Sunday November 25th (Brussels)
our return trip last Saturday, we are back at home, still amazed,
but above all very lucky for having completed our project.
Europe is a beautiful continent, from the North to the South, whatever
place you are you may find some paradisiac places. The bicycle has
been for us the ideal way to join the nature in its splendors, amongst
the wind and the birds cries. Fortunately, many countries have realized
the ecological potential of the bicycle, and have set up a fantastic
network of cycling paths, in the towns as in the open country.
The hospitality which has been offered to us during our journey,
the encouragements, the smiles and laughters that we have exchanged
foster us to the welcome, the openness, the respect for the others.
We have experienced that every days.
outside has shown us that a meal is still tasty even if prepared
in battered pans, that the sleep quality is not particularly proportional
to the dimensions of a matrass, and that the well-being may be hold
in bicycle saddlebags.
Of course at home we have ten times more, but many others don't
even have ten times less; the solidarity with the poors will continue
to be a concern for us.
Living 24 hours per day between husband and wife allowed us to much
better know and appreciate each other; in such circumstances you
cannot cheat neither escape, and a direct confrontation was the
only issue after a possible sulkiness or frowning face. After that
we had a new start on the road, as lovings united by our common
What would be added to all this, but a lot of thanks to all
these who helped us before the departure, and those who supported
us during this long passage: our webmaster Roland, our translator
Alain, all our hosts for one or more nights, those who have cycled
with us, who have visited our web site, sent messages to our golden
book, and last but not least, the sponsors of our two solidarity
projects. We will give you more specific news of Aprobenir and "La
Roue Libre et Solidaire" (the Free and Solidary Wheel) in a
our journey has been protected by God. He has been our unobtrusive
road companion, our guardian angel and our lucky star. From the
norvegian to the spanish, we have been lucky to sing for Him in
the churches that men had the good idea to build all along the way.
Sometimes at the evening under our tent, we liked reading the texts
of the day and pray, before falling asleep lulled by the breeze,
the waves sound or
"They had a long and lucky life and many children" : the
good way to end a story, isn't it ? Adios !
Saturday November 24th (Malaga, km+78=10060)
This morning our tent was strongly shakened by the wind, and
during the day we had to fight it to advance. We don't mind, this
last day of bike10000 has been beautiful, and we have pedaled with
Malaga has been less enjoyable, due to the high traffic on the roads.
We went straight to the airport to check our Swissair booking for
the following day. The complementary fee to pay for the replacement
of our Sabena tickets turns to be exhorbitant, nearly three times
what we had been told in Ronda, more expensive that a new Iberia
ticket ! Fortunately, Neckermann has a charter tonight, at a very
good price. Alas ! the flight is fully booked. We are on top of
the waiting list, and prepare our bicycles: the chance is with us:
three passengers don't show up, and at the very last minute we may
We have been in such a hurry that we had no time to change our clothing
: we are really good-looking with our cyclist equipment, and for
me a three-days beard. Nevertheless, we are both delighted to be
seated in this plane, while I am typing our last daily report
Tomorrow we will address you a farewell message, let us say an "au
revoir": why would'nt you attend the projection of our photos
or videos, when they will be ready ? Let us speak more about that
Friday November 23rd (Antequera, km+96=9981)
Yesterday night in a vegetarian restaurant we had a real good
time with Vincent and Catherine, a young New Zealand couple met
in Ronda. After a good night and an excellent breakfast in a churreria
with the famous fritters, we have started a long and pleasant day.
Two years ago we had been delighted to visit Antequera, this time
we crossed it to plant our tent on a height, with a beautiful view
on its castle and the Torcal mountain. See also the birdwatching
heading, a laguna has offered us a few fascinating observations.
See also birdwatching.
Thursday November 22nd (Ronda)
In a travel agency here we could exchange our Sabena tickets
against Swissair ones, with a supplementary fee. We will be back
at home next Sunday November 25th !
While approaching the end of our journey, we are grateful to our
Webmaster Roland: without his daily work, it would have been impossible
for us to share our dreams with you, receiving your messages, and
getting your support for our two fellowship projects. For his titanesque
work, we invite all our readers to a standing ovation in front of
their PC !
