La Gomera to Andorra

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On the Why How and Downloads You can download the parts of the route we cycled. It needs to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load it into the appropriate applications and GPS.

We were looking forward to starting our journey to Andorra with four days of cycle touring. But to start with we had to be up at 6am to catch the 8am ferry to Los Cristianos, Tenerife.

At Los Cristianos we said our fond farewells to Liz and John. John actually managed a “full English breakfast” at one of the tourist cafés near the port. We took the high road and we mean high to start our ride. Liz and John headed to the car hire place and took the motorway to all places north and west.

Escaping from Los Cristianos was both easy and a relief. We admit that the seals were not up by 10am but if we had left it any longer we could have been in danger of being overwhelmed. As it was there were plenty of rogue electric buggies rampaging along.

In fact the stoker was so keen to be away that she powered ahead up the first big climb and completely missed the first turn off the main drag. She didn't hear the plaintive calls and text from the management because her phone was buried in her bag.

The management was in a dilemma. There was no way that he is fast enough uphill to catch the stoker who would keep going as long as she could see him following. So he stopped and relaxed in the sun leaving messages with passing roadies to tell her to come back when they overtook her.

Meanwhile the stoker happily went downhill for 2km before checking her phone. On seeing the management's text she turned round and went back uphill as fast as she could. Even with Leo this was hard work as she was concerned that there had been an accident so went faster than she normally does.

Maybe it would have been better if she had not come back for she found the next few kms harrowing. There were a series of 25% climbs on a narrow country road. Even with Leo's electricity she could not maintain enough speed to ride. And even worse the walk assist gave up in disgust.

There was no down today but she emerged at the first less steep bit ready to give up coping. The management was concerned, this was not like her. But it was like her to recover and lead on the next climb after the management suggested stopping for coffee and cake.

Once on the quiet main road the gradients became easier and we soon found our huge but basic flat in Granadilla. We had climbed over 700m, which was hard enough, but almost worse no longer had the warm coastal sunshine but rather mountain weather.

It was not a long ride but it was one of the times when we counted the metres climbed rather than the distance covered.

During the next three days we had some magnificent cycling on our way to Santa Cruz. The management called this road, the TF28, “the balcony”. It runs parallel to the coast but well inland and well above it.

The balcony was the old main road from Santa Cruz to the south of the island until it was replaced by the current coastal motorway in 1970. Before the motorway it must have taken an age to get to the south, taking a coastal ferry may well have been quicker.

We were on a twisting roller coaster ride with wonderful views passing through ethnic villages and hamlets and with the occasional view of the snow covered peak of Mount Teide. There were innumerable barrancas, deep valleys traversing our route. We could often see the road, only a few hundred metres away, on the other side of the deep valley.

But to get there we often had to go downhill for a couple of kms along a vertiginous road cut into the cliff face of the valley. We then crossed a bridge before climbing up the other side.

Dependent on the amount of the climb and descent involved in this process either the stoker or the management would be well in front. We could often wave to each other across the deep valley though we seldom went very close to the edge.

It was hard to find accommodation along this road. The few places available often only do so for several nights, not just one, presumably to fit in with the rather odd type of tourist who prefers real old Canary villages to Los Cristianos.

We stayed in a German run “Spirit Lodge” for one night. Yes, whatever you imagine that was it. Miles off the road down a bumpy track with yoga and the like and badly run. Just think of a worse Kate type place from the Archers.

But we also stayed in a delightful small hotel built in the 16th century. Wooden floors, a typical Spanish courtyard where the bikes relaxed, our own little sitting room and every comfort. It had a French run restaurant which was a treat after Spanish pizzas. We had pasta and good fish for the stoker.

Having climbed and descended for four days we had a final descent into Santa Cruz. Technically the Canarians are some of the worst drivers in the world but because of this they are also among the safest. But a total lack of what most UK petrol heads think of as driving skills does tend to catch up with them in big towns. It also makes it hard work for cyclists to keep out of their way.

Also on the way in we had a sprinkling of rain. Generally speaking workers in the fields and by the roads don't bother with waterproofs but just dry out in the sun when it stops. It is not easy for us to get into this frame of mind, especially the stoker. As it was there was not much rain by British standards but we were extra careful as the roads did look a bit slippery.

