Day 4: Matalascañas – Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Chipiona – Puerto de Santa María – Sevilla (by train). 80 km.
The day did not start very sunny, but it got better (just before it got worse).
The main highlight of the tryp happened this morning: crossing Doñana. So you’re not allowed to cross the Park by bike (nor by car, unless you pay an agency that will do if for you. I found that quite pathetic: cars can go through, and they’re huge cars full of noisy tourists, and bikes can’t. Whatever. Money business. They can keep it for themselves if they want)…
When the tide is low there’s enough “hard sand” and it is compact enough that you can ride those 30 kms easily. Just make sure the tide is down!
So I got up very early and headed to the beach. First mistake: the beach is not very cyclable in Matalascañas! So pass the town using the road (or the walkway in the beach front) and THEN get into the beach.
First kilometers are the hardest part. The sand is not that compact there, and there’s quite a lot of water as well. Feels like this part of the route is not going to be that fun. But then, after a short while, it gets better, and it becomes a great experience! Obviously you don’t get to feel the real Doñana Park, but you get something else: 30 kilometers of clean and empty beach for yourself. Feels great!
There’s a boat at the end of the beach (you can see it either in your shore or in Sanlucar; it stops next to the first sign you’ll see. The stopping place is quite essy to identify, since it’s probably the shortest point between Sanlucar and Doñana; also, you’ll see 4×4 wheel marks in the sand), that takes you to Sanlucar for 10 euros. Yep, quite expensive, but…
I cleaned my bike in the rowing club of Sanlucar. It’s just some 100 meters away from where the boat drops you. Be sure, your bike needs that cleaning! By the way, thanks to the guys there!!! They were really helpful!
Sanlucar to Chipiona is an easy cycle. I did it through some small secondary roads next to the coast/river. There’s no clear road: you must know the direction (South) and just cycle as close to the coast as you can. Every road will take you there!
Or take the main road. Sure, there’s some car there, but it’s not that crowded. And it’s a short distance.
I was quite surprised with Chipiona: it’s actually very nice! I guess it’ll be packed in summer, but anyway, way better than what i expected!
Again, I left the town as close to the beach as I could. Good idea: i just found some cycle path at the beginning and some small road later on that took me to La Ballena, a surreal place made of summer flats. Crazy place. The beach is really nice all the way through, but this place is quite… Random/sinister/sad/pathetic.
After La Ballena, there’s another bike-lane all the way to Rota. Once the bike-lane finishes, there’s an auxiliary road next to the main road (on the left side). So you can get to Puerto de Santa María without touching the main road, which by now has some heavy traffic. Take the west entry if you can: it goes next to the military station. Another surreal place that could well be in the moon! But at least, almost no traffic at all.
I didn’t particularly like Puerto de Santa Maria. Besides, the weather has gone cloudy. So I jumped on a train all the way to Sevilla. By the time I got there, it was raining.