After the low system passed through Granada, we left the city on a bright sunny day. Leaving the city wasn't too bad, there were cycle paths to take allowing us to avoid the busy city centre. We are very appreciative of the side road they have along both sides of the main highway - this allowed us to navigate easily using the shortest route possible. Not long after we were back out in the country. This time we saw crops after crops of asparagus. It's past their season though. We knew what the plant looked because back in Invercargill, New Zealand we tried growing some. The shoot is harvested and some are left to continue to grow and flower. What we saw was the later stage of flowering where the bright red fruit had already formed.
The road took us through many villages, quite beautiful ones actually. For example in Loja, the highway was conveniently above the valley where the houses were. We could see the entire place and enjoyed a lovely lunch listening to the village chirp, beep and shout. Later in the day, we grew tired and there were little opportunities for us to find an empty patch of grass to camp.
The choice of crop changed to olives and we knew this could be our opportunity to finally camp under an olive tree for the first time. Thankfully the side road is alongside the orchard so we picked the best looking tree and set up our camp. The ground was slightly soft so we had some trouble keeping mud off our shoes and bike. But hey, that's what camping in the wild is like, it's no five-star accommodation.
The next day we had over 117 km to cycle. The weather was still great so we were optimistic it'll be another day ride. Everything was going okay until the last five kilometres when Pheng's front wheel had a problem. The tyre had worn out at one spot exposing the inner tube to the road surface. This isn't ideal as the tube isn't made enough against sharp pointy objects. We had already fixed the tube numerous time that day so decided to just walk the last five kilometres.
Thankfully Manuel, our host for tonight was kind and patiently waited for us. We had a rather lovely day outside too, picking wild mushroom - don't worry he is a biologist! Manuel made us a wonderful dinner of freshly picked wild mushroom. The next morning he kindly took us to the bike shops to get a new tyre for Pheng's front wheel. In no time we were off again, with Manuel cycling with us for half an hour. He was such a lovely WarmShower host.
We couldn't find a host in Seville so we opted for the closest we could find. It turned out to be alright. We ended up having a great day exploring the city's historic sites like the castle, bridges and watermill.
It was decided we will come back to Seville to explore properly, but for this time, we'll just cycle through and have a morning tea rest there instead. A shame, we know. We found on the map a lovely garden park to have our morning tea and did not expect to see anything. When we arrived, we were pleased we picked this park. It was the Parque de María Luisa. There were some beautiful buildings at the Plaza de America so we picked a bench there to have a hot cup of tea and Spanish Christmas treats "Montecado" (crumble cake).
After a lovely rest in the garden, we set off again to Huelva. A coastal city just before Portugal! The distance to reach our host was another 110 kilometres. There were some interesting places on our way over so we stopAdiós Granada, Hola Huelvaped to take a few fun photos. Matt cycled into an old castle in Niebla and Pheng got a nice photo with a huge black bull in the field. By sunset, we only had 10 more kilometres to go. Anything under ten is a good number for us! Although arriving in the dark, our awesome host in Huelva patiently waited for us at their home.
The end is in sight!