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Supporting appealmobile on his world travels

Monday, 14 March 2011

Barcelona to Port Bou (Border with France)

Finally I arrived in Barcelona to find the bike waiting for me. I had to wait overnight for the key to arrive from Fran a member of the Barcelona LFC Reds who was minding it for me.
I spent the night still without a sleeping bag as funds would not permit the purchase.
The following morning I met Fran and was about to set off when I noticed the spark plug was missing.
Not bad considering it was there for two months and that was all they could think of taking. Fortunately I had a spare few and was soon underway heading for Tossa de Mar. I had stopped here before when on way to a Barcelona Chanpions league game a couple of years back. (Micro card has failed after deleting pictures to here)

It was quiet and I found a bar where I read a book over a couple of beers until it closed earlier than I expected, so I found a new bar to sit the evening out.
It was busy and I soon became an attraction as the bike is well thought of in Spain and the locals had spotted the GB plate.They advised me on a quiet sheltered doorway at the back edge of the resort where the police wouldn´t notice me.
Following morning a couple of coffees and I was off heading along the most beautiful coast in the whole of Spain. The road twists and turns along the headland up to San Feliu de Guixols. Sadly it gets a bit Blackpoolish after that until you get to La Fosca. A very quiet resort with no apparent hotels just a couple of cafes overlooking a lovely beach.
I was in need of a bath and tested the water. I decided to do the lower half in the sea and the rest was a sand bath. This is something I learned from an officer who served in the deset. It entails grabbing a handful of sand and scouring armpits etc until all dead skin is removed.
Change of clothes did the trick and I eventually set off again at a leisurely pace.
It got tricky after that as there is no route over the headlands so I finished up going through the Parc Naturel which is like one of those forest trails you see in England. I noticed the bike was smoking a bit and was lacking in power as it travelled over the rain gulleys in the trail and up and over every little hill in the park. For a moment I thought the clutch was slipping and was fearing the worse, but I came out the other side ok.
I realised I was not making much progress, so was by-passing a few resorts in order to make Roses for the night, when the engine cut out. I was 5kms from Begur and decided to push it there and deal with it in the morning as the light was getting poor.
It was uphill all the way and I arrived in Begur exhausted. Fist thing to do was find a bar which I did and it turned out to be a lovely place with the friendliest of clients and the most warm owners you could meet.
I drank there the whole evening untill my allowance ran out  and set off to find a shelter. The local supermarket was the answer and I crawled in between the trolleys and the window to settle for the night. The expected heavy rain arrived early morning and it got worse as the day went on.
I sorted the points out in the sheltered area outside the bar and was about to set off to test the repair, when the clutch cable snapped. That was what was happening the day before, which I thought was the clutch itself wearing out. I was advised that there was a garage at the bottom of the hill so set off to get a replacement. The hill was a mountain and it was only after getting to the bottom that I realised, I had forgotten to bring the nipple to compare. Back up the North Face again and return to find the shop. Only one euro fifty for a new inner cable. As I was knackered after the walk, I took in the Begur U18´s game before climbing up again to the cafe.
I fixed the cable, but by now the rain was so bad I wasn`t prepared to try it out. A slight pause in the rain and I got the bike going, but only for the throttle cable to snap.
There wasn`t much I could do then as the light was so bad sitting in this cloud that sat on top of Begur, I decided to go back into the bar where I got talking to an ex Ukranian from Odessa who has lived in Begur for 11 years. Igor was one of those Russian lads who was always smiling and reminded me of Russian sailors I had seen years ago on tv. I was telling him about my Saturday afternoon of opera in Valenciana, when he shot off to return with his accordion.
My God the lad could play and after an hour of entertaining the handful of locals that had ventured out off he went home, but not before he offered to put me up for the night. As he had a wife and a baby I did not want to impose on them so declined his generous offer. It was my second offer of the day. Such wonderful gestures. My back was bad from the walk and I was trying to get close to the TV to watch the news re Japan and was feeling the usual spasms when Pedro the owner who was sitting with wife Inma and kids having ther dinner served me up a meal. Later he came out while I was having a cigarette and asked was I sleeping in the street. I affirmed and he told me in no uncertain terms that on that night I wasn`t. He said it in such a way I could not bring myself to argue. He then showed me the stockroom where I could sleep, but later after providing beers and food throughout the evening and as he was about to lock up, he brings in a mattress, pillow and blanket and then sets me up in the games room with TV and access to beer as I wish. I was so tired I couldn`t accept that offer and feeling embarassed with all the hospitality could not bring myself to have one more beer.
I slept well that night and woke just as Pedro was opening up. The sun was shining and after the rain the prvious day, it was more than welcome.
I still had the throttle cable to sort out and was waiting for a new one which was promised the night before but as time passed without it appearing decided to sort the old one.
I had to pull out the nylon inner until ithe damaged area appeared and then shorten the outer cable to accomodate the shortened lenghth of the inner cable. The bike started and I took a run down to one of the beaches at the bottom of the hill that Begur stands on.
It was really beautiful down there and I am glad I didn't continue past the centre as there isn't much down there and getting back was a mountainous climb back up.
I was so indebted to Pedro I offered to clean his windows which he declined as he told me Sunday was a very busy day with customers.
He was right. When I returned the tables outside were all occupied so I spent an hour or so clearing the tables of glasses as each group departed.
After an hour or so it started to quieten so I loaded up and set off for Roses.
I passed the resort of Lestartit and eventually arrived at Lescala.
The afternoon sun was baking so I decided to stop and have a beer on the road at the side of the beach. It really was beautiful sitting there with a view over the bay to Roses in the distance.
I rode on and tried to find a way through San Pere Pescador, where there is a bridge across the river. I missed the bridge and finished up taking a long detour to get around to Roses. Petrol was running low and I had a worry that I wouldn't reach there. I had only eight euros left till my pension at midnight, so when I arrived at a small village called Fortia and stopped to look for a sign post to Roses I allowed myself to be seduced by a sad looking bar set back in the village square.
There was a young Colombian girl serving and we got into a discussion about the ride after she had announced that during the game on tv that canyas would be a euro each plus a free tapas.
That convinced me to see the evening out in this canteen style bar.
The promotion had had no affect on the locals as only three of us sat through the Barcelona game.
I retired after my sixth canya of that session to the council office doorway on the other side of the square.
I awoke the next morning to find my tool bag had been emptied out, but fortunately my mish mash of spanners were not an attractive proposition for the would be thieves and all my tools were all accounted for.
My Colombian friend had opened the bar and as I had promised to help her out with a little bit of English went across.
I gave a quick lesson, for which I earned a sandwich and a couple of coffees. The bar was filling up with locals and the lesson became difficult with all the interruptions so I quietly slipped out and off at last to Roses.
Two kilometres on and what I had feared the night before occurred when I ran out of fuel. It was a six kilometre puch o Roses and a gas station and it was a humid grey morning, which had me perspiring the calorie intake out of my system.
I had to buy two stroke oil at twelve euros as well as a tank of fuel that saw the best part of twenty euros disappear. That was my days allowance gone in one fould swoop. The humidity was changing and now it was a chill grey day as I rode onto the front. Coffee stop and advice on where Salvador Dalis house was and off to Cadaquez where I was reliably informed it was located.
I wasn't far out of the town heading up to the hills to North of Roses when I got my third puncture since buying the bike.
Five more kilometres puching the bike on that day as I took it back to Roses centre.
I located a repairers and left it with them to fix. The rain kicked in while I was hanging around accompanied by a gale force wind. Naturally I took refuge in the bars, just for one I thought, but each time I returned for the bike they hadn't even strted to take the wheel off.
Four or five beers and a sandwich later the bike was ready. twenty four euros and the ten I spent on entertaining myself was draining the weeks budget.
It was by now driving sheeting rain and I decided I was going nowhere that day so went off and bought a writing pad and a pen to occupy myself through the evening as opposed to wasting more of my weeks allowance in a bar.
I took a a 'room' in the entrance to the market with the local wine drinkers who were very nice and then was invited to join the Roses young Moroccan lads club round the corner, by the now closed bar entrance.
Port Selva on the other side of the hills from Roses
Behind the grill of the entrance was one of those tall patio heaters that they reached through and ignited. So for a couple of hours I was warmed while I scribbled my story in my pad.
They eventually left me to myself and I was soon asleep although I was woken by the sound of the rain lashing down on the metal roof of the market hall.
The rain eased in the morning so as soon as the supermarket opened and breakfast lunch and evening meal was purchased for two euros I was off over the mountain to Cadaquez for a second attempt.

