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 Walk Across Europe

2009-04-16 - Trip 15 - Leg 121

Spain, Catalunya and Girona

Sant Miquel de Fluvia to Vilajuiga

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24.3 km today.
265.4 km this trip.
2423.3 km from start.
1 metres minimum height.
54 metres maximum height.
107 metres ascent.
113 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train.

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The start and end is on farm tracks. The middle has a tarmac road, less nice.

We got the 06:02 Cercania from Arc de Triomf to El Clot Arago. There we changed to the Regional Express and headed towards Sant-Miquel-de-Fluvia. Out target was Vilajuiga. The first third of the walk was on gravel farm roads with next to no traffic. Later we walked on tarmac lanes with small amounts of agricultural traffic. We did not have to wade across any rivers.

A large storm brewed up but mostly passed south of us. About 20 minutes of umbrella was needed and even then the rain was light. Further away we could see black clouds with curtains of rain falling. There were occasional claps of thunder.

The route was on low level farm land with small undulations in the terrain. We saw no new plants but we enjoyed more instances of the old familiar ones.

For our daily adventure, we located the Carrer del Estacio. This road thinned to a one lane footpath and came out onto the railway line. The station was visible in the far distance nowhere near the street bearing its name. We had rushed the last leg of the walk to try to get home warm and dry and early enough to get a night's sleep. With so little time to spare, it was a shock to see the platforms a quarter of a mile away. Rather than retrace our steps, we walked illegally along the track edge, quickly reaching the safer disused sidings. We had very little time to spare before the train arrived. We must have slept a lot on the return ride because it felt short.

This morning it was warm in Barcelona. We caught our train as usual but our usual lady wasn't there on our platform. I hope she has a day off and that she is not unwell. The lady with the scarf on the opposite platform is there. I hadn't noticed her but Neil had. Does he need more garlic? We bought return tickets to El Clot and then went to get tickets for Sant Miquel de Fluvià. The cossack was shut and there was a long queue of people waiting for it to open. One by one these people disappeared and we saw one being let through the barrier by a security man. We went over to ask him what we should do. We told him we wanted the Cerbère train. He said the cossacks would open in five minutes. By now we were at the front of the queue.

At 6.15 we heard noises behind the windows and suddenly one of the blinds opened. The man was swift to serve us and did a really good job except that he failed to pass the tickets through. At the last minute both he and I realised together what we had both forgotten. I said Es muy temprano.

We now went down to the platform to get our train. It would be now a two hour journey from El Clot to our destination.

Girona seems a nice place. We could have conveniently had one week in Barcelona and one week there. This would have saved us some money booth in fares and in rent which is high in Barcelona and might be less in Girona. The bus station is right by the railway station so that will be convenient in May. I am trying to travel with only a mustang as we have 2.5 kilometres walk from the station to our house.

On reflection, a better place for our second week would have been Massanet Maçanes where the Rodalies and the Medium Distance train lines meet and from where one can get a train directly to the airport.

Next Christmas when we hope to go for two weeks we will try and book two houses 150 kilometres apart. When Mini came with us we had a day off every three or four days so we could all go out together. This meant that over the two weeks we would only walk for about nine days and would cover around 100km. This kept transfer times and within reasonable limits. Now we walk for 13 or 14 days and cover 150 kilometres a week so transfer times and fares are much higher. As the rental people don't seem to make a reduction for a two-week stay there is no disadvantage financially. The only bugger will be finding the houses and paying the deposits where these are required.

We saw lots of butterflies today; fritillaries, peacocks and swallowtails. We saw bee eater holes and soon after bee eaters as well. Spring has come. So far it has been a nice day. The walk is flat and mainly through fields of grain and the occasional vineyard. The main feature has been the approaching Pyrenees, still snow covered and stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.

We passed an interesting font with a sign carved out on it in rough letters Per ordre del autoritat queda prohibitembrutar ni malmener (check on photo) la font. Els infractors seran multatas amb 5 pesetas. The metal door says 1885. The sign says renewed in1938. Some old Catalan that survived Franco. Surely the font itself is much older.

We saw yellow verbascum and yellow iris. We passed through Vila Sacra and came to another river which must recently have been in flood like the one we had crossed the day before. The water was rushing under the concrete, surging through its pipes and gushing out again on the other side. There was a filthy black cloud above us and it was spitting with rain. Suddenly the road which had been empty was heaving with traffic. Was everyone trying to get his vehicle on the right side of the river before the heavens opened. We think this valley which we have been crossing for three days now is a rain belt. There are bamboos growing on the top of banks whereas they normally like to be at the bottom. Up the pummock there was lots of moss and lichen and a variety of different ferns. This could not happen if it were not wet. The other two days these hills have been shrouded in mist as well.

Beyond the river crossing we approached a big lixo (municipal landfill site) and flying above it enjoying the thermals was a groups of storks, the first we have seen since Doñana park in Spain. One was carrying something huge. It could have been as eel or some nesting material. Whatever it was the stork had difficulty keeping aloft. As the weather is now changeable we decided to try and catch an earlier train as it might be wet and cold on the platform. We kept up a good pace until we got to the Carrer de la Estació. We hurtled down this to the railway track only to find we were nowhere near the station. Then we saw it 500 metres back down the line. We picked our way along disused track, thorn bush clippings and clinker to get to the platform.

This train had a ticket man on board and we were able to get a ticket. He had a fascinating little machine that printed the tickets there and then. Because we had bought returns they slid in and out of the machine twice. We sat near a German lady who was planning her Barcelona visit with her book of instructions.

We had a bread supper as we have bought far too much and had little else. We are more abstemious at lunch time now than we were last week when we regularly ate a whole roll. Now we just eat a section of it.

There was a funny swishy bangy noise last night when I was lying in bed. It was I discovered the next day Neil treading his washing while showering to optimise.

Jane has sent a text to say no she can't manage to join us. I text her back to say maybe in May. Is she controlled by her children or are they doing something really worthwhile so the can't spare the car for a day or at least drop her in Port Bou before going off on their own trip? I remember now before her trip to Congo one of here sons told her she was not to travel with Hewa Bora – luckily by then there was an option to go with Kenya Airways. Prior to that Hewa Bora (the Congolese National Airline) was the only airline prepared to risk flying in.