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My Cami St. Jaume -- from Llançà to Montserrat

Discussion in 'Cami Catalan/Cami St. Jaume' started by peregrina2000, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I have heard from a couple of forum members who are tempted by this route, so I thought I would pull things together and give a report.

    First the overall picture: This year I walked from Llançà (on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona) to Montserrat (I'll call that the Cami St. Jaume) (total of 10 days). There I met LTfit and we walked the Cami Català from Montserrat through Huesca to Santa Cilia de Jaca, which is on the Camino Aragonés (10 1/2 days). From there we got a ride up to Somport (on the border with France) and walked the Aragonés to Puente la Reina (6 1/2 days). A bus took us to Pamplona and a train to Ponferrada. In Ponferrada, we went onto the Invierno (I continued on the Invierno, LT went to the Sanabrés) (13 days). I arrived in Santiago on July 14. I'll post some comments on these four caminos (St. Jaume, Català, Aragonés and Invierno) separtely.

    So, I'll start with the St. Jaume. This is a "fake Camino" route marked by the Generalitat. It goes from Port de la Selva to Girona, from Girona to Vic, and from Vic to Montserrat. It is deemed "fake" by some because the historical routes go EITHER through Girona or Vic, but the Generalitat has linked the two cities. I won't get into the merits of the dispute over the "fake" vs. "real" Camino but I will say that this route may be fake, but it is spectacular. Amazing scenery, lots of Romanesque monasteries, cloisters, and churches, and two exceptionally nice cities (Girona and Vic). So don't let the labels turn you off.

    Here are my stages for this first part:

    Day 1 -- Llançà up to St. Pere de Rodes monastery and back to Llançà (13 km)
    Day 2 -- Llançà to Figueres (30)
    Day 3 -- Figueres to Báscara (18)
    Day 4 -- Báscara to Girona (32)
    Day 5 -- Girona to Sant Feliu de Pallerols (42)
    Day 6 -- Sant Feliu to L'Esquirol (32)
    Day 7 -- L'Esquirol to Vic (32) (because of a detour to a monastery)
    Day 8 -- Vic to Santa María d'Oló (32)
    Day 9 -- Santa María to Manresa (42)
    Day 10 -- Manresa to Montserrat (30)

    I don't know how those totals compare to my GPS total, which is about 274 km.

    I will try to do a day by day with a few pictures for each stage, and I'm happy to answer questions or give suggestions to those who may be starting out soon. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  2. mla1

    mla1 Active Member Donating Member

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    Hi Laurie- were your 42k days by necessity or by choice? Could a person keep the stages under 40?
    ML
     
  3. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, ML,
    So are you already dreaming of another Camino? :) I will be writing here with a day by day report (I just have too much bothersome work to be able to write this up in one fell swoop), and as I do that, I'll point out alternatives for breaking up the long stages. The short answer is that it would be very easy to have more manageable days. I was being stubborn and wanting to have it all -- I knew LT had a limited window for walking and we had to meet in Montserrat on Saturday June 13. On the other end, I couldn't leave the US any earlier than I did, so it was either skip some parts or walk these stages.

    I also bet you could start in France and connect with either the Vic or Girona branch, since I know you love France!
     
  4. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 0 -- US to Barcelona. I arrived in Barcelona very early in the morning, hopped on the airport bus, which is extremely easy to use and cheap (6 or 7 euros) and was in central Barcelona well before 10 am. I did all my pre-Camino errands and was at my friends' apt. in the Eixample within an hour. I spent the day with them -- a good cafe con leche, a stroll through Gaudi-land, lunch at a macrobiotic restaurant, a visit to the Catalunya National Art Museum so I could revisit all those beautiful romanesque frescos, kid-time for after-school trumpet lessons, playing soccer in a plaza, dinner at a Colombian restaurant, and finally jet-lagged, I got into bed around 11 pm. For me, the best way to beat jet lag is to ignore it, though I usually would be in bed well before 11!

    Day 1 -- I was up early and after breakfast caught a 8:30 or so train from Barcelona to Llanca. There are MANY trains that do this route, but it was very hard for me to find them on the RENFE website, though I know they are there somewhere. But here is a link to Rodalies de Catalunya, the line on which the route to Llançà runs.

    http://rodalies.gencat.cat/en/horaris//cercador/?origenCerca=Barcelona-Sants&origen=71801&destiCerca=Llançà&desti=79312&dataViatge=28/08/2015&horaIni=0&lang=en&cercaRodalies=true

    A few words about the starting point of this Camino. The Generalitat literature lists Port de la Selva as the starting point, but I chose Llançà, which is only 8 or 9 kms north of Port de la Selva. There are two advantages -- you can get a train direct from Barcelona (no trains in Port de la Selva), and Llançà is not as fancy a place, so prices are lower. There is a youth hostel in Llançà, but it required a prepaid electronic bank transfer (very expensive from the US), and my hostal was just a few euros more anyway.

    I was in my Hostal in Llançà (named appropriately the Hosta Llançà, available on booking.com) by 11 am. It is very close to the train station and is clean and cheap. I paid 24 € for a single in early June.

    I dropped my pack and quickly headed out to find the Camino, which is well marked and leaves from the tourist office. The tourist office is conveniently located very close to my Hostal (but not so convenient or close to the beach). From there it was about a 6 1/2 km walk up to San Pere de Rodes, an amazing romanesque monastery that is perched high up in the hills and with a great view over the Mediterranean. I knew that this was a place where I wanted to spend some time, so the best way to do that was to visit it before I actually started walking. I am SO glad I did this, because visiting San Pere as part of a 30 km walk to Figueres would not have been fun. It is true that I had to repeat a 700 m ascent the next morning, but it was well worth it. Entrance was free with my teacher ID. (This was true in many places in Catalunya more than other regions).

    SantPere1.jpg SanPere2.jpg


    After the visit (a visit that is worth at least an hour and a half), I walked back down on a different route, which took me along the coast. It was beautiful. Llançà is not one of the high end Costa Brava resorts, but the Mediterranean is beautiful no matter where you see it from. After a tapas dinner in a bar and a glass or two of GR-174 Priorat wine, I was ready for bed. Buen camino, Laurie

    Llanca Harbor.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  5. BethC

    BethC Guest

    Montserrat has been on my list to see along with Barcelona and Figueres. It seems you're adding some wonderful reasons to do a Camino #2, Laurie:0)). Looking forward to hearing the next installments!
     
  6. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 2 -- Llançà to Figueres (30 km) -- GPS tracks here

    I retraced my steps up to San Pere de Rodes. Walking in the early morning was much easier than my walk the day before, which I had begun around noon.

    llanca1.jpg Llanca2.jpg

    I was really glad that I had had a nice long leisurely visit the day before because this was going to be a long enough day and because I would have had to wait for a long time for the monastery to open. At this point, the Camino descends the hill/mountain you have just ascended, and it takes you away from the ocean and down to the plains. The way down is well marked but it has lots of rocky parts. Once you hit the flatlands, there are a couple of little towns. Peralada is kind of cute, has a few bars. It also has a castle down below the "high town", but this is not open for tourism and seems to be used as a convention or meeting place. There is a beautiful romanesque cloister that may or may not be open for visits. The entry way/museum was under construction in June 2015 but if the clerks at the desk are in a good mood they may give you a peek.

