Carmona and the Cycle-touring Surprise Factor

Community Highlights Europe Carmona and the Cycle-touring Surprise Factor

There’s a big ”surprise” factor in a bike touring trip that I love but takes some getting used to. Because we are not entirely committed to a particular route in advance of a trip, thereby affording the opportunity to research towns and book our accommodation in advance, especially the case in Spain where there is not a lot of good info available on cycle touring routes, we knew we would have to figure it out once we got here. We also like the flexibility to change course or stay longer somewhere we like or if one of us gets sick.


The most important thing is a safe and reasonably passable bike route, the second is distance to an overnight destination. We like to keep our cycling to no more that 40 or so km a day if at all possible, to keep the pleasure factor high and get us to the next town by early afternoon so we have time to check in to our accommodation and do some sightseeing, especially if it is only a one night stop. The third most important thing is availability of accommodation in the next place down the path.

On previous cycling trips in France, Germany and Austria where cycle touring routes (EuroVelo) are well established and developed, we would not book at all in advance but would find accommodation when we needed it, very often right on the bike path. Places would have signs out for bikers and hikers - “chambre de hôte” in France and “zimmer” in Germany. We would have a look and if we liked it, stay. Or sometimes we would go to the tourist office and they would give us a list or occasionally in small places, even phone for us and make a booking.

But the prevalence now of online info and dependence on this has made a difference, for better or worse. So now we look at various sites a few days in advance and book if we are sure of our route. I use if we want a hotel for one or two nights or AirBnB if we want an apartment for a longer stay. For hotels, once I have identified a couple of hotels that look good (and depending on the reviews), I try to go to the hotel’s own website or email and book directly with them. will sometimes say all rooms are booked - not true - or their rates will be higher. And of course they are taking $ from the hotel. Having said that, when we have booked through, the rates in Spain have been very good and it is an easy process, with our credit card info in the system. However, for a lower rate, the booking cannot be changed or cancelled so we need to be sure that is our destination.

I will take the opportunity here to mention an unpleasant surprise - a hotel reservation scam we did not know about and got caught in, involving It was early in our trip so we were still getting a feel for how things work in Spain. I had made a hotel reservation for our next stop through a couple of days in advance. The night before, I got an email that looked exactly like an email from saying there had been a problem with the payment process and in order to confirm our reservation, to click on the link in the email and put in the required info again. Though we had already received a confirmation email, I panicked, clicked on the link and re-entered our info.

However, it didn’t seem to work, and then Jim and I reconsidered, did a Google search and found several articles about this exact kind of scam communication. Here is an article in The Guardian:

Though it is a security breach, they blame it on the hotels’ online security and refuse to take any responsibility for it. So we spent a huge amount of time that night trying to reach our credit card fraud department (and $ activating our Telus roaming in order to phone as we only had an E-SIM at that point that doesn’t include calling). Though no suspicious activity was detected on our card, we decided to put a lock on it and so have only had one credit card for the rest of the trip. Not ideal, as we learned on a previous trip when my purse was stolen with our only credit card. Thankfully that time, we were at the end of our trip and could use our debit card and cash.

I submitted an official complaint about our scam experience with and well over a month later, have yet to receive any response from them other than they are looking into it. While I realize scams are always going to be out there, at the very least, I think a warning about this apparently common one should be included on the reservation confirmation email that they send. So I have been trying to not give any more of our $ by instead booking directly with the hotels.

And we have noticed more restaurants have eliminated menus and ask you to scan their QR codes. I can see how it is efficient for the restaurant but lo and behold, another scam awaits. Scammers are placing their own QR codes on top of legitimate codes that can install malware on your phone to steal personal info. It really is a jungle out there.

On this trip, we have sweated more over our technology than cycling - installing E-SIMs (you leave your own SIM in the phone), then having an issue with getting two-part authentication texts that so many accounts require, so finally buying an international SIM for one phone, then having to phone our bank to register that phone # on our account so we could check our credit card balance and do a payment transfer. We should have gotten an international SIM in the beginning but Jim thought our bank’s authentication app would work in place of getting codes by text. It didn’t. As well as the E-SIM, an international SIM can be mailed to you in advance of your trip with the new phone # so you can provide that to whoever you need to before you leave. International SIM cards are cheap, and besides national and international calling, you get data which is very helpful for navigation when you are away from wifi. For 15€ I got 400 minutes of phone use and 100 GBs of data. This is what now seems to work well for us. There may be other solutions out there. Anyway, a word to the wise for other travellers. As Jim says, cycling in the easy part!

So back to Carmona, our next stop after leaving Seville, and more pleasant surprises. It was surprisingly easy getting out of Seville, via the bike path going upstream along the river.


We then turned onto a quiet road with a good shoulder, the A-805, then onto a bike path that paralleled a busier road, then another bike path that took us under a still-under-construction big highway and overpass and through what seemed to be the very new urbanization of La Ringconada on what looked like spanking new bike paths.


I was also really impressed by the amount of public space for a small town and have been impressed by this everywhere in Spain. There seems to be an understanding that we don’t have, that if you are going to house people in apartments, you need lots of public space for them to recreate in and to use as the their living rooms and socialization spaces. There are playgrounds for kids everywhere with food kiosk or cafés, long plazas with trees and benches, and always the outdoor exercise stations for adults.


Eventually, we cycled to Carmona on a lovely smooth, quiet country road, the A-462 through agricultural land, stopping to have a picnic lunch in the sun in the driveway of a big hacienda. There was little else of an urban nature, just the odd big hacienda on gentle hills and a lot of flat land. It’s pruning season for the olive orchards and we saw this mechanical system the are using on the newer orchards. Apparently, they are planting a smaller variety of olive tree now, a bit like dwarf apple trees in that they are easier to manage without as much human labour. It’s a bit like pruning a hedge of olive trees but visually there is little more beautiful than a really old olive orchard in all its twisted glory.


We had a bit of a steep climb into the town of Carmona as it is on a ridge overlooking the central plain of Andalucia with the Corbones River, a tributary of Seville’s Guadalquivir River, below.

It had been a really pleasant cycle from Seville, about 49 km, just beautiful farmland and us. Our next big, also very pleasant surprise, on emerging from one of Carmona’s old, narrow streets, was to find that our hotel, the Alcázar de La Reina was not only historic and elegant but that it had the most stunning view out over the Andalusian plain as far as you could see.


As we were a bit early for our check-in, we saw a bar next to the hotel and went in to have a coffee. It turned out to be the bar of the hotel, connected to a very elegant, traditional restaurant.


And when we checked in, we were also surprised and thrilled that our spacious room had French doors that faced out to that incredible view. As we were getting settled, I heard the sound of horses’ hooves, and looking out our window saw two men ride by below.


A surprising but very happy day on the bike path - free of technology. Oh yeah, except for Google Maps that got us there - the best technological invention ever in my books!

This featured blog entry was written by Jenniferklm from the blog Cycling in Andalucia.
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By Jenniferklm

Posted Sun, Feb 25, 2024 | Spain | Comments