The ascent was incredible with stunning views over Roses bay until shortly before the summit of the pass, I was submerged into low cloud which cut visibility down to about ten metres.
It was grim and I was absorbing all this moisture through my waterproofs until I finally descended down to Cadaquez.
I was convinced I hadn't driven a bus through here when I saw Dalis house twenty or more years ago so after a quick stop there I left and and set out for Port Bou.

A costly mistake in thinking I could get around the headland to El Port Del La Selva, but it took me through a natural park with no exit. I returned to Cadaquez to make the ascent back to the summit to take the only rout through.

The weather at times was foul with a gale force wind blowing in from the east off the sea. I rode on wishing to have a coffee at Port Bou, climbing heaights on twisting roads and passing through tunnels to be nearly blown off the bike when emerging from them, until vertically below me was the first rail station, or the last, in Spain depending which way you are travelling.
I made it down to the front just as the rain started again and was quickly into the only cafe that remained open. The breakers were rolling in and crashing over the rocks and I estimated they were all of ten foot high on the large ones.

I managed to crush a finger in the door of the cafe when leaving which I recieved no sympathy from the owner for.

Then it was a climb up and to the frontier with France






















I stopped up there for a photo of the bike with the France sign, but was captured by the plaques with the story of the refugees that fled from the civil war and camped on the beaches in France.


1 comment:

Chris said...

Glad your back safe and well Harry. Chris