When we do this again, and we certainly intend to, we could do it at least a day quicker. But manana, why bother? Also the tram into and out of Santa Cruz takes bikes and this was by far the most difficult part of the ride.

In Tenerife we enjoyed the traffic free roads which mainly have a good surface. Once on “the balcony” we saw almost as many roadies as cars though didn't overtake any. Next time we will find a route between Los Cristianos to Granadilla which has a better gradient and certainly no 25% climbs.

We only had one night in Santa Cruz but it gave us time to find the easy route to our ferry for Huelva. Like many such places “everyone” knows the way so why bother with signs for anyone other than motor vehicles?

For a city centre our usual hotel is standard and convenient which was fortunate because its breakfast saw us through the next 36 hours on the ship. The Armas ferry is not unpleasant but quite small for a 700 mile voyage against the trade winds. We were not actually sick but we had a limited inclination to eat anything.

We arrived with relief in Huelva in Spain just after dark. It is 17km from the port to the town through oil fields. The stoker did not have much difficulty persuading the management to put the bikes in the boot of the free bus provided by the ferry company.

Fortunately there were not many people on the bus. Putting the bikes in the boot was not difficult and we cycled into our hotel at around 10pm. We were pretty tired and ate what few bits and pieces we had left before crashing out ready to make up our food intake at a late breakfast.

We now had a five night stay in Seville which is an hour by bus from Huelva or a slightly longer journey by train. We took the train which is cheaper and, like in France, takes bikes on medium distance routes without the need to dismantle. And the stoker is always keen to save, which makes up for the management's ability to spend.

Cirque du Soleil was the highlight of our visit to Seville. The performance was wonderful and the atmosphere electric. The response of the audience of over 2000 mainly Spanish gave us a huge feeling for Spanish culture. We loved it and the management would like to go again except that he had no more spends.

Seville is the very large and bustling capital of Andalucia. It has some really interesting tourist attractions, pretty rivers and nice ethnic quarters. It also has lots of dedicated cycle paths and a very large number of extremely slow light controlled crossings. Despite the cycle infrastructure and the vast number of pedestrians the car is still king.

We have done the tourist bits before and the management anyway has a very short attention span when it comes to tourism. He has absolutely no toleration of queues which ruled out the cathedral and the Muslim heritage. But we did enjoy strolling along the river and through the ancient streets of the city centre.

We had a very nice apartment in Triana, the ceramic and now Bohemiam quarter of the town. Like many Spanish apartments it had a central well onto which the windows opened. Ideal in summer but not so good for lazy travellers in winter. With little daylight we slept in beyond what was reasonable.

We also had jobs, mainly caused by a cock-up made by an apply named incompetent company called Parcel Monkey. They lost the case we sent to Andorra in December. We often send stuff backwards and forwards and have never lost anything before coming across Parcel Monkey. The case contained our essential cold weather clothing and ski gear. Parcel Monkey failed to deal with the loss and made matters worse by sending us a stream of pointless platitudes from their computer bots.

The long and the short of it was that we went to the vast out of town Carrefour and a large Decathalon. We spent the minimum to buy replacements. Parcel Monkey will get the bill but we doubt if they will pay easily. But then we can be very difficult when it suits us.

The management says he would far rather be in Decathalon than the tourist hot spots. He prefers to shop online but even a store is more interesting than traipsing around yet another god spot on the make.

We did a two day journey to Andorra, leaving our bikes and cycling gear at the Seville apartment. Ana who rented it to us was very nice and helpful to us travellers. We boarded the train to Barcelona just before 9am and stayed there the night in our usual cheap Transit Hotel.

Spanish high speed trains are the best and most comfortable in Europe, flying along at over 300km an hour. TGV and Eurostar (and Worst Great Western) eat your hearts out. Sadly they are bad when it comes to taking bikes but really no worse than most other countries. And they have the same bad by design wash room facilities which don't work properly on every train we use in all the European countries.

The last leg of our long journey north was a short bus trip from Barcelona to Andorra to meet the management's family tomorrow. Hope their train is on time.