In 1998:
Route Map
01 Extremadura
02 Cabo de Gata
03 Mallorca
04 Ronda
05 Madrid

In 1999:
06 Sevilla
07 Mojácar
08 Towards Norway

Rocinante the Tiger:
On the Road
An accident

And some more:
The Short Story
Bars in Andalusía
Nerja and Axarquía
Photo Gallery
The road home 2001

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Back again, the sixth long trip to Sevilla

After six months back in Norway where we bought a new house and earned our living, we finally returned for another four weeks on Rocinante. Yes, we did buy a house which was just the opposite of what we wanted to do last year. Life changes and we longed for a place to call our own where you don't have to worry too much about neighbours. We haven't regretted it so far. But now we were back in Spain and the travelling feeling crept into us again.

Meeting Bente in Nerja

I came to Spain from Nigeria where I had pent the last five weeks working and arrived on Saturday morning after 24 hours of travel on boats, plains and motorcycle. Bente arrived the day before and had arranged a room in hostal Miguel in the center of town. In  Antonio Luis Motor the staff was waiting for me with the bike prepared and ready to go. I had tried in vain to arrange for new licence plates as the old ones only lasted six months, but after several weeks of telephone calls I was given a temporary driving permit. I mounted Rocinante and headed straight for Nerja and Bente.

We spent the next hours catching up on each others lives. Both of us had a nice feeling being back and in the evening we went for a drink or four in the Tutti Frutti area, where most of the towns nightlife is found. We had our favourite salsa de champinones at the Meson La Bodega, said hello to Isabel and Antonio at La Cabaña and then went from bar to bar for a few hours, getting drunk and happy.

On Sunday we made a short test ride on Rocinante up in the now so familiar hills around Frigilliana and Torrox. Antonio and Nieves greeted us in their little tapas bar in Torrox. We stayed a couple of tapas and returned to Nerja.

Towards Jerez through the sierras

On Tuesday morning we packed our gear in the topbox, soft saddlebags and tankbag and left for Malaga to pick up the temporary permit. Permit in hand we left the city going south-west along the ugly towns of Torremolinos and Fuengirola and then turned inland.

October, November and December had been three fantastic months in Spain. Then we came and brought with us rain and cold. We were back on the road again, and the farmers of Andalusia praised their creator. This time, however, we were prepared. We brought with us warm underwear and proper winter motorcycle clothes. It meant that we could keep it going in temperatures just above the freezing point without killing ourselves.

We turned inland towards Mijas, one of the tourist converted villages of Andalusia and drove through some nice scenery before we turned southwards again through Coin and stopped for a coffee in the village of Monda. The only clientel in the small bar was an expatriated woman in her forties who was watching a wildlife programme on the telly. We sat down and chatted with the owner and in between lines he turned up the volume on the stereo, which was on together with the telly. He probably thought that relative young people like our selves liked the up beat modern pop that was on. This, however, meant that we had to raise our voices which, together with the music drowned the sound from the TV-programme. The expatriate gave the owner a hint, he turned and gave her an understanding smile - and turned up the television volume as well.  Now it was impossible to speak or to seperate the different sounds, but it did not stop the owner from continuing his conversation with us. We smiled and pretended to understand.

A short drive later we found our selves in Puerto Banus - famous for it's multi milionare collection of yacths. The harbour was arranged with the 30-40m yacths at one end then stepping downwards with smaller and smaller yacths towards the other end. The dinner was consumed at a small pasta restaurant, watching people coming and going in their Rolls Royce or high class Mercedes.

The road led us south-west again along the coast. After dark we felt like leaving the main road which  was overloaded with traffic so we turned inland towards Casares for the night. The mountain town is one of the famous Andalusian white villages - it's located on a hilltop as so many others and have spectacular scenery. The village returned the feelings we had had so many times before in similar surroundings. Twenty odd elderly people - mainly men - were gathered in the main square. They turned and faced us with curious looks when we parked the bike. Some of them came over to take us and bike in closer view and commented that we had to be crazy to be driving in this weather. We were wearing all the gear we had to our disposition and probably looked like we were going to the Himalayas. One of the men smiled and set of on his scooter in T-shirt and low shoes. We wondered who was crazy?

