Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Look Back: Spain's 2008 Al Andalus 10-day Endurance Ride - Part I: The Travels

by Steph

Tierras de Al-Andalus - the lands of Andalucia - a 10 day endurance adventure - is the genius of Jose Manuel Soto. He is one of Spain's cherished singers, with a passion for life, a love of his land, an eye for adventure and a reverence for the horse. His dream, and his ability to put together a team of people capable of 'making it happen' gave us the opportunity to experience the beauty and variety of Andalucia on horseback.

The trails were challenging and scenic, traversing historic sites, mountain passes, village streets, beautiful Atlantic beaches...

We stayed in hotels nestled in historic towns, were hosted by different communities with their own styles and traditions.

And the people of Andalucia are warm and friendly, passionate, quick to laugh and smile...Does it get any better?!

Come With Us On The Journey!

Part I: The Travels

March 26-27, 2008

29 hours since we left Oreana. It was cool and gray and sprinkling in the desert on the drive to the airport, snow on the ground and cold in Minneapolis, very cold and gray in Amsterdam, windy and much warmer in Madrid (though the Taxi driver who took us from the airport to the train station said 'hace frio!' (it's cold!), and finally we arrived in Seyville at 8pm to a pleasant 20C (70 F)!

We're staying at the Hotel Occidental tonight, will meet up with everybody tomorrow and go to the start of the event at 'Dos Hermanas'.

I talked to Paco on the phone a couple times - he had to go up north to get the new horse van, which was supposed to be delivered a couple days ago... but instead he'll be driving all night to bring it down and then pick up the horses and bring them to the ride. He has 3 horses - a stallion which he will try to ride all 8 days, another horse that I think Paul Jeffrey will ride (Paul and Madonna arrive from New Zealand tomorrow) and a mare which I will ride on alternate days. At least that is the plan!

Merri and I had a pretty easy trip except for the last part having to lug our luggage around from airport to train station to hotel. No matter how hard I try I simply can't pack light. And I decided to bring my own saddle this time (it's a lot easier to think about riding a new horse when I at least have a saddle I'm comfortable with!) - so I have 2 huge suitcases, one with clothes and stuff, the other with saddle and riding gear. Plus a hefty carry-on bag with computer and camera equipment. Merri packed more respectably with one suitcase (but it was still heavy!) and her back pack with camera stuff and raven.

We actually did pretty well since all the suitcases had wheels, and the cobblestones weren't too bad, just one tense moment when Merri boldly stepped on to the escalator up to the trains station wheeling 2 suitcases behind her and they jammed at the entry point and wouldn't go further and she was already on the moving track having to run backwards cause she didn't want to let go of the handles and I was laughing so hard I could barely help her and I'm not sure how it all resolved, but the suitcases did manage to break loose and we did make it to the top but we were both laughing helplessly and our final exit off the escalator wasn't very graceful either...

So, we're now settled in at the hotel (we had to do one more suitcase trek from the train station to the hotel but it went pretty smoothly) with WiFI, a hot shower and then we'll take a late (Spanish style) dinner downstairs before a very welcome sleep!

hasta mayana!

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