The historical city of Cádiz, launch point for Columbus’s search for the new world, like Gibraltar, sits on an isthmus jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. With some 4,000 years of evidence, it is reported to be the longest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. The narrow cobbled streets, city walls and strategically placed forts are a living history book. We visited the city on foot via a 30 minute catamaran ride from the town of El Puerto de Sante Maria, a little further to the north on the mainland coast.
Our route back to France, as we head home, has taken us effectively North East through central Spain, giving the chance to observe ever changing scenery and agriculture. To the south, flatter lands grow very clean and healthy looking swathes of barley, in ear and just beginning to change from green to gold. Potatoes and small sunflower plants also abound, and are clearly assisted by large scale irrigation systems. Further into the region of Extremadura, acres of trees (cherry and/or almond)? are a picture in full blossom. Much of the area we travelled between Merida and Segovia is mountainous moorland, sparsely grazed by small suckler herds with young calves at foot and liberally strewn with granite; very reminiscent of both Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. The mountains around Segovia are very pretty, with the sun glistening off their snow covered peaks. It was about here we had to dig the long sleeves and socks out again!
Tonight will be our last night in Spain, in La Rioja region, home to the world famous wine. The vineyards cover the broad valley of the Ebre River, which we took much pleasure in cycling around today. The vines, pruned and tied back to their training wires, currently look gnarled and dead. Closer inspection shows the promise of leaf buds, but it is hard to imagine that in a few short months they will be verdant with leaves and dripping with bunches of red grapes.