra, if you are reading this, watch for it in a couple of months?

Good spotting!
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Karen PoretAnd, clean..It seems as if Dodie is about ready to be “sent”, too..
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1 month ago
There was also this road sign, the first of its type I have seen anywhere, except for maybe a Hospital Zone indicator in Canada. It means avoid excessive noise, but ruidos sounds like rudeness as well.
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Karen PoretBoth are appropriate, Steve. One person’s noise is another person’s rudeness. Do you agree?
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1 month ago

We were following the Google developed track happily enough, when we came to another "Camino cortado" (road cut).  We found a way around the large sort of suburban looking development that was causing the problem.  And we thought we remembered that both us and the Classens had run into this before. We would have to check the blogs to be sure, but it was an area with lots of streets and street lamps installed, but nothing else.

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We skirted around the problem area.
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Along this way we ran in to not one but two local cyclists, speaking Spanish only, but wanting to know where we were heading, and then - hardest to handle - insisting on helping us to get there. For simplicity, we have been telling people that we are going to Santiago de Compostella. This really tickled one of our helpers, who had a Camino sticker on his bike - having already been there. But both knew well how we should go. Only thing, we are not targeting the Camino Plata, but rather the Portuguesa - which is much longer. Try justifying that,  in Spanish that you don't speak.

We managed to shake our helpers, but not immediately Google, that also wanted to save us time and distance by directing that we take the dirt road below, to El Rocio.

Google, are you sure?
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Ok this is crap, we're outta here.
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OK, at least we have a chance of arriving today!
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Our chance of arriving in good time took a hit when Dodie's tire went flat, after 25 km. We found a pullout, and pulled the wheel. Dodie had the clever idea of matching yesterday's repair, in the tube that we had stored away, to the wheel today. This predicted where the new puncture would be, and focused our search for why this was happening. It paid off, because right where predicted there lurked a bloody wire.

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See it!
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Out came the tweezers, and soon the wire-ectomy was complete.
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Ok, let's put it all back together.
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This flat repair situation got a lot of photo coverage above, because routine as this sort of thing is, it is always traumatic. Cyclists always pay close attention to things that can leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere.

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We soon met these local horses. They may well be of a special local breed. Stylishly, or perhaps practically, they had their manes and tails trimmed very short.
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Through the day, bike lanes would pop up, often on the opposite side of the road. We usually would gratefully take them, but they had the habit of quickly and without notice disappearing. The one shown below was among the best, lasting a couple of km.

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And wow, that yellow bird that I could not get a clear shot of some days ago? Got it!

24156 Serin canary - maybe a hybridized version of a Serin and an escaped domestic canary? It has been known to happen.
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Bill ShaneyfeltNew one for me!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonGreat shot. I was hoping you’d get a better one eventually. I puzzled quite over the first one, convincing myself it wasn’t a canary (they’re found in the Canary Islands, but not mainland Spain) but only able to speculate on what it could be otherwise.

It’s not an oriole though. Notice it’s short, heavy bill like a finch. Orioles have longer, more pointed bills. I’m pretty sure this is a European serin.
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1 month ago
Keith KleinHi,
This doesn’t much resemble the serins we see around here. Their breasts a streaky, and they have a lot less yellow. It does resemble a canary, which has a wild form that is known as the canary island serin. And I don’t know the African species well enough to hazard a guess in that direction, but you are not far from Africa so maybe? But I’m with Scott on its beak being finch-like and not oriole-like.
Cheers,
Keith
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonAgree, not an oriole. But not streaky enough for a Serin? Now very confused. Looks most like a canary but not really it's range. ??? Maybe a Serinus canaria?
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Keith KleinLooked and looked, and think you are correct in Serins being streaky. Also, Canary island Serin makes a lot of sense for mainly yellow, finch beak, small bird. Going with "Canary Serin".
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonStreaky or not, it still looks like a serin. It’s just too far from the canary’s natural range, particularly now that you’ve seen two of them well apart from each other. They can’t both be accidentals, I don’t think. Just my opinion though, of course.

There’s a lot of variability in birds of the same species. Look through this gallery of serin images, a few of which look quite as yellow as your bird to me: https://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-european-serin.html
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonI have a new theory on this non-canary/non-serin. Actually, it’s more than a theory, and I feel certain. It’s a common greenfinch. I don’t know why greenfinches don’t come up when you search for yellow birds of Spain, but it’s got several distinguishing features - the thick bill, the dark eye mask, the forked tail, and especially the thin yellow racing stripe along the base of the wing.