    The camino then goes into Villabertrán, another town with church and cloister. I was there too late to visit the cloister, due to my long stop in Peralada, but could enjoy the outside of this large Romanesque church. I arrived in Figueres in time to shower and get to a restaurant for lunch. I had a decent menú del día in the Restaurante Casino. Good ambiente, nice staff. I stayed in the Hostal Sanmar (got it on booking.com for 28.5 €). There are prettier and more central places, but this was fine. Figueres has a lot of upscale places to eat and stay because of the Dalí museum.

    I am not a huge Dalí fan, but would have gone to the museum had I not arrived too late. In July it stays open till 8 pm, but the June closing time was at 6 (last entrance at 5:15) , so plan ahead if you want to visit.
    http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/teatre-museu-dali/en_index/

    I did visit the museu Emporda, which is the region Figueres is in. It had some very nice capitals, which had been spirited away from St. Pere, and a pretty beautiful Virgen and child. After that I took a stroll through the old city, which has several very nice and lively squares, and had a glass of Priorat again (seems to be quite the rage around here) in the Plaza das Patatas and a few tapas before bed.

    Figueres1.jpg Figueres2.jpg figueres3.jpg figueres4.jpg

    Though I was anticipating a nice long sleep, that was not to be. About 15 minutes after I got into bed, an outdoor concert began. I think I was lucky that it only lasted till 2 am, because I know they frequently go on till dawn. No point in trying to sleep, so I listened to the music and heard, much to my surprise, a Catalán protest song that I remembered from my days in Spain in the 70s. Relistening to the song, it reminded me how surprised I was back then that a song like this made it through the fascist censors. And how surprised I was now that the song still has traction with the young people -- the catalanes are still fighting what they view as repression, same problem, different actors.

    Words with English translation: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/lestaca-stake.html
    Music, sung by Lluis Llach:

    BTW, if you like folk/protest songs, Lluis Llach has some amazing ones. He was really the Catalán music hero of the 70s, some of his songs are just gut-wrenching. His Canco sense nom can almost bring me to tears even to this day. Anyway.... sorry I got carried away with the nostalgia.:D Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  7. maricristina

    maricristina Member

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    Oh Laurie you have made my day/month!
     
  8. maricristina

    maricristina Member

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    I am recovering from an operation to mend a broken wrist with a metal plate etc. We had hoped to walk another Camino this autumn.....maybe St. Jaume but it has now been postponed. Your post, as usual, informs and inspires. It is so welcome just now. An arthroscopy is planned to mend my knee too so I hope to be not exactly a " new woman" but a refurbished old one. Please do give more details on how to avoid very long stages because by the spring of 2016 I will be 77 and my husband (Laurie!) is 81 already. Hope springs eternal!,
    Thanks for your generous sharing of your pilgrimages.
     
  9. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, maricristina, So good to hear from you, but I am very sorry to hear about your wrist. Sending many hopes that it will heal quickly and well. And good luck with the arthroscopy on the knee.

    There is a guide written by the Generalitat covering this Camino, not yet translated into English, but you can see it in Castellano here: http://www.camidesantjaume.cat/descargas/guia_port_selva-jonquera-montserrat_ESP.pdf
    If nothing else, the maps and the symbols of places to eat and sleep will be immediately understandable.

    The 30 kms from Llançà can be broken into two 15 km stages, because there is a pensión in Villajuiga: Hostal Xavi** Carretera Roses, 17 Tel. 972 530 003

    What distances are you comfortable with? The ascent to Sant Pere might be all you wanted to tackle on one day, so another option would be to walk up to Sant Pere, (about 6-7 k with 600 or 700 m ascent, so it's kind of steep in places). You could visit the monastery and then get a cab to take you back down to town. The next day that same cab could bring you up and you would continue from there, starting with a pretty rough 8 km descent (careful if your knee is tender) to Villajuiga. But I don't know if you like doing this sort of thing while Camino-ing.

    Buen camino, Laurie
     
  10. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 3 -- Figueres to Báscara (20 km) GPS tracks here

    There was no other way to split the 51 kms between Figueres and Girona, so it's 18 today and 33 tomorrow. This made for a very short day. I passed several Casas Rurales along the way as well, but all were closed. I met two of the owners, who lived nearby, and they all told me that if the route takes off, they will be ready to re-open.

    Today´s stage was unremarkable, but almost all off road, very well routed to avoid the asphalt. I remember one town with an open bar, but I took my stops out in the fields where the air was clear and the views very mid-western -- huge open spaces with lots of cultivated fields. There were fountains to fill the bottle in Postos so no need to carry a lot of water on this stage. There were many beautifully restored homes in the little towns on this stage -- the affluence of Catalunya is quite stark in contrast to some of the other regions I've walked through.

    bascara1.jpg Bascara4.jpg

    Once in Báscara, the Pensión Flavia (972-560-014) is the only game in town. Single room with bath, 30 €. There was a hotel here in town years ago, but it is closed. There are a couple of cafés in addition to the one in the pensión, so since I had a lot of free time, I decided to give other owners a bit of business. The town has a few interesting old vestiges, but it is not exactly booming. There is a small supermarket with decent selection. I had an 8€ plato combinado in the pensión's restaurant.

    Bascara2.jpg

    The night I spent in Báscara was the night of some big soccer championship. I can't remember which one it was, but since my room was above the bar I decided to join the crowd rather than get frustrated trying to sleep. It was quite a festive occasion, with entire families in the bar, some even stretching to 3 generations. I spoke with some people who lived in the village and it seems to be pretty much a bedroom community. Some go to Figueres every day to work, and some drive into Girona. So the town is well positioned as a more affordable housing option within driving distance of two bigger places.

    I was impressed with the strength of the Catalán independence sentiment in this area. In every town I walked through, the banners were everywhere. they frequently flew from church spires. In Báscara, on the national highway, they even have one in English, intended no doubt for people like me. Buen camino, Laurie

    Bascara3.jpg
     
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  11. Anniesantiago

    Anniesantiago Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Wow Laurie, those stages are longer than I think I could do.
    But it looks like it was a wonderful walk!
     
  12. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Annie, I can help you break them up if you are interested, I think there are usually good options, though there might be a few days over 30. And yes, it was wonderful! Really a gorgeous camino to Montserrat. Laurie
     
  13. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 4 -- Báscara to Girona (35 km) GPS tracks here

    This was a lovely walk, though very little involved ascending or descending. It goes through lots of wheat fields interspersed with forests of scrub oak, aspen and cottonwood. Almost all of this stage is off road and with lots of shade. There is a fountain in the schoolyard in Cervia de Ter (which also has a pretty little romanesque church), and also fountains in Sarria de Ter.

    Bascara5.jpg bascara6.jpg

    There was a long walk along the Ter River, frequently looping and usually shaded by cottonwoods. As is always the case, the walk into the city itself was kind of a slog. 4 km or so from Sarria de Ter, all on asphalt, but almost all shaded.

    Girona is a beautiful, lively, interesting city. It was a Sunday, and I arrived at 1 pm, so I knew I had to move quickly in order to at least see the romanesque cloister of Sant Pere de Galligents before its 2 pm closing. It was worth the rush and it was worth postponing my arrival shower, just lovely. Luckily the Cathedral, with its 11th century amazing tapestry of Creation, is open in the afternoon, so after my shower and lunch I had a few hours to spend in the cathedral, the museum, and walking through the streets and along the river.

