March 29 Pals -> La Bisbal d'Empordà -> Besalú, -> Olot ->Pals

It was Saturday and the streets of commercial Pals were quiet. Near the old town, a flea market was just setting up. The nearby fields and farm buildings glowed warmly in the morning sun and the honey coloured stone of the old town invited us to explore. Perhaps it was because it was a weekend, perhaps because the old quarter was only part of a larger, more commercial town, but Pals felt more alive and in the present than Palau-Sator, Peratalleda, or Ullastret. As we climbed into the town, adults young and old descended the streets and stepped walkways, empty shopping bags in hand and returned bags bulging. Young adults in Spandex cycle togs and bright streamlined helmets led similarly clad children on a bicycle tour, used the steep cobblestone streets and narrow flagstone stairways to develop their mountain biking skills. Despite the flack that I took for my reference to “living stone” in our first email, I was acutely aware of yet more examples of ancient foundations carved into the bedrock of the town. We sat at a local bar/cafe and watched the flea market as we fortified ourselves with cafe Americanos and a tasty almond, honey, and dried fruit square, before heading off to the ceramic centre of la Bisbal d'Emporda.

La Bisbal d'Empordà

Despite its Roman and medieval roots we saw no cobblestones, few medieval buildings, and no tourist restaurants, just a nondescript commercial town and a long street lined with shops selling all manner of ceramics, collectibles, and knick knacks. Sheila sought and bought some small local ceramic pieces to take home. The shop owner, initially disappointed that he could not use his French on us, was undeterred and chatted on in Spanish about the process used in hand painting the pottery, the talent of the artisans he represented, and much that we did not understand. He seemed genuinely interested in our satisfaction and proud of his wares. Sheila tried to pay with a 50 euro note but he did not have change. A little flustered, he left the shop unattended to step out and get change from a neighbour. When he returned, he was still a little flustered undercharged us. He was surprised but pleased when Sheila corrected him. We took time for a picnic lunch in the van at a parking lot and then set off for Besalú.

Besalú

Besalú, yet another ancient fortified city, this one with an impossibly picturesque  fortified bridge guarding access to the city waylaid us. The bridge built in the 10th century, fortified in the 14th, partially destroyed in the civil war and since repaired had an undeniable impact on our perception of the place. Walking across the bridge and under the portcullis, we would not have been surprised to be challenged by a helmeted, pike bearing guard. Behind the walls, another maze of Medieval, Renaissance, and modern architecture built one on the other and presented a melange of history. Across the bridge, we were confronted by the expected souvenir and craft shops selling mostly toy armour and swords for children, or sculptures, ceramics, leather goods, and clothing for the adults. Despite the cool, blustery day, we indulged in an artisanal ice-cream before browsing some tourist shops. Ascending the hill, the focus of the town changed from tourism to one aware of tourism but servicing the local community. Shops sold fresh produce from beneath a medieval, arched and colonnaded arcade. Others, housed in medieval buildings enticed locals and tourists alike to eat, or to buy electronics and appliances. The mundane of modern day shops fulfilling everyday needs but  housed in medieval buildings was beguiling, and it was somehow reassuring to feel that both Pals and Besalu still served the everyday folk who had built them.   Olot -- Sitges It was time to have my shoulder checked and we spent the night at the campground outside of Olot. They say, “If it is not raining in Olot, it is not raining.” It was raining, the lovely sunny dale we had camped in 12 days earlier was now a muddy wetland. The next morning we returned to the emergency ward; it was Sunday; it was not an emergency; we were told to return Monday and make an appointment to see a doctor; it would probably take a week. We headed south to a campsite at Sitges. Monday morning we went looking for the hospital Vilanova i la Geltrú. Finding the hospital was easy but parking was another matter. By the time we found parking we needed our GPS to find the hospital again, but we finally arrived, bladders near bursting. The hospital was busy, my nearly non-existent Spanish and my electronic translator useless, but the staff were patient and after being shuffled from one reception desk to another, to another, I was told that I was in the wrong hospital. I should have been at a hospital for people without Eurocare cards. Fortunately someone took pity on me, bent the rules, and treated me as an emergency. They took x-rays and a very nice doctor who spoke some English gave me the good news, I could remove the sling. Even better, I did not need to be re-examined. I will probably recover nearly full use of the arm but my shoulder will never be straight again.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Commercial Pals Morning light on a farm at the edge of Pals Ceramics shop, La Bisbal d'Empordą Tenth  century bridge and 14th century bridge tower. Medieval buildings house a modern market.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