There was only one place in town were we could get a room with heating. The room was like an ice box inside and the heater only helped a bit. That night we had a war of sheets which I must have lost because just before sunrise I woke up naked, shaking from the cold, although it was Bente that caught a cold from it. A hot shower helped a lot. The room had a fantastic view over the hillside so I sat in front of the window for a while before Bente woke up.

The owner of our residence for the night was the barman in the groundfloor tapas bar. When we went to pay the room and return the keys the bar was closed. So we stopped people in the plaza and asked if they knew where the owner was living. I guess everone knows everyone a small village and the first person we stopped knew the answer with a little help from the lottery saleswoman nearby and we headed for the address. Just then the owner came running. He had forgotten to tell us that the bar was closed on Wednesdays and to arrange for a time to meet. We paid him and went for breakfast on a roof terrace by the main plaza. The weather had improved a lot and the sun was warm enough to eat outdoors - with most of our clothes on.

We were back on the road and soon came into the village of Gaucin. On the way we had to stop to reduce the layers of clothes as the sun rose in the sky and temperatures with it. The day looked promising. In Gaucin we got involved in a discussion about the newly introduced Euro currency. The bar keeper insisted that all European currencies would be equalized once the Euro was released as hard money, so that one pesetas equalled one franc etc. This caused a lot of confusion and finally a bankier entered to explain the matters. The voice level had by this stage gone through the roof and we waved goodbye and left with a smile.

We had been in doubt which route to choose that day, but now the sun was warm and we made up our minds to take the inland route towards Jerez de la Frontera. The road led us through some astounding hills and valleys and for a while time disappeared and we drove slowly and silently. A roadside cafe served an excellent lunch and then it was back on Rocinante down towards the flat land that surrounds Jerez. At a crossroad a sign said 'Carretera Cortada' meaning the road was closed at some point. It was the road we wanted to take and since we had seen the same signs in other crossroads without it stopping us, we headed for it. This time it was true, though. After a while we came down to lake del Mimbra with a water level that must have been two meters higher than when the road was constructed. The road went straight into the lake. I stopped for a little while, thinking of shooting a picture, when Bente pointed towards some angry looking bulls, similar to those you see in a bullring, behind a very low fence, so we left.

We came across to a village called Algar on a temporary dirtroad, then crossed our paths from the first long trip at Arcos de La Frontera, still beatiful located on a cliff and in the evening we stopped at one of the central squares of Jerez.

Jerez de la Frontera and sherry wine

Jerez de la Frontera is not located at the border. It's just one of many towns that was at some stage in history and the name just got stuck. Among the things that Jerez is famous for is the Sherry wine (vino de Jerez in Spanish) and the racing circuit. I would have liked to try both, but the latter must be booked in advance.

That night we visited a few bodegas to taste the different brands of Sherry. There's hundreds of brands and several different variations of sweet and dry. Of the four different swetnesses we tried both of us favoured the 'cream', which is semi-sweet. The next morning we headed for the center and ended up on the fish marked. Bente was suddenly everywhere and I had enough trying to follow. "Como se llama la pescada alli, y alla? - What's the name of that fish, and that one?". Everyone she asked smiled and gave her the name followed by explanations of what part was the best and volunteered the name of several others. She has a way of making people happy to explain, even though the marked was full of people trying to buy and we were not. This was an excellent oppurtunity to see all the different species we had eaten so often but never seen uncut. Every imaginable species was on the desks ranging from the smallest sardine to 70-75kg swordfish and it took two full circles around the place to satisfy Bente's curiosity.

In the afternoon we mounted Rocinante and left for a roundtrip to Sanlúcar de Barameda and Puerto Santa María. Sanlúcar is the most common startpoint for trips into parque Doñana, Europe's most important bird reserve. The park was badly damaged last year from a toxic spill of dimensions,  but had recovered enough to pay it a visit. We were not really in a bird-watching mood, and come to think of it, we never have been. But it's one of those things you have to do when you're in the area, so we headed for the tourist office for information. The girl in the office informed us about the two daily trips and where to book them. We went for the booking office after an excellent but pricey lunch in one of the squares in town, but the office was closed. We looked at eachother and agreed that there was probably a guided tour arranged on the other side of the park as well, and we were going there in a few days.  So we left towards Puerto Santa María. On the road along the coast we passed the biggest military compound I've seen, the fence were running for 10-12 kilometers along the highway. Puerto Santa María was a quick stop just to have been in the town where Columbus supposedly set sail on one of his trips to the new world. We had an ice on the main plaza before heading back to Jerez for the evening.