    Girona4.jpg Girona2.jpg Girona3.jpg


    In the late afternoon, I met up with Joaquím, president of the Girona Association. He and his organization are involved in a dispute with the Generalitat and the city government of Girona over marking the way outside of Girona. The Generalitat wants to mark the "false camino," which begins here, heads west and then northwest, and ends in Vic (in Vic, it joins up another historic camino that goes to Montserrat). In contrast, Joaquím and his peeps want to mark the authentic camino, which heads south and then southwest west from Girona, through Hostalric and Sant Celoni, and also winds up in Montserrat. As a result of the dispute, nothing is marked in the city. I thought it was interesting that he was willing to meet me to show me how to get on the "false camino," but unwilling to let the government mark the way with arrows so that I wouldn't have had to bother him. In any event, we had a nice chat and cold drink, and I was very grateful to have clear instructions on how to leave Girona the next day.

    I stayed in the Pensión Borras (972 22 40 08) for 24.5 €. Good central location near the historic center, the Ponte da Pedra, and the tourist office. My room had no window (windows cost another 15 €). I just left the door open all night so that some fresh air from the balcony across the hall would come in. I had my sticks lying across two chairs in front of the doorway just to be hyper-careful, but the only problem was the occasional noise from inebriated young people returning late at night. I could have easily spent another day in Girona, there is a lot to see and a very nice ambiente. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon there.

    Buen camino, Laurie
     

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  14. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Laurie,
    Wonderful photos and great description make reading your camino just delightful! Thanks so much for posting it on the Forum.
    MM
     
  15. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Thanks, Margaret. I have never done it as a day by day before, I got the idea from Kinky and I like it because I find I´m remembering a lot more than when I rush through to put a document together with all the logistical information, problems on the route, etc.
    So now it's time for me to go write up Day 5! Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  16. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 5 -- Girona to Sant Feliu de Pallerols (42 km) GPS tracks here

    This stage was reported as 37 km, but my GPS came up with 42. It was long but a beautiful, absolutely beautiful walk. The walk between Girona and Vic (which I reach on Day 7) is mainly on an old rail bed called Carrilet (more info here: http://www.viesverdes.cat/ES/53/ruta-del-carrilet-i.html) The Carrilet goes between Girona and Olot, and the Cami St. Jaume takes the route until the town of Sant Esteve d'en Bas, about 10 km before the end of the vie verde in Olot.

    Finding the Carrilet from the center of Girona is not hard. There are many signs pointing you towards it; there is a bike/walking path/park pretty much the whole way from town to the beginning of the Carrilet; and everyone in town knows about it. Cross the Ponte da Pedra and turn left, you will find it. At the beginning it goes through an area of individual garden plots -- half the population of Girona must be growing vegetables there!

    Carrilet1.jpg

    The surface of the Carrilet is fabulous, kind of a crushed compacted fine gravel. Very soft on the feet. The other great thing about the path is that the grade is never too steep because train tracks have to be below a certain grade. I ascended 600 m today and never even felt it!

    Since the path is on an old RR track, the Cami either skirts the towns it passes (since the station would have been on the edge of town) or, if the town has grown a lot since the track was pulled up, you will find that there has been building over the tracks. But that is never for more than 100m or so. I decided to go into the town of Angles since it seemed to have a nice looking old quarter up on a hill. Nothing stunning, but I got a sello in the ayuntamiento and some cold water from their water cooler. It was getting hot, and I took a long walk at a rest stop at the place called El Pasteral. Water fountain, tables, shade, and even a defibrillator in case of emergency.

    I was very interested to see a Pou de Glaç (thanks to Alansykes for this, it means "ice well" and is a place where villages stored snow to use for cooling foods in the days before refrigeration. I had seen one on the Levante as well but didn't have my camera with me at the time. It's essentially a round tower without a top.

    carrilet2.jpg

    The path goes through a lot of lovely woods and nice fields, it is just wonderful walking. At the entrance to the town of Les Planes d'Hostoles (which the cami doesn't enter), there is a very friendly bar. It had started to rain about 20 minutes before I arrived and I was afraid the staff would not welcome a peregrina with a big dripping Altus poncho and wet shoes. They were fabulous. Even though I only had a Kas de Limón, they insisted I sit at a table, drape my poncho somewhere to dry, etc. Lots of people were eating, but I just never eat a full meal when I'm walking. Since I had another 6 km or so to Sant Feliu, I didn't get a chance to sample the food, but it was one of those very popular menú del día places with simple but good looking food.

    Carrilet4.jpg Carrilet5.jpg

    From the bar to Sant Feliu was especially lovely, lots of green tunnels and peaceful countryside. I was glad I had continued on to Sant Feliu rather than staying in Les Plaes or Amer, because it is a very pretty little town with a river running through it. Another little town where the church is flying the Catalán flag, typically an indicator of support of the independence movement.
    Carrilet6.jpg carrilet7.jpg

    There is a nice place to stay in Sant Feliu, the Fonda Finet. This pensión has a central old town location, but I got sent a few blocks away to a little "annex" that's connected to their house. It's two or three stories, new construction, four or five rooms to a floor, so I don't know if they still use the old place in the old part of town. There is a restaurant there that seems to be still working. I did eat dinner there, but they brought it to the "annex" to serve, and I was happy to eat with another English speaking couple from South Africa. They were walking the Carrilet not the Camino, doing about 15 km a day and having a ball. The room was 20€ and the dinner around 8 or 9.

    The map of the route that I linked to above also has information about lodging. If you click on the little house icon on the left of the map, you'll see that there are several ways to break this stage up into two or three shorter days, in Bescano, Angles, Amer, and Les Planes d'Hostoles. It would be a very nice two or three day walk just in itself, Girona to Olot, about 60 kms.

    Buen camino, Laurie
     

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  17. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Exactly the same reason here ;)

    BTW, enjoying your posts and photos!
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
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  18. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 6 -- Sant Feliu - L'Esquirol (33) GPS tracks here

    This is one of these days that pictures just can't capture, at least not my pictures. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and it left me just bursting with gratitude and amazement. I was dragging a bit because of the long previous day, so I just decided to take it slow. The first 9 kms are on the Carrilet, but at Sant Esteve, the Cami St. Jaume turns off and heads to Els Hostalets d'en Bas, one of several very pretty, highly restored, and obviously affluent places.

    L'Esquirol3.jpg L'Esquirol1.jpg


    After the road seems to end, there's a turnoff, and then the ascent on the Camí Real began. After the first ascent, there is a glorious view over the green valleys below, with plenty of good spots for sitting and gazing.
    L'Esquirol7.jpg L'Esquirol - Copy.jpg

    Then some more ascending until you are at the base of some of the escarpments you've seen from afar.

    L'Esquirol4.jpg
    And from there, you descend on nice paths into the pretty little town of Cantonigrós (pretty and touristy). Before actually entering the town, there is a bar/restaurante with outdoor seating that provides unobstructed views to the hills you've just come out of. It's marvelous. I had a very long rest here and spoke with several people who were interested to know what I was doing. Seems they see a fair amount of cyclists who are taking long trips through the area, but not many long distance walkers.

    L'Esquirol6.jpg

    The Camí then takes you through the center of the village, and then on to a punishing rocky descent that lasts for about 3 kms, but finally takes you into the town of L'Esquirol. The town's name is catalán for squirrel, and during the Franco years they changed their name to Santa María de Corcó, so you may still find some confusion in the names. I stayed at the only game in town, the Hostal Collsacabra, and got a very good price on booking.com. 25 €, which was 10-15 below what others paid there that night. It was perfectly adequate, nothing fancy or special.

