Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ripoll - Sant Joan de les Abadesses

GR1 Sendero Historico day 45.
Distance: 14.0km (1311.4km), time spent: 4:11.
Waymarking: Good.
Weather: Modestly overcast.


There are times when you get ideas that just takes a hold of your mind and stays there, until you go ahead and accomplish them. Or leaving behind a disappointing emptiness after itself, if not. This was not a large idea, but it was a good one. It feels wrong not to visit the known monastery here, Monasteri de Santa Maria de Ripoll, now that I am here and has the opportunity. However, the monastery does not open until 10 o’clock. Which means that I will not reach so far when it comes to the walk for today, so now, I am actually gonna do the opposite of yesterday and earlier, I will cut a stage in the guidebook in two, and walk to Sant Joan de les Abadesses. Where there also are a monastery that it is worth visiting.

Inside the monastery of Ripoll, Monasteri de Santa Maria de Ripoll.

In the morning, I wake up too early; it is a small bummer since I have better time available than I think. After a breakfast at the usual bar, I then unfortunately have to wait a while for the monastery to reach its opening hours. The wait is well worth it, this is maybe the nicest monastery I have seen during my walk. The only fly in the ointment is that the entrance, which is said to be impressive, is under maintenance. Flashback to Olite. What strikes me most are the colour tints inside the church, which has an incredible purple hue. The monastery was founded by Wilfred the Hairy (which had everything but hair at his head) in year 880.

The cloister garden in the monastery of Ripoll.

I am also so lucky to get in before a large group of tourists makes you see more of them than of the monastery itself. The two storey’s cloister garden is also very nice, a relaxing place where the surrounding world is closed outside. Unfortunately, you cannot get up into the tower. Above the walls, I can see the hills and mountains around Ripoll. It is also quite special to see the old stone graves in the crypt underneath the monastery. I still have to return back to the church and its illumination and purple toned blackcurrant-coloured walls. Whatever outcome of my decision, I do not regret it so far.

After Ripoll, the GR1 followed a water canal for a while.

When I finally feels the weight of my backpack on my back again and leaves Ripoll (for this time, I count on returning here later today), it is to a feeling that a rhythm has been broken. It feels weird to set out this late. The first part of the walk from Ripoll is quite boring, which goes next to the trafficked road out of the town. To me, the only reason why the trail is going here is that it also goes next to an old water canal. For this could have been a pleasant walk, if it would go down in the valley, next to the canal in autumn colours, only it does do exactly that in a way, but that most of the autumnal colours are coming from the rust on the cars passing by. After a while, the water canal disappears, leaving just the car canal behind.

Up in the hills between Ripoll and Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Ripoll lies down in the valley you can see, but is not visible from here.

The trail follows the road for a time and then it takes off on a route that bears up into the hills and mountains above, to my great joy, the boredom is lessened quite a lot of that reason. The weather above me is indecisively, as if it cannot entirely decide upon whether it shall let the sun come forth or wrap the landscape in clouds. This makes that the upper parts of the mountains above are mainly hidden from me, but anyway it is a pleasant walk upwards. In between, I can see glimpses of them, small windows of temptations that beckons you to leave the trail and climb higher up. There are also hunters out in the embrace of the woods; I encounter some on my way up. Here and there, the familiar sights of lonely farms.

In the hills, with view of the mountains above where the clouds reigns.

On the highest point the trail reaches on this section, I walk among meadows between the trees. There are some points with views of the valley below, I can see the valley where Ripoll is, but the town itself is hidden behind one of the hills rising up from the valley. The path points downwards again, through the woods and past a small settlement, Serra del Pradell. Too short of a stage really, but it may be that it will do me well, I have not walked so far that my feet has started to hurt today. It was relaxing to walk up in the hills, I arrive at Sant Joan de les Abadesses and the wonderful bridge leading over to the small town.

A distinct dirt track up in the hills, before the trail descends towards Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

The monastery in Sant Joan de les Abadesses, carrying the same name as the town, does not open until 16:00. There is however a pumpkin-festival here and with that many happy pumpkins to see in the centre. Many people too. Pumpkins are eaten in plenary. There are dragon-pumpkins and pumpkin-competitions, with several odd variants, the largest one weighs 614,5kg (the record in Spain is 631,6kg), a solid size. The sun is making more use of itself in the sky when I eat lunch at a café next to the monastery.

Sant Joan de les Abadesses with its great bridge leading in to the town.

The monastery here is smaller than the one in Ripoll, and can be traced back to the 12th century. There are no purple glow in the walls in the church here, which is of a more normal shape, and darker inside, which increases the effect of the existing windows. Inside the monastery, there is a small chapel that seizes my attention, with walls and roof resembling a manorial hall. The cloister garden is also smaller, with only one storey, but it is a pleasant and tranquil place with a small green grass in the middle. In addition to the monastery, there is a small museum.

Monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

No place to stay for the night here, one place is closed and the other (a youth hostel) does not answer my call, the trail further goes mainly down in the valley and I am not tempted to try finding a campsite there. So I decide to return to Ripoll. While I sit and wait for the bus, a car stops and I get a lift back. This time, back in Ripoll, I go for a room at the Hostal del Ripollés.

Inside a small chapel in the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

Since it is Sunday, there are not as many places open as yesterday, it is sleepier out in the streets. Yesterday, I found a place for dinner today, but given that it is Sunday, they do not serve food. It is still a very nice place, so I sit down with a local artisan beer. When I leave, I forget to pay and do not notice it until shortly after, when I return it turns out that they had not noticed that I had walked. I eat dinner at small street food parlor instead, which serves good burgers and other quick small dishes.

There is pumpkin-festival in the small town, here a dragon-pumpkin begins to take shape.

A day of more cultural (some may say more religious, except that I am not religious) activities than hiking, no matter a nice enough day on the walk. I lost some of the headway on the trail, but I will regain it tomorrow, I have decided to walk to Oix then.

<- RipollOix ->

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