Day 27: El Rocio to Huelva - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 4, 2024

Day 27: El Rocio to Huelva

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That Golden Tower in Sevilla is well known. Here it popped up as a painting on the wall at our Palacio in El Rocio.

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Breakfast at the Palacio was basic but ok. It's main feature was that the other guests with whom  we shared the breakfast room were all German.  it was kind of fun being in a breakfast room filled with chatter in German. Too bad the image was not completed by having a German style breakfast.

It was great having the bikes right there in the large inner courtyard, where we loaded them even before eating breakfast, and were then  ready to go really fast. We were eager to get out to the lake, to see what birds might be around.

There is a boardwalk along one side of the lake, great for pushing the bikes  - not in the sand - and looking out to the water. Signboards along the way show what you might be able to spot.  Indeed, the lake was full of birds, but the darn things were mostly far out there, beyond the reach of my little camera. This did not stop me, though, from trying - using digital zoom, that always gives grainy results. 

The boardwalk
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Flamingoes are abundant here.
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One of many Magpies we saw today.
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One of many boards showing the birds of the lake.
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Karen PoretRorschach test! The flamingo on the right appears to have a “face” from behind.. two black dots for the eyes and pink color shading for the face. Don’t you agree? :)
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretPut there to confuse potential predators?
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/Grampies;)
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1 month ago
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At a point along the boardwalk on comes abreast of the church housing the famous Virgin of El Rocio,  Just as last year, I trotted over for a peek at her. That time, I was tickled that instead of sharing the spot with one million pilgrims, it was just me and the cleaning lady. This time it was just the same. So I started my photos with the famous cleaning lady herself:

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Karen PoretNow THAT’s a “shop vac”!
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and yes, the Virgen, over there.
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The crowns, the dress, the little doll like baby Jesus - it has all become so stylized over the centuries.
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Pope Jean Paul II came to visit in 2002
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The lake, viewed from the church.
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Jean Paul also got a monument by the lake for his visit.
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See how the church is surrounded by the famous sand of El Rocio.
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The statue of this drummer must be based in the pilgrim processions that are held here.
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El Rocio is on the edge of the Donana Park, where according to this sign can be found the unique Iberian Eagle, and Lynx.
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Following the route forged by the Classens in 2022 we set off south at first, and then west, through the Donana  park. This time it really was a "walk in the park", with an excellent road, lined with herbs as if it had been planted. There was rosemary in abundance, and Spanish lavender, Rock Rose, and many other flowers.

The road and the "garden" that went on for kms.
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Rosemary
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Rock Rose
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Lavender
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There were also those uniquely shaped pine trees in great abundance.
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Between us and the sea (which by the way is now the Atlantic Ocean - no more Med) was the small pine forest and then a very tall coastal dune.

In this spot, a boardwalk led up and over the dune.
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There was also a sand track, touted by the park as their bike way. Thanks, but with our heavy bikes, we are taking the road!
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Yes, the road!
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Well ok, at a certain point the sand track got paved. We're into it!
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We have been seeing Magpies in the trees all day.
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But no lynxes! Do these folks know that a lynx does not look like a deer?
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Only 7 km to Huelva. But as well documented by the Classens, 7 km can be a lot tougher than one might think. The reason is the bridge over the Rio Tinto, the only way to get to Huelva from south of the city.
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There is a little bit of bicycle marking in the lane as you approach the bridge, but the authorities quickly abandon any bicycle support, and the bridge becomes a meat grinder. 

The photo below shows the three elements, discussed by the Classens. On the right of the blue fence is the railway right of way. Then there is a narrow and interrupted "sidewalk", and then the roadway. The Classens went with the railway, but at the far end of the long bridge could not get to the road. So they backtracked all the way, and took  the sidewalk. In a memorable summary, they said if you went right of the blue fence, you were wrong.