    I arrived in L'Esquirol around 2:30 and was soon in my hostal. No sooner had I entered my room and raised the shade of the door leading to my little balcony than the heavens opened and a long hard rain came down. By the time I was done showering and washing clothes, the restaurants in town had stopped serving lunch, so I went to the grocery store on the main drag into town and bought food for a meal. Luckily, this little store doesn't close for siesta, so you will have food available no matter when you arrive. The town itself is not very pretty but the people were friendly and there are plenty of services -- ATMs, shops, cafés, etc. Buen camino, Laurie
     

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    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
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  19. Castilian

    Castilian Guest

    Those trains are run by RENFE too. You can find them on the web of RENFE too but you can't get online (on the web of RENFE) a ticket for most of the trains making that route. In order to see the schedule of trains from Barcelona to Llançà on the web of RENFE, instead of going to the purchase area, you have to go to the timetables and prices area of the web of RENFE (on the low(er)-center of the RENFE home page). Don't worry if you can't book a ticket from Barcelona to Llançà on the web of RENFE (because it doesn't show up on the purchase area), you can easily make it once on the ground.

    P.S.: Thanks for your report(s).
    P.S.(2): Did you visit the Museu Arqueològic (aka Museu d'Arquelogia de Catalunya) in Girona?
     
  20. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Castilian, Of course! I now remember that you gave me all that information before and I just keep forgetting.

    In response to P.S. (2) -- I arrived at the tourist office in Girona at 1 pm on a Sunday. I knew I was going to have to run to see the church and cloister of Sant Pere de Galligants, which is where the museum is located, because it is a pretty fair distance from the tourist office and up the hill. But I made it! I was only able to enjoy the church and the cloister and made the decision not to go to the pre-historic exhibits so that I would have time to visit the other major romanesque site they recommended in the tourist office -- the Baños Árabes. (truthfully, I didn't think that was so spectacular). Luckily the cathedral and its museum are open Sunday afternoon, so I was able to visit without rushing.

    I had seen the tapestry of Creation in the cathedral years and years ago, and it is every bit as spectacular as I remembered it, just amazing. Girona is beautiful and very nice town to visit! Buen camino, Laurie
     
  21. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 7 -- Girona to St. Pere de Casserres to Vic Parador (on foot, 33 km), and then in a taxi from the Parador to the city of Vic
    (For anyone staying on the Camino without the detour to St. Pere, the walk from L'Esquirol to Vic is only 18 km).

    GPS tracks here

    This was one of my favorite days on this Camino, even though it did involve a 20 € taxi ride, which would of course incur the scorn of the purists out there. But I knew I wanted to visit the romanesque monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres, which is about 14 km from Vic but a long way from the Camino.

    I walked on the Camí from L'Esquirol to a spot about 8 km before Vic. At that spot there was a sign for the PR-C40, which is a local trail to the monastery of Sant Pere. First, the route goes through the very nice little town of Tanyoles with its pretty romanesqe church.

    Vic1.jpg Vic2.jpg

    In fact, it would be easy to slice a few kms off this walk, because there was a sign pointing the way to the center of Tanyoles long before I got on the PR-C40. But this was such a nice walk, I wouldn't work hard to shorten it. From Tanyoles, the trail was rugged and overgrown in some spots, but all in all it was amazing.

    My first surprise was several neolithic sites from about 2500 BC. One was a sacrificial altar (Pedra del Sacrifici) and the other was a burial ground (you can see a human figure carved in the rock). They were just sitting there out in the open in the middle of the woods. I was impressed. A totally unexpected bonus.
    Vic3.jpg vic4.jpg


    The trail to Sant Pere from those places did have some fairly long stretches badly in need of bushwhacking. Lots of ascents and descents, lots of rocks, some pretty hard walking. I was drenched by the dripping of the dew. Then when I finally got out of that part and into the sun I was totally drenched with sweat because it was so incredibly hot, well in the mid-upper 30s. But I would not have done it any other way. The reward of walking along the river and coming to this incredibly privileged monastery site was worth all of the overgrowth.

    Vic5.jpg Vic6.jpg

    Vic13.jpg Vic7.jpg

    After a relaxing and very informative visit to the monastery, I took another 3-4 km path that winds up at the Parador of Vic, which is actually not in Vic but in the spot along the river near the Monastery. I wouldn't have minded splurging to stay there, it looks very nice, but I knew I wanted to get into Vic to visit the Episcopal museum and also spend some time in the city itself. So I called a taxi, and he came right out to get me. Another option, if I had had more time, would have been to spend the night in the parador and walk the next day into Vic. But I didn't have a bathing suit with me, so why spend the hot afternoon somewhere where the main attraction is the pool located in a spectacular setting? So into Vic I went.

    Vic14.jpg

    I think Vic is well worth a visit, and I'll write up a separate little listing of the sights. Buen camino, Laurie
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
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  22. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances ('09, '11 - entire, '14, '16),
    Finisterre ('11, '16),
    Madrid ('14),
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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Those neolitic sites are just magical.
    Thanks!!!
     
  23. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Kinky, I agree it reallly was magical. I was just walking on a trail through a beautiful green woods, and all of a suddent I came to that site. I've done a little research and discovered that they are called the piedras/pedras de Savassona, and it looks like there's more of it in the area. It was really pretty incredible. The stone with the human looking figure is called Piedra del Diablo. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  24. Castilian

    Castilian Guest

    Does it mean you missed the Sepulcro de las Estaciones (what is what I really wanted to know on my poorly worded question on my previous post)? That would be a pity because, IMHO, the sepulcro justifies by itself the visit to the museum (although there are many other things that justify the visit to the museum -its location included-).
     
  25. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Well, Castilian, I guess I should have gotten your advice before visiting Girona, because I had no idea this piece was there. Next time! http://www.mac.cat/esl/Sedes/Girona/Colecciones/Sepulcro-de-las-estaciones

    I have to admit, though, that I am not very learned when it comes to things Roman, but even I could have appreciated the beauty of the Sepulcro! For me the tapestry in the cathedral and the cloister/church of Sant Pere de Galligants were the high points, but had I known about it, I definitely would have made my way to the Roman parts of the museum.

    And I agree with you about the location of the museum/church/cloister. It's a very lovely spot on the "back side" of the Cathedral and one that seems to escape many of the crowds. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  26. Castilian

    Castilian Guest

    See it this way: Now, you have an excuse to come back... :)

    P.S.: Those readers who understand Catalan (or who don't bother to give Google translate a try) can click on Català on the upper right corner of the link provided by peregrina2000 to read a brief description of the sepulcro.
     
  27. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 7 continued -- my afternoon and evening in Vic

    What a nice little city! My cab took me straight to my lodging, Seminari Allotjaments. This is an old seminary/monastery, re-purposed as a hotel, dorm (maybe youth hostel?), community services offices, cafeteria, etc. Lots of activity, lots of people Private hotel rooms were about 45 €, including breakfast. Serving time too late for the average pilgrim, so they packed me up a bag of goodies, and it was waiting for me on the way out in the morning.

    The Seminari is not right in the old center of town, but was no more than a 10 minute walk. There is really enough to fill a day in Vic. First stop for me was the Episcopal Museum, which has a lot of beautiful romanesque painting and artifacts. It's a new building, and the pieces are all displayed in good lighting with lots of space, a very relaxing environment.