That night we tried to find the heart of Jere'z nightlife and ended up in a small backstreet tapas bar. The directions for this place came from Fran and Juan, who we met at another very popular water whole for the young and restless in Jerez. We had asked them for directions for a good bar and thirty minutes after we entered the bar they came in as well. Fran was from Jerez and studied history while Juan lived in Sevilla and worked in marketing. The following hours we drank quite a few whisky's and discussed all kinds of topics. For a while Bente tried to explain to Fran that Norway was not the ideal country that he believed it was, while me and Juan discussed Spain's conquest of America. Then me and Fran argued about his Norway impression, while Bente and Juan continued on the conquest issue, and so on. Fran shared some of his history knowledge with us and although I claimed to know when the battle of Trafalgar took place, I surrendered when Bente pointed out to me that it was Fran's current topic at university. We covered the usual issues as the northern European drinking habits, the Norwegian bureocratic hysteria, the spanish lack of efficiency, and so on. It was a night to remember and when we left it was not because we were pissed or because it was late - we were exhausted from concentrating on their fast spoken spanish for so long.

Entering Sevilla

Last time we visited Sevilla was on the Long Trip 1, but it was only a lunch stop and we had promised ourselves to return. This time the city was the main target for the trip and we planned to stay five-six days and see most of the center. Juan from the night before had tipped us not to take the freeway or autovia directly from Jerez, because the road had a bad design, causing fatal accidents every week. He claimed the engineers who built it was drunk at the time of construction. So we chose another and much longer trip, and first stop was the race circuit of Jerez, just east of the city. The circuit is the center of Spain's largest gathering of bikers each May. When I stopped the bike outside the circuit, we could hear 250 cc's racing on the inside and I was eager to get in to see what was going on. A sturdy guard refused me to enter the arena on Rocinante, and although I wanted to play stupid and just drive on, I followed his order and parked the bike on the outside. At least we didn't have to pay and after a minute or two we were on a hilltop watching three 250's training. I had never seen it live before - Norway is not the center of motor sports - and I was amazed at the speed they were travelling. We stayed for half an hour while I was trying to get a good shot of one of them, and after wasting half a film we set off again.

In Morón de la Frontera we had a small lunch consisting of very tasteful filetillos. The clientel was again mainly elderly people, but for once it was a mix of men and women. We were soon introduced to everyone and the leading lady, a handsome widow in her sixties where in charge of the  conversation. She and her followers displayed a raw sense of humour and Bente was warned about leaving me in town. A lot of single men had passed through here, she said, and never left.
"If you leave him behind, or he gives you an exuse to return to pick up something he forgot, then he'll never leave here again", followed by raw laughter from the rest of the bar. We had to explain who we were, where we came from and where we were going. When we left, they all came out of the bar to wave us goodbye. The widow blinked one eye, as if saying; "I know you'll return".

Helpful people

We entered Sevilla in early afternoon and after doing the usual errors in navigation we stopped at a tapas bar close to the cathedral. Someone had recommended the Rough Guide to Andalusia to us instead of Lonely Planet and we had been searching for it in every bookstore so far with no luck. The Lonely Planet had dissapointed us somewhat last year with inacurate information and often saying the opposite of what we meant of places. I left the tapas bar in search for a tourist office close by and a city map. Just around the corner a display of books outside a bookshop revealed the Rough Guide, just like that. So I returned to Bente with a big grin a couple of minutes after I left her. We sat down with the hotel listings and called hotel Sierpes where we got a room for five days, parking included. The hotel was difficult to find in the maze of streets that make up the barrio Santa Cruz but we tried. We tried to enter from the Centro area and suddenly an old man on a bike came up to us and shouted
"Are you looking for a hotel?"
"No thanks, we have made our arrangements, thanks, bye!". I accelerated and left him behind. Fifty meter down the street the traffic jammed and he was with us again.
"But it's cheap and very close!"
"No thanks, as I said last time, bye!!". A little more movement and he was on top of us again.
"It's very very cheap and very very close!!"
"Listen", Bente said with a smile, "We've told you we already have made our reservation. We are on our way to the hotel just now."
"Which hotel??", he wanted to know.
"Hostal Sierpes", we said.
"But that's on the other side of town, you wan't get there this way, and by the way, the hotel I'm talking about is very, very close, very, very cheap and very, very good!"
"Why don't you rather tell us how to find hostal Sierpes?"
Surprisingly he smiled and said; "Ofcourse, turn left here, left again twice and head straight on towards Plaza Nueva, then ask a taxi"
Now we thanked him and did as he said. He was right and soon we stopped on Plaza Nueva and asked a taxi for directions. After five minutes of explanations I said stop and asked Bente to ride with him while I followed. It was a smart move and ten minutes later after I don't know how many turns we were in front of the hostal, in a street too narrow for a bike to pass a car.