Dodie had read all this yesterday, and was on the alert to find the sidewalk. But we missed its entrance. That's why you see her on the road!  Following behind in these situations, I am always fervently hoping that Dodie will keep her cool, and generally not stumble and slide into the traffic. I am comforted to know that she is actually a darn good rider, and her past record in these situations is perfect. Otherwise we would be pushing daisies and not pedals!

But there is one thing about the record that is not perfect. It's Dodie's large metal water bottles and plastic holders. When this bottle holding rig hits just the right bump, the bottle flys off and into the road. This leaves me wondering if a car will chuck the bottle into my face, or to a windshield, and also speculating if I can retrieve it. The first time this happened on the trip, we were on a sort of bridge, and the bottle flew toward a canal, just happening to stop at a bit of railing, where I retrieved it. Second time, yeah, I stopped traffic and retrieved it. After both of these times, we double, triple reinforced and improved the holding in of the bottle. So I was quite surprised to see that perfect bump send the bottle flying into the steady stream of high speed traffic we were bucking today!  It went skittering onto the roadway, careened wildly, and landed up - at my feet! Some minutes later I  calmly pedaled up to Dodie, with the devilish thing in one hand. Good thing the camera was not in the other hand, or I might have been a bit unstable!

The roadway, the "sidewalk", and the railway.
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Keith ClassenWe rode the “sidewalk” across.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesI'm glad to see you are following along! I was going to send you an email so you did not miss all the Classen shout outs! See tomorrow's post (already posted) for us taking the bridge out of town to the bike path.

p.s. The text above does say: " The Classens went with the railway, but at the far end of the long bridge could not get to the road. So they backtracked all the way, and took the sidewalk. In a memorable summary, they said if you went right of the blue fence, you were wrong."
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The photo below is at the far end of the bridge. We see the sidewalk ending, and we see  the roadway, and the traffic! And yes, those blue panels are sealing off the railway way!

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Once you make it to this point, the worst is yet to come. In the photo below, you see that the gas truck is forcing Dodie to go straight, straight onto the no bikes or tractors allowed Autovia! She needs to cross that truck's lane, to head into some new roundabout, but at least not onto the Autovia.

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This flow of traffic does not want us to get onto that lane to the right in this photo. We need the Guardia Civil to show up to rescue us again!
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This time, a small gap did develop in the traffic, and we made a "run" for it. This soon ejected us onto a "phew" calm roadway with even a cycle path, along a branch of the river.  The Classens had found this area too.

But another Classen classic is how they got stymied by a closed bridge when coming the other way, to cross that river branch we were now following. This was documented in their page A Huelva Ride.  Since reading that harrowing tale, we have been trying by every internet means possible to see if the way is now open. So rather than look for our hotel, out of extreme curiosity we went to look for Classens' bridge.

A bike way toward the bridge. Bike way is good...
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Yes, the way is clear! We'll be back here tomorrow to try it out.
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We did eventually find our hotel, the Senator, and it was great. Was it the beds, the large bathtub, the desk, the fast internet?  Well sort of, but we really liked the meeting room they gave the bikes!

The bikes will be quiet and promise not to interrupt any meetings.
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But wait, I had thought my tire felt weird! And yes, it proved very soft. We pulled my wheel and "smuggled" it to the room. Analysis then showed not one but at least two shards of glass in the tire!

Dodie is my tire surgeon.
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Careful now.
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Aha!
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Gotcha.
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Not sure that all the glass has been dug out of the tire, we are reinforcing it. Here you see a rare case of Steve giving Dodie the boot!
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Karen PoretGive LEZYNE the “boot” on ( mis) spelling of their “last word”…;)
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretAs long as it works....
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesIs it holding up to its promise? ..but they do state “replace tire ASAP”..
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1 month ago
We won't leave any mess, wonderful Senator hotel.
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Today's ride: 68 km (42 miles)
Total: 1,219 km (757 miles)

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Keith ClassenGlad you made it safely across the bridge /causeway and avoided what we did. If the other bridge exiting Huelva is now open I think you will enjoy the cycle path on the other side. You are making good progress. Safe riding!
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