‘If I can’t get behind myself in order to see what’s going on, if I can only live forwards but understand back, then it follows that at the very least I need time to walk, meditate or pray.’ Kirkegaard.

A few last shots of the exceptionally beautiful Sierra Calderona before moving on.

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wp-1521571017327..jpgI left Olocau, near Valencia in Spain with Phil and Fred in the dark, with ice on the windscreen! Thanks for the lift!

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Bye bye black pepper tree.

Very soon the sun was rising red, orange and yellow in deep, deep colours on one side of the car, date palms silhouetted against the sky.

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We drove into the city of Valencia with many kilometers of industrial sites  including a sex toys supermarket.

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Valencia: the early morning sun lights up the modern architecture.

On the other side of the car were pale wisps of pink and baby blue/yellow.

As we drove we knew it was only a brief gap in the Las Fallas festivities after Sunday night celebrations finishing at 5am and then starting again at 8am this bank holiday Monday. Sure enough as I waited for my Bla Bla Car, the sounds of the fireworks escalated until they were reverberating all around me.

Waiting in the cold for 1.5 hours was not much fun. There were no bars open for the toilet so I had to go in a public garden by the side of road 😦

On my third tour of the area I discovered a bakery and bought 3 cakes which turned out to be coconut which, apart from meat is the only thing I do not eat! It was colder and colder and there were many cars picking people up for Madrid.

Eventually, 45 minutes after our driver was due, the young woman next to me (who happily loved coconut cakes) phoned and we ascertained our lift was nearby. This is very unusual as Bla Bla Car drivers are usually very prompt. In addition it transpired that the third passenger was waiting at the wrong place.

As we drove out of the city towards Córdoba, we quickly hit a random road block with eight Guardia de Civil officers stopping people to breathalise them. Luckily not us!

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Driving through the Requeña area,  half way between Valencia and Albacete on the N111, I saw the same cliff colours I had been walking through all week – it is a strong orange brown land with an ancient tower and acres of vines mostly espaliered. They are like rows of black commas or embroidery made of dots; like flattened out oranges studded with cloves.

There was a motorway sign warning of hail, ‘niebla‘. I had some conversation: my driver has walked the Camino del Norte ‘muy bonito‘ she said, very beautiful. I dropped in and out of sleep as I finally warmed up again!

We were passing from Valencia to Castille-La Mancha through forests and mountains. The next time I jerked my head, bit my tongue and woke up there were green fields of flatness.

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The journey cost each of us £32 and the two youngsters slept. Perhaps they had been up all night?

The driver is a lawyer from a big Cádiz firm. She is smiley and we had plenty of stops but she did check her phone while driving which I would have preferred she did not.

Like almost all women over 45 years, she wanted to know if I was walking alone and then said she wanted to come with me!

With 220kms to Córdoba there were still fields and fields of baby vines and we passed Bodegas Artisanos (artisan wineries). There was, as normal on these long journeys, a nice sense of companionship in the car – often sharing food and exchanging looks on hearing the snorer!

It is a very long drive, right across Spain (650kms). We took the Venta de Cardenas tunnel into the Province of Jaén where Javi (one of my lovely lodgers) grew up. Then the Autovía del Sur motorway which careers down towards Córdoba and there were still 280 kms to Seville. We sang along to  Michael Jackson and outside it was all olives, full grown in rows as far as the eye can see.

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We drove on through the rather brooding looking Sierra de Andújar mountains heading south. Raptors (buzzzards?) flew above the landscape. It was not a bad day to be spending so many hours travelling: dull and chilly although there was no snow like Dartmoor (England), the Asturias (northern Spain) or Edinburgh (Scotland)! Later there was pouring rain and we were 60kms from Seville making good time after our late start.

The wind was blowing the tops of the palm trees, all in the same direction of course, and there was sodden ground for the poor Camino Mozarabe backpackers to walk on. I saw my first two cranes’ nests on top of high poles (familiar from previous visits), and the ubiquitous huge black metal bull hoarding, silhouetted – left over from old advertising and now a sort of national symbol.

Here are some photos of my time in Seville.

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Plaza de Alameda, Seville.
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The Seta de Sevilla (mushroom) or Metropol Parasol by the architect Jurgen Meyer all built in wood. Notice the umbrella!

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I had a great couple of days in Seville with Pedro and Jesús: wonderful Shiatsu (see the professional and attractive ShenSations Shiatsu studio website ); attractive surroundings; and good food (especially the tapas last night with wonderful pulpo (baby octopus) and gambas (prawns) in olive oil and garlic. So lucky to be with locals who know the best places! (Una y Media, Camas).

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Notes re. past blogs: G. told me the name of the very attractive bird which calls bou bou all day long: the Hoopoo with its black and white tail feathers and tuft on top of its head.
Thanks also to friends Cynthia and Sue for informing me of flower names.

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The Town Hall where you can visit free photography exhibitions.

And now I am driving through Monasterio, through which I walked last May 2017, on the way to Mérida. It will take me 2.5 hours on the bus to go the distance it took me to walk for 10 days. I remember it well!

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A rather boring shot of the street but that bar was where I had breakfast!

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