This part of our trip was very exciting. We will cycle through Spain's largest national park and in the end we'll arrive in Granada, the city of pomegranate. Also famous in Granada is the UNESCO heritage site Alhambra. The route we took was quite easy to make, between Almeria and Granada would go through the mountains and visit many small villages along the way. If we're lucky we might see some snow up in the mountains.Activity recorded on Strava (https://www.strava.com/activities/2882861937)
Heading up to the hills
Our first day was a very easy ride without much trouble. We cycled along the highway which was a separate road on its own for vehicles that don't want to take the tolled expressway. It made our journey very pleasant not having to deal with traffic. The region down south of Spain is very sunny and hot making the region of Andalusia the fruit bowl of Spain (and potentially Europe). Now that we're in the UK, we occasionally find fresh produce that is marked from Spain and very likely to have come from Andalusia. When we were on the ground it wasn't that noticeable until later in the afternoon when we started ascending up the mountains we got a clearer view of the scale of food production.
That evening we stayed in Berja with Charlie. He had accepted our request to stay for a night at his parent's home in a small village just out of Berja. We arrived just before it got dark and managed to get some food from Mercadona (our favourite supermarket in Spain). A little later Meg, another tour cyclist arrived and we were happy to meet another one of us. It's been a long time since we had meet anyone on the road. For the rest of the evening we had a great night cooking food together, sharing fun stories and checking out Charlie's design studio.
The next morning we had to keep going and couldn't stay an extra day to hangout with these two fabulous cyclists. Meg stayed an extra day with Charlie to enjoy a fun day riding the mountain trails. We bid farewell and carried onward to our next stop Torvizcon.
The National Park
We weren't so sure about the climate here, but judging by the colour it looked pretty dry. It reminded us a lot about Iran or Turkey where the land has been cleared so much that nature had little chance left to recover fully. Some piece of land looked so dry we didn't think it was worth cultivating. Yet there's someone who is eager to use their land to grow what they can.
The villages in this region all had a very unique look to them. The houses are all painted white (possibly to deflect the sun during summer). This gave a nice contrast to the dried orange soil appearance. Unsurprisingly, our next host lived in a white-painted home as well. Our hosts were originally from the Netherlands, super green and try their best to reduce their carbon footprint. They had solar panels above their home and a lot more scattered on the hill just behind. On a good sunny day there's enough to even charge their electric car! With the good land around them, they have a vegetable garden and a Mongolian yurt! We got to sleep inside the yurt.
Finally to Granada
Finally we are getting close to Granada. The weather forecast wasn't so good so we had to plan our meals and rest stops according to the rain. Basically we tried our best to find shelter when we can sense the rain coming. This part of the ride was enjoyable as we passed through lots of small villages that offered a unique view each time. The challenging part was the continuous ascending/descending between valleys and towns. It was very tiring having to regain all that altitude. But there's nothing we can do about that, the only way go to is forward.
Just when we thought we'd arrived safely in Granada, we had to cross a ford. The recent rain caused the ford to rise a fair amount and we weren't sure if our heavy bikes could stand on the surface below. The trick is to keep pedalling, no matter what - if you don't, the feet will get wet! Watch the videos to find out who made it safely!