Cyclists for Cultural Exchange
Experience the Andalusian region of southern Spain, an area of exquisite beauty and rich cultural heritage
Andalusia, Spain, 2019
Dates: 16 - 28 September 2019
Includes: Welcome bag, cycling jersey, accommodation and meals, daily cultural program, SAG vehicle for luggage & route assistance and English-speaking guide.
Bike rental (optional): $155
16 Sep Sevilla
17 Sep Sevilla - RioTinto Mines – Aracena – Cazalla de la Sierra
18 Sep Cazalla de la Sierra – Hornacuelos
19 Sep Hornaculelos – Córdoba
20 Sep Córdoba – Castro del Rio
21 Sep Castro del Río – Priego de Córdoba
22 Sep Priego de Córdoba – Alcalá la Real
23 Sep Alcalá la Real – Granada
24 Sep Granada – Costa del Sol - Strait of Gibraltar – Tarifa
25 Sep Tarifa – Tangier city & surroundings (Morocco) – Tarifa
26 Sep Tarifa – Barbate - Conil de la Frontera
27 Sep Conil de la Frontera – Cádiz – Puerto de Sta. María – Jeréz
28 Sep Jeréz
Our guides have designed this CCE program in southern Spain to show us the highlights of the Andalusian region from an insider's vantage point. The itinerary has been developed with the aim of learning and sharing with people from other cultures while we explore together a region as amazing in terms of beauty and cultural heritage as Andalusia.
Andalusia is the gateway between Europe and Africa, thanks to its strategic position straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This location as well as its abundant natural resources have made Andalusia a prime target for civilizations since prehistoric times. This fascinating region has figured prominently throughout the history of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Although it is not possible to explore the entire region in a two-week trip, we will try to delve as deeply as possible into the main historical cities, including Seville, Córdoba, Granada and Cádiz, to enjoy the richness of its monuments, buildings and history. But cycling is of course much more than that. It is also about discovering the landscape and the people you meet en route. For that reason, our ride will take us through inland mountains, rural farming areas, across the Guadalquivir river basin and along the touristically attractive Atlantic Ocean coastline in order to be able to appreciate its diversity.
To discover the amazing variety of architectural styles that Andalusia has witnessed from ancient and recent times, we will stay overnight in different kinds of accommodations, ranging from a 15th century Carthusian monastery, an ancient cloistered convent, rustic farms to charming little guest houses in old Arab districts, but also at modern touristic resorts on the Atlantic beaches.
And let's not forget the culinary delights that Andalusia has to offer! Even the tiniest village cafe serves a tapa alongside each beverage, so “going out for tapas” is the way many locals like to spend an evening with friends. We hungry cyclists will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the Andalusian cuisine, a mouth-watering range of foods and dishes of the Mediterranean, recognized by UNESCO as an item of world cultural heritage, ranging from hearty rural fare to the fresh seafood on the Atlantic coast.
We will meet in Seville, the capital of the Andalusian Autonomic Region, famous worldwide for its culture, monuments, traditions and artistic heritage, but also the economically bustling center of southern Spain. Its rich history has produced a city brimming with countless monuments, including the truly awe-inspiring Cathedral, the third largest in the world, the Giralda Tower, the wonderful Palace of the Reales Alcázares, the charming barrio of Santa Cruz with its narrow streets and so very much more.
On the first day of our trip, we will discover the mining tradition in Huelva province at Minas de Riotinto. Around 3000 BC, Iberians and Tartessians began mining operations here, followed by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. This long history of mining has left a weird and wonderful moonscape of barren beauty.
Before getting back on our bikes, we'll pass through the town of Aracena to visit the aptly named Grotto of the Marvels, one of the most spectacular cave systems in Spain, and the Ham Museum, which retraces the history, culture and traditions associated with the famous Iberian pigs and their prized ham.
Our route then takes us across the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Geopark, whose landscape is noted for its groves of stately holm and cork oaks. Endangered bird species such as the black stork and the Spanish imperial eagle nest in these trees. Just before arriving at Córdoba, we'll have lunch at a remarkable castle in Almodovar del Rio, host to reenactments of Medieval theatrical performances. Córdoba is a living legacy of different cultures that settled there throughout its history. It was the capital of Hispania Ulterior under the Roman Empire and also the Moor's capital in the Umayyad Caliphate age. This splendor can also be recognized in its intellectual heritage, where renowned figures like Seneca, Averroes and Maimonides were born. We'll stroll around the old districts to discover the beautiful network of alleyways, squares and white-washed courtyards surrounding the Great Mosque-Cathedral, the world-famous landmark of Córdoba.
We will also ride through flat and open landscapes dominated by vineyards, olive trees and grain fields, before entering the hillier Sierras Subbeticas, which produces some 70% of Spanish olive oil. Here we will experience the traditional olive oil culture in Priego de Córdoba, staying overnight in a restored olive oil mill house, and visiting a modern cooperative including of course an olive oil tasting.
Next we'll head to Granada, where we will visit the world-famous Alhambra, formerly an Arab citadel and palace, which is the most renowned building of the Andalusian Islamic historical legacy. The Arab influence on architecture is also evident throughout Granada's old town, called the Albaicín district, with its fine examples of Moorish buildings. We will stay overnight in a hotel in this historical Arab district. After experiencing the ancient Moorish influence in Granada, we'll change gears and return to the present day. Taking a bus transfer to Gibraltar and a short ferry ride across the Strait, we'll have the opportunity to enjoy a one-day visit to the stunning Moroccan city of Tangier and its surroundings.
Then it will be time to discover the Atlantic portion of Andalusia, where we'll ride along the sparkling Costa de la Luz, an area with a longstanding tradition of fishery. Fish and other seafood have long figured prominently in the local gastronomical culture, including the ever-popular fried fish, called “pescaito frito”, white prawns, and almadraba tuna, among others. It is also a region boasting unspoiled beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters, not to mention the reliable winds and waves that make this area a surfing paradise. We will visit and stay overnight in charming Tarifa, the southernmost point of mainland Europe, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Here we'll enjoy spectacular views of the Rif mountains in northern Africa, just a stone's throw across the narrow Strait.
Our tour will draw to a close as we ride along the Atlantic coast to Cádiz and visit Puerto de Santa María, from where Christopher Columbus set sail on some of his expeditions, reaching our final destination in Jeréz de la Frontera, the beautiful town that gave sherry its name. Jeréz de la Frontera is a convenient end point of the tour, thanks to its international airport with direct flights to Madrid, Barcelona and other main European cities, as well as direct train connections to Seville AVE Railway Station.
All in all, this tour promises to provide a unique range of cultural, historical and gastronomical highlights, not to mention some outrageously gorgeous cycling you won't want to miss. The program thoroughly fulfills CCE's mission to promote peace, understanding and friendship among peoples around the world through our common interests in cycling. Don't miss it!