No, it is definitely not spring yet although it was a few degrees warmer today than in the past few days. I somehow expected some spring-like vegetation in the Botanical Garden and since it was a bit warmer and there was no snow on the bike paths, Janos and I cycled there. This winter cycling is something new; last year when it got cold, I didn't get on my bike for at least three months. They say it's all about wearing the right clothing, so I bought some top-quality winter mittens, changed my attitude and have been cycling short disances in town since we got back from Spain.
In the Botanical Garden there wasn't even a tiny blossom on the witch hazel. I did see the tips of what I think will be snow drops poking through the layers of dry leaves and snow, though. Perhaps in a few weeks ... When it started to rain, we went into the Botanical Garden's cafe and had an early lunch along with many other inveterate botanical garden visitors who got caught in the rain.
January 7 - 10
No dallying, no sightseeing, no country roads - that was the program for the ride home. However, the first night we did plan a stop in a historical town with a castle and old walls since it was on our route and, well, we like these places. We were in Alarcón in the late afternoon and still had daylight to go out and take some pictures. Its location on a plateau was spectacular.
The next morning we woke up again to blue skies - but the temperature had dropped to below zero as Alarcón is at an altitude of 980 meters. As we lost altitude it warmed up and we had one more sunny day.
On the second day we crossed the border into France and slept in Perpignan.
A country a day - on day three we slept in Lausanne, Switzerland. No pictures at all.
We knew it had been snowing heavily in Bavaria and parts of Switzerland. Our day started out fine, dry roads, no snow, but then came snow flurries, and more snow and more snow. Salt had been strewn and snow plows were out but I wasn't enjoying the ride much any more. Around Zurich I was beginning to feel anxious. I am admittedly somewhat phobic about highway driving and speed anyway and the snow was stoking my fears. When we reached Lindau, just over the German border, I asked Janos to let me out at the train station. Although Janos is an excellent driver, I knew driving through the snow was going to be agony for me. I felt bad leaving Janos to drive the last stretch alone and I was relieved to hear afterwards that the roads had been fine. And I felt fine sitting in the train, relaxed and happy to watch the wonderful snowy landscape roll past the window.
And that was it. Janos and I got home almost the same time in the evening. When I got there, Janos had just dragged our luggage up the three flights of stairs. We soon fell into bed. I was happy to be home again.
Again we visited El Puerto, this time with our friends from Kassel. We strolled through the streets, visited the church with the storks, took pictures of the storks, had lunch, walked around the bull ring and hoped it would be open so we could have a look inside but it wasn't, stopped for a sherry, took some more pictures and drove home. Again a beautiful sunny day, not too warm and not too cool.
Here are the pictures.
A windy day today so instead of going to the beach we chose for our outing a walk through the Parque Natural de la Breña y Marismas del Barbate to the Torre del Tajo, a 16th-century tower on the cliffs high above the Atlantic between Barbate and Los Caños de Meca.
It is for good reason that this part of the coast is called Costa de la Luz. We drove a few kilometers from Conil, past the lighthouse to a little cove that can be reached by climbing down the cliff on a wooden staircase. There were just a few people there still, enjoying the last rays of sun. With our tripods in tow, we too wanted to catch the last light of the day - with our cameras.