What a wonderful past few weeks we’ve had!
Okay … to pick up where Kris left off, we were in Girona, sleeping in the public gardens for 3 nights. John let us use his shower and we were off to head north-west for a fun day in an old Greek-settled city, Sant Marti d’Empuries. A guy we met in a WiFi enabled coffee shop told us to go there (and he also told us about our genealogy. Weird Scottish guy, but very nice.)
The bike ride to Sant Marti brought back that feeling we get once we leave a place we’ve been at for awhile. During the first hour or 2 of the ride, I let out a freedom wail, like a karate chop – but with my entire body. It feels so good to be so free! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
The ride to Sant Marti was nice, and pretty uneventful. The trees were changing colors and it reminded us both of home.
On our way, we stopped for some lunch at a menu-style bar. They serve a ‘menu’ for a certain price, which includes 1 entree, 1 appetizer, 1 dessert and a glass of wine. Being seasoned Spanish speakers, we were able to order octopus, and it turned out to be a rubber-filled awful idea. Yuck. No more octi for us.
Sant Marti is a small town next to the larger L’Escala. When we got into L’Escala, we shopped for some food – including artichoke hearts for our delicious pasta we were planning. Some fruit made it’s way into our mouths before we were even back on the bikes, and we were off.
We also picked up a jug of water to refill our 3liter CamelBak’s and a little extra … NOT! What we thought was a 5 Liter jug turned out to be an 8’r. HUGE jug. Try biking with 8 liters of water hanging from one side. I felt like I had an infant hanging from my hip. Not good for balance.
We headed down to the old city and biked through the path by the water. Beautiful old ruins of Greek architecture – but protected by a big fence. It was getting late, and we were looking for a place to camp. We met a WONDERFUL Irish family who had stayed in the town the past week. They told us to camp by the Lidl grocery store, in the field next to the shooting range. Once we got there, we decided to sleep across the way, in a crop field.
When we were setting up the tent, 2 men started walking to us. We were a bit freaked, but they offered us to come inside their home and join them for some food and drink. We put our stuff away and 10 minutes later, we were in a small shed that a guy was living in. He put a box of donuts, a bag of chips, candy, and a mountain of sugar stuff on the table in front of us. All of it was making us sick, but they were really nice to us. It was a small place, but it’s proof that you don’t need much to be happy.
The next day, we wandered the city, took pictures, then made our way to Salvador Dali’s hometown of Figueres. 56km later, we arrived in a neat looking city, not too dissimilar from Girona. The only difference was the AMAZING Dali Museum on the north-west side of town. What a cool place, with gigantic eggs decorating the top.
We decided to plop down the cash for a hotel and found ourselves at the President Hotel. I think it was a 4-star hotel, but Kris remembers it being a 3. Either way, it was nice. Not too expensive, but the kind of luxury that would make a nomadic cyclist swoon. We were given oranges in the evening and the jar of gummy candy never seemed to end – even though we tried.
The night we spent there was a bit relaxed, eating poor imitations of Mexican food — did we mention that we miss spicy food?
In the morning, we were going to leave town but *somebody* wasn’t feeling too hot. We decided to stay another night because we were, after all, the Presidents.
We were able to hit the Dali Museum, which can only be described as a long mustache’d LSD trip through the weird with a vast array of mediums – canvas, plastic, living plants, even a car that was raining inside. So strange. A tip of the hat to you, Salvy. We loved it.
The next day, we left to cross the border into France. It was exciting, as we were gearing up to take a picture under a sign that would say “Welcome to France. You made it! Have some fromage!” … No luck. The town on the border was for the Frenchies who were eager to buy booze and smoke at Spain’s lower prices. There were even some men hawking D&G sunglasses and watches. We instead enjoyed some granola and an orange. MMMMMM.
The trip across the border was nice and easy – we climbed the Pyrenees without any difficulty. I wouldn’t ever go the other way – the ride down into France was fast and cool.
That night, we found ourselves in Perpignan. A nice hotel was on our way, and we stayed for a night — they had free WiFi and clean sheets. Good enough!
The weather was cool, but we were doing alright. We went for a walk after enjoying some falafal from the countless Doner Kabap’s all around Spain and now France. Walking down by the train station, we met a German named Christoph, and 2 ‘travelers’ who looking for some money. Weird guys, but nice enough. They offered us a mix of Coca Cola and wine, known as Kalimotxo. We declined, but they seemed to enjoy it.
