Coastal trails, Paella, and another “Castle”

Today was my most favorite day yet!  I think it has a little to do with getting into the flow of things.  I remember that when I did the Camino it took me a good week to get a routine down; with unpacking and re-packing each day, with the time change, with meals and navigating – there are a wide variety of things to get used to when you’re out of your regular setting.  It took me at least two full weeks to let go of habitual thinking, wondering and worrying about work stuff, and dwelling on things in my personal life.  This time, I only have a total of about 9 days so I’m thankful to feel more in the groove within 4 of them.

Happy to be running today on these beautiful, well-kept trails by the sea

Happy to be running today on these beautiful, well-kept trails by the sea

I feel like I know the participants better by now; and it’s too bad that it’s the last day for the three UK guys. This Costa Brava trip can be 4 or 7 days long.  Dom (Dominick), Matt, and Paul were here for the short trip. (Come to find out it’s only about an hour and a half flight from London to Barcelona!). Starting Monday, the remaining 3 days will be just for me, Sally, and Chad!

Today’s weather was close to perfect, so that makes everything more enjoyable. The route today was so much fun; we ran such a variety of trails and saw many different sights and terrain.  Pablo is a fantastic guide.  He’s so, so knowledgeable about this area which amazes me because he is from Costa Rica.  He moved to Catalonia about 15 years ago when he married Cristina (who is from Girona).  He now loves and has a deep appreciation and admiration for this region.  He speaks Catalon fluently and knows all about their history.  It is inspiring to see how happy it makes him to share this area with others, and educate them on its history and strong points.  He also has a great love for running and for the outdoors, for being resourceful and kind.  He and his wife are really good people, through and through.  So it’s a pleasure to not only participate in this trip, but also to get to run with him and learn about him as well. He is a skilled runner, very flexible with his pace and good with all kinds of people and their skill levels. Interestingly, he used to compete professionally in triathlon (the Olympic distance)! That must have been a “past life” for him, as now he is extremely humble and down-to-earth!

Our running guide Pablo runs in sandals .  He doesn't make a big deal out of anything; he is genuine and says that shoes with lots of cushion don't let him feel the earth and be able to respond to the surface.  He's a skilled runner on alll types of terrain.  Today I saw him run barefoot for a while - no shoes at all!

Our running guide Pablo runs in sandals . He doesn’t make a big deal out of anything; he is genuine and says that shoes with lots of cushion don’t let him feel the earth and be able to respond to the surface. He’s a skilled runner on alll types of terrain. Today I saw him run barefoot for a while – no shoes at all!

Today our route began with one steep mile of steep ascending road to a lighthouse. Then rocky, switch-back trails began to wind us down to the sea where we ran a little along the beach and then up and down along narrow paths hugging the coastline. It was unique and exciting- even including a few place where ropes were attached to trees to help you lower yourself down some very steep rocky sections.

For a few sections of trail today, there were ropes tied to trees to help us scale down the steep grades

For a few sections of trail today, there were ropes tied to trees to help us scale down the steep grades

Waves splashed up over this section of the path as we came into a town beach

Waves splashed up over this section of the path as we came into a town beach

 

We curved inland, stopping a few places along the way for Pablo to point out historical sites such as a castle and points of interest such as a tower perched atop a hill with a 360 degree view of the surrounding area which is still used today to scan the landscape for fire. The hills are covered in thick forest wherever there are no buildings or towns, and the wind could easily spread a fire throughout miles and miles of this land very quickly.

Atop a Lookout used to spot fires, we looked back at one of the places we had stopped on our run today - the middle hill in the distance was a landmark we had been to earlier in the day.

Atop a Lookout used to spot fires, we looked back at one of the places we had stopped on our run today – the middle hill in the distance was a landmark we had been to earlier in the day.

 

At the top of one of the watchtowers over a range of towns, I appreciate the Catalonia flag!

At the top of one of the watchtowers over a range of towns, I appreciate the Catalonia flag!

We ended our run today (about 15 miles, with LOTS of up/down terrain) in a charming town called Pals (pronounced “pauls”) where our guides had arranged for a special lunch of seafood paella to be served to us outside in the sun. It was so much fun! The weather was lovely, the food freshly and carefully made for us, and we had completed a wonderful day of interesting and challenging running. Being the final day for our British friends, it was a great way to say goodbye.

Freshly-made (and half-eaten before I was able to take this photo!) seafood Paella in Pals, Catalonia

Freshly-made (and half-eaten before I was able to take this photo!) seafood Paella in Pals, Catalonia

 

Pablo drove Sally, Chad, and I to our lodging for the night: a house built sometime in the 1700s that looks like a castle but I am starting to feel like I just refer to anything old, stone, and with towers as a “castle”! I believe this was originally a wealthy farm owner’s house, and was passed down through the family for generations. The land surrounding it was green, lush, and forested like so much of the “Costa Brava” area of Spain is (inland, anyway).

The 1700s house/castle in Pals where we stayed on Sunday night

The 1700s house/castle in Pals where we stayed on Sunday night

 

Our host, Bennet, did not speak much English so I did get a chance to use my Spanish (again, not really the correct kind for this Catalonia area, but still more useful than English). One thing about traveling with this group is that I am hardly using my Spanish, which is too bad. Everyone in the group speaks English so of course I default to that. I have spoke some Spanish with Pablo and his wife; they know I want to practice!

After another superb dinner (Bennet is a skilled chef as well as the host of the “castle”), I worked on some blogging, then fell asleep in my beautiful room that was a combined design of 1700 stone walls and doorways with modern glass and wood finishes; very creative.

Just outside our castle loading, Sally and Chad and I had wine, cheese, Iberian ham, and a peaceful view of the setting sun over the local forrests

Just outside our castle loading, Sally and Chad and I had wine, cheese, Iberian ham, and a peaceful view of the setting sun over the local forrests

 

 

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