Sant Feliu de Guixols

My original plan for today was to walk to Tossa de Mar, which sounds like a fantastic old town and well worth seeing. It’ll have to wait for another trip though as given the terrible weather forecast I ended up changing my plans. Having had a hard time sleeping two nights ago as it was too warm, last night found me tossing and turning until 2am, and eventually falling asleep once snuggled under two extra blankets. It was a night of frequent awakenings and most peculiar dreams and at 7am I was wide awake and listening to the rain pouring down. The more I thought about it, the less good an idea it seemed to follow my original plan as the remaining two days were the most demanding yet with no good options for bailing out part way and complicated travel plans at the far end. With the blister and thunderstorms forecast, discretion seemed to be advised. After much thinking on my options I decided to find out if my room would be available for another night, in which case I could backtrack up the coast tomorrow, filling in the missing part of yesterday’s hike, and then catch the bus back to El Prat airport. Fortunately that wasn’t a problem, and having organised to extend my stay, I was able to head into town to find some breakfast.

Market Hall

I wandered along to the market square where there was a lone trader selling fruit and found a cafe in the market hall where I acquired a coffee and a sandwich. I had not, however, reckoned with the Catalan taste for rubbing their bread with tomatoes, and some minor surgery was required to remove the seeds before eating.

As it was now dry, and there looked to be a minor break in the rain, I decided to visit the Ermita Sant Elm, on a hill overlooking the city. This necessitated a good steep climb up some steps and I was really pleased to see how easily I managed them.

Carrer de Sant Elm

The Ermita was attractive with good views out along the coast, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to get inside so my visit was very short.

I decided to extend my walk and try to find a path back down to sea level in the hope of walking back to town alongside the coast. Unfortunately my route took me along a dead end, but there was plenty of bird life to enjoy, including a robin perched on a cactus, which seemed to me to be a very strange sight, and my first ever crested tit.

Having identified the little path that would drop down to the sea, I confidently started down the steps, only to find that they vanished into the scrub. I followed the path, getting soaked by the bushes I had to brush past but it all looked dubious and narrow, perched on the side of the hill. I chickened out, and returned to the road to consult the map. As I did so, a gentleman appeared and posed a question in rapid Spanish. Having ascertained that English would get us further he told me that he was French and used to visit here and walk this way in the past. Emboldened I thought I’d give it another go, with the reassurance of company, but no sooner had we turned the corner onto the rough trail again, he said, ‘well, there used to be a good path here, but anyway, I have to get back to my family who are waiting in the car.’ And with that he was gone! I tried again to follow the path, got about 3m further than the first attempt, panicked again and gave up on that option. Instead I followed the road thinking that I could carry on a bit further and get to the coast that way. Once I reached the main road though I had a proper look at the map and realised that there was no continuous coastal path back to Sant Feliu as I had thought, and that really I would be better turning back. Since there was an option of a forest track, I took that. It was a strange experience being in the midst of forest that didn’t make seem so different from home, and then suddenly happening upon some cacti. There was also an unexpected ghost like silver tabby kitten who sadly turned tail and ran whenever it saw me.

After a few double backs when I hit a main road, I found my way through the forest and back towards the town. By the time I got back I’d walked about 8km and although the pain was bearable, the blister was making its presence felt. I certainly felt that walking double the distance with twice the amount of climbing would not have been so sensible, although with the sun coming out, I did wonder if I should have pressed on to Tossa after all.

Rather than going straight to my hotel I decided to stop for a look at the monastery, which also houses a museum. Although it was interesting to see a small glimpse into the life’s of the town and monastery from the items on display, the one thing that really grabbed me were two huge books of illuminated plainchant. How I wish I could have taken them out of their display cabinet and looked through the pages.

After a short break back at the hotel, I went out for some lunch and found a great little cafe just off the market square. As I was sat enjoying my meal, my decision to stay in town today was backed up by the arrival of the anticipated thunderstorms and torrential rain, which encouraged me to order a dessert and drag out the drinking of my espresso as long as I could.

On the way back to my hotel I stopped and looked at the yoga studio next door. It would be lovely to do some yoga, I thought. There was a schedule on the door, and before I could think too hard about it and hold myself back I opened the door and asked the man on reception if I could come to class that evening. Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as just asking, but with the help of some French we established that I’d done yoga before, and didn’t have a mat with me, and lo I was booked in for 8.30 class.

I spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled up on the comfy sofa in the living room of the hotel looking at my photos and updating the blog whilst I listened to what sounded like a waterfall outside. Looking out of the window later I saw that where there had only been weeds growing earlier there was now a fast flowing stream.

Come dinner time I headed back to the same little cafe where I took my place at the same seat I’d had at lunch. It didn’t take long to make my choice as I’d been admiring the dishes on the table next to me at lunch. The good thing about tapas is that if you make the right choices you can have something quite light and suitable for a pre-yoga meal.

It’s amazing how something like yoga can be both utterly familiar and utterly different everywhere you go. Going to a class in another style and another language made me realise just how attuned I am to my usual practice, even if the classes differ every time. The studio was lovely and the class small. When it was time for Savasana the teacher came around each of us and put a pillow under our knees, a blanket over us, and the next placed a wee eye pillow on us. As I left after class I received a very whiskery double cheek kiss – I had the feeling that his day had been brightened by the presence of a random foreigner dropping in as much as mine had been by attending. What a lovely way to finish a special, and very different than planned, day.

Sant Feliu wanderings: 8.58km, 278m ascent/275m descent, 2h57min

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