The hostal was located no more than 150m from the Cathedral and we could have walked over to it from the tapas bar where we booked the room. But then we wouldn't have met the old man on the bike or seen that part of town. That's why I sometimes like to drop the map and just see where we end up, or pretend to read the map but really just drive randomly, or yet again, it might all be an excuse for being a lousy navigator. We unpacked the bags and rested in the room for a while. The room had heating and hot water, so it was  up to our standard. When we left for dinner the receptionist gave us a map with the route back to the hotel drawn. They were probably tired of getting telephonecalls from lost souls. Just a short walk from the hotel we found our selves in the very street we had lunched last time we where here.

Eating and getting diarrhoea

We had dinner that night at Casa Robles, an upmarket restaurant close to the cathedral. As I told Bente; "You can't arrive in or leave Sevilla without having a large cognac, and with the cognac comes an expensive dinner!!" - the rules are made as we go along. The Muslo de Pato in chestnut sauce that Bente had was the most tasteful dinner both of us had tasted for a long as we remembered. Now it was cognac time and, following Spanish customs, the cognac was half a bottle in each glass. After an hour or so we walked just around the corner, smiling and laughing from the huge cognac, to an Irish pub where I could have a Guinnes and Bente a Kilkenny. Just next to us in the bar was two Norwegian girls who were studying travel in Sevilla and we spent the rest of the night in their company, exchanging Spain stories and experiences.

The next day we were slightly hangover, so we took life easy with a visit to the cathedral and La Giralda, the Moorish tower in the corner of the same building. The trip to the top of Giralda was worth it because of the fantastic view over the city from the top. In the evening we had a couple of beers and returned to our room early, Bente had a cold and I had started to feel sick. Sunday morning I woke up at five o'clock with and urge to visit the toilet - diarrhoea. Bente's cold had gotten worse so the day was spend in bed, me running to and from the toilet and Bente supplying food from time to time. I was sick of bananas on Monday.

On Monday morning we were slightly better both of us, and Bente went to get us breakfast. During the day we walked around the whole city center, visited Casa Pilatus - a famous private residence several hundred years old and filled with Moorish tilings and carvings, much like the Alhambra. We visited the Indian archives, where most saved documentation from the conquests and the years that followed in the New World is kept. There's not much to say about it since we weren't allowed to look at the actual documents.

Sevilla's bullring is one of the most famous and beatiful in the world. It's the ring where Bizet's Carmen got killed in front of. We had the regular guided tour and saw paintings, clothes and swords of famous toreros like Joselito, Belmonte and El Gallo(Joselito's elder brother), all of them from the beginning of the century and thoroughly described in Hemningway's 'Death in the afternoon'. It made me wonder whether he made them famous or if they had been on display without his help.

Why we never saw a bullfight

When we came to Spain last year, the first book I read was 'Death in the afternoon'. I had seen a bullfight in Venezuela several years ago, and although I found it disgusting in many ways, I couldn't help being carried away with the rest of the crowd. Towards the end of the last fight I shouted 'Ole' with the rest, fueled not only by the atmosphere but as well from numerous drinks I was offered as a forreigner on his first fight. The book made me a lot more curious and towards the end of it I was eager to see all the different moves and styles that Hemningway had described so vividly. Bente read the book after me, and although not as carried away, agreed with me to see one bullfight. So on our trip to Madrid to get married last year there was a 'feria de toros' (bullfighting week) in the capital and we tried to book tickets in advance, without luck. The days before arriving in Madrid we saw quite a few 'faenas'(final stage) of the bullfight on television, and for each new faena, Bente's dismal grew until finally, she exclaimed that this was not something she wanted to support, let alone manage to see live. So, we never saw one. I'm still curious though, and given the right opportunity I'll have a go.

