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The Spanish Coast

Friday, December 7, 2012

My decision to head south and out of the snows of France brought me sunshine…

From Perpignan I headed directly for the coast. Had I known how hilly the coast road is, maybe I’d have chosen an easier way, but the views were stunning, with Port-vendres (below) particularly impressive.

Sunshine and spectacular views, what more could you want?

I have to admit riding along the empty beach fronts was a strange experience as it’s almost impossible to do so during the tourist season. Of course everything was closed up, but I’ve never seen anything like this before:

Empty beaches on the Costa Brava.

The riding was sublime, and although it was still cool (8-10 degrees C) the roads were quiet and I was making good progress. I struck camp on a rocky hillside just above the town of Portbou, which was something of a mistake as it’s a very busy railway terminus. All night long I listened to the trains – but the setting was something special and will remain in my memory, so I’m not complaining.

The next morning I decided to head inland and visit the old town of Figueres. It was market day and very busy, so after a quick lunch stop I headed out of the crowds and back towards the coast via Torroella de Montgri. The roads were flat(ish) and fast and I was riding a nice rhythm when alongside came another cyclist, the first time on my trip I had shared riding with anyone else. As we chatted I learned my riding companion was a German called Helmut living over here in Spain and it didn’t take long before I was invited back for a cup of tea, a journey of just 5 km.

On arriving at his home I met his lovely wife Christa, who promptly furnished me with very welcome cups of tea. Helmut had told me during our ride that he was retired and cycled 3-4 times a week, had 15 bicycles and a full workshop. I’d thought he was joking about the bikes, that is until I saw his workshop:

Helmut in his Aladdin’s Cave.

He is passionate about his cycling and can do just about anything with a bike (even build one from tubes) and fixed my broken pannier rack by removing the sheared bolt and installing a new one. On hearing that I was camping, I was offered a bed for the night. I’ve already spoken about the kindness of strangers and I think this for me is the very best part of my journey, making new friends and sharing experiences. I decided to try and repay Helmut in a small way by taking my rest day the next day so as we could ride together on his local patch, but not before he’d taken me round his local bike shops so as I could pick up some extra brake pads I’d decided to get for later in my trip.

So I’m warm and dry and enjoying Helmut and Christa’s excellent hospitality. A far cry from the freezing cold and damp of France just a few short days ago.

Friday, December 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Derek – what a blessing for you to meet up with Helmut. You were very near a place where my family enjoyed holidays when our son was younger – Port de la Selva. We loved being with the Spanish people in this unspoilt by tourism village. We went back for a reminiscence trip 7 years ago when my son and I celebrated our 30th and 60th birthdays!

Jean Glynn
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

oh Derek I am so glad you have left the snow behind. I was cold just thinking about you. I am following you on my atlas or on here (my atlas is only a school book ) the internet gives me the smallest places so I know exactly where you are or where you have been. The photos are beautiful. Take care of yourself and I am thinking of you. Good Luck on the next leg of your wonderful adventure……………xxx

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