Wednesday November 21st (Ronda, km+57=9885)
For us, cyclists who have put an end to our journey, these days
are rather a "baroud d'honneur", the final fight. Yesterday
afternoon we have followed a pretty path alongside a calm river,
then planted our tent before beginning the serious things. Today
we have crossed several passes at a maximal height of 1000 m, under
a threatening sky and figthing against a strong wind. We came in
the beautiful Ronda through the bridge linking the two parts of
the town. What a good luck reading all your congratulations messages
on the Golden Book !
We have to leave the option DAT from Madrid, because we have no
warranty to exchange our Sabena tickets and embark our bicycles
on the plane. We plan therefore to cycle to Malaga and buy new Iberia
The adventure is not yet finished, so much the better
Tuesday Nov 20th (San Pablo de Buceite,
During the morning in Gibraltar, we went to the Rock summit with
the cable car, to enjoy the panorama and pay a visit to the monkeys...
We went back to the old town center via Castle Steps before resuming
our journey and riding to the North.
Monday November 19th (Gibraltar, km+75=9775)
Here we are, and lucky !
Today we have choosen little roads through the hinterland to avoid
Algeciras and its highways. The arrival is much impressive with
this huge rock more than 400 m high, and the great cliff boarding
the sea, quite similar with some in the Far North.
The atmosphere here is very special, with an identity control at
the boundary. In the Main Street we have met a real bobby, in the
pub we had a bitter beer...
Since our start we had in our luggage a Nordkapp gas-lighter, I
bought for him a little brother named Gibraltar. The owner of the
tobacco shop asked us if we ride for a "charity", and
if we had an interview on the local TV, which is the normal use
here for such projects. No, we did'nt plan that, we are here incognito
Unfortunately we have Sabena tickets for our flight back to Belgium
on Sunday November 25th from Malaga. If we get a possibility to
use these tickets on a DAT flight from Madrid, we would go up to
Cordoba by bike, then catch a train or a bus to the chief town,
otherwise we will maintain the initial project of riding to Malaga,
and take a flight on another company.
But now it's time to rejoice, and tomorrow there will be perhaps
two more monkeys on the Rock !
Sunday November 18th (Tarifa, km+57=9700)
We are in Tarifa, the Souterner point of Europa, the kingdom
of windsurfing thanks to the winds which engulf themselves in the
Strait of Gibraltar, here only 13 km broad. We see very well the
Morocco coast, its mountains and towns; through my little binoculars
I could spot the minaret of a mosque.
But we shall not cross the Strait (Tanger can be reached by ferry
in 35 minutes), our route will go to Gibraltar, less to the south
but more important than Tarifa. We came here early, and spent a
classical afternoon: Internet, bikes maintenance, washing.
Today we have planned an aperitif patatas fritas Lays y cerveza
Cruzcampo. Salud !
Saturday November 17th (Barbate, km+81=9643)
This morning we have walked in the old town of Arcos, built
on a hill, with a splendid view on both sides. After a tiring day
against the wind, with many ups and downs, we are rewarded when
we reach the seaside: the temperature is mild, the camping place
on the beach is charming, the noise of the waves is pleasant
Our enthusiasm is raising: if everything goes well, we will be in
Gibraltar in two days from now !
See also birdwatching.
Friday November 16th (Arcos de la Frontera,
Another encounter with American cyclists: today we have chatted
and got picnic with Laura and Benj, coming back from a 7-weeks trip
in Morocco. They plan to cycle during 9 months, but before that
Benj had cycled around the world from 1990 to 1995. His best recollection
has been his trip to the Tibet, and he cannot think about another
mean of terrestrial travelling, except by bicycle !
Fortunately we got up early this morning, because after our rest
from 11:30 am till 2:30 pm, we had to pedal on a very undulating
path, and facing the wind. It has been worth to reach Arcos because
the old town, located on a cliff, offers a striking view
on the valley.