The village of El Rocío

Rocinante had been stuck away in the hotel garage for several days now and it was time to take her for a spin. We dressed up for cold weather and headed out of the city towards El Rocío, a small village on the western outskirts of parque Doñana, famous for the annual 'Romeria del Rocío'. Each year sometime in May/June a world catholic pilgrimage ends here with the carrying of 'virgen del Rocío'. Last year about 2.5million people arrived from the whole of Spain, Europe, North and South America and the Far East. 350 000 horses participated as well. The virgin is carried out from the church for an hour or so and then put back in again and the party can begin. For the next few days people eat and drink, and last year it was said that the pope had vaguely indicated that the Spanish catholics should spend more time giving homage to the virgin and less time drinking.

The village itself looked like a desert town from a western movie. People were riding around on horses, the main roads in the village were unpaved and very wide, and in front of every other house was a bar to tie horses to, just like in front of a western saloon.

Leaving Sevilla through communist territory

We where leaving the next day and I had to run an errand in town before hitting the road. So we packed our stuff, Bente put on her riding gear while I put on my regular clothes. When we left the room on the second floor we were overloaded with luggage. Bente carried one soft saddle bag, the tankbag, helmet and my riding pants. I carried the other saddle bag, the topbox, helmet, jacket and boots. I walked in front and on the first floor I just managed to grab the door knob with my thumb of one of the double swing doors leading down to the reception. Bente had to stop and catch her breath before continuing. She didn't let go of the luggage, just leaned over so the saddle bag rested on the floor and stayed in the awkard position, making face to me. While we stayed in our positions we heard steps from one of the hallways. An english gentleman in his forties, dressed in tweed jacket, soft hat and silk scarf entered with his puddle following. He had to step to one side to avoid hitting Bente and nodded politely as he passed her. I was still standing with my thumb holding open the door, also awkwardly positioned from the load. He passed through the door with his puddle following, smiled politely and said "Thank you, sport". I looked at Bente, Bente looked at me, and then we doubled over from laughter.

We left Sevilla going eastwards towards the village of Marinaleda. The village is known for it's communist stronghold and has frescos of Che Guevarra and other famous freedom fighters on the town hall facade. When we entered the city there was a funeral going on and we asked three old men where to find the town hall. One of the men looked at me and said
"It's across the main road and to the left but it's closed now, son".
"Oh, that doesn't matter, we're only going to see the famous frescos"
The attitude changed, a big smile came on, he walked closer, and with a comrade slap on my shoulder he said go ahead. When whe came to the town hall, there was by god another funeral and with daylight running out we turned and headed for Estepa for the night.

Horses in the sunset

We came down towards Estepa in the sunset. The sunlight was glowing warm from the olive fields to the right and on the hay fields to the left. Estepa was also swimming in the same light and we drove slowly and kept quiet, just enjoying the visual impressions. Then, out of the olive fields came a white horse running. The sight was fantastic with the long white mane waving in the sunlight. The only problem was that it was followed by three darker horses and we were on collision course. I hit the brakes as hard as I deared and luckily stopped about two meters from the leader. The horses didn't stop for a second but continued across the road before they circled behind us and disappeared into the olive fields again.

We stayed mute for a while. It was like seing a fata morgana of some sort, very unreal. The camera was already in hand, hopefully waiting for their return. But of course they didn't, but even without a picture of it the image is still strong.

We stayed the night in Estepa and hit the road early the next day which was our last on this trip. The final leg led us through the now familiar roads in around Antequera and down towards Velez de Malaga. As allways, the winds in the mountain pass in Antequera threatened to blow us off the road and we were both tired and cold when we returned to Nerja in the early afternoon.

Another trip is over and hopefully we'll be on our way eastwards in a few days. Stay tuned.

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