The route to Cadiz required a lot of thought. Christine read an account of a cyclist who rode 30km east along the beach at low tide from Matalascañas for a pre-arranged private ferry pick up to cross the estuary, but if the ferryman failed to arrive, we’d be stuck with marshland, a wide estuary and the sea cutting us off so we’d have to retreat the 30km on a rising tide.
The alternative was a circuitous route which took us towards Sevilla for the most southerly crossing of Rio Guadalaquivir, at Coria del Rio. This involved some intricate route finding to avoid major roads and led us along some sandy tracks popular with local mountain bikers, the tracks lined with wild flowers in shades of yellow and purple. It was slow going but enjoyable. We picnicked on a bench just before the track reached a road, the area was a popular weekend outing for local families and we saw several groups as we rode along the minor roads towards Coria del Rio. We’d found little information online about the ferry so were relieved to find it running, the sign said it operated from 06:00 to 23:00 (21:00 in winter), cost was one euro each for the short crossing.
The roads on the other side were just as quiet but finding our way through the town of Dos Hermanos was difficult, the railway station was on the other side of town and wasn’t signposted, which is annoyingly normal in Spain. We’d missed the 16:50 train by a few minutes so had to wait almost an hour in the modern station bereft of facilities: no toilets, no drinks machine and the cafeteria was closed. We were almost out of water, luckily the train had a drinks machine. The internet connection at El Rocio was too slow for us to look into accommodation in Cadiz, we arrived at 19:30 in the bustling centre and tried the first hostal we saw, which was full. Next was a hotel with a “full” sign on the door but it was third time lucky as the Centro Sol had a room for 50 euro, clean, comfortable and not facing the street. After a shower, we ventured out for food, opting for a vegetable paella on the terrace of a restaurant overlooking the ayuntamento and square where a religious procession was taking place. With only an overnight stay here, we made full use of the evening by walking around the city and its narrow streets and down along the promenade.