(…or, a day in the life of the three Baileys in Catalunya)
We thought that it might be interesting for those wondering what such a crazy “vacation” was like, to tell about a day in the life of the Baileys in Catalunya, step by step. What is it we actually do when we’re not tromping around finding suave dolmens, elegant menhirs, and interesting Romanesque carvings and frescoes? Well, every day is different—as I’m writing this in fact, we are having a down day and hanging out under rain, lightning, thunder, and vicious wind under the protection of the tent, and blogging—but we thought we would select a representative cycling day to show what it is really like cycling, exploring, and camping around Catalunya.
The plan today was one that I was very much in favour of: we were to take a bus to Arles-sur-Tech to cycle up a 14 km hill to a church in a town called Coustouges that looked quite interesting, and then cycle back down and look at the Abbey at Arles-sur-Tech (with frescoes). I like cycling up long hills (particularly when you get to cycle right back down again) and so the plan looked great to me.
6:00 Mom and Dad rise energetically. Gwen rolls over and groans. The plan is to get ready and leave the campsite no later than 6:30 am!!!
6:10 Gwen reluctantly drags herself out of bed.
6:30 The Baileys are still eating breakfast.
6:35 The Baileys roll out of the Le Boulou campsite and cycle to the Néoulous stop where they are getting picked up. (Mom worries that we are at the wrong stop. We check the schedule at the bus stop. No worries, Mom, we’re okay.)
7:02 The bus leaves for Arles-sur-Tech.
7:35 The bus arrives in Arles. The bus driver shakes his head. “C’est dure les matins, eh?” I agree with him. The Baileys contemplate bus times on the return schedule at the bus stop and then set out to find water and WC.
8:15 The Baileys put bike grease on their chains.
8:20 The Baileys get lost in Arles-sur-Tech. The Baileys recover their sense of direction and set out towards Coustouges (about 6 km along the highway and then up a 14 km hill).
9:40 km 8 of 14: The Baileys stop at a park bench in a small village to have a “nibble” and put on sunscreen. A little old lady greets us: “Bonjour!” A skinny female cyclist passes us on her way up the hill at lightning speed.
10:35 km 14: We arrive in Coustouges and visit the Església de Santa Maria de Costojà, which features a carved Romanesque portal and an original 12th century iron gate. Mom likes the carving on the capital of the portal of the guys with their legs sticking out of their mouths.
10:57 Mom has a sketch attack. She sketches the guys on the capital by the portal with their legs sticking out of their mouths.
11:50 Mom has finished her sketch. We wonder if there is a glacier nearby. It’s hot out!
12:00 No glacier. The clock strikes 12 and we set out down the hill!
12:35 Mom remarks that there is a sign pointing towards “Les Tours de Cabrenç/ Ėglise XIe-XIIe siècle.” We check the map: it would be about a 7 km ride to Les Tours de Cabrenç. It’s only 12:35, so we decide to check it out.
12:45 In her usual manner, Gwen remarks that it’s lunchtime. She points out several shady grassy areas on the side of the ride that would be suitable for a picnic. Gwen’s hungry, but unfortunately Mom is picky. Eventually the Baileys settle on a shady slope for a lunch of ham, cheese, and vegetables on a baguette with apples and yogurt.
1:40 The Baileys are finally finished eating lunch.
2:15 Having cycled down a long (3 km) hill and then up another 2 or 3 km, the Baileys find a sign that points to the “Ėglise.” Mom says that it`s in approximately the right location according to the map, and so we lock up our bikes and head up a hiking trail on foot.
2:25 The Baileys find the church. Romanesque? Could be? We find our mistake by examining the map: the Tours de Cabrenç and the Ėglise are not 7 km from the hill, but 7 km from Serralongue, which is where we are! (Sigh….)
2:45 The Baileys head back down the trail, recover their bicycles, and head back to Arles-sur-Tech. The bus back to Le Boulou leaves at 5:30.
3:50 The Baileys check out the abbey at Arles-sur-Tech.
4:55 The Baileys leave the abbey to go and catch the bus.
5:05 The Baileys enjoy a grapefruit at the bus stop.
5:20 The Baileys load their bikes on the bus. In Languedoc-Roussillon there are buses that will take you anywhere for 1€. They are subsidized by the “Conseil-General” of the department of Languedoc-Roussillon. The program is called “Le Bus à 1€.” We pay our 3€ and hop on the bus.
6:15 Arrive Le Boulou. Dad takes off to the campground and Mom and Gwen check out the Hypermarché LeClerc to buy dinner for today and lunch for tomorrow.
7:00 Mom and Gwen leave the Hypermarché for home base: “Camping L’Olivette.”
7:15 Mom and Gwen arrive at Camping and pay for an extra night at the campground. There is a plan: we should eat dinner and shower before attending a festivity in Le Boulou at 9 with music and Sardana (dancing). That means leaving the campground at 8:45.
8:15 All clean! The Baileys eat dinner.
8:45 The Baileys are still eating dinner.
8:55 The Baileys leave in a cloud of fury to try and be on time for the Sardanas.
9:10 The music starts several minutes after the Baileys arrive. There is a full Sardana (band) that play music while the people hold their hands up in the air in a circle and dance with light, dainty steps. The people are dressed nicely, but plainclothed. After an initial group demonstrates the steps to the dance, a lady from the group explains to the crowd that they will teach the steps to anyone who would like to try for the next round. Gwen is still eating her dinner (tuna and olive salad in a plastic container to go).
9:30 Too bad, the Baileys must leave to go to bed. Full day tomorrow!