2 weeks and 6 days on the road

On Tuesday we headed south from Seville through pretty attractive countryside, although the threatening skies made it less beautiful to our ‘blue skies-spoilt’ eyes

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and we also passed several derelict and incomplete buildings that told a tale of the problems that Spain has been facing

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But there was still plenty to feel good about

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We went to a campsite just across the bay from Cadiz, in a little town called Puerto de Santa Maria.  I had no expectations of the port, but it is a great little place.  Not unusually, ours was only the tent in the campsite and we felt a bit like Billy Nomates, until we realised that we had the luxury of occupying about four pitches.

7 lonely tent

On wednesday we took the Bromptons for a reccy to find the ferry terminal to catch the boat to  Cadiz and the train station to go to Jerez. 

8 Beach

9 Puerto de Santat Maria castle

The sea front and river side are very bike friendly but the roads around the train station are quite scary.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon checking the quality of the beer and tapas around the town.  We also spotted the Osbourne Bodega and the signs said tours were available, but we had to go back the next day, as we had missed the English one.

On Thursday we heaved ourselves out of bed in time to get to the Bodega by 10 30.  This is not as easy as you might imagine, because the sun came up at just before 8 and it takes about an hour for the chill to leave the air, but we were brave and off we set on the Bromptons to the beautiful Osbourne bodega. 

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It only cost €8 each and for that we had a really interesting talk about how the Osbourne company was founded, why sherry became so popular in northern Europe, something about the pirate Francis Drake nicking a whole load of sherry and hence starting a whole new trend. 

11 Osbourne Bodega 2

The system of production is also very interesting, as they start putting the fortified wine in the top of threes barrels and then gradually tap some off into two lower ones. 

10 Osbourne Bodega

A seal of yeast and bacteria floats on top of the sherry wine, keeping the air at bay and if this works you end up with fino. 

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If the layer dies you get more oxidation and you end up with Oloroso.  The sweet sherry is made with a different grape and higher brandy content so there is more air contact and medium is a mix of the both.  Something like that anyway.  We were then taken off to try a range of different sherries and they left us alone with 4 new bottles and some nibbles and said help yourself!  The nice lady even said have a go at the brandy. 

13 sherry tasting

We were surprisingly circumspect and only ended up having a couple of glasses each, just as well, seeing as we were cycling.  It did mean that we were content to give Jerez a miss this time.

We hit the town for a few more tapas and ended up sitting next to this little character.  We decided it was a sherry train- Tim because the expression it has is so like his when he makes the mistake of drinking fino and I thought it’s because its nose probably lights up.

15 sherry train

After a rainy night, which wasn’t that rainy, but the drips from the trees sounded like little rocks dropping on the Tentipi, we managed to breakfast without getting rained upon.  We cycled to the catamaran that takes you over to Cadiz, saving a huge great journey. 

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The boat trip was pretty choppy but the views were well worth the €2.60 fare. 

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We could see the new bridge being built to Cadiz from the mainland, and some fantastic views of the coast. 

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We tried to cycle around old Cadiz,

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but it’s mainly set up for pedestrians so we decided to cycle around the edge. It was lovely to see but very hard on the bum.  Nearly all the streets are paved with cobble stones and, although there are some cycle paths, the people who designed them obviously do not ride bikes as even those feel like you are cycling over wash boards.  It is doubly bad on the Bromptons, as their teeny tiny wheels have no give in them whatsoever.  (They do have entertainment value, however.  When you fold the back wheel in and leave them standing in the middle of the pavement it is worth watching the passers by.  One or two have reacted as if the bikes are being held up by sky hooks.)  We got to the Castillo de San Sebastian and thought it looked amazing. 

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We decided to cycle out to it and it was absolutely the worst surface we have taken the Bromptons on. OW!  The castle is half way through being reconstructed and I suspect that, if it ever gets finished it will be really worth a visit.  It was pretty damn good as it was. 

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There is a lovely little bar just by the entrance to the causeway where you can sit and watch the local blokes chewing the cud. 

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We eventually locked the bikes up by the ferry port and explored the old town on foot.

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 You have got to love Cadiz.  There is an almost indecent amount of lovely old buildings, more bars than you can count, a good proportion of which are habituated by locals and are very good value with really delicious tapas (we didn’t try them all, honest!). 

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We happened on what looked like, on first inspection, some real excitement involving the local fire brigade.  Were they about to rescue someone who was stuck in their flat? was the building on fire? 

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Was there a terrorist situation? (I hoped not, because they let all us gawpers hang around.)  It turned out they were making sure nothing else fell off a building.  Does it make me a shallow person that I was a bit disappointed?

We caught the ferry back looking nervously at the black clouds but you will be pleased to hear that we just managed to get under shelter before the skies opened.  We have not been able to use our usual setup, because we couldn’t park Camel next to the tent, so sadly we just had to have a meal in the lovely campsite restaurant.  It’s a hard life, but someone has to keep the Spanish economy afloat!

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