Here’s another example: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/taeurope24/to-mojacar-playa/#52133_nwmzovur3g5z15y774e16s7w2of
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3 weeks ago

Now on the edges of the Donana Park, we are seeing what we have called "lollipop" pines. We know we will see them a lot in Portugal.

Lollipop Pines
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The park is also said to harbour Lynxes. They certainly have a lot of signs like this. Linces is Lynxes.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI wonder if any lynxes there might fit your chain... :-)
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltGroan!!
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1 month ago

Just beyond Almonte, the Google Track recommended that we turn  left, onto another of its favourite dirt roads. We ignored that, and continued to the A-484. But when we got there, it turned out to be an Autovia, with a no bikes (or horses, or donkey carts) sign. We reluctantly turned back to the dirt road. You can see that backtrack below. We followed the dirt, until it became deep sand, after which we were walking.  But we could see the A-484 over to our right, and we eventually decided we had to try to get on it, which you see happening at the bottom of the map.

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Ok Google, we are forced to try this.
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But this walk in the park is no "walk in the park: for us. The photo does not show the depth of sand that was coming.
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We bushwhacked over to the real road, but this was not going to be simple. There was a huge flow of traffic heading away from El Rocio. It was so heavy, that there was no chance whatever of a gap that would allow us to cross. After staring in amazement for quite a long time, we saw we had no option but to cycle the shoulder facing the traffic. So we did that. We did it for a fair distance, until suddenly a police car drew up abreast of us, in the lane on the other side. The officer gestured to us, and I thought "the game is up"  because this was after all a no bikes road.  But we had the Guardia Civil wrong! They had dropped an officer from the car some distance behind us, and he was stopping traffic coming that way. The officer in the car then stopped traffic approaching us. So the whole Autovia was stopped!, and we were motioned to continue on the right hand shoulder. Gracias!

No way to cross this!
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...without a lot of help.
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Scott AndersonThat is such an amazing story. This guy must be a biker himself.
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1 month ago
Away we go!
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Scott AndersonI’m glad you made it in safely, but it’s a shame you didn’t find a quieter and safer route. The one we took was paved the entire way and virtually empty: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/iberia2019/sevilla-seville/
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1 month ago

As we continued along. we kept looking at the immense flow of traffic oncoming, and wondering what was going on. Last year we had learned that a million people come on pilgrimage to the Virgin of El Rocio, filling the town to the gills. Could this be related? 

Why are all these people here?
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Karen PoretTo see the Grampies GO!
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1 month ago
Did they come 'cause it's Sunday, to play with their horse buggies?
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and does the Guardia know they need to be out in force?
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We arrived in El Rocio, and soon saw that only a fraction of the people were out on the road, the rest were still swirling around in town.
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These are the famous wild west streets, with hitching posts instead of parking slots.
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Traffic in the middle of the sand streets.
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Typical el Rocio
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As we pushed our bikes through the sand, we stopped people coming towards us on two occasions, to ask what was going on. We thought it was the language barrier, but we just couldn't get it. Now, after a fair bit of internet research, we still don't quite get it. OK, we know that on the second day of Pentecost, which will be about May 21 this year, about a million people descend on this town to honour the Virgin of Rocio, who was appointed patron saint of Almonte around 1653. (Last year, I got to visit the Virgin in the totally empty church, early one morning!). But the big pilgrimage is  May and this is March. Apparently it's a bit of a warmup. There are pilgrimage fraternities (brotherhoods) - many, from different parts, who gather and then come here. They seem to own staging properties in town too. It seems today, the Huelva province group have come out for some Virgin masses, or something. So the people in the street kept telling us its a fiesta of the Huelva Brotherhood. Ok, we sort of get it now.

We arrived at our place, grateful now to have a place, given the chaos here, and hitched our bikes to some horse posts. The thing for this property  is that a code opens the front door, and then you find your room, which  is unlocked. So we saw nobody, as we later parked our bikes in a random spot in the large interior courtyard.

Whoa, we have arrived!
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The interior courtyard.
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Our room is very small, but it will work.
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El Rocio fronts a small lake, called Charco de la Boca ("puddle of the mouth"?) where we know there are lots of birds. We are eager to go have a look at them in the morning, before pushing on to Huelva.

Today's ride: 76 km (47 miles)
Total: 1,151 km (715 miles)

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Scott AndersonWell, there’s an adventure and a half. I can’t decide which story I like best - trying to get your bikes out of the garage or trying to cross that highway. Glad you made it in safely.
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1 month ago
Keith KleinInteresting. Too many horse trailers to be a coincidence. « Puddle of the mouth » sounds like drool to me.
Cheers
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1 month ago