To Seville - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 9, 2024

To Seville

The ride to Utrera

It’s only about 35 generally level miles from Arahal to Seville, and up until last night we’d been planning to bike them.  After Rachael pointed out that our route includes a considerable amount of unpaved stuff and asked me to look again though, I did some research.  The issue is with skirting Alcala de Guadeira, the suburb just southeast of Seville.  I decide to reread our experience from when we biked from Seville to Carmona four years ago, and then Betsy Evans’ experience in 2022 and Susan Carpenter’s in 2023.  All of us muddled in difficulty and confusion through that stretch, so I decided that we don’t need to test it again to see if anything’s been improved since we’ve got an alternative available.  I proposed to Rachael that we bike to Utrera instead and take the Cercanías into the city from there instead, and found an easy sale.

It’s still only 50F when we depart for Utrera at ten, cold enough that I wear my jacket at the start of the ride.  The temperature must have dropped more than ten degrees when the winds changed two days ago.   This morning the wind is still coming in from the northeast, but with our own change of direction that’s a good thing.  With only 22 flat miles ahead of us and a generous tail wind, it doesn’t take us long to put them behind us.

Today’s lay of the land.
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Jennifer MargisonJust to introduce ourselves as my husband and I recently cycled for 2 months in Andalucia. John Vincent connected with us through the blog I wrote about our trip and sent me your link. We will follow this trip with interest. We rode from Cádiz almost to Granada January - March. This post is interesting as we took a different route to Seville. From Utrera to Seville! we were mostly on the Camino de los Callejones initially and it was pretty good (some fallen trees from a recent windstorm we had to go around). Eventually it hooked up to the SE426into Dos Hermanos, then the Camino Hacienda Lugar Nuevo right into Seville. There was a tricky bit near Fuente del Rey where we weren’t sure where to go but eventually figured out we had to go on a busy road for a very short bit to cross back over to the Camino. Signage would have been great - though we were very appreciative of the Camino signs. Just had to keep an sharp eye out for them. My blog is at cycling in Spain.travellerspoint.com if you are interested. We have been home since March 7 but I am still finished it off. Almost to Granada!
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1 month ago
Someone’s quaint private driveway.
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Karen PoretFresno? 😬
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretI’m glad you said that, because it prompted me to look it up. Fresno is Spanish for ash tree.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonPretty appropriate description of the word Fresno, as “ ash” like skies are what usually appear in the form of tule fog come winter.
“Ash”would not be a good name for this sprawling area .. the Spanish name is more “ user friendly”.. ;)
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1 month ago
Parts of the roadside this morning are lined with what I think is European fan palm, one of the only palm species native to Europe.
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Not quite the brilliant floral display we’ve been enjoying in the past few days, but still nice.
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The train stopped here once.
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Keith AdamsA shame to see such a fine building falling into ruin.
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1 month ago
Interesting bookends.
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It’s been a very plane ride so far, but we start getting some texture to the land as we near Ubeda.
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Karen PoretIt actually does appear by the blue directive you are reaching the “ plane runway”.. 😬
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1 month ago
Pretty, but a traverse further south than ours would be more scenic. Our original route, which was scrapped for health and weather reasons, would have taken us through Sentenil and Zahara.
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Rachael’s way ahead of these guys. I doubt they’ll ever catch her.
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Crosscut.
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We arrived at the Utrera station right at noon, and found all we needed - an agent with enough English that it was easy to get ticketed, and a train that was already in station even though departure wasn’t for a half hour, giving us plenty of time to board and the first shot at the very limited bicycle space.

Here’s the bike space - we’ve used it all. Three or four other bikes will make it on board before we reach Seville, and the riders will have to make do cramming them in awkwardly wherever they can.
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It’s a long train - fairly empty now, but pretty crowded by the time we reach Seville.
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Karen PoretThe pockets in the floor appear to be warping.. heat? Spilled hot liquids? Too many people standing in one place?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretAn unruly passenger interred there, I imagine.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonThat would have been some scuffle!
Maybe “ the bike did it”… 😬
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1 month ago

Video sound track: I Can See Clearly Now, by Jimmy Cliff

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Arrival in Seville a half hour later was a surprise and a near disaster.  It isn’t the final stop, but just the midpoint for the C-1 line, which continues onup the Guadalquivir to Los Rosales.  The surprise though is that the train stopped in Seville’s central station scarcely any longer than it did at the many smaller stations along the way.  However, there’s much more boarding and disembarking action occurring so it’s a chaotic scene at the doors with people simultaneously getting on and off and crowding past each other.

We didn’t plan with this situation in mind.  The panniers aren’t on the bikes, so we start by Rachael getting off with the panniers (she carries two, and I hand the other two down to her) and then I get her bike and squeeze it through the crowd to hand it down to her also.  When I try to get off with my bike though, the doorway is completely blocked by a woman and her bike held crossways blocking the doors - she was the last person to board.  I shout at her to wake her up, she moves one way while I skirt past her to rush off.  I’m pretty sure the door started closing less than ten seconds after I was off.