    Vic8.jpg Vic9.jpg

    The rest of the attractions are all minor in comparison, at least in my mind, but the cathedral, the old bridge, and the Roman temple were all interesting. The Plaza Mayor is extremely attractive, even though its center is a huge open dirt space. It is clearly a gathering spot and had a good sense of life to it. I preferred to sit in some of the smaller shadier plazas though, and enjoyed the pace of the afternoon -- lots of people meeting up, lots of family time, it was just a very nice place for some R&R time.

    Vic11.jpg Vic10.jpg

    Once again, the bar owners were touting the Priorat wine, so I had some -- how could you resist having a glass of wine poured from a beautiful bottle like this?


    Vic12.jpg

    This day just had it all -- fabulous walking, a romanesque monastery, and an afternoon in a very nice catalán city. Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  28. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 8 -- Vic to Santa María d'Oló (31-32 km)

    GPS tracks here

    This walk rates an A+ grade, just like many of the previous days. The first few kms outside of Vic went through fields to the town of Santa Eulalia. There were then about 2 km on the side of a highway, followed by a turn-off onto a mountain road (unpaved but could be used by cars -- I saw one). That road went up about 500 m and then into the little town of L'Estany. This was a steady climb, nothing too strenuous. For those ten kms you're on your own -- no towns, no people, nothing but a reservoir or two for use by the firefighters in case of a forest fire. All very peaceful.

    L'Estany1.jpg L'Estany2.jpg

    The little town of L'Estany has one reportedly fabulous restaurant, Ca La Tona, where I had a long cold drink sitting outside on the patio, and one beautiful little romanesque church and cloister, Santa María L'Estany. By Day 8 of my Camino, my family and friends were really tired of hearing about romanesque this and romanesque that, but I have to say this stop was one of the most exceptional. Beautiful church, stunning cloister. There is an apt. available for rent, it's pricey for one but would be great for a group of four. http://www.monestirestany.cat/castellano/alojamiento-monestir-santa-maria-estany.htm

    L'Estany3.jpg L'Estany4.jpg L'Estany5.jpg L'Estany6.jpg

    I spent a couple of hours in L'Estany between the church visit and the rest stop, but decided at around 1 pm to forge ahead another 10 km to Santa María d'Oló. I am extremely happy I did that, because otherwise the following day to Manresa would have been even more of a killer than it turned out to be. From L'Estany to Santa María is about 10 km. The first 8 are on the Camino and they are the downhill version of the uphill I had to ascend to get to L'Estany. It was a wide unpaved forest track all the way, very pleasant walking, with an occasional ranch or home dotting the landscape.

    Santa María is about 2 km off Camino, straight downhill. The town itself is actually up on a hill in the middle of the valley, if that makes sense, so you have to walk straight down to get to the bottom of the little hill it sits on and then go up (just a hundred m or so).
    L'Estany7.jpg
    The new part of town has a pensión, the Hostal Santamaría, where I paid 25€ for a single room. http://www.hostalsantamaria.cat/ I had a so-so menú del día for 11 € and then spent some time wandering up to the old part of town, around the remnants of the castle walls and to the church, but there really wasn't much going on. I am glad I went, though, because it was a good place to stop and the views coming down from the Camino were quite nice. Friendly outdoor café across the street with very good wifi, in contrast to the hostal itself, which had some weird non-functional system that I just gave up on.

    The pensión owners offered to drive me back up to the Camino to avoid the 2 km ascent the next day, but I knew they wouldn't be interested in going at the early hour I had in mind, and besides, there wasn't much elevation on the next day, and a good 2 km aerobic workout is a good way for peregrinos to begin the day! Buen camino, Laurie
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
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  29. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 9 -- Santa María d'Oló to Manresa (42 km)

    GPS tracks here

    This was a long slog of a day, but I was really glad that I had made it to Manresa in order to reduce the kms for the next day, with what I knew would be a tough climb to Montserrat. Aside from the last 5 kms, all of which were on asphalt in the city of Manresa, the day was a great walking day.

    First came the 2 km back up along the highway, back to the turn-off and back onto the Camino. Then 15 kms to Artes on a wonderful mountain/forest road. Just really nice. After Artes, the kms to Navarcles were more through scrub forest and fields.

    manresa1.jpg manresa2.jpg

    In Navarcles there are pensiones and all the services you could need, and that would be about a 25 km day.

    I continued across the river and over to the Mon St Benet complex, http://monstbenet.com/es/todo-un-mundo-tu-alcance which is built around a romanesque monastery, Sant Benet de Bages. The complex is a meeting center, retreat center, event center, education center, with hotels and restaurants. All I wanted was to visit the monastery. Price is a bit steep, even for pilgrims, the reduced price is 8.5€, so many will probably pass it by. But I'm a real sucker for romanesque and would pay a lot more than 8.5€ to visit a monastery like this one.

    manresa4.jpg manresa3.jpg

    Normally you must visit on a guided tour, but given my situation, and the fact that I had at least another 10 km to Manresa, the staff let me go through on my own with minimal supervision. The church, cloister, and monastery rooms are all in very good condition and well worth a visit. There are trees growing inside the cloister, which really adds to the atmosphere. After my visit, I ate a bit, rested a bit in the shade, and then began about a 6 km walk along the Llobregat River. It was hot and sunny but at least it was not on asphalt.

    The camino goes through the Manresa suburb of Viladordis, and then dips down to the plains where lots of people have little garden plots, and then back up on the other side. Cross the road and -- WHAM-- you are at a huge mall, theater complex, fast food heaven, parking lots, incredible. I had to get directions from that point to the center of town, and had to navigate 5 hard kms (though almost all downhill) to the historic center and the albergue. This is a youth hostel, www.xanascat.cat. Many of the guests were families with young kids, and I had a two-bed room to myself. I believe the room with breakfast was about 16 €. The cafeteria also serves lunch and dinner at a reasonable price, but I had some tapas on the promenade.

    I walked through the old part a bit, visiting the cathedral and walking through the old streets. Pretty but not much of an ambiente.
    manresa6.jpg

    I learned that the "action" for tapas and cafés was over in a newer part of town along the promenade. So off I went and spent a very nice evening sitting in a couple of bars and watching the world go by. My impression of the city is that it is one of the more multi-cultural cities I had seen in Spain, and I noticed a number of groups of youngsters and teens that spanned the demographics, including Muslim girls with head scarfs, black children, white children, more of a mixing than I usually saw. Come to think of it though, I saw some of the same in Vic, so maybe this is a more widespread phenomenon in Catalunya.

    The exit from Manresa was very close to the old part of town, all I had to do was descend to the river and start to walk, and I would essentially be out of town -- so that 5 km slog was worth it, and I was glad it was behind me. One more day on the Cami St. Jaume to Montserrat, meeting up with LTfit, and then the Camino Catalán would begin! Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  30. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    Did you visit St. Ignatius' cave? That church is pretty awesome and historical.
     
  31. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    No, this is another historical site I missed. :( Is it located right in the center of town? It must be near the river, no? The people in the tourist office were not terribly helpful to me, but I didn't specifically ask them about Ignatius sites.

    Michael, I remember that you walked the Camino of St. Ignatius. It comes into Manresa from the south and Montserrat, right? I'll have to look at your posts to recheck your route, because I remember that the priest who runs the albergue in Jorba (a day out of Montserrat) told us that pilgrims on the Ignatius route pass through there. So I know our two routes overlapped. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  32. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    Oh no! Yes, the cove, basilica and retreat house are just a five minute walk from the Cathedral, overlooking the river to the east. It's a massive structure but most of it is the Jesuit retreat house. I bet you will recognize the attached photo if you turned around at all during your exit from the city.