March 29 Pals -> La Bisbal d'Empordà ->

Besalú, -> Olot ->Pals

It was Saturday and the streets of commercial Pals were quiet. Near the old town, a flea market was just setting up. The nearby fields and farm buildings glowed warmly in the morning sun and the honey coloured stone of the old town invited us to explore. Perhaps it was because it was a weekend, perhaps because the old quarter was only part of a larger, more commercial town, but Pals felt more alive and in the present than Palau- Sator, Peratalleda, or Ullastret. As we climbed into the town, adults young and old descended the streets and stepped walkways, empty shopping bags in hand and returned bags bulging. Young adults in Spandex cycle togs and bright streamlined helmets led similarly clad children on a bicycle tour, used the steep cobblestone streets and narrow flagstone stairways to develop their mountain biking skills. Despite the flack that I took for my reference to “living stone” in our first email, I was acutely aware of yet more examples of ancient foundations carved into the bedrock of the town. We sat at a local bar/cafe and watched the flea market as we fortified ourselves with cafe Americanos and a tasty almond, honey, and dried fruit square, before heading off to the ceramic centre of la Bisbal d'Emporda.

La Bisbal d'Empordà

Despite its Roman and medieval roots we saw no cobblestones, few medieval buildings, and no tourist restaurants, just a nondescript commercial town and a long street lined with shops selling all manner of ceramics, collectibles, and knick knacks. Sheila sought and bought some small local ceramic pieces to take home. The shop owner, initially disappointed that he could not use his French on us, was undeterred and chatted on in Spanish about the process used in hand painting the pottery, the talent of the artisans he represented, and much that we did not understand. He seemed genuinely interested in our satisfaction and proud of his wares. Sheila tried to pay with a 50 euro note but he did not have change. A little flustered, he left the shop unattended to step out and get change from a neighbour. When he returned, he was still a little flustered undercharged us. He was surprised but pleased when Sheila corrected him. We took time for a picnic lunch in the van at a parking lot and then set off for Besalú.

Besalú

Besalú, yet another ancient fortified city, this one with an impossibly picturesque  fortified bridge guarding access to the city waylaid us. The bridge built in the 10th century, fortified in the 14th, partially destroyed in the civil war and since repaired had an undeniable impact on our perception of the place. Walking across the bridge and under the portcullis, we would not have been surprised to be challenged by a helmeted, pike bearing guard. Behind the walls, another maze of Medieval, Renaissance, and modern architecture built one on the other and presented a melange of history. Across the bridge, we were confronted by the expected souvenir and craft shops selling mostly toy armour and swords for children, or sculptures, ceramics, leather goods, and clothing for the adults. Despite the cool, blustery day, we indulged in an artisanal ice-cream before browsing some tourist shops. Ascending the hill, the focus of the town changed from tourism to one aware of tourism but servicing the local community. Shops sold fresh produce from beneath a medieval, arched and colonnaded arcade. Others, housed in medieval buildings enticed locals and tourists alike to eat, or to buy electronics and appliances. The mundane of modern day shops fulfilling everyday needs but  housed in medieval buildings was beguiling, and it was somehow reassuring to feel that both Pals and Besalu still served the everyday folk who had built them.   Olot -- Sitges It was time to have my shoulder checked and we spent the night at the campground outside of Olot. They say, “If it is not raining in Olot, it is not raining.” It was raining, the lovely sunny dale we had camped in 12 days earlier was now a muddy wetland. The next morning we returned to the emergency ward; it was Sunday; it was not an emergency; we were told to return Monday and make an appointment to see a doctor; it would probably take a week. We headed south to a campsite at Sitges. Monday morning we went looking for the hospital Vilanova i la Geltrú. Finding the hospital was easy but parking was another matter. By the time we found parking we needed our GPS to find the hospital again, but we finally arrived, bladders near bursting. The hospital was busy, my nearly non-existent Spanish and my electronic translator useless, but the staff were patient and after being shuffled from one reception desk to another, to another, I was told that I was in the wrong hospital. I should have been at a hospital for people without Eurocare cards. Fortunately someone took pity on me, bent the rules, and treated me as an emergency. They took x-rays and a very nice doctor who spoke some English gave me the good news, I could remove the sling. Even better, I did not need to be re- examined. I will probably recover nearly full use of the arm but my shoulder will never be straight again.
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Commercial Pals Morning light on a farm at the edge of Pals Ceramics shop, La Bisbal d'Empordą Tenth  century bridge and 14th century bridge tower. Medieval buildings house a modern market.