Leaving Seville, we traveled by bus to the small town of Palma Del Rioz where we settled into our charming hotel of the next 2 nights, the Monasterio de San Francisco. As the name implies it was originally a Franciscan convent built in 1492 and turned into a hotel about 20 years ago. The discovery of America is part of the building's history, since the Franciscan monks based here founded American missions, took the language and customs to the new world, introduced the famous orange groves in California and opened the Mission de Palma del Rio in San Diego. Columbus was here before setting off on his journey to the new world.
The Center courtyard of the hotel was planted beautifully and was filled with the aroma of herbs.
Behind the walls was a pool and a variety of shrubs and fruit trees, still beautiful in the off season.
The lounge retained the simple elegance of the old monastery -
as did the stairway to our room.
We met our guides, obtained our helmets and bikes and took a warm-up ride through the countryside surrounding the town.
The next morning as we received our routes and instructions for the first day of biking from our charming Spanish guides, ever the fierce wild Boar mounted on the wall along with many antelope skulls and horns did not delay our enthusiasm.
We biked through the fertile Spanish Vega (vast plain) to the white cobblestoned village of Penaflor where we had lunch and saw the church in the center square.
In the evening we walked from our hotel to dinner at a simple local Peña, where Cantaores play and sing Flamenco.