    Also, I believe that except for a detour to Verdu (worth doing), we walked counter to yellow arrows all the way from Navarrete. Buen Camino!
     

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  33. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Thanks for posting that picture, Michael. I do remember it. The view back up to the old city from the bottom was quite pretty. Did you stay at the albergue? I hadn't really planned to but by the time I got into old Manresa I didn't really see many alternatives and there was the albergue right up the steps so I went there. The best thing about that albergue is that the next day all you have to do is go back to the cathedral and down to the river and then you are on your way. Because the slog into Manresa from the north, which I assume you missed is a long 5 km on asphalt starting at a huge shopping mall/commercial center/fastfood heaven.
     
  34. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    We tried to stay at the Jesuit retreat house which everyone I spoke to highly recommended it but it was full. We ended up in a pension just another 5 minutes walk above the retreat house in the Muslim neighbourhood. To be honest, we never left the small square of the city between the cathedral, the cove, the pension and the river. I didn't know it was a big city!!
     
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  35. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Day 10 (Manresa to Montserrat, about 30 km)

    GPS tracks here

    My last day on the Cami St. Jaume! I left Manresa early, around 6:15, because I knew there would be a lot of ascent up to Montserrat. The first 8 km to Castellgalí are mostly off road, some in the forest on a dirt track. Popular with day cyclists. This was not the most beautiful part of the walk by any means, as there were several industrial sites nearby and frequently in view. Once in the little town of Castellgalí, where there are several bars for coffee, the route becomes much more rural. And the views of the extraordinary rock formations/mountains are constantly with you. Then on the final ascent to the monastery of Montserrat, you walk close to the road and sometimes along the road. I never felt like it was dangerous, however.

    Montserrat1.jpg

    Shortly after leaving Castellgalí, I encountered members of a larger group that had just started out. They were from the town of Cervera (which happens to be two days further on after Montserrat on the Camino Catalán), and they walked one stage of a camino every month. They had started where I began on Day 1 almost a year earlier and were finishing up their Cami St. Jaume today. As I was getting to know the members of the group, one shouted out to me -- ¿Eres de los Estados Unidos? (Yes, I answered). And then -- ¿Te llamas Laurie? Well it turns out that I had corresponded with this Cervera Camino group earlier in the spring as I was trying to figure out the details of the Camino Catalán, and one of the walkers was the president of the group who had answered my questions. This was one of those terrific camino events. After 9 days walking totally alone, I was going to walk the last few hours of my Cami St. Jaume in the company of a friendly, lively group of peregrinos. We had a wonderful time. There were always people to walk with, always conversations to join, it was a happy lively group. We had a stop for breakfast, a stop for pictures, another stop for water, and a stop for some of the group to buy sweets in the convent right below Montserrat. Though all this stopping is not the way I usually like to walk, I was happy to have company and enjoyed every step of the way. And I was sort of an oddity to them, I'm sure.

    Montserrat2.jpg montserrat3.jpg

    After Castellgalí, there is a delicious fountain near the church of San Cristophol. We took a group picture there and then began the ascent, which is really not so bad at all. Another one of those legends -- I had heard how awful it would be, but the reports were greatly exaggerated. For LTfit,though, the opposite was true. I think she would say it was one of the hardest stretches she had ever encountered on a Camino. LT and I met in Montserrat, to continue on the Camino Catalán together. LT walked from Barcelona and somehow got on the really really hard way up the mountain. I lucked out and got on the "way up for the slackers."

    Montserrat4.jpg Montserrat5.jpg

    Once we arrived at Montserrat, I split off from the group to go check into the albergue. The albergue is free for pilgrims (not donativo, free, they do not want money, and when you see how much money they are pulling in from this massive commercial complex of restaurants, souvenir shops, and fancy hotels, you won't feel bad that there is no way for you to donate). The albergue itself is quite nice, it has a couple of "pods" with a common room, small kitchen off that room, and then a few little bedrooms. LT and I each had a bed in a room with one bunk, then there were five French pilgrims (whom we never saw again) in another two rooms off the common area. Sex-segregated bathrooms were down the hall.

    The Montserrat complex is impressive, imposing, mobbed, and highly commercialized. My sense is that there is a lot of taking advantage of the captive audience. The paths leading away from the monastery were much more enjoyable for me than elbowing my way through the crowds in church and near the lighted candles.

    Later in the afternoon, I met up with my Cervera friends and they invited me to their special blessing with a priest in the little (and very ornate) chapel in the church upstairs and directly behind the Black Madonna. It was a very personal and heartfelt session, lovely prayers were said and some of the members described their own personal motivations for doing this.
    Montserrat7.jpg

    Then the group headed off in their charter bus, and I was left to wait the arrival of my soon to be walking buddy LTfit. Once the crowds left and the sun set, the feeling changed completely, and it was finally peaceful.

    Montserrat6.jpg

    I'm going to see if I can get LT to chime in on the next part of the Camino, which we walked together, essentially the next three weeks on the Camino Catalán, the Aragonés, and then part of the Invierno, where we sadly parted ways.

    I know there haven't been a lot of people commenting on my thread on this camino to express interest, but I'm happy to leave the record here in the forum for future people to see. All in all, I would say that this is a very beautiful camino. The countryside, the architecture in the small towns, the mountains, the two cities of Girona and Vic, these things all make it a really great choice. Though I did some long stages, generally there were shorter alternatives, and I'd be happy to try to help others come up with alternative plans. It is pricier than your average camino, no doubt about that, but I was surprised that I could generally keep it to around 25 € a night. Obviously walking with others would lower the room cost considerably.

    Tomorrow I hope to start a new thread on the Camino Catalán, from Montserrat to the Aragonés, through Huesca and San Juan de la Peña. Hasta mañana, buen camino, Laurie
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  36. norelle

    norelle Member Donating Member

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    Thanks Laurie
    I appreciate your posts. I don't know if I would ever walk such quiet caminos but I really enjoy reading about yours!
    buen camino
     
  37. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Thanks, Norelle, It's fun to do the write up and go back over the days one by one. I know not many people will be walking this way, but for the few that go, I hope this will be good starting information. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  38. Good morning Laurie,
    I was wondering if you projected to upload your possible tracks for your recent whole Camino Catalan to from Costa Brava to Huesca
    Many thanks if yes...
    Amiga del Camino, have a nice Monday.
     