Thursday November 15th (Adriano, km+73=9487)
Our little walk this morning along the lagoon has been beautiful
and outstanding from the birdwatching point of view. After greeting
the Virgo in her splendid church, we leave El Rocio at noon with
We have modified our route, chiefly to avoid Sevilla by the south;
we had previously visited this town, and its access by bicycle appears
After crossing the Guadalquivir on a little ferry, and a few coton
fields, we have planted our tent in the shadowy ligth.
See also birdwatching.
Wednesday November 14th (El Rocio, km+61=9414)
At sunrise, as soon as 8:30 am we follow again this bad path,
avoiding the biggest boulders and the deepest pot-holes; fortunately
during one hour, no cars, what a silence
At the end of our picnic in the public square of Almonte, two travellers
come on their bicycles: Tom and Elsa are American, they have begun
their european travel nearly at the same time as we did, but before
that, they had traversed the United States and New Zealand !
We came in Rocio during the afternoon, outstanding village for three
First: the Pentecost pilgrimage : every year, more than one million
pilgrims (1.300.000 this year, for 2.000 inhabitants !) gather from
all parts of Spain, to worship the Virgen del Rocio.
Second reason: it is located at the boundary of the Parque Nacional
de Donana, on the river Guadalquivir delta, holy place for the birdwatchers
who come from all parts of Europa to venere numerous rare birds.
We have chatted with a few swedish and english colleagues and could
already make some outstanding observations: see tomorrow "birdwatching".
The third reason reminds us our previous visit in this place, two
years ago, also in November; we had hoped coming back one day, and
spend the night in a hotel that I had spotted; we could'nt foresee
that we should come back on our bicycles, nearly at the end of a
very beautiful and long journey
Tuesday November 13th (Berrocal, km+62=9353)
This morning Benoît has been busy fixing a problem: the
chain of Gaëtane skipped when she pedaled in a slope; some
improvement has been achieved after a difficult work to fix it,
but this problem has not completely disappeared. They have traversed
during kilometers huge open-cast copper-mines, a quite mournful
landscape. Then in the evening they have managed to follow a 30
km "short cut" which has been a very bad, rocky path,
with many ups and downs
Monday November 12th (Aracena, km+82=9291)
We have traversed a bit of paradise, specially three little
villages to the south of Extremadure: Segura de Leon, Fuentes de
Leon and Canaveral de Leon. The landscapes are often magnificent,
but it becomes more and more rare to ride on roads which have not
Fortunately, the loops of the old sections are often still there
and offer therefore potentially good places to set camp. We greet
you from our tent entry. It is 7:30 pm and the temperature has already
dropped to 2°C, we will have a freezy night
Sunday November 11th (Zafra)
a pleasure to spend a Sunday in a charming, little town as Zafra
! A good start: breakfast with churros. When entering at noon in
the beautiful church of La Candelaria, we have a surprise: the nave
is full, there are many children and young people, songs with guitar,
and a go-ahead priest.
We have lunch on the Plazza Major with bocadillo, in front of the
archways bathed by the sun. This afternoon we will visit the Santa
Clara covent, connect ourselves to the Net in a sympathetic bar,
and dinner in the same little restaurant as yesterday.
Tomorrow we start again for a long week till Tarifa and Gibraltar,
then we plan to rejoin Malaga, either by train or by bicycle. We
approach te end, more enthusiastic as ever !
See also birdwatching.
Saturday November 10th (Zafra, km+86=9209)
our path was orientated today towards the south-west, we had to
fight against a very strong lateral wind. Soon after our departure,
Gaëtane had to wear her cap: she complained that the wind entered
through her left ear and went out from her nose
She missed to fail for the third times: when stopping, a squall
put her out of balance; the bicycle falled into the ditch, but Gaëtane
could disengage herself just in time, however at the price of a
Friday November 9th (Badajoz, km+80=9123)
very strong wind from the north has pushed us in our back today.
These Extremadure landscapes still fascinate us, but with this bloody
wind the birds do not show up as they did yesterday. However the
vulturs are still there, easily facing the wind. Gaëtane chooses
this Western scenery for a 4th tire puncture, on the rear tire of
course. We fix the problem, congratulating ourselves : only 4 times
along more than 9000 km, not too bad.
