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El Coronil and the Cult of Cleanliness

sunny 23 °C
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We departed the Hacienda de La Divertado feeling well rested, well fed, well entertained and more hopeful about our route. In fact, looking back over my photos from the day to come, I realize it was a day of spectacular scenery. Our destination was El Coronil, a small town of about 5000 in the foothills of the Sierra de Cádiz, not far from Seville by car.

We had to ride a short distance back on the busy road that took us to the hacienda the day before, but then connected with a very quiet rural road. The mountains were to our right as we began our journey and there was a line of morning mist at their base. We could see our nemisus, the hilltop town of Villemartin in the distance and were happy to put it behind us. This post will be more photos than text.

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We were surrounded by gently rolling agricultural land punctuated with the occasional old building.

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The lovely smooth paved road eventually ended and we proceeded along a rough track. We will take rough tracks any day over busy roads! As you can see from the photos, there were really no other people around and certainly no other cyclists. It was very quiet except for the birds, and very open.

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We were a little anxious about going in the right direction as we proceeded on this rural dirt road but suddenly there was a sign and map depicting the Via Verde de la Sierra in that area. It seemed to be part of the route between Puerto Serrano and Olvara, supposedly a beautiful ride and we just caught the tail end of it. It was heading east and our destination was north. Nevertheless, it was very exciting and reassuring to finally see some signage!

There were lots of beautiful purple irises on the banks of this road, something we haven’t seen anywhere else, a nice combination with the old olive trees.

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The rural track finally came out onto another road and then we had an amazing flying descent for about 1 1/2 Km, the longest we have ever had, right into El Coronil, the road lined with big palm trees on either side. It had been a 37 km day.

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The road took us right into the centre of town where there was a large square on one side and a few cafés. We were hungry as there had been no café stop en route, so we decided to have the big mid-day lunch, sitting in the sun, congratulating ourselves for getting to our intended destination.
I had a lovely big salad, Jim had sardines on toast and we shared some cheese croquettes - croquettes of various kinds are on all the menus usually as tapas.

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Then we headed off to find Hostal Don Juan where we had a reservation. We have mostly been booking only a couple of days ahead. Our options in El Coronil had been a bit limited. Hostal Don Juan was only about 55E, and while we weren’t expecting luxury, the reviews had been very good.

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As we walked our bikes along the cobbled street to the Hostal, we noticed what an immaculate town it was. There was no litter or graffiti, the doors with their brass hardware were polished, and the old buildings all looked freshly whitewashed or painted. A very efficient man checked us in and showed us where we could put our bikes - in a room right next door to our ground floor room so there was no lugging panniers down hallways or up stairs. Our room was plain but a comfortable size with a big shower. And you could literally have eaten of the tiled floor, or any surface for that matter. It was one clean room, with nice linens and the kind of light bedspreads that you know get washed with the sheets.

After walking about that evening, we decided that there must be a cult of cleanliness in that town. Everything was tidy and clean and swept. There was some kind of infrastructure street work going on near us and several women were sweeping up the dust in the street and clearly kibitzing about the mess left after the workers quit for the day.

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After settling in, we walked out to the edge of town so Jim could check Google Maps for the route that would take us to Utrera, the next town, on our way to Seville. Amazingly, at the start of another rural track that snaked off through the wide open farmland, was another big sign for the Via Verde, as well as Camino de Santiago signage, pointing us exactly in the same direction as Google Maps for bikes. We confirmed with a guy walking his dog that this track would indeed take us to Utrera. We walked it for a bit and found it was quite rideable. Hurray, we know our route for tomorrow!

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As we had had a big lunch, we went out in the evening in search of café and cake and the quiet square near where we had our lunch was vibrating with families, the adults socializing over drinks or desserts and the kids playing soccer, rollerskating and generally having fun. We realized it was Friday night. Likely everyone knows everyone in that small town and the square and its cafes are their living room. We just don’t do that in our country. Even people living in small apartments don’t habitually socialize publicly en mass like that. Our towns and cities are not designed for that. Too bad I think.

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We should have slept very well at Hostal Don Juan - we had had a lot of fresh air and exercise both biking and then walking around the town - the beds were comfortable, we were warm, it was very quiet - but we didn’t, due I think, to our evening coffee not being decafinado which we had asked for!

The next morning as it was just getting light, we headed to the square for breakfast.

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Only one café was open and it was pretty busy with locals including some old guys at the bar having their morning glasses of sherry. Nothing like a glass or Sherry at 8:30 am to get you going for the day! We stuck to freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee and tostadas.

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Farewell Hostal San Juan and El Cononil - it was good to know you - and over hill and dale we go on the Via Verde to Utrera - we hope.

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Posted by Jenniferklm 18:17 Archived in Spain

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Comments

Wow some amazing country side! And what a seriously clean place you found. Great photos Jen. Keep a dancin' Maria (sorry, a 1970s Aussie reference there) hahaha.

by Joanne David

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