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 Walk Across Europe

2009-04-13 - Trip 15 - Leg 118

Spain, Catalunya and Girona

Sils to Fornells-de-la-Selva

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25.8 km today.
198.8 km this trip.
2356.7 km from start.
68 metres minimum height.
137 metres maximum height.
206 metres ascent.
184 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train.

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Woodland paths. Agricultural tracks. Quiet roads at the start and finish.

Spain now has "Bank Holiday Monday" so our trains were messed up. We waited an extra hour in the morning and two extra hours in the evening. We could have avoided these errors but the information in the timetables was well buried.

At Sils we set out in cool clear weather. We passed under the AP7 toll motorway and headed along a farm track that looked the same as all the other farm tracks we had used. After more than 2000 km of walking we encountered our first "Get Off My Land" person. The elderly man told us that there was no through route (Google Earth said otherwise). Also the road only led to a house and it was private. We suspect that two out of these three points were simply wrong. In Spain, all through routes are open to the public apart from a few military zones. As we like to respect the locals so we re-traced our steps. We took another road which was not quite as nice. We soon turned off onto a waymarked track that looked almost identical to the one from which we had been barred. We quickly got back onto our correct route and saw where the "private, no through" track joined onto our new route.

The rest of the walk was delightful. We passed through oak and pine mixed forests and fields of wheat and rape, just coming into flower. The weather remained fine and became comfortably warm. The road side verges were full of wild flowers and looking green and fresh after lots of wet weather. We had one more diversion where yet another new motorway cut through our path. The unfinished road was in a deep cutting but we were able to cross a few hundred metres along on a new bridge, still without its safety railings. Luckily it was a national holiday and there were no workmen to eject us from the construction site. We were not obstructed by the new TGV railway construction works.

At our destination, we missed our train and had to wait a couple of hours. Had we not been turned back at the unmarked private road, we would have caught this train. We got back to Barcelona after the shops had closed so we bought junk food from a petrol station. So on day 117, we met the first person we really disliked. This is a back-handed way of saying that Spain is full of lovely people. Even the exuberant alcohol fuelled party-goers returning home on the morning trains that we used were no trouble.

I never did my worms today because we were bugged by transport problems. Spain has invented a special timetable which obtains only on Good Friday and Easter Monday which didn't worry us on Friday because we were still in the Rodalies belt and these trains are very frequent but it did worry us today. I had carefully checked that we could get a train which ran at a certain time on Mondays and at a similar time on Sundays so we could hedge our bets. No such luck as today is a one-off day. We decided to take a rodalies train as far as Sant Celoni as that was a nicer station to wait at than El Clot (too close to the bone in any case for a couple of clots who can't even read a timetable).

I had already been caught on the hop at home because Neil declared himself ready to leave at 5.45 when I had thought we had agreed 6,15. I am usually ready 10 minutes before he says because that is par for the course. I rushed round and as a result forgot my orange.

Once on the Rodalies train we began to wonder if we were legal traveling with a medium distance train ticket. All the trains are run by the same company but you never know. As it happened no one checked and when, after an hour's wait at Sant Celoni we got on the medium distance train we were again en règle. No one checked this ticket either. We don't feel bad because we have paid for the journey we are doing. The same applies in the evening when instead of going all the way to Sants as our ticket entitles us to do, we get off at El Clot and change to a slower train which stops at the intermediate station Arc de Triomf. We are getting our journey down to a fine art as I used to do in London ie walk down the platform where you get on to make sure you are opposite the exit when you get off. Be where there will a door right in front of you and change trains at stations where the platforms are close to together and not miles away along numerous subterranean passages.

All this meant we started what was going to be a long walk an hour late. We were proceeding nicely along Neil's preplanned route when we were stopped by a man walking the other way. Realising we couldn't speak much Catalan he began speaking to us in very slow very loud inaccurate Spanish. The long and the short of it was that according to him this was a private drive which only led to the house we could see ahead of us. We had passed no Private or no entry signs and Neil's Google Earth clearly showed that the path went on beyond the house.

The man then asked where we were going and we told him. He said but that's 30 kilometres. There are buses and trains. We said we wanted to walk. He then explained a suitable route going back the way we had come going along a horrible main road until we came to two hotels and then using the old road – a route with muchas curvas. He then asked where we were from and this started a rant about tourists and immigrants and there being no work. I didn't bother to point out that tourism was a major source of employment all round the coast or that, without immigrant labour the fruit and vegetable farms would have problems. He was in a mood. Having stood there listening to him for about ten minutes we started back. Luckily he then decided to speed up and get ahead of us. By now we were back at a junction signposted cicuit de Barceloneta 10km. This was not yet the horrible main road and it certainly wasn't private so we took it. The man turned round and looked at us disapprovingly. Why didn't we go back to bloody England where we came from?

After about ten minutes we came out on the other side of the house we weren't to go past and we saw the path we would have taken on our right. The whole detour took 20 minutes which made us even later. Very few people in Spain object to anyone walking along tracks through their land or in this case someone else's land. He was a notable exception. Neil thinks he was deaf as he didn't listen to any of our answers but just kept talking very loud.

Very soon we came to his two hotels, having approached them along country tracks rather than the main road. We crossed over only to find that our access to the old road had been blocked by new autovia roadworks. Our man had complained about these too and airports. For once we were in agreement with him. By going back along the road and going over some brand new gleaming but luckily now set concrete, we were able to use a new bridge to cross over to the far side and pick up our track.

Neil had said that the only thing that might stop us reaching our objective this holiday would be the Easter bank holiday transport arrangements. He was right but I blame that man.

I have been eaten alive by something. Is it fleas from the rats we saw outside an abattoir along our route in which case I will come out in buboes or were they from the dead wild boar we saw by the roadside in which case I will probably get swine fever.

The walk was long and indeed with many curves but lovely all the way with tantalising leaves and buds on plants which we yet can't identify and maybe never will.

The number of trains is very small and all our holdups meant we missed the 5.07 and had to wait two hours for the 5.37. We had supper on the platform. It was warm and pleasant. We traveled without a ticket because the cossack was closed and there was no ticket man on the train. What does one do in that situation?

At what point shall we be belaboured by the beefy security men with big sticks?

We did buy a ticket from El Clot to Arc de Triomf because we wouldn't deliberately travel without a ticket but we did save a lot of money that day.

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