Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Oix - Besalú

GR1 Sendero Historico day 47.
Distance: 24.4km (1366.9km), time spent: 6:55.
Waymarking: Very good to Tortellà, extremely awful afterwards.
Weather: Overcast, some rain, then lighter later.

The clock is ticking towards the end of the hike, there are now not many kilometres left to the waves of the Mediterranean greets me. Today it was not the longest of walks that stood ahead of me, since I was adamant that I would want to experience the Middle Ages in the shape of Besalú on the way, and not just as a stopover underway. I wanted to have both the evening and night at the place. The reason for it was that Besalú competes with Sos del Rey Católico for the title of the best-preserved town from the Middle Ages on the GR1. I care little about which of the two that are the best preserved, but when I read it, it tells me much of what I can expect when I get to the town, I cannot wait to get there. Along the way, the trail took me on a rollercoaster of emotions, where the highlights where at the beginning, and the bottom was reached later.

The conical mountains of L'Alta Garrotxa.

The morning starts as the evening ended yesterday, with rain outside the doors of the accommodation. Breakfast brings properly of food. The Japanese wants to go by taxi to Olot and to Camporodon from there, memories from the GR11 (the trail is on my list). Some will call the weather I venture out into for depressive, they might be correct, but this kind of weather appeals a good deal to the melancholic romantic in me. I can now clearer see the conical mountains around me, with drifting low-lying clouds around them. Less rain when I am on the way, but the clouds and the idea of rain lingers on.

Oix seen from the hills above.

It is however still rain in the air when I leave the road out of Oix, past where the path to Pont Romá d’Oix goes, which I for a short moment considers revisiting. The conical tops behind me, greyed out behind a veil of clouds and rain. Today, I will say farewell to the mountains and descend down to the lower plains near the coast, but at first, the route goes up into wooded hills with sad clouds wandering restlessly between the valleys. The sky is not in such a good mood, but I am. I enjoy this walk through the subdued surroundings. Always a quietness of its own in such weather as this.

A grey and melancholic landscape and sky, on the way from Oix to Pont del Llierca.

Along the route several more of these shrines or idols of saints appears. I become aware of the red berries that I tasted yesterday, berries that I otherwise would have just registered in the passing, but now I become standing and studying them closer. From higher up, I can in the grey view see that the scenery is slowly sinking. The lowland waits.

One of several idols of saints along the route.

After a nice walk over the hills, I come to Pont del Llierca, yet another impressive bridge. In this section of the trail, the bridges has taken over the roles the abandoned village had earlier. You do not find a clearer border between the mountains and the lowlands towards the Mediterranean on this trail. Pont del Llierca is a slender bridge with just one arch that reaches 28 metres over the el Llierca river, three metres wide and 52 metres long. It is a lovely bridge, built on the 14th century. I cross over on the cobblestones and almost at the same time, the route changes to a flatter terrain. Sun looks out only seconds later.

Pont del Llierca seen from down below at the el Llierca river, 28 metres up to the span of the bridge.

I am happy that I took a break in Tortellà, in a local bar with old posters on the walls. For without a refill of energy, I am unsure of how I would have tackled the awful waymarking and continuing trail. From here, the GR1 disappear down into a messy terrain were the waymarks are outright absent. That I was to take an almost overgrown path instead of the more apparent path I was following went right past me and I walk a short distance before I believe that I have to turn. On the overgrown path, there is one faded waymark further in, the last waymark that I will get to see for quite a while. Because the path now becomes more and more impassable and bad, with logging around making it even worse. To walk is a toil, to find the way is even worse. I wonder what they were thinking when the made the trail go down into this travesty. In the end, I give up and hews my way back to the outskirt of Tortellà, where I find out that I have spent a long time on getting a very short distance ahead. Now what?

Pont del Llierca.

By the map in the guidebook, I see that there is a road to the northeast of Tortellà where I can find another road going towards Besalú, which the route joins later. I decide to try to find it, which makes me go a wrong way again, to Sales de Llierca and the Sant Marti de Llierca church. Where I find a map on an information board with an arrow telling me where I am, with that as aid, I find the correct road and so after a long detour and time spent, I am finally back on the GR1. GPS is necessary to hike the trail properly unfortunately. I easily admit that I am somewhat pissed off at this moment.

On the flat plains after the mountains before Tortellà.

And when I am, I usually clench my teeth together extra well and increase my pace. There is anyway little exciting to see on the last part to Besalú. The route goes for a good time next to a highway, before it makes several poor attempts to lead me on the correct way south of the highway. The waymarking here is about as much in ruins as Can Guell, which once must have been a hotel and restaurant. The place has been vandalised by both nature and people. Not a pleasant place to be in the evening and night, I believe.

The amazing bridge in Besalú, Pont de Besalú that crosses the Río Fluvià.

My mood luckily quickly returns when I arrive in Besalú, although I arrived a good deal later than wanted. I have no place to stay, so the first thing I do, in between all the amazement of the buildings I pass, is to walk around to find a place to stay. I spend some at it as well, there are several hotels here (this is a tourist place), but most of those I try is too expensive (a tourist place as said) and the cheap one I knew about is closed for some reason, but it turns out well for tired feet in the end (Hotel3Arcs). This was not entirely true, for the first thing I really did, was to visit the monastery from the year of 977, Monasteri de San Pedro. I thought I had to take advantage of the chance since it was open.

In Besalú in the evening.

Besalú is as Sos del Rey Católico, a small town with an overdose of medieval buildings. The main difference between these two is that there are significantly more tourists here and hence also more souvenir shops. This is probably the only negative thing that I find with the place, but since we are not talking about the most flamboyant appearance of tourists, it matters little. Outside the main tourist season it likely also is.

The monastery of San Pedro.

To go through all there is to see here, I do not have the time for. Below the narrow streets going between the old buildings the Río Fluvià runs, with a small park and green area between the houses and the river. The other second difference is that Besalú is in possession of an absolute amazing bridge, complete with towers that the route across the bridge passes through. To stroll over the bridge is mandatory and will show you the town from another side. You can get lost in the narrow streets, like in a maze, but I am also satisfied by just sitting down and relaxing at one of the several cafés. In front of the monastery of San Pedro, there is a large open square with several restaurants and inside the small streets; there exists lots of pleasant small cafés and bars.

The afternoon and evening in Besalú makes a great remedy for the deplorable experience after Tortellà. The hike from Oix was of the atmospheric kind and all to my liking. Two days left to the ocean.

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