We decided we would go to Constantina, a pueblo an hour and half from Sevilla, but still within the province of Sevilla. We would take the train on Saturday morning with our bikes, arrive to the station, and then bike to the city center. Then we would explore Constantina, stay the night, and then wake up on Sunday morning to go into the hills with an organized and guided group to pick mushrooms. I couldn't have been more excited for the experience! In my mind, I saw us having a casual, relaxing, natural time. I saw us biking around the town with big smiles on our faces, and baskets full of yummy mushrooms! What could possibly happen that wouldn't leave me smiling and feeling completely relaxed and refreshed for the coming week? Right??
Well, I'm sure, that if you know me, my life, the way things go, the way things happen, and just life in general, you can probably tell from that little intro that the experience wasn't exactly the relaxing nature weekend I had in mind. And, as a matter of fact, it actually turned out the be the physically hardest thing I've done since I went 136km around Ibiza...in a kayak.
First off, we didn't really make any sort of a plan. We didn't have train tickets, we didn't have a place booked to stay, nor did we know where we were going apart from the name of the village. The only thing we knew, was that on Sunday morning at 9 o'clock we were signed up to be part of a group going to pick mushrooms. The rest, we left unplanned and open.
Now, I'm normally really okay with this type of plan. In fact, I prefer it. I am not big on over-planning, and I love to just let the travel plans sort themselves out by the grace of God. But, I have had some experiences that have left me a little changed (soon there will be a link here where you can read about my experience in Cesky Krumlov), and therefore, I do like to have a little bit of a plan, especially when planning a trip with a bike, and most-especially, when it's during seasons of cold weather. And when we woke up at 8:35am on Saturday morning, for a train that we didn't have tickets for, and was set to leave at 9:30am, I was definitely wishing that we had planned a little bit more.
We arrived to the station less than 10 minutes before the train was supposed to leave, and the time stamp on the tickets told us we had exactly four minutes till it left. So after biking at a high speed about about 20-25 minutes, we then had to run, with our bikes, to the train. Oh, and did I mention that I had stupidly decided to do a one-day fast the day before? Or that because we woke up with less than 20 minutes to get our stuff together and get out the door, we didn't have breakfast before the bike race and sprint sesh? So yeah..here I am, dying, not having eaten in well over 30 hours, exercising. But we made it on the train.
And then we were off! The ride was amazing.. I really do love traveling by train. It is more comfortable than a car, bus, or plane, and it goes fast, but you get to see everything! So we were passing by countless run-down and deserted factories, mines, and buildings, as well as lakes, and endless trees. I could feel my breaths were fresher and infused with new life!
So after some conversation and coffee, we gathered ourselves up, and got ready to head into town! Now, when my roommate first petitioned the idea to me, he quite casually said, "We'll go by train, and take the bikes. Then when we get there, we can just bike from the train station to the city center." I was so instantly down with the idea, that I didn't really think much about it until after I was committed and mentally prepped. I did think about the fact we were going to the mountains, and therefore would likely be facing some hill-age with the bikes, but figured I could handle it, no big deal.
Well, what my roommate failed to mention, or rather, we failed to look up, was the distance from the station to the city center. So when we arrived and were in the cantina, we got a map and some directions, and were told we were 11km from the town. But considering that we had just taken a train for an hour and half, there was no way I was backing out of this one. Even if I did decide to bring a fold-up bike to use for the journey. And do a fast the day before.
After about six, grueling, uphill kilometers, my roommate got a sense that we should stop and ask for some directions. So we popped into this natural reserve where people go to learn, explore caves, and spend time in the natural park, and asked how far we were from the town, and how about we should go to get there. And it should come as no surprise that we were informed that we actually were currently heading towards Cazalla, not Constantina. But not just we were not going towards the right town, we were going the completely wrong direction. Simply put: I had been sweating and heavy breathing uphill for six kilometers, just to have to turn around and go back to the train station and push the restart button. Now, THANK GOD that since we had done the way up on the way there, we were able to go downhill and use minimal effort on the way back, but my gosh!
For a moment, I thought about killing him. But the moment passed as soon as it came, and I literally could do nothing but give him a hug, and laugh. Especially after how comical the whole trip uphill had been, it would have been so senseless to get angry now. And even more especially after we decided to stop and visit the monastery we'd passed on the way up, and found it to be a highly magical place. And Roberto now knows where he wants to get married, and from which towns he needs to find his wife (good news all around!).
Walking the drive-way (??) to the monastery
Now here's the thing about things you tend to get really excited about.. the more you picture and imagine something, like an adventure, the less likely it is that it is going to be that way. Unless of course you are using the powers of manifestation, in which case it will be, but if you're just doing some childlike daydreaming and playing out scenes in your mind, you can pretty much kiss all those ideas goodbye. As was the case in this situation, when after 11 kilometers, NINE of them climbing, we finally, finally, fiiiinally saw the sign telling us we had reached Constantina!!!
Yes, that's right, after doing 12km with a fold-up bike the day after a fast, I then had to climb for about another 9 out of 11 kilometers. And man, let me tell you, when I saw that sign that said we had reached Constantina, adrenaline struck me like the Hulk, and I was hollering with joy!
If you're ever in Andalucia, I recommend you check out the mountain towns. They are a pretty special way to get to know this region!
And now, I will go finish making the Thanksgiving dinner I am hosting tonight! Check back later for a post about "How To: Have Thanksgiving in Spain." Also quite special, since it's my first time ever making the meal! (Can I say that I'm a "real American woman" now? I think so...:)
Abundant blessings, love & light to all! :-*