The 2 ‘travelers’ had been on the road for the past 7 YEARS hitchhiking. We both thought it sounded more like they were homeless, but they didn’t seem to agree. One of the guys knew 7 languages fluently. Impressive, to say the least.
We met up with them later in the evening and I learned all about a guy’s hash smuggling in Spain and how he’s now on the run. Oh the people you’ll meet!
The next day, we set off to bike north to our next farm, but the wet wind blew us directly back to where we started, the train station. We boarded the train and arrived in Carcassonne a few hours later. Phew!
In Carcassonne, we spent the night in another hostel because it was so late. It had been an expensive few days, but we were out of sunlight to find suitable places to camp. Our saving grace was the farm we were staying at — no living expenses!
Here’s the pictures of the trip that far — more talky talky below. Don’t miss it!
1 January 1970
After Carcassonne, we planned to bike near Mazamet where Peter and Wendy would pick us up. This time, the wind was SO AWFUL that we were averaging 3km/hr. It was nasty. Muddy, wet, hills, yuck. Kristen wanted to hitchhike (Have you seen our rigs?? It was THAT bad!) We decided to press on to the town of Villardonnel, where we found a quaint delicious restaurant/bar. There, we had hot chestnut soup (YUM), and a fish each. It was better food than everything in Spain combined.
They had WiFi and we were able to get a hold of WenPet (Wendy and Peter) and they left to pick us up.
2 hours later, we were loading our bikes into WenPet’s trailer and were off.
Wendy was born on the Isle of Wight, in England. Peter was born in the capital city of Switzerland. They had moved to their farm, Fontaussil, in 2005, and had spent the past 4 years fixing it up. Now, it was a beautiful, liveable, livery of 11 horses, 4 dogs (JamiePlatz, SkullyPlatz, Rusty and Bonnie), a bunny named Sammie, 2 cats (only one was cool, hence the name Supreme Pus), 2 goats, 3 geese and 3 chickens.
We were given our own room in the Holiday House, the house next to the main one. It was nice and clean and roomy. We had our own bathroom with shower and a place to put all of our gear. Super nice place to stay.
We hung our hats there for over 2 weeks, working Monday through Friday on various things on the farm. One of the biggest pains in the butt we did was pull Broom. It’s a plant that looks like long-needled spruce, and it grew all over the hillsides of the farm. Because they had been working so hard on the renovations, they hadn’t had any time to look after the hills. No problem – that’s why they signed up to HelpX! We were only their second workers, but they already had quite a few signed up by the time we left.
Another major project we worked on was their new homepage, www.wenpet.com. Peter helped me create it, by writing most of the content. I worked on the frame of it, and built it with 3 languages. Fun project, but very time consuming. Sometimes, working on the computer is a negative — it takes away from your time to enjoy the surroundings. Lessons for next time.
During our time at Fontaussil, Peter took us on a wonderful journey down the Tarn river. We visited what seemed like France’s little Grand Canyon. We took all day, even making sandwiches in the car to feel like authentic French. We had Roquefort cheese from the neighboring city of Roquefort, France. It was tasty, but the green mold on it wasn’t really working for me. We pitched half because we thought it was bad. Peter disagreed. That’s just how it is.
During the trip to the Tarn, we stopped to gawk at the 10,000 year old genetic line of Madagascar horses. They were found in a remote area and never had a chance to breed with other more recent breeds. Very cool to see them — check out the pictures to see what they look like.
Peter also took us to a little village nearby, including one where we met a man who sells honey and vinegar that he makes. We fell in love with his honey and his cat, whom looked like Mia, only more fun. Impossible, I know.
Wendy and Peter both taught us something we have both been interested in for awhile – Reiki. It was a great experience to be initiated into Reiki 1 and 2 while we were there. It’s something that we’ll always have with us, and will remind us of our time with such a great couple.
After 16 days at Fontaussil, we gave our hugs and our last kisses to the animals and left to see Becca, Kristen’s friend from way-back who’s teaching English east of us.
Photos of Fontaussil:
1 January 1970
Here’s a map of where we biked:
Remember – we trained from Perpignan(C) to Carcassonne(D), then got a ride from Villardonnel(E) to Fontaussil(F).
Super Duper Big Map for People who Can’t Read Good