This trip will come with many firsts. It’s my first time in Spain.  It’s my first fully loaded bike tour. It’s the first time I have no concrete plans for the future.

In the last few days I’ve had a few more firsts. For example, I met my first cyclo-tourist. I road from Jerez to Arcos de la frontera, and on to a hostal (Roadside restaurant/hotel) near El Palmar de Troya. When I arrived at the hostal he was stretching on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Being the first touring cyclist I have seen thus far I thought I’d say hello and chat for a minute. Admittedly I can’t remember his name, but as a good cyclist does, I remember what he rode. It was a trek mountain bike with two small panniers and two small cases on the rear rack. Very minimalist. The only thing I saw that wasn’t absolutely necessary was the Argentinian flag he was flying proudly from the back of his bike.


The old, special barrels at Tio Pepe Bodega in Jerez de la Frontera.

He was on the first day of his tour. He flew into Madrid, and took the bus to Sevilla. He asked me about where I’d been, where I’d stayed, what speed I’d been averaging etc. Like everyone, he eyed my trailer with an amused expression. It seems my trailer is quite the spectacle.  Everywhere I go I either get stares, or complements.
He seemed excited to see another person doing something similar to what he was doing so I didn’t tell him that he was the first person I’d seen like me. I’ve seen plenty of cyclists in Spain; they’re everywhere, but haven’t seen other touring cyclists. He was a friendly first.

When I arrived in Sevilla I experienced my first Feria de Abril with an amazing group of new friends. It’s awesome  how when you are surrounded by people who are there for the exact same reason you can form friendships so quickly. They may only be surface deep, as it takes time to form lifelong relationships, but they are real. They are intense. A little playful flirting can make you feel like a kid again.

It’s all amazing, but like everything I’m sure time and experience will dull the excitement.


Feria de Abril facade lighting ceremony

Maybe, I’ll be lucky because I chose a form of travel that leaves me solitary for days on end, and the rush of endorphins I get when I find that “next group” will continue. On the other hand, when I left Sevilla there was nothing I wanted more than to be a backpacker with no plans and just hang onto part of the group.


However, the reality is that I can’t imagine leaving my bike for long periods of time, so I can’t try to follow groups. I’d arrive a day late, and then two days late, and before I knew it I’d be a week behind. Chasing a dream, and missing potentially life changing experiences.

It’ll take time, but I’m sure that I’ll adjust to the constant goodbyes. I’ve never been good at goodbyes; they always leave me wanting one more “hello”.

Anyway, after two days of riding I’ve had yet another first. Goodbye Spain, hello Portugal!


First look at Portugal from the ferry ride across the river.


Last look at Spain for a while.

P.S. For those from the Black Swan Hostel in Sevilla, look who I ran into in Faro!



Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.


3 thoughts on “Firsts”

  1. So many new hellos to come! It sounds like such a wonderful experience! Have fun and enjoy each new hello.
    I started saying hello to the people I passed on the dog trails and realized how much I miss hearing other voices now that I work from home. What a difference solitude can make!


  2. Glad to see that bottle of Super Bock in the last pic–truly a non-magnificent beer! I had to chuckle in your description of the Argentinian fella’s set-up, flag and all. I don’t think I’d fly the Stars and Stripes while touring. Enjoy the Algarve. Having a homemade Thai dinner with friends this weekend–I think you know the menu!

    Liked by 1 person

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