Day 148. Benalmadena – Estepa, 67 km.

The time has now come to leave Benalmadena and Costa del Sol and start the long journey back home. To make life easier I had decided to stay in a hotel for the last nights.

Figure 1. Map day 148-151

The reason mainly being logistics, I had to clean and leave the apartment at 10 in the morning, then carry the bike and all my bags down the stairs (12 floors). Then I would have to ride the 20 km to the train station and get the train.

So after spending many hours on cleaning the apartment and getting everything in order I went to sleep the day before my last in Benalmadena. Unfortunately there were many groups of people roaming around the hotel partying, the last ones went to bed just after 5 in the morning. So I started the day with only a few hours of sleep.

I had made sure that I had a room on the same floor as the reception so that I could just load the bike in my room and roll out the doors.

Unfortunately the weather was not so great, there were a few drops of rain in Benalmadena and the nearer I got to Malaga the more it rained. My plan was to take the Media Distancia train to Bobadilla to avoid the nasty traffic around Malaga and the mountains between Malaga and the inland.

It was dark when I left so I toke a chance biked on the beach walk, it is not allowed but the alternative was to bike through Torremolinos and Benalmadein in the dark and rain. A small portion of the route to Malaga goes over the beach, it was not fun dragging my fully loaded bike through the sand and mud.

I had already bought the ticket for me and the ticket for the bike so all I had to do was to pass through the X-ray machine, it was a 10 minute project to get all the bags off the bike and through the machine and then on the bike again.

The train I am taking goes all the way to Ronda via El Chorro and Bobadilla, a familiar route by now. It is only 13-14C and I am all wet, so I wait and wait and wait until I can board the train and at least be a little warm.

Media Distancia
Figure 2. Media Distancia

The train ride to Bobadilla was very uneventful, El Chorro looked great in the rain. When I left the train in Bobadilla the rain was pouring down and it was 12C, not really what I had hoped for on my first day of the return tour. But there is really nothing in Bobadilla so I put on my winter jacket, gloves and hat and started to pedal.

The ride through the Andalusian countryside was as beautiful as usual, the rain made for some dramatic scenery. Towards the afternoon the clouds went away and the sun came out.

Country road
Figure 3. Country road

I had forgotten how fun it was to bike around in the country side, it seems there are not many loaded touring bikes going through this area as almost every car/truck I met smiled, waived, smiled, shouted, honked and/or stared.

Sun is coming out
Figure 4. Sun is coming out

I found a car/bus/truck stop along A92, they had a restaurant with menu del dia, it was not fantastic but at 9.30 Euro it was a bargain, and dry and warm.

Country road
Figure 5. Country road

When I got to Estepa after some hills I felt that I had enough for one day and quickly found Balcón de Andalucía. Hostal, bar, cafe and restuarante in a one stop shop for cyclists. I got to park my bike in the garage and they had central heating, fantastic place.

The view from the room was fantastic. Since I now had left the tourist paradise and entered the proper Andalucía there was no dinner to be had until 20:30. So I hung my clothes to dry and had a quick siesta.

The view
Figure 6. The view

I was the first and only guest in el comedor, dinner was great as it mostly is in Spain. I was very tired so I went straight to bed after dinner (around 21:30).

The view
Figure 7. The view

Day 149. Estepa – Estepa, 0 km.

I wake up and hear that the rain is pouring down and it’s really cold outside (about 6C). I quickly decide to take a strategic rest day, no point in spending a day in the rain if it can be avoided. After all, I am not in any particular hurry.

I sleep for a while longer and then I go down to the cafe/bar and enjoy my breakfast, tostadas. Nothing much get done this day. I have lunch, excellent menu del dia, at the hostal. I take a small walk in the rain and do some shopping at the supermarket DIA.

I have made a eBook copy of the blog so that it can be read offline, but in the latest version it became to big to fit the eBook formats. So I had to remove all the pictures from it. I have spent a lot of time testing new tools to create eBooks with pictures, but in the end it turned out that Libre Office is the best so far (at least for PDF). So I spend some time adding pictures back in to the blog-book.

I notice that my Spanish no longer works, I don’t know if it is that I am tired or that people outside Costa del Sol don’t understand bad tourist Spanish.

Day 150. Estepa – Fuente Palmera, 61 km.

Clear skies but a very cold morning. The heater is very hot but it is not enough to bring any real heath to the room. I pack up my stuff and go downstairs for my tostados.

Cold Estepa
Figure 8. Cold Estepa

It was so cold that I had to put on winter clothes, I could see my own breath as white smoke. The first 12 km or so was mainly downhill and I average close to 30 km/h almost effortlessly. The day turns out to be great, it’s a bit cold but the sun is shining and the sky is big. It feels great to be back on the road, in the country side on small roads.

When I rode through Ecija there even were some bike lanes, felt great, but the town was not very big so soon I was back on the roads again.

Bike lanes
Figure 9. Bike lanes

During the pause in my tour I bought a louder speaker to have on the handlebar, in theory it can connect to my phone with Bluetooth. But luckily it also has a line-in jack. This was the first time I tried it out while biking, it was really great to be able to listen to music even when cars pass by. It seems like it also confuses all the nasty dogs along the road, it seems like they think it’s a car coming and discover to late that it’s cyclist that needs barking at.

Wide roads
Figure 10. Wide roads

Later in the day it got warmer, almost 20C. I have been feeling a minor strain in my calf, so decide to push it to much and check in to Hostal Carlos III in Fuente Palmera.

Hostal Carlos III
Figure 11. Hostal Carlos III

The rest of the day is spent shopping at Dia and eating in the hostal. I have a bocadillo de tortilla francesa con mayonesa y tomate, this is the perfect food for a hungry cyclist.

Nice road
Figure 12. Nice road

Day 151. Fuente Palmera – Cordoba, 47 km.

I wake up and it’s a light rain but not as cold as yesterday. My next stop is Cordoba and a planned day of rest. It will be my third time in Cordoba.

Fog and light rain
Figure 13. Fog and light rain

The road to Cordoba is relatively flat, once in Posadas I turn on to the big road in to Cordoba. A little bit to much traffic for my taste but mostly a very wide shoulder to ride on. There are many road cyclists out today, it seems like they are not at all using the shoulder. They just group up and block the lane, I guess that’s the only safe way to ride if you can’t ride the shoulder.

Once inside the city limits I find my way to my favorite hotel and amazingly enough they have rooms to spare. I park the bike in their garage and set out to have a look around Cordoba. This is my third time here since December so nothing new.

Wide shoulder
Figure 14. Wide shoulder

Early dinner at my favorite restaurant and then an early night looking forward to my day of rest tomorrow.

Figure 15. Restuarant