Day 35 GR1 to Oix

After complaints about yesterday's walk being too long it was essential to come up with something shorter today. The original idea was to take a taxi along the busy valley to the east of Ripoll and start at Sant Joan de les Abadesses but on a cold, drizzly day 33 kilometres seemed too long. Instead we asked the taxi to take us further to Sant Pau de Segúties, leaving a very manageable 20 kilometres.

When we arrived it was market day and the bar we dropped into for coffee was busy and full of men topping up their alcohol levels (about 9.30 in the morning). Apart from us, the only person not drinking was a young guy wearing the cyclist's uniform of baggy shorts and tights and he turned out to be a German reaching the end of his Berlin to Barcelona bike trip. Really nice guy, and great to share a bit of time with another long-distance travelling nutcase. He had hauled his 35 kg bike and gear over the Pyrenees in the frost last night and was now stopping at the bar to buy cigarettes! Apologies for the photo which seems to capture two drinkers emerging from the bar rather than the cyclist and his bike.

Chatting to a German cyclist
It was very cold today but despite that, and as we get lower and nearer the sea, there is a definite feeling that spring is about to spring. Things are late this year but the trees are definitely changing colour as the trees start to come into leaf. Today for example the beech tree buds made whole patches of hillside look distinctively pink. There were also lots of interesting flowers bursting out which neither Christine or I could put a name to. To be honest, in an ideal world, I would walk the trail a couple of weeks later when things would be lovely and green.

An orchid?
By the way we have been listening to cuckoos for 10 days or so and today heard two woodpeckers banging away almost in unison.

It was a good walk if not exactly memorable, mainly along narrow little forest paths which linked a series a masias ( Catalan for finca or large country farmhouse) and ermitas together. Some of these masias had been beautifully restored and some were offering accommodation.

Chasing lunch
Someone asked me on an earlier blog if Spain's economic problems were obvious as you walk the route. I said that in all honesty they weren't and, apart from the unfinished blocks of flats around any settlement of a significant size, that remains the case. What is surprising though as you walk through Catalonia is the amount of pro-independence regalia, particularly the stripped flag with the blue star, which features everywhere. At the same time national political institutions seem to be loosing their credibility.

All the time I've been here the news has been dominated by stories of political corruption. The latest and biggest one is striking at the heart of the royal family and the king's youngest daughter, Princess Cristina. From the perspective of the UK, politics are a bit noisier here - for example a big anti-fracking campaign - and it may be that I'm just not used to this level of visibility, but from that perspective you have to wonder whether Spain can hold together.

Roman bridge at Oix
Anyway while I was worrying about Spain's future, Christine was marching to Oix. She had decided that we could get there for lunch and was walking in double quick time. We did and it was a lovely lunch in a smashing hostal. She intend's to have dinner as well so, on a the day we did a small 20 kilometre walk, we're going to blow out on two huge meals. From famine to feast in two days.

If you want to see where we went today then go to the following link

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  1. Good surprises wait for you on the days to come. Besalú the medieval village, Lake Banyoles and its surroundings and the blue Mediterranean sea. Not forget the Greak and roman ruins of Empuries which you must visit the day after tomorrow.

    1. Dodgy weather forecast though Juan, so the sea might not be so blue!

  2. Well done, John and Christine. Sue and I set off for Rome tomorrow, for our short encounter with the GEA, so I'll catch up with you in due course. Our days will be shorter than yours (except this one). Anyway, enjoy the rest of your walk. Where next?
    Martin (

    1. Thanks, have a great trip, I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

      Got lots planned but the next biggish on is a trip to Bulgaria in June.

      The GR1 Sendero Historico has been great and would definitely recommend it