Andalucía’s big sky


Funny how things never turn out the way you expect. After yesterday tyre fiasco I had to change my plans and instead of heading straight for Tarifa I had to add an intermediary step in Vejer de la Frontera to visit a bike shop for spares. This in my mind meant easy going today and easy going tomorrow. It was not so much so today.

I left Arcos without any hurry. I decided not to go the wrong way down the hill, the way I knew would have been quicker, and I paid the prize of my law abiding with an extra climb that I had not budgeted for. Let me tell you I will not make that mistake again. In the end I took a picture of the old town from my now unexpected vantage point, my hostel was right next to the castle.

Arcos de la Frontera, I had my share of those hills.

I did not know that then, but I realise now that cyclists should be skeptical of anything “de la Frontera”. This suffix refers to the border between catholic Spain and Arab occupied Spain, back in the days. Obviously this also means forts and defensive walls which naturally fit better on top of rocks than in the middle of a plain.

A quick drink in Vegas
A quick drink in Vegas

The route between Arcos and Vejer was, what we would call in the UK, rolling hills. Not to bad but also not too scenic either which explains me taking a picture of myself followed by a picture of the bike.

I made good progress and by early afternoon I was less than ten miles away from Vejer so I decided to have my bread and salami lunch. This I fear is the last salami I’m going to have for a very very long time as I’m staring down the barrows of 2000 miles of no-pork-land, and I’m not sure they do much curing after that either, at least until I get to South Africa.

Route 2,859,706 – powered by

The wind was not strong today but it was present andit was aiming directly at my big front panniers so my average speed fell short of what it could have been.

The wind was back today.
The wind was back today.

Then, less than 3 miles away from my destination I came around a corner to be greeted by both good and bad news. The good news was that it was less than 3 miles to the destination, the bad news was that the destination was perched on top of what looked like a steep hill.


It turns out that the road continued flat for most of the 4 Km written in the sign, it was in fact only the last 1.6 Km (1 mile) that was the climb from the valley to the hostel, that of course was on the topmost part of the hill.

It took me 3 hours and 20 minutes to cover the 43 miles from Arcos, it took me 1 hour to cover the last mile.

It was an agonising mix of zig zag cycling and outright pushing the bike up the most inaccessible parts of the route. Zig zagging  on the road has the effect of reducing the gradient at the expense of a longer distance covered. Unfortunately, a this was a two ways road this meant no more music, as you want to be aware of a car coming round a corner when you’re on their side of the road. Pushing the bike is not much fun as the panniers and the spare wheels impede you from having any sensible pushing position, the weight of the whole ensemble is also much more apparent when you’re going up what looked like a 45º angle.

Vejer definitely in the top 5 Spanish places.
Vejer definitely in the top 5 Spanish places.

When I got to the top however I was greeted by a great place, a lovely hostel and superb views over most of south Andalucía.

This place is no distance from any number of possible destinations in the south of Spain so I will strongly recommend a visit to anybody coming this way.

I came up there somewhere.
I came up there somewhere.

After getting settled I went for an exploratory tour and I took a few pictures but I feel one could spend more than one day in this place without getting bored.

Worth it on the top though.
Worth it on the top though.

The last two tasks for the day were to identify the location of the bike shop, which I did, and get something to eat. I went to a restaurant on the wall from where I took the mega scenery picture above and had a nice steak. I figure I should get loaded up on proteins before I get into the cuscus and vegetable regime of the next two months.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike clifford says:

    Hey Alex the picture of the beautiful plaza de espana brings back some lovely memories of vejer. We went there last year. Poor you though cycling up to the top – my memory is that there wasn’t one way up there that didn’t involve a very steep climb. But plenty of lovely places to eat to make the climb worthwhile! Best of luck with the journey South to Tarifa ? Mike Helen and Olivia

    1. Alex says:

      Yes, great restaurant but I am not sure I recovered the calories I left on the tarmac of the road up.

  2. julca says:

    Che bel posto!…ne vale la pena di tanta fatica,un po come quando arrivi alle piane e ti vai a rifocillare da Mazzieri con un vin brulé!

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