In Badajoz we find a little, convenient hostel. A bad time for our
Internet connexion, far from the center and very slow tonight. Tomorrow
we will cycle to Zafra, more convenient for our weekly rest.
Thursday November 8th (Aliseda, km+89=9043)
Awaked at the same time as a joyous flock of Blue Magpies, we
strike camp early enough for a safari day in the Extremadure savanna.
Emotion when a small group of Cranes takes flight near the road,
soon rejoined by others; finally about 70 of these majestic birds
fly away. The Crane is a symbol for us, because in its european
migration, like us she started from the North of Europe to come
in this south country.
We arrive in the first village after cycling 50 km, hungry and with
our water-bottles empty.
Wednesday Nov 7th (Torrejon El Rubio, km+46=8954)
This afternoon we have walked in the Natural Park of Monfragüe,
and have been a bit disappointed, due to the renovation work presently
in progress there. On the other hand, after the crossing of the
Tage river, the Salto de Gitanes offers a landscape of impressive
rocky peaks, covered with vultures, like in the Lucky Luke cartoons.
We have planted our tent in a typical landscape of Extremadure:
vast expanse of stock-farming, dotted with holm-oaks and cork-oaks.
Tuesday November 6th (Plasencia, km+63=8908)
At our firecamp yesterday night, the Zwan sausages gave a
good result, but not the potatoes which were either too much, or
to few cooked. We had planted our tent near a little river.
Plasencia is a little and beautiful town: meandering narrow streets,
old monuments with stork nests on top of them, human scale, cheap
hostal, a pleasure
Monday November 5th (Caminomorisco, km+74=8845)
A day of ups and downs through several hills.
Sunday November 4th (Los Santos, km+53=8771)
Yesterday night in Salamanca we had our meal in the restaurant
"Tintin", very well decorated, with paper napkins illustrating
"The 7 Cristal Globes".
A start a bit late this morning, after oiling our chains and inflating
our tires. The landscape is now very different, we cycle now along
huge, dry grasslands.
See also birdwatching.
Saturday November 3rd, Salamanca
The beauty of this town is so fascinating that it seems magic.
We have spent the whole day walking in the streets.
See also birdwatching (including
a new list of observations).
Friday November 2nd (Salamanca, km+40=8718)
When striking camp this morning, our saddlebags were covered
with hoar-frost. Our feet and hands take some time to get confortable,
and after one or two hours of pedaling, we get the warmth of the
We come in Salamanca around 11 am; our two contact persons are out
of town during this long week-end, so we have to find where to sleep.
A very large crowd walks in the streets, all hotels displays "completos",
we wander about the streets for a long time, quite hungry, and finally
find a brand new hotel outside the center, on the other side of
the roman bridge.
After a good shower we appreciate much more the incredible marvels
of Salamanca, that we both had visited before: Gaëtane ten
years ago and myself at the opportunity of a cycling tour through
Castilla, 5 years ago.
Tonight we have our meal near the hotel in a asado bar, with only
a few spanish customers, a good contrast compared to the crowds
in the Calle Major.
Thursday November 1st (Cantalpino, km+89=8678)
"Todos Santos", today is All Saints Day. In Tordesillas,
we had a short rest, in the sunny Plaza Major: coffee, warm chocolate
and reading the daily paper El Païs.
When coming in Tarazona de Guarena, the bells are ringing for the
mass in the graveyard. All villagers are there, gathered by families,
near the graves of their defuncts.
"Todos Santos" also offers Benoît a first observation,
what french-speaking birdwatchers call "une coche": a
flock of 15 Great Burstards, see the "birdwatching" heading
See also birdwatching.
Wednesday October 31st (Cigunuela, km+71=8588)
As regularly in the mornings and evenings, we watch a herd
of sheeps with their shepherd; but tonight they seem to go towards
our camp site, while Gaëtane washes herself, naked
they take another direction without noticing our presence
See also birdwatching.