  39. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Julio,
    I do have tracks on my gps, but I am not an expert so I won't vouch for them. I will post them when I can figure it out better. When do you need them by? I still have many questions abut them and I will be posting questions on the forum for help. Are you by any chance familiar with the Garmin Dakota? If so, I can ask you a lot of my questions. :) Buen camino, Laurie
     
  40. Hola Laurie del Camino,
    for the GPS tracks, it is not urgent. I am preparing my routes for 2016, and since a month "reverse engineering" my future routes on my PC with Garmin Basecamp, the PC SW package companion to my Garmin Oregon 650t (should be plenty of similarities with your Garmin Dakota model, so If I can answer some questions, please feel free to ask!). Since a month It has been really pleasant to reconstruct Camino de la Lana from Jalance (home of my ancestors) to Burgos, then creating a route Burgos to Aguilar de Campoo to join the Olvidado. This process requires to firstly inject all the way points (cities and villages enumerated in the resources from this forum, with particular mention to those found in your narrations); the same for Camino de Invierno. Based on the way-points, Garmin Basecamp elaborates a route in walking/hiking mode (avoiding major roads and motorways, privileging small roads, trails and footpaths). Then I downloaded your tracks in the Olvidado plus those from Suzanna, tracks in the Invierno from Myfair, and tracks in La Lana from two cyclists. When the track and the route do not exactly match (itineraries, tracks, way-points, all the geo information can be simultaneously displayed in Basecamp with an underlying map), It could be necessary to constraint the computed route with ad'hoc way-points to stick to the track if so wished. In the end I have a clean route (only defined by way-points) that matches the real Camino that I will walk!
    I want to do the same for San Jaume, Catalan/Aragonés. Because for next year I have a choice to do:
    either Lana+Olvidado+Invierno or San Jaume+Catalan/Aragonés+Olvidado+Invierno.
    That's the reason why!
    Thank you for your notes of this year, It is as always an outstanding Pilgrim diary. I love so much many of the places of your narration (Montserrat but also the very beginning in la Costa Brava)...
    Have a nice evening Amiga del Camino,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2015
  41. IngridF

    IngridF Active Member Donating Member

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    Oh my gosh this looks lovely
     
  42. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Laurie I've just read through all of this thread and thank you sincerely for the time you have put into uploading all this information. It is invaluable!
    One question - the stretch from Santa María d'Oló to Manresa. Your notes say 42km (a marathon, no less!), googlemaps says 29.3km. That is quite a difference. I suspect googlemaps takes little roads and the actual camino is paths through forests etc - your readings are from a GPS, aren't they? I'd like to keep mostly under 35km if possible because it is psychologically easier for kids!
    One more question: is the route waymarked? What is the guide you referenced?
     
  43. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Rachel,

    I do have GPS tracks for the entire walk. I downloaded them from wikiloc and then recorded my own. Now, I am a technological idiot, remember, so I messed up a few days and don't have perfect information. But for Santa María to Manresa, my tracks appear to be fine. The GPS shows 42.8 km. I am planning (or hoping) to get all these tracks onto my wikiloc account, but since my blocks of time are limited right now, I'm waiting till I'm done writing up the rest of this Camino. But miraculously, I was able to plug my GPS into my computer and pull up that stage, and even more miraculously, get it over to wikiloc. So you should be able to see it here. If you can't, let me know. My wikiloc name is the same as on the forum.

    I have no idea what explains the huge difference with google maps. Part of it must be the 5 km from the entrance to Manresa till the albergue. I don't know if I had my GPS on while I was wandering around exploring the monastery San Benet, but that might add another km or two. And for the rest, you'll see lots of places where the road would have been much quicker than the Camino.

    There are places to stay in Navarcles, I saw a pensión right on the Camino. This would be an expensive Camino for your big bunch, since there are only a couple of albergues, and they not cheap (17 or 18 € for me in Manresa, just for the bed).

    Waymarking: It's all official Generalitat, I will find a picture of a sign and post it here for you to see, but in general excellent. The one area where there is no marking is the exit from Girona because the Amigos are fighting with the Generalitat over that "fake camino" issue I've referred to earlier. But it's easy to find.
    Guides: The only one I've seen is the one by the Generalitat, which makes sense since they are the only ones who consider that this is a Camino. It's online here. There is a link for English but I don't think the guide part has been translated. The schematic maps should help you out though.

    I will have all the tracks up this year, Julio from the forum seems to have some expertise in GPS and is also interested, so I can get help if I need it. In hindsight, I would have been fine without the GPS but I did occasionally use it and at those points it definitely saved me from getting waylaid.

    Happy to help with whatever you might need, buen camino, Laurie

    Edit: Found a picture of a sign. It's what you will find all throughout Catalunya, including the part from Montserrat onward, which is where this is from.

    sign.jpg
     
  44. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Thanks so much Laurie - that's fabulous information. I have to admit to being wooed by your descriptions and photos! I am currently planning out our studies for next year and have left a two month block to fill *somehow*. It's just with the younger four kids as the rest will be at Uni or married!
    Options we are considering are:
    1) slow slow camino from Pamplona with Grandpa - he's still finding walking to be painful so he's not sure he's ready for that
    2) Via de la Plata
    3) St Paul's Way + a month of traveling in Turkey (attraction: family is living there and Grandpa would like to visit and he likes traveling with someone)
    4) Camino de Levante - Avila and Toledo are strong attractions
    And the latest contender....
    4) Your camino followed by Catalan via Zaragoza to Logrono and on to Burgos. Potentially Daddy could join the five of us there (which would be fitting because it's where we sent him home from last time). We could then walk to Leon and then decide whether to stick to the Frances or do SalvadorPrimitivo again. Having started at the sea I think we'd have to go out to Muxia/Fisterra to finish. Not sure if we'd have quite enough time though. Downside of this one for us (even with only 5 of us) is - as you pointed out - the cost. But I've been looking on Airbnb and there are some possibilities along the route.
    I may well need to pick your brain some more when I've done some more research! Thanks for the inspiration.
     
  45. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I personally think, though you didn't ask, that the alternative through Huesca is going to be so much more beautiful than the way through Leida and Zaragoza. After Huesca, it got really amazing, and we were able to visit San Juan de la Peña, which every pilgrim should visit at least once in his or her lifetime, IMO. The problem of course is that it then gets much longer, and you join the Francés in Puente la Reina, further back than Logroño (that's why LT and I had to take a train to Ponferrada from Pamplona, otherwise it would have been an 8 week camino, rather than a 5 week camino). But the Aragonés is also a real wow of a camino, and there is excellent albergue structure.
     
  46. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    You know that's exactly the kind of information that I would be asking about if I thought to! So thank you. Actually, I picked the Zaragoza route based on your comments about the first few days of your time with LT! But I'm now thinking that part may be shared by the two routes anyway, yes? Off to check your suggestion now!
     
  47. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Yes, Rachel, the routes split in Tárrega, so only about two or three days together. But I think that the route from Tárrega to Zaragoza is going to be very similar to what LT and I saw from Tárrega to Huesca, at which point things change dramatically. Actually looking at the mundicamino schematic maps, it's not obvious that it's a much longer route to go through Huesca to get to Logroño, it's just that you would have more time on the Francés that way (Puente la Reina to Logroño), whereas going throug Zaragoza you don't get to the Francés till Logroño. I don't know if many forum members have walked through Zaragoza, I have a memory that a few have, and they would be the ones to find. I think I remember someone (Alan? AJ?) saying it was pretty unremarkable.
     
  48. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I THINK, but am not certain, that all of my GPS tracks from the Cami St. Jaume, that is Llanca to Montserrat, have been uploaded to Wikiloc.com

    Julio, or anyone else who is interested, can you confirm if that is the case? My wikiloc name is the same as my forum name, peregrina2000. Fingers crossed!!!!!
     
  49. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    When oursonpolaire posted on the thread I'm writing up about the stages after Montserrat, I thought, maybe he was the one who said something about the route through Zaragoza -- a quick search shows he has said something about it -- here's what he said:

    Yes. I walked Montserrat- Igualada - Cervera - Tarrega - Balaguer - Tamarita - Binefar - Barbastro - Huesca, then through Loarre and over the Sierra to Sta Maria de l'Estacion. At that point it was not clear if there be anywhere to stay in Ena, halfway up to San Juan de la Pena, so I took the local train to Jaca, then walked to Santa Cruz de los Seros, then to San Juan de la Pena, and from there along the Aragonese to Punete la Reina. I have not done the Lerida-Zaragoza stretch, so cannot speak to it--- I am told it is flatter and there is more traffic but really do not know.
    (lifted from this post: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...e-la-lana-or-cami-st-jaume.30116/#post-257256 )

    I have an impression of km after km of flat grain fields, which for me would be very pretty in springtime but not so much in summer.
     
