Almanzora Group of Friends are pleased to announce a Best of Huelva and Seville trip
23rd to 27th April 2023.
Price based on 36 to 41 travelling 390 euros members
415 euros non-members with a 125 euros single supplement.
As always, if we have a full coach the price will reduce.
- Hotel Barceló Punto Umbría Mar 4* – 4 nights on HB in Punto Umbría.
- Water and wine included for dinner.
- Visit to the walled town of Niebla.
- Tickets to the museum, Casa 21 and train at the Riotinto Mines.
- English-speaking guide in the Riotinto Mines Museum.
- Official guided tour in Seville including headsets.
- Guided tour of the strawberry plantations and a punnet per person.
- Entries to the Muelle de las Carabelas (ship replicas) in Palas de la Frontera.
- All transport as per itinerary.
- English-speaking tour manager.
What’s the itinerary
Day 1: Pick-up at your usual points in the Valle del Almanzora area and travel towards Huelva with comfort stops along the way. Before reaching our hotel, we will be taking a longer stop in the historic walled town of Niebla, to include a stroll and some time for a refreshment. Check-in and dinner at our hotel in Punta Umbría.
Day 2: Today we take a very interesting excursion within the province of Huelva: the Riotinto Mines. We will have a guided tour of its comprehensive museum, the Casa 21, and the highlight is the train journey along the Rio Tinto itself, with its lunar landscapes and special iron colouring.
Day 3: A full day in Seville is a must when we are in the western side of Andalucía. The regional capital is just spectacular and indeed one of the most Spanish of Spanish cities. We will make use of the coach for a panoramic along the river and then our local guide will tell us all about it as we walk through the Jewish Quarter and other sites of interest, to include the spectacular Plaza España. It so happens that the Feria de Abril takes place in Seville during these dates, so we’ll stop to enjoy the atmosphere for a while in the afternoon before we make our way back to the hotel.
Day 4: The province of Huelva is famous all over Spain for its production of strawberries. Today we’ll take a very short drive in order to visit one of the plantations and get an insight into everything strawberry related – we’ll also come home with a punnet of the delicious fruit! After this, we make our way to Palos de la Frontera, where we have some free time for lunch before a bit of history: we will be visiting the replicas of the 3 ships that Columbus took westward at the end of the 15th century and the rest is history, as they say.
Day 5: On our last day we make our way back to Almeria, but with an excellent stop at the nearby town of El Rocío. This town is famous for the pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of Andalusians (even up to a million sometimes) to celebrate the Pentecost. We will see its beautiful white church right by the lake. After this, we continue to the Valle del Almanzora with the necessary comfort stops. Hasta la vista!
Price of the trip is 390 euros for members, 415 euros for non-members and a 125 euro single supplement. The maximum number allowed on the trip is 54, based on 24 double/twin rooms and six single rooms. We would advise singles to share wherever they can to reduce the cost. Should we reach 54 people attending, the cost per person will reduce. May we remind you that members take priority for the first two weeks of advertising the trip.
A 75 euro per person deposit is required when booking and closing date for booking will be 14th January 2023
The first pickup was at 8am, which meant a very early start for some people. After the final pickup in Albox we were on our way to Antequera to meet our guide Mireille. Our driver Emilio was on top form and much laughter could be heard between him and Mireille – always a good sign. Mireille informed us that we were following the Routa Washington Irving, stretching from Granada to Sevilla.
Irving was a 19 th Century Romantic Traveller, famous for The Tales of the Alhambra, a collection of essays, verbal sketches and stories.
On the route Mireille mentioned the Fuente de Piedra lagoon, home to flamingos. In May and June when the babies are ready to leave the nests. The summer heat dries up the lagoon and these nomadic birds fly to the Camargue in southern France, North Africa or parts of the Huelva province in their search for water. We also saw many stork nests, perched high on top of the pylons.
Our much needed lunch stop was at the Nueva del Andalucia on the outskirts of Paradas.
Replenished, we continued our journey west to visit the castle in the walled town of Niebla, which has a very interesting history going back 3,000 years. After a quick visit it was back on the coach and onwards to Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria, our home for the next four nights.
