As our trip winds down, we inch up the last big hill at a snail’s pace to reach the high point of our journey – literally.
It’s not so high compared with the world’s great mountain ranges but the steep grades and constant ups and downs of Andalucia’s roads have tested our legs as much as the Himalayas. Frankly, our muscles feel like jelly after so much climbing so we are proud to reach this point.
We’re also amazed at how quickly we’ve reached the last few days of our trip. Where did the last 3 weeks go? Then again, 3 years on a world bike tour went pretty quickly too. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that shorter holidays are even more fleeting.
This journey may be nearly over but we still have a few memorable adventures in store. The best one comes as we are cycling through a town and hear the whistle of a pan flute coming from a motorbike. “What is it? What’s he doing?” we wonder. He’s clearly trying to sell something, going slowly past all the houses and tooting his flute, but what? Then Andrew spots the grinders on the back of his motorbike.
“He’s a knife sharpener! Quick! Let’s catch him!”
We chase the man up the hill and wave him down, breathless. We have a cooking knife for chopping our vegetables and for months now it’s been dull, dull, dull. We are thrilled to hand it over and watch him do his work. A few local people gather to watch as well.
He works hard at making our knife razor sharp for a good 5 minutes and for this pleasure he charges us all of €2.50. “You just don’t see stuff like this at home in Holland,” we both say, thrilled at our good luck to run across this knife sharpener’s path.
Mud also continues to haunt us. It doesn’t help that Friedel’s shoes are very old. We bought them in Thailand. They’ve seen thousands of kilometers of cycling across Asia, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Now, when she steps in a muddy field, trying to get to a wild camping spot, the mud not only squishes up the outside of her shoes but through cracks and to the inside as well. Maybe it’s the end of the road for these shoes.
And we explore the city of Carmona, just outside of Seville. When Julius Caesar was around, it was considered the best protected city in Spain because of its fort and strong city walls. We climb the fortress for a view of the rooftops.
And the glimpses of ordinary life down below, like laundry hung out to dry.
We visit the deserted main square (it will probably be bustling with activity tonight), with its cafes and bars.
We stand amazed in front of this toy shop, which has dolls piled higher than the door and even on the owner’s truck parked outside! The inside of the truck is jammed full of stuff as well.
And admire the many mosaics and colourful tiles, especially outside of local bars. This one advertises the sherry that is famously made not far away and drunk by the barrel in this part of Spain. It’s not uncommon to see people having a glass of sherry with their morning coffee.
Soon, it’s time to go home. After a night’s sleep, we cycle in the dark to the nearest train station and get on board. We are tired.
Now it’s back to work. Back to comforts like hot showers and soft beds. Back to dreaming about the next bike tour.