Down to Girona

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We took a chance and didn’t arrange for breakfast from the hotel. In the morning we let ourselves out, stopped at a nearby bakery for a couple of pastries and a mini baguette and found the Cafe Dinamic within a few hundred metres. CD’s barrista justified the name and served some pretty good coffees so our gamble paid off nicely.

We left Ripoll climbing east towards the Coll de Canes (1120m) and the Coll de Coubet (1010m) up a valley of interlocking spurs disappearing into the mist. The road climbed gently and steadily winding towards the pass. The lower slopes had ancient terraces yielding to thick oak and conifer forests above. Cow bells were peeling all the way. This might have been the most glorious road we’ve cycled.

We had little traffic but were overtaken by three French cyclists making a quick loop into Spain to visit Salvador Dali country and travelling lighter and faster than us. From  the Coll de Canes (dogs) our road swept down to Olot. (The Coll de Coubet was only a pass if you took another road at the intersection there.) Despite the thrill of the descent we felt a pang and must say goodbye to the Pyrenees that we are leaving.

From Olot we took the rail trail all the way to Girona. The trail stretches 160km south but 40km served us well on this trip. It is unsealed with improvised connections at times but is well sign posted and almost all downhill for us. As we lose altitude the cycling is easy but it’s a little dispiriting to be leaving the mountains so soon. A head wind, some charmless industrial sites and the ragged, modern outskirts of Girona add to our heavy hearts.

Our first contact with Girona was not encouraging as we struggled to find the centre of town. Likewise our arrival at our pensione. But after refreshment, a rest, a thunderstorm and contact with the grandmotherly hostess we were reassured and an evening walk through the medieval streets was enchanting.

The restaurants here are schmick – each one a work of art. Dinner is going to be expensive. But no, prices are reasonable – much lower than in France. We had our first paella (pronounced paya) and it was good.

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