I started biking toward France at Costa Brava starting from Sant Feliu de Guixols. I am really horrible with names, so after checking and immediately forgetting the name of the next town over and over I finally did resort to writing it on my finger with a pen so I wouldn’t have to look it up at every next sign post. Color is what I remember, and I will be knitting wraps and sweaters from the colors I saw for years to come. Everyone is so friendly and helpful in Catalonia. Whenever I pulled out a map I got good advice where to go and what not to miss. I headed for Begur not quite realising that it was more than 200 meters above sea level. Ended up pushing my bike uphill a bit. Got to this tiny village on cliffs with a castle on top as they were sweeping up from a 3 day festival. Banners and decorations everywhere. I of course had to push my bike all the way to the top of the castle so that it could take in the view.
Begur has a beautiful hotel that has a birds nest, ships and all kinds of whimsical details lovingly put into the old stone walls. It’s all topped off by a metal tree on a pedestal. I will have to go back there one day and book myself a room.
Downhill to Pals where there are still street lamps that basically are a metal basket where a few logs get tossed in. Pals is from the 9th century with at least one family still living in the same home they have had since 1400 or so. It finally dawned on me that these villages have are the result of hundreds of years of remodel on remodel. You build a village from rock, add-on and add-on for each generation. War comes and it gets partially destroyed, you rebuild, and add-on and remodel… That’s why arches end in walls and things go in circles and it looks like the architect was drunk.
Here you see the slits that archers used to protect the village from North African pirates. Yup, right there next to the red doggie poo container. Now how do you explain the value of using that container to the 10th, 11th, 12th century man shooting arrows from the slits to protect his wife and children? Not possible.
Time to move on to Peratallada. Inland on the Costa Brava each village has its own charm, all an easy bike ride apart but centuries ago stone walls were built to protect them from each other and foreign invaders. They also learned from those same invaders. Rock pebbles were deliberately placed so that rainwater slowly ran over them evaporating and cooling the air. That’s from the Moors.
Peratallada is partially carved out of rock, and you can see where ancient cart wheels eroded the rock. Notice the wood fire street light above the arch. I would love to see it lit up at night.
I love the colors of the doors with all the rock and metal. This is inspiration for a few wraps and sweaters for sure right here. Apparently Hobbits live in Catalonia, because I saw a few of these half arch doorways.
It’s just amazing to me that a building can be a home for 900 years or more. Then again if its made of stone, it’s there to stay, and you don’t have to go out and purchase new rocks at the building supply store, just redo and redo.
Finally got to a campsite by the sea at Illes Medes. I didn’t plan to buy a tent, so I didn’t have my sleeping bag with me. I did buy a new sleeping bag liner made of turquoise silk. It weighed much less than the cotton liners, plus silk is warmer than cotton. I did have my emergency blanket foil, and due to a backpacking mix up I had used it instead of a sleeping bag on a hiking trip to the Trinity Alps in northern California. You end up looking like a burrito, but it does keep you warm.
The next day I biked to the opposite side of this bay to Roses. I went all the way to the furthest point because I was determined to visit the national park, Parc natural del Cap de Creus. Making a quick stop to see Sant Marti d’Empuries, I could not resist going up another hill to see another castle fortified village. I found a well, with well-worn wash basins, drainage holes and about 900 years worth of village gossip still ringing from the depths.
While we are on the subject of water. I have one big bottle for only water, and one bottle for juice or Gatorade. If you have ever had leg cramps in a sleeping bag you will understand why the daily supply of the electrolytes and salts that Gatorade has is vital to a long bike or hike trip. The powder sport drinks I can find in Latvia are more carbohydrate & caffeine based and I prefer a good cappuccino for that. Well I kept refilling and refilling my Gatorade/juice bottle until I noticed some spots of slimy something growing. This is a pure genius campsite solution to that. Without thinking I got the cheaper two pack of toothbrushes, and they just happen to have bendable necks that can be bent back to scrub the bottom of my bottle. A bit of duct tape work and voila! Oops, that’s French. Sorry…my brain has a foreign language drawer where everything gets tossed in. I only studied French one year in College, but it kept coming out when I meant to speak Catalonian or Spanish. Mind you my Spanish knowledge comes from eating Mexican.
I wanted to bike from Roses over the mountain to Cadaques. The Catalonian working at the campsite sketched out a map of how he did the route, said it took 3 hours. I could not find any good biking maps with elevations at any of the tourist information spots. Everyone is staring at the beach, and knows nothing about the mountains behind them. Halfway to Cala Montjoi a German man asked where I was going and showed me the app he had that mapped out a route for him. He made me take photos of it and the posted map in the park. People are so very nice and helpful. By the time I got to Montjoi I was not sure if my tires would make it all the way to Cadaques on the sharp rocky dirt roads. I saw another German couple with a good map, that they got at the tobacco shop (wish the tourist info places had told me that) and they said they would bike a bit down the road to check it for me. An hour later the man came back and said my tires will get a flat, better not try. I have had 2 flats this summer while biking in Latvia with panniers full. I rode back to Roses and saw the most beautiful cove on the way. I must go back, I was too tired to go back down to seal level a third time in one day. I had to bike to Figueres to take the train to Barcelona the next day, not enough time this trip.
Stayed tuned, tomorrow Barcelona…..