  50. Laurie, Amiga del Camino,
    I have downloaded your tracks from Llança to Monserrat. Apparently something happened between Carretera de Casserres and Vic. There is a direct connection, straight line (as the crow flies!) to Vic. And apparently you get lost and blocked by the River Ter, you had no crossing path/bridge, hence backtracks apparently! I also have the impression that in this area you did not follow the shortest itinerary, a long stretch from Angles to San Esteve heading north ! And south again from San Esteve to Roda de Ter. I have the impression that 25/30 km have been done in excess to reach Vic.
    Thank you for this part of your 2015 Camino.
    Julio
     
  51. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Julio
    Ah yes, this was all part of my plan -- see my description of my day from L'Esquirol to Vic above. I combined several other trails so that I could visit the beautiful romanesque monastery Sant Pere de Casseres, on the point of that land jutting out into the river. It is an amazing setting and the trails was really beautiful, if a bit overgrown in parts. So I had done about 32 km by the time I got to the monastery and then about 3 more kms on to the parador. I called a cab for a ride into town. I would HIGHLY (can't say that enough) recommend this detour. Some of the neolithic sites hidden off on that trail are really amazing. I also suppose I could have stayed in the parador and walked the 14 km to Vic the next day, but I was meeting LT in Montserrat on Saturday and had places to go. I think the walk from L'Esquirol to Vic with this detour would be overkill, at least for me. And would require getting on the side of the road into town or backtracking on the Camino to stay off-road, and that would add many more kms. So for me the taxi was perfect (about 25 euros I think) because it also gave me time to visit Vic that afternoon. But if I were on the relaxed, go-for-a-splurge plan, I would definitely consider staying in the Parador out by the monastery (they call it the parador of Vic but it is at least 14 km away) for a night and then meandering into Vic then day.

    The route from Angles to Sant Esteve is on the old Carillet train tracks and it is a beautiful trail, not to be missed. From Sant Esteve the trail went up and through the mountains and it was gorgeous, I wouldn't change a minute of it. :)

    Glad that the tracks made it to wikiloc!!!!!
     
  52. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Just a note to say that I have now put a link to the GPS tracks that correspond to each day in each day´s posting. There are some parts I can't figure out, like how to remove the straight line from the parador in Vic to the city of Vic when I was in a cab, but I hope my low level of tech ability doesn't mess these up for others. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  53. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Thanks for all the time you dedicate to this forum. I hope to take this route sometime in the future and if I have trouble with straight lines I'll just call a cab!
     
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  54. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I have decided to take all of the written description of my camino and put it into a word document so that anyone wanting a picture-free version for more serious planning could just use the document. It is attached to this post. I am always happy to answer questions and provide encouragement for this most glorious camino, well worth the extra effort and $$$ that it will cost. Buen camino, Laurie
     

    Attached Files:

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  55. ernie pease

    ernie pease Just call me Ernie

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    My girlfriend lives just outside of Girona. I was going to leave most of my things with her and then go to SJPDP but seeing this route, starting in Feb or march, I may just take a train up to
    Llançà and start there. that way she can start with me and later she can catch up to me for the weekends. Thank you for sharing this
     
  56. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Ernie, I think this is a wonderful route, but if it's your first Camino, know that it is totally solitary but fortunately very well marked.

    You can get to the Camino Frances from this route, but it will add weeks to your camino (nothing wrong with that, of course). You'll go Llanca to Montserrat to the Camino Catalan. A few days in, you'll have to decide whether to go the northern branch via Huesca, or the more southerly route via Zaragoza (shorter, since it joins the Frances at Logrono, whereas the route via Huesca joins the Aragones at Santa Cilia de Jaca, several days before Puente la Reina on the Frances). Lots of choices, no bad decisions! Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  57. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    Hi Ernie, As Laurie says, there are no bad choices here. About the time she was taking the northerly alternative through Huesca, I was walking the Camino Ignaciano which in part is almost the southernly section that Laurie describes - in the opposite direction - from Logrono through Zaragoza and Cervera to Montserrat. The route she took sounds like a very good option if you do plan to walk all the way across Spain. Of these two options though, I think the southerly one may offer a slightly better chance to meet other Santiago (and Ignaciano) pilgrims, it probably is a bit flatter, shadeless & hotter (for a week it goes through a semi-desert area which can be stunningly beautiful but brutal too) and it goes through Zaragoza which is the best bigger city I have walked through in Spain. Finally, as she points out, you will get on the Camino Frances sooner which many people would argue is a good thing for your first Camino. That said, if you are already walking for a few weeks before you get to the French route, you are not exactly a Camino virgin by the time you reach Logrono and you may just wonder "where did all these people come from?!?" Any way you go: Buen Camino!
     
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  58. ernie pease

    ernie pease Just call me Ernie

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    Thank you so much. I am glad I found this forum. The help and inspiration that you have given is so good. I look forward to contribute my experiences on the camino. I think I have a small advantage than a lot of people, I have driven through many of the sites and speak fluent spanish. My disadvantage is I am a new pilgram, but am deffenantly looking forward to the experience. Buen camino.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
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  59. ernie pease

    ernie pease Just call me Ernie

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    I will deffenantly think about taking either route. I am taking the challenge to do the Catalunyan route which ever suits my will. I am retired and have plenty of time to do it. I am also young still and the only problem I for see is that since I retired I gained about 50 pounds. I plan to take my time as needed and am walking between 10 to 15 km daily until I leave for Spain. I will have plenty of support on my Camino. My girlfriend(fiancee) lives just out side of Girona. and plans to start with me at LLança. She will join me on her days off. Her duaghter will be her transportation. That being said, I am looking forward to learning and experiencing the beautiful and hardships that will come. I have walked though a couple good bisters in the last few days, and I feel I am losing some weight. My pants are easier to button. Thank you for the support and look forward to being a contributer along the way. Buen camino.
     
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  60. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I cannot wait! Ernie, you will be the very first pilgrim I've been able to follow from Llanca to Montserrat! When do you plan to start out? Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  61. ernie pease

    ernie pease Just call me Ernie

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    I have been planning for a mid march early April start. but my Girl friend would like me to wait until mid April so whe can walk with me for a slightly longer distance.
     
  62. janecaroline

    janecaroline Devonstreams

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    Thank you very much for this inspiring post.
    I am looking for something different - and this looks perfect.
    Buen Camino
     
  63. Laurie, I will probably be doing this Camino as initial part of my cape to cape next year. This year 2016 is booked and I will be leaving Portsmouth on the 5th of June, to start walking on the 6th of June 2016.
    I hope there are no last minute news / difficulties for La Lana, Olvidado and Invierno 2016.
    Happily looking forward and completing last preparations.
    Buen Camino para todos y una sonrisa para el Apóstol...
     
  64. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    @peregrina2000
    Laurie
    Do you see any reason not to walk this route in April?
    I'm thinking Llanca to Montserrat and back to Barcelona - 2 weeks
    Barcelona to Valencia - 2 weeks
    Valencia to Zamora - 1 month (ideally in May for the wildflowers and not too hot - but could be June if you had objections to the beginning being in April)
    Zamora - Santiago or Muxia
     

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