One of the most beutiful cycling routes in all Europe. The TransAlandalus cycle route!
Whenever you have a long weekend or some holidays, you should definitely make this cycling route, speciallly if you haven't visited the province of Cadiz yet, it is ocmpletely different from everything I have known before in Spain, which left me completely astonished.
Also, the 30 km of cycling path in Cadiz make it an incredible place to cycle around and enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Crossing the Guadalquivir, the river that provides Andalucía’s backbone, you enter its southernmost province. Cádiz represents a meeting point of continents and seas; Europe and Africa are hardly 14 kms apart, while the waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean mix the in the Estrecho de Gibraltar (Straits of Gibraltar). This position has shaped its environment and history, and in particular its climate: the province’s mountains receive the highest levels of rainfall of the whole country despite being in the heart of dry Spain; and the frequency of its most well-known winds, the ‘Levante’ and ‘Poniente’ (eastwind and westwind).
The history and pre-history of this province has left an important legacy: numerous cave paintings; well-preserved Roman cities, necropolises, roads, aqueducts, and countless murals and monuments - not forgetting the architecture of its villages.
Our passage through the tierras gaditanas will take in all of these aspects: starting with the gentle hills of the western countryside and the Bay of Cádiz, going on to see the coastlines of Chiclana, Conil and Barbate, and then, almost reaching Tarifa, riding into the mountains of the Sierras del Estrecho and Los Alcornocales (the cork tree forests), and then, before leaving the province of Cádiz, we skirt skirting the mountain range of the Serranía de Grazalema,(which we leave behind us at Montejaque).
It’s best for the touring cyclist to be forewarned: while at the start of this route Cádiz welcome us with gentleness and courtesy, it will see us off demanding the utmost effort of our legs - although without doubt, having rewarded our senses and inspired us to return to enjoy its many charms
Gastronomically speaking, Cadiz made their food with different flavors and shades made with many different ingredients of the best quality. Atlantic and Mediterranean mariner flavors, countryside flavors between dominated the incredible variety of vegetables, highland flavors based on pork and game. All washed down, of course, with great wine types among which stands the already famous “vino de Jerez” (Sherry Wine) and the most delicious sweets.
As in all area of Andalusia, the wealth of “green” products (fruits and vegetables) is remarkable, and affects the gastronomy.
Potatoes and garlic are essential in Andalusian cuisine, so it could not be less in Cadiz. We find there different varieties of potatoes, like the famous “papas aliñás”. Another of the vegetables that are used in many dishes of the province are the “alcauciles”, which are a variety of artichokes coming from Cadiz. Asparagus, also have a place in the traditional cuisine of Cadiz. And we cannot of course, forget the green leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce. Legumes are also used in this type of cuisine. Oranges and prickly pears make up the highlights of the production of fruit and its culinary use of Cadiz, used not only as desserts or sweets, also for meat or fish stews quite elaborated.
More important, without underestimating the products of the orchard, are the seafood of Cadiz. Fish and shellfish are the basis of the cuisine of Cadiz, highlighting among them the fishing areas of the “Golfo de Cádiz” and the “Estrecho de Gibraltar”.
Among the shellfish highlights there are three divisions: the crustaceans (shrimps and prawns from Sanlúcar, among many others), cephalopods (cuttlefish and European squid or “chopitos” (baby squid)) and molluscs, among which are the mussels, clams, “coquinas” (type of clam) prepared with fine wine.
In the branch of fish we have the tuna in its different fried, stewed, “encebolladas” (with onion) variants … And we cannot forget the “pescaítos fritos”, small fish that are fried in olive oil and are very typical from the tapas bars.
Many of these seafood products are used in combination with the delicious fish to make many different types of seafood soups, as “caldillos de perro” (with whiting, onion, garlic and sour orange juice) typical of the area of Puerto de Santa María .
Among common meats are pork, Deer of the Acorns and wild boar of the Sierra de Grazalema. Continuing with game meat we have as local recipes the “pasteles de pichones”. The “chicharrones de Chiclana de la Frontera” (pork rind) (cold cuts obtained by mixing different meats from different parts of the pig, are cooked in melted lard, is like meatloaf).
In the desserts all tastes like Andalusia, Arab and Moroccan touches. Stand out as fundamental, “alfajores” (pastry sweet) of Medina-Sidonia. Are flour croquettes very spiced with exotic and delicious taste. Other recipes are the “tocinos de cielo jerezanos”, and we cannot dismiss this cookbook without mentioning the Christmas “turrón de Cádiz” (nougat), marzipan with embedded candied fruit.
Thus, the fishing and saline environments discovered or improved by the Phoenicians among which we have highlighted fish and shellfish, the range of spices brought by the Arabs and that we find in most culinary proposals, and the wide ranges of vegetables constitute the basis of the traditional cuisine of Cadiz.
Although the trains are good and mostly on time many of the small towns are not connected by train. You can use the local bus companies which are usually well connected Cádiz City.
For the bigger towns that are connected it is likely that you have to change trains somewhere. This usually entails a lengthy wait (from 1 to 4 hours is normal). Therefore you will often find the buses are quicker although the drivers are a little dangerous at times.
Trains and buses usually cost about the same unless you take the Talgo that goes from Barcelona to Cadiz or the Ave which is a high speed train from Sevilla to Madrid (3 hours). Yo can get an Andalucia exress to Sevilla then the Ave to Madrid. These trains are a lot more expensive, but a lot quicker.
A bus to Madrid from Cádiz is 7 hours and one from Barcelona to Cádiz is a good complete day of travelling.
You may want to consider flying from
Jerez, Sevilla or any other major town to or from Madrid. It is expensive for the Spanish to do this but you may find it acceptable if you are travelling from Britain for example.
It is also possible to get from El Puerto de Santa Maria to Cadiz both by car looked like a big hassle with traffic to reach the city via either the bridge over Bahia de Cadiz or up the congested motorway along the long peninsula on which the city is built - not to mention parking issues. As a result, we decided to just leave our car dock-side at El Puerto and take one of the modern ferries on its short run across the bay.
In Cadiz, the city, like in many other cities in Spain, they have a public bike rental service called +Bici , whose prices are quite cheap in order to enjoy the city by bike. However, if we plan to make this route, we should maybe find one of the many bicycle rental companies around the province.