At last journeys end and what a surprise was waiting for us: situated within a stone’s throw of the beach, the hotel boasted a swimming pool, fabulous rooms, a large dining room with an excellent selection of food and of course a bar. We were ready to explore.
As we drove towards our destination we saw flamingos on the salt flats and storks sitting on their huge twig nests on top of the electricity pylons.
We met with our guide Julio, who took us through the museum, giving us information regarding the various different displays there. The museum was initially the town’s hospital and dates back to 1873 when the RioTinto mine was acquired from the state by a consortium of British capitalists. Originally it was to mine copper and has been a source of ore extraction and refinement since then and also of silver, gold, iron, sulphur and manganese, but there is proof of the Phoenicians and Romans mining on the site before this! There are two types of mining here – open and underground, of which they have gone to a depth of 550 metres!
We saw cabinets with rocks and crystals of various colours that displayed the minerals present in them. Roman statues and earlier artefacts that had been discovered whilst excavating. A luxurious train carriage that was made for Queen Victoria’s visit to India. It was made in Manchester, sent to India and returned here when she didn’t use it. It was bought by Rio Tinto Mining Co. Two other engines were also housed here -one of them no. 14 was made in 1875 and the other no. 51 from 1883 goes out every month until the weather is too hot (last out in February of this year)!
The operating theatre with all of the equipment that would have been available at that time: an astonishing fact was that the men who worked the mines had no uniforms or safety apparatus. If they
arrived for work in a suit and that was all the clothes that they had, they would go to work in that! They did try to protect their heads by making papier mache caps that they fitted to their heads and let dry in the sun! It was perilous work and there are no death records here, but one of the dangerous practices was to attach a rope into the side of the mountain and attach themselves to it so that they could swing out and scrape into the surface for minerals, also sulphur and other gas fumes were lethal! Every miner who joined the company was allocated accommodation, food and coins to spend in shops that were owned by Rio Tinto! If a man died his wife and family were expelled from the accommodation and hopefully another family would take them in, but they had to work to receive coins for food etc.
A photo of an astronaut was on display because The Centre of Astrobiology has identified the conditions of Mars in the Rio Tinto site as it matches the terrain and content of Mars, plus finding life in the polluted river, could also indicate life on Mars. A special dome has been created for a suited astronaut to simulate being on Mars (which is expected to be in 2035)!
Two tragic stories, one of them being about a strike by the miners in 1889 for better working conditions, but it was ended by about 200/250 of them being shot (although the press at the time reported about 13 deaths)! Sadly nothing was achieved by the miners for this stance!
The other incident was of a group of men who wanted to take explosives to fight against Franco, but they were sabotaged by a Foreman who notified Franco’s men of what was happening. The men were ambushed and killed and their bodies have been found in a Seville cemetery, identified by the minerals that were found in their bones!
Next we walked through a tunnel replicating a mine. Inside it was low and lit by small oil lamps, There was a model of a man shackled to the mine wall, which was practised in Roman times to slaves!
There was also the working replicas of two giant pumping wheels from Roman times and an Archimedes Screw. One of the original wheels is in a British museum!
Our next call was House 21, the home of a British Engineer and his family in 1883. It was furnished as a British home with the servant’s quarters in the attic and in the front room was a picture of Queen Victoria with the Union Jack draped around it. The whole town was built in the British style and only English was allowed to be spoken!
Following this was our lunch break and we then met up with Emilio on the coach to be taken to the railway station, which originally had twelve stations ending in the port of Huelva. Here we got in the
carriage that had wooden slatted bench seats and we bounced and bobbed along – not good for bottoms and backs! The view of the red/orange Rio Tinto river coloured by iron oxide and the various colours of the excavation sites was breath-taking and lots of photos were taken. The Rio Tinto is the most polluted river in Spain with no fish or river animals in it, but some form of life has been discovered in the form of algae and micro-organisms! Some animals come down to the river to get into the water to wash ticks and other insects off of them, but never to drink!
In 1907 burning’ was stopped and special pine trees that could survive in acid and rocky soil were planted, also a plant with white flowers grows here, but it wasn’t planted!
When we got off of the train it was the end of the tour and we met with Emilio and the coach to travel back ‘home’, tired but with memories of an interesting day out.