In Seville 

Frightening, but we’re here!  It’s a short ride to our hotel, on Seville’s generally excellent bike paths most of the way - but a bit tense as there’s quite a bit of bike and scooter traffic on the fairly narrow lanes.  It reminds me a little of what biking in Paris felt like two springs ago when we visited Susan there.  On the way to our room we stop at an Italian restaurant for lunch.  I have a pasta dish, and Rachael has a pizza large enough so that almost half of it makes it into her rucksack for tonight’s dinner.

We’ve been in Seville twice before, so we’re treating this as a utility stop - we’re here for just one night, with us leaving tomorrow on the train for Zafra.  We’ve got enough afternoon left so that we both get out - Rachael goes for a walk toward the river that she mapped out, and I take the bike for an excursion up the west side of the river to what looks like a bit of a wetland.  Neither of us has the experience we expect though.

It’s not too much to say that Rachael’s walk is a disappointment.  She pieced together her own route by staring at the map, but in fact she didn’t really enjoy it much - a rare disappointment, but I think also one that reflects that we’re not really city people any more.  She didn’t bring back any photos at all.

My experience was quite different, as I enjoyed eleven miles of Type One Fun.  Most of this was on the route I had mapped out, which stayed on the excellent bike network nearly the whole way.

It didn’t start out quite as planned though, as I was almost immediately pulled into a park by its impressive fig trees.  I enjoyed walking through it and then the small lanes on the other side, thinking eventually I’d find a break in the long wall bordering it to see the space on the other side.  I never did, and eventually had to turn back when it dead ended.  It wasn’t until later until I discovered that this is the park bordering the Alcazar, hidden behind the wall.

In the Murillo Gardens.
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Backstops.
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In the Murillo Gardens.
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The monument to Christopher Columbus.
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Keith AdamsWhat a spectacularly blue sky- such a contrast to the gray dusty haze of a couple days ago...
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1 month ago
The monument to Christopher Columbus.
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The massive Giralda, the bell tower of Seville’s cathedral.
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In the Murillo Gardens.
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In the back alleys below the Alcazar.
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Along the wall of the Alcazar.
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This photo startled me when I looked back at it later. She’s patiently knocking on the door and ringing the bell, waiting for a response. The surprise is that it’s the same woman from two frames back.
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After backtracking along the Alcazar walls and through the park I returned to my mapped route and stuck with it for the next ten miles as it crossed the canal over the Triana Bridge and then followed it north to  the grounds of Expo ‘92, full of exotic, hyper modern structures.

Romantic, but not as good as bicycles. There are the sanitary issues, among other things.
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Originally the Royal Tobacco Factory, now the site of university offices.
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When I first saw these two scooters they were lined up one in front of the other and I thought it was one long scooter with four riders.
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The Torre del Oro, a thirteenth century military watchtower.
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The Puente de Trinana, or the Isabel II bridge. Built in the 19th century, it connects the heart of the city to the Triana District.
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Keith AdamsThe circular "trusses" are an interesting design...
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1 month ago
In the Triana District.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: the Bioclimatic Sphere.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: The Hungarian Pavilion, recently restored.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: the Tower of Europe, decorated with the flags of the members of the European Union at that time.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: the two embracing figures represent the Union of the countries in the European Union.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: Another view of the Tower of Europe.
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On the grounds of Expo ‘92: the Avenue of Europe, with the Tower of Europe and some of the 12 giant cones surrounding it that represent blast furnaces from the neighborhood’s industrial past.
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Finally, beyond the Expo ‘92 grounds I came to the destination I was interested in, Alamillo Park.  It’s a pretty place if no great birding site, but it was just enough to score me one new bird for the day.

In Alamillo Park: just a turtle, and a pretty small one at that.
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#192: Little grebe
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This was the turnback point of the ride, so I did so.  The next several miles were alongside the canal, impressing me for the first time with what a river town Seville is.

Punting on the Alfonzo XIII canal, a split of Guadalquivir that separates Triana from the rest of the city.
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The Puente de la Barqueta, built between 1989 and 1992 with the intention that it be the main access to Expo ‘92.
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Unfortunately though, my ride was fourteen miles long, not eleven, so it ended with three miles of the other kind of fun.  Somewhere around six o’clock I recrossed the Guadalquivir and began taking what looked like the most direct route to our hotel, only a mile away.  It took somewhere around an hour and a half and a three mile meander before I finally arrived though.  Actually, it might have been closer to two hours.  In that time I spent about two miles biking on narrow single lane streets surfaced in brick and cobblestones, too many blocks walking the bike through dense throngs of shoppers in a commercial district, and too much time getting lost and doubling back on myself.

Toward the end Rachael was getting concerned enough and perplexed by tracking me on the Garmin that she called me up to see if I was alright.  I said I’d be home in only a few minutes because I was only a few blocks away; but in fact it took another twenty minutes and a call to her to remind me of the name of our hotel, and another call to her to help me with navigating the last few blocks until I finally made it back.  In the meantime, she finished off the last of the pizza because she couldn’t wait any longer.

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Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 806 miles (1,297 km)

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Anne MathersYou nailed it again with the song choice, Rachel. ❤️ This in is on my list of the top cycle touring jingles. I’m pleased for you and a bit relieved to see that you had an easier ride today 🚴‍♀️. (After reading about the unpaved buckin’ bronks you have encountered, I am adjusting our route to avoid dusty trails east of Guadix).
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1 month ago