Ripoll to Olot - From Munich to Spain to France - CycleBlaze

May 15, 2024

Ripoll to Olot

We are determined to have a normal touring day

We were determined that today would be an easy day.
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This morning we got a bit more of a window on the Catalonian train drama, which continues. In our breakfast room (after our romantic night with the fake rose petals!) we met an Australian couple who were trying to meet up with other friends to start a Catalonian cycle tour. Dave and Sue, from Melbourne, had their own adventure trying to get from Barcelona to Ripoll and finally wound up taking the bus when the trains didn’t run. Of course I’m giving the edited version of a comic and complicated story. When we met them they were waiting for both their friends Karen and Alan, who wound up hiring a cab at some exorbitant cost to get to Ripoll, and their guide, who wound up on a train that broke down in the middle of a field, necessitating an evacuation by all passengers and a hike to a nearby road!  After hearing all this we felt pretty fortunate we got the train yesterday when we did. The good news for the Aussies is that just as we were leaving their friends and the guide arrived to relief and joy from everyone.

Dave & Sue from Australia. . .
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Laura ClarkI really like how you post photos of other travelers who you meet. It's also interesting to hear about their backgrounds and where their journeys are taking them.
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4 weeks ago
. . . Finally meeting with their friends in Ripoll.
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Our ride today was a short one and there was a window of alleged clearing between 10 and 2 so we hoofed it to get going shortly after 10 for a shortish day of 33 km. It was chilly but the first 9 km were up a 1-2 percent grade on the Ruta del Ferro cycle trail (named for the historical coal mining in the region) to the town of Sant Joan de les Abbesses. This was followed by a great climb of 350 meters on a winding road with no traffic up to the Collada de Sentigosa at 1064 meters.  The 22 km descent to Olot was in a light rain but after all our adverse weather on this trip a light rain was a breeze and we enjoyed a fun ride down. I am really digging Pyrennean declines, as they are not too steep. 

This is the route we followed into Olot.
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To the town of Sant Joan de les Abbesses and the start of our climb.
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At the top of the col. We stopped here to add some extra clothes and rain gear for the descent.
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On our way down to Olot.
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One of several hamlets we saw along the way.
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We arrived in Olot a little after 1 pm and found a convenient bench to eat our sandwich and Dave nipped into a nearby grocery to buy chips. After that we made our way over to the basic Hotel Estacio hoping they would let us check in an hour early but that was not to be. Reception was locked up and there wasn’t even a place we could sit and wait out the hour. We crossed the street and found a delightful cafe to have a coffee and tea. We were amazed by the cafe mostly because this wasn’t the most salubrious wing of this small city; it was sort of industrial/low end commercial stuff. In fact, the laundromat was right next door, so Dave intends to do a laundry run later. At 3 we wandered back to our hotel and our proprietor checked us in. He didn’t speak a lick of English. We had intended to ask him about open restaurants that evening since my research suggests that we should be adding Wednesday to days that restaurants don’t open. We quickly gathered he would not be helpful in that regard, but he did the necessary hotel basics just fine. Our bikes got parked in a tiny funky garage, our room was pretty large, good linens, two pillows each and it was  new. If you’re going with a more basic hotel, a newer one is a safe bet. The weirdest thing is that were no water glasses in the room  (let alone tea/coffee cups or a kettle) but there was lots of space to spread out and sort our dirty - and then clean -laundry!

After Dave did a laundry run, with no drama, we ventured out to find sustenance. A cafe about 1 mile away said it was open on google maps. We enjoyed a pleasant walk through the old town to Cafe Europa. Along the way  we watched for other open restaurants and found only one potential candidate, a Legends sports bar. When  we arrived Cafe Europa was locked up - nevermind what Google says -  and we were a bit adrift in the main square, wondering if it was going to be the sports bar or the Turkish kebab pizzeria by our hotel for dinner! I spied a little storefront and it was a Mexican place with a few outdoor and indoor tables. The place did not look all that authentic but we were pretty desperate and sat down outside,  because even though it was chilly the indoor part advertised 80’s music —and we just couldn’t go there that night! The Mexican food vastly exceeded expectations: we had very respectable margaritas, split an order of tacos and a single tapa (Some mystery potato thing). 

There may not be a lot going on in Olot, but it is pretty little town.
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Jill enjoying a very respectable concinita pibil taco and margarita.
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A few observations: 

(1) This is the first trip- and the Pyrenees the first area - where not speaking the local language has been challenging. We have always gotten what we needed, but it’s been much more complicated and we feel vulnerable. We have had to work harder at it. 

(2) Europe has always had much more limited opening hours for commercial places than the US - but this area and southern France takes it to a new level. Restaurants are not open Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and now Wednesday! And now we are finding hotels, which historically keep broader restaurant hours to make sure their guests get fed, do not stay open either. We also find groceries and bakeries close at 12:30 for 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon — which is pretty much when we have need for those places. We’re adjusting but we are having to put more thought into our related chores.

(3) Dave hasn’t had nearly as much to report on the laundry front.  Two reasons for this: First the laundromats have been quiet; if he is the only person in there, nobody sees him bumbling around figuring things out! Second, he’s just getting better at it!



Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 628 km (390 miles)

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Jacquie GaudetThis is our third time in Spain and I think we are finally getting the restaurant thing. What time are you hoping to eat? Many restaurants don’t open until 8:30 or 9 and if open earlier, it’s often just for drinks. Another way is what Team Anderson now does—eat a big meal at Spanish lunchtime, between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. For us, it varies according to how our day goes. A couple of days ago, we stuffed ourselves with three big meals (fuelling up with hotel breakfast, cold-and-hungry big lunch, then already-paid-for hotel dinner).
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4 weeks ago
Laura ClarkI have thought to myself, when is the David doing laundry drama going to happen? I guess not yet. Ha!
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4 weeks ago