The Rain in Spain!

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Day 6 (May 13) ~ Circular Cycle Route

Oh dear, it's a bit damp again.

Our itinerary today is a circular route with the option to climb the perhaps not too invitingly named "Mother of God". We don't have to decide in advance, so we reckon we'll just see how we feel when we get there. The rain starts to build up, though, and we have no desire to repeat the cold wet experience of our first ride, even if it is less than half the distance. We wonder if maybe we should abandon the plan and improvise, and not get too far away from Girona just in case.

This is off our intended route, but sounds like it might be interesting. Let's check it out.

The road is traffic free, but there are rivers of rainwater flowing.

What we find is the ruins of an old Roman fortress.

That's interesting... The fortress was built above the ancient town of Kerunta, and that name may be the origin of 'Girona', via Latin 'Gerunda'.

The rain has stopped now, and we return to the original route.

The road signs say to stop and turn back, but our navigational app says go on. We do see a couple of cars with drivers seemingly surprised by the situation doing a U-turn, but also one carrying on regardless.

Ah, it transpires that there are a couple of roads leading off from this a little further on, so we presume that there are people living that way.

Amanda is a touch nervous as we continue, but I assure her all will be well. True, I have no way of knowing what's ahead, but I take the view that it's unlikely to be truly impassible. Besides, we have a note in our itinerary telling us to ignore the signs.

Aha! This is definitely no-go for cars, but we're fine by bike.

After our detour, we're obviously running a bit later than the original schedule, and bearing in mind that we don't really want to go too far out in case the weather turns nasty again, we have a little bit of a think and a study of the map and decide to leave the main road for a more rural experience.

A quiet lane leads us through farmlands.

We're diverging a bit from where we want to be, but it looks like there's a track we can take that heads in the right direction.

At first it's fine, but it gradually fades from "gravel road" to "dirt track" to "sort of beaten path"... And then to "thick clay quagmire"

Not just unrideable, virtually unpushable!

All but unwalkable!

When we get out of the mudbath, we clean everything as best we can with sticks and water from a few puddles.

We have our lunch in a little village square where there's a water fountain and we can wash a bit more of the mud off.

By now, we reckon we'd best quit while we're no further behind. In any case, Amanda has a couple of things she wants to buy that need a shop like Decathlon, and there's one of those a few km in the other direction from Girona. That's our goal now. In the event, the weather is reasonably good from now on, and we get there easily enough mid-afternoon.

We are confused by the Decathlon checkout, though. It's self-service, yes, but where do you scan your items? We can't see any kind of barcode reader or anything. Well blow me - you just drop your items in a big box and it reads RFID tags on everything as if by magic! Subsequent investigation shows that Decathlon have had this system for a few years now, but it's entirely new to us.

A post-shopping sort-out. As Girona is such a big cycling town, it's no surprise to find some other bikes in the rack besides ours. Must be easily half a dozen or maybe even more. Now you might not think that's much compared to the hundreds of cars, but it's still a lot more than the zero we'd typically find at a similar place in the UK.

Hmm... I have no pictures for this, but when we get back to the hotel, I ask if there's somewhere we can clean the bikes properly. The proprietor takes me to another building which he owns, and which is in the process of becoming a serious secure store and workshop for cycling guests. He takes me into a courtyard where there's a hosepipe and proceeds to help (well, arguably do most of the work!) with cleaning all the mud off. We may not quite reach concours d'élégance-winning level, but pretty damn good!

And here we are walking around Girona again.

When I lived for a time in Sabadell (an industrial town near Barcelona) all those decades ago, Estrella seemed to be the only beer in town; so much so that we never even asked for "una cerveza", but "una Estrella". I was momentarily nonplussed the first time I asked for one in another part of Spain and was in turn asked if I wanted a beer, in which case how about a San Miguel. I am perhaps therefore not entirely in a position to be objective about it, but I still think it's an excellent beer.

Although yesterday was the first official day of the festival, this display hadn't quite been finished then. It had the beach huts, but not the deckchairs. Not much sea to go with the sand, though. The river here is pretty dry, but whether it's the seasonal norm, or the result of global warming, or something else, I couldn't say. There has been controversy over the extraction of water from rivers for agriculture since at least as long as we've been coming to Catalunya, at least twenty years.

So what are we doing this evening?

Well, not a lot. The weather is turning again, we're feeling a bit tired and grubby and really can't be arsed to go out. We pick up some provisions from the local supermarket and retire to our room.

And guess what, it's the Eurovision Song Contest!

The hotel doesn't have BBC satellite TV, but the telly is a fancy all-singing-all-dancing model with Internet and Netflix and Amazon Prime and GOK what, so I think we ought to be able to find the UK coverage somewhere. No chance. Ok, how about on my tablet? Of course not: iPlayer says, "**** off, you're not in Blighty!" Note to self: set up a VPN server before the next time this situation might arise.

[WTF am I on about? Oh, yes, you're not all geeks like me. "VPN" stands for "Virtual Private Network", and it's a way of creating a tunnel through the Internet so that when in foreign parts, your device - phone/tablet/whatever - appears to be located in the country of the VPN, not where it is in reality. So I create my VPN at home in the UK, then wherever in the world I am, I connect my device to it and that's where the rest of the world sees me as being.]

So we end up watching the Spanish broadcast, but it's only Graham Norton and pals' banter we're missing, the acts themselves are exactly the same.

Well, I say 'watching', but in reality it's at least half 'snoozing through'. God, there are a lot of dull ballads! Australia's entry has been tipped as good old rock'n'roll, but in all honesty, it kind of wakes us up for 30 seconds and then we decide we might as well go to sleep properly for the night. It's not Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Oh, BTW. So we didn't do the planned route, but I should possibly tell you about the option that would have included a climb up what is called "Mother of God", which is technically not an expletive, but pretty much so in practice. Read about it here if you're feeling brave.

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