Day 3 Seville
The day was as usual sunny and very warm. We set off promptly at 9 with Emilio our driver getting us in the party mood with some flamenco music and arrived in Seville at 11 to meet our two local guides Beatrix and Carmen.
They gave us a lot of local information about Seville, the fourth city of Spain, and the capital of Andalucia, pointing out the Triana bridge and the embassies of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Morocco while telling us about the 500 th anniversary of the voyage of Magellan. We then arrived at the spectacular Plaza de Espana where we spent some time walking round and watching some flamenco.
Following this we left the coach at the Jardines de Murillo and the guides took us on a fascinating walk through the old town leading to the World famous Giralda Tower.
Here the groups split up, some going to the feria, some continuing to enjoy the local scenery and others visiting favourite places from previous visits, including a restaurant with a superb
cheese ice cream!
At about 5pm we met up with our coach again and returned to the hotel – there were quite a few snoozes on the way back!
This morning we left our hotel at 9.30 am to drive the short distance to the strawberry fields.
We picked up our guide for a drive through of the plastic tunnels–acres of them. Plants of 5 different varieties come from the Madrid area in Oct/Nov when they are planted out. The pickers are mainly foreigners and they are paid 50 euros a day with 5 euros taken out for Social Security and they have to work very hard, but their very basic accommodation is free.
Most of the fruit goes to the EU and British Markets. It is a very short season, so other fruits such as raspberries and blueberries are grown and unripe strawberries are made into gin.
Water is a constant problem and different types of growing are being tried such as hydroponics and the Government is encouraging all factories to go green with solar etc.
After lunch we went to see the replicas of the ships which took Columbus to America. In 1491 Columbus sought refuge in the Monesterio de La Rabido near Huelva after failing to get funds for his journey. The Prior of the Monesterio was a friend of Queen Isabella and he persuaded her to help. She sold her jewellery to do this and the Pinzon brothers – from the local village – helped Columbus choose crews, ships and provisions. Three ships were chosen: The Santa Maria The Pinta and The Niña. The crews totalled 90 men.
On the 3rd August 1492 they set sail and stopped for a short time in the Canary Isles. They sailed West thinking they would find a new route to the Far East for spices etc. The journey was very hazardous as the ships were very small. On the Oct 12 th they sighted land – the Island of Guanahani – and quickly realised because of the plants, trees and the look of the natives they were in a totally different country.
The Santa Maria sank, but the men used the wood to build houses and the crew of 40 decided to stay. Columbus returned to Spain on La Niña to great acclaim, having found a route between the Old World and the New. Columbus died at the age of 55 years and is buried in Sevilla Cathedral.
Day 5 – Farewell to Punta Umbria
This morning we said farewell to the lovely Hotel Barceló and the beautiful coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.
We were on our way home, but first we made a stop at the village of El Rocío, situated on the edge of the beautiful wetlands of the Doñana National Park, home to trees and plants, thousands of birds and endangered species, including the Iberian lynx. It was like stepping into a cowboy film set, with sand replacing tarmac; I was expecting Clint Eastwood or John Wayne to come charging in on horseback. El Rocío comes alive every May or June at the time of Pentecost to honour the Virgin del Rocío, with many pilgrims arriving on trailers prepared for this moment called strollers. Others use horse-drawn carts such as labour carts, which are covered and embellished. There are also those who make the way in jeeps, horse-drawn carriages, on horseback or on foot. It is a festival that unites the religious, folkloric, environmental and playful character, and has been considered one of the most relevant popular demonstrations in Spain. Various Brotherhoods have homes in the village
which are closed throughout the year, opening up during Pentecost. Another iconic event takes place on 26th June, in a tradition dating back more than 500 years, when the Almonte ranchers organise the Saca de Yeguas, rounding up the wild horses you can see grazing in the National Park. A stunning area and well worth a visit.
After the short visit to El Rocío it was back on the coach and continuing our journey home to the Valle de Almanzora, stopping off for lunch at Paradas. After lunch Mireille (on behalf of Danny of Hidden Corners of Spain) presented each couple and single travellers with a packet of Mostachones ´Diego Vázquez biscuits – a speciality from the region of Utrera (Sevilla). It was a long and tiring day but well worth it for the experience of exploring the stunning Costa del Luz.