This is a cork tree that has recently had its cork harvested. This happens every ten years.
Madrid -> Talavera de la Reina -> Trujillo -> Caceres -> Badajoz
It was fall until the day we began cycling. We spent ten days living in an apartment within walking distance of the center of Madrid, enjoying warm sunny days and temperate nights. The food in Spain is amazingly fresh although organics are hard if impossible to find, and bread and cheese are cheap and of great quality. We learned that only corn and soy are genetically modified here. Companies are required by law to state if their products contain genetically modified foods however they often do not do this. Our diet here consists mainly of olive oil, basalmic vinegar, bread, cheese, salad, pomegranates, satsumas and olives.
And the biggest change in our trip: A wedding present from Mom and Dad for Europe, a tandem!
The tandem is really different from two bikes, it is faster, more unwieldily, carries less stuff, but in general is a ton more fun. We get to have a lot more conversations, are always together and attract a lot of attention.
Although Rasham doesn’t have much of a view looking ahead, she has the luxury of being able to gaze from side to side for longer periods of time.
And we have to pile our gear so high that sometimes our shadow looks like we have a third person!
But starting with a new bike has been difficult and we have had some mechanical problems including a broken chain which required Trenton to walk 10 kilometers back to a bicycle shop for a new one.
On a day when we were lost without maps on a lonely dirt road, a cyclist named Emilio came up behind us and spent the whole morning showing us around a few villages and getting us back on the right road!
He even took us to the monastery San Francisco, which sent out monks to the America’s in 1521, founding several areas. It slowly dawned on us that this small monastery we by chance happened upon was more than likely the origin from where San Francisco got its name!
I don’t know quite what we expected cycling the winter. I think we imagined moderate sunny days, cold nights and warm cafes. We have experienced these things, but when it rains, it is miserably wet and cold with little respite.
We heard from several other bike tourists that it is illegal to camp on the side of the road in Spain. I’m assuming that this is because it is so easy to do! It seems every night we find the most picturesque spot concealed amongst an plot of olive or cork trees, down some deserted road that no one travels.
However clear the sky is, every morning the tent is wet and we have to stop and dry it out somewhere while we eat lunch.
In the center of every pueblo there is a church and somewhere around the church is a tap that gives drinking water.
So far we have cycled through two days of rain and five days of sun.
Spain has a lot of great food and possesses a certain placidity revealed in the slow pace of pedestrians and the long hours of siesta.
Our second night on the road we stayed with our first non-American Warmshowers host, Daniel. Despite accidentally showing up a day early, Daniel still welcomed us in, fed us and took us out to a birthday party to meet his friends!
This is the river Tajo which we have crossed a few times. The air is incredibly clear and appears to have little pollution. At night, the moon is full and bright.
In general there is very little traffic and some roads even have special bike lanes!
Every village also has a Plaza where most of the shops are.
Some nights it gets so cold that our tent gets frost-bitten!
Many villages have small castles.
In Spain we have passed many solar farms like the one in picture above.
We are now in Badajoz, Spain, a few miles from Portugal and a few days from Lisbon. We plan to spend about a week in Portugal before returning to Spain and cycling the Mediterranean coast all the way to the tip of Italy!