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 Walk Across Europe

2009-04-17 - Trip 15 - Leg 122

Spain, Catalunya and Girona

Vilajuiga to Portbou

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23.7 km today.
289.1 km this trip.
2447 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
224 metres maximum height.
694 metres ascent.
779 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train.

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Almost all on mountain paths or roads. Good views. Lots of flowers. Some new to us.

We got the 06:02 Cercania from Arc de Triomf to El Clot Arago. There we changed to the Regional Express and headed towards Vilajuiga. Out target was Portbou. Almost straight away, we were off road and onto mountain paths. The plants and flowers were fantastic. This is why this web page has over 100 thumbnails on it.

Google Earth let us down. A route clearly visible was not present in real life. We were not badly delayed by this. We could see a similar route to our destination. Later in the walk we had a much worse problem. We believed a signpost in preference to the GPS track of the GR92 long distance footpath downloaded from Wikiloc. This mistake cost us at least an hour and added to our tiredness. Later another incorrect signpost led us astray again but this time we rapidly recovered ourselves with the GPS track. It is not obvious how a walker with a compass and map would fare with these misleading signs.

Very little of this stage was on tarmac. This is our favourite kind of walking. We reached Portbou with seconds to spare before the 19:00 train departed for Barcelona. With the long train ride, it was about 10pm before we were home.

Today's walk will be shorter but steeper.

At El Clot there were smokers sitting on all the seats. We needed the belabouring men to come and stop them. It was nice having the phone off. I had said to Jane that I would leave it on on Friday so she could get in touch if she wished. Jane would probably have rung when we were half way up a precipice and scared the living daylights out of us. We never have the phone on. The station announcements are very loud at Arc de Triomf. If I worked there I would have to do something about it. At El Clot they are fine.

The ride to Vilajuïa is quite long and the seats have uncomfortable backs. Once we arrived, we needed to retrace our steps quite a bit because of yesterday's confusion over the station not being in the Carrer del Estació but now we discovered it was actually in the Passeig del Estació. We have twice had no ticket man on the pm train but there has always been some one in the morning. Yesterday there was an earnest German lady sitting near us studying her book of instructions so she could make the most of her visit to Barcelona. We were wondering whether, as today's return is so long, we shouldn't try to get a Euromed or Talgo train back to Barcelona. We would then be spared having to sit near people with new colds projecting their sneezes round the carriage, people with last week's cold snorting their catarrh back up their noses and getting hay fever by having to inhale cheap perfumes. Actually they are not cheap and I can't imagine why anyone buys them

I have enjoyed the gradual increase in nasalisation of the 'on' in bon as we have moved north through Valencia and now almost into France.

Every day as we passed through Sils I have looked to see if the tree by the estany is full of white egrets as it was the first time. It never has been since. From the train today we could see the Pyrenees clearly round Bordels. If we had been able to on the day we walked through it on that long hot road, it would not have been duro at all but a spectacle to be enjoyed. There was a haze that day so the mountains were invisible.

Today we saw chicory yellow tragopodon a scarlet bunny, alium white and pink, valerian and white sedum. The train went through four tunnels on this stretch and we would have to go up and over for each of them. We were back on the GR 92 and climbing up steep narrow tracks. As usual the weather in the morning was warm and dry and after lunch it clouded over and began to rain. At Llança, signs were now in both Spanish and French. At 1.40, the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped and it began to rain. We could be thankful though that we were beyond the Sils valley rain belt as it has been consistently much wetter there. We passed through a picturesque little bay beyond Llança where some German walkers were having refreshments and sheltering at the same time at a little café.

We couldn't hear what they were saying but could imagine them taking one look at us and saying Mit Schirm und Schlappen. Unglaublig.

There was some way-marking but on the one occasion where Neil agreed to follow a way-mark I had seen rather than believe his GPS we ended up going down into a deep valley near the coast when we should have been up a high pummock. We had to abort and go back. Then we saw a further way-mark on some steps to our right which we had missed on the way out. To achieve this correction we had to pass through Colera station twice. Now we know why it is called Colera. When it came to it even without the detour the walk was not especially short although it was especially nice. Then we made our ascent up the pummock and ended up near some aerials we had been able to see from the bottom. On the way up a stone bashed into my foot. It hurt at the time but was not problematic. Neil said he wasn't on form today but he was still going faster than I was and I was on form. No more blisters.

Once at Port Bou (pronounced half way between 'ow' in bow down and 'ow' in bow and arrow), a monstrosity of a station building for the size of the place with a very surly woman at the ticket office. Neil had gone ahead to find out train times and get the platform number and maybe even tickets. I asked her if he had just been and bought tickets. How can I know if your brother has bought tickets already. I don't know your brother. Well That's true but as only a handful of people use the train this far along the line and most have season tickets she might have remembered. Was she surly because the French and Spanish railways are in dispute over the border crossing neither recognising the trains sent over by the other. They must know it's stupid They may even disagree with it but it makes for an atmosphere of mistrust. Thus are wars started. They need Alim.

I went along and met Neil on the platform. We are pile. He didn't get any tickets but we got returns off the ticket man in the train.

We got home very late and had soup and ice cream for supper.