Travelled : 82 miles from La Seu d’Urgell to Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Catalonia
Visited : Ribes de Freser (El Cremallera tourist train €42 double) and Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Monastery and Musee (€6 double).
Stayed : Municipal Aire, Sant Joan de les Abadesses, free with services, N 42.14.076, E 002.17.033
We sadly say goodbye to La Seu d’Urgell after walking the markets in the town square. We have picked up some fresh fruit and some salmon fillets for dinner tonight. Continuing west on the N260 we have the Pyrenees on our left and the Serra Del Cadi (mountains) on our right. Although winding along the river and railway line it’s another lovely piece of road. We give the tunnel (a toll of course) a miss and take the high road over Col de Tossa. At almost 2000 metres, we can clearly see France again on the other side.
Pam has found a tourist train in Ribes on the valley floor to Nuria almost on top of the mountain. The Rough Guide gives it a thumbs up, so we head of to find the ticket office. Although the line was built in 1929, the train appears relatively modern. It travels as a conventional train for the 3 kilometres, then the driver slows and activates the cog drive. The ascent then steepens quite dramatically as we climb the mountain. After passing through 3 tunnels it arrives at Nuria. It’s basically a single hotel ski resort set behind a cradle lake. The hotel is a magnificent stone and timber structure. Looks like a carbon copy of Lake Louise in Canada. You cannot pick the weather, in Ribes it’s warm and humid, as the train slows the weather sweeps in. Before the train can stop it’s bucketing down. No walk around the lake for us this afternoon.
Back in Ribes, which is dry, we set the Hymer on course and continue east. There is an old church in Ripoil but we just cannot find a parking spot. The schools are coming out and it’s bedlam. We find a service station and fill with diesel, before continuing on. Thinking we will free camp if we find a quiet spot, 30 minutes later we drive into Sant Joan de les Abadesses. There is a little camper parking sign just before we cross the bridge into town. We quickly turn in, Pam smiles, it’s free with services just how she likes it.
After settling in we head of to the tourist information. One of the advantages of the Spanish having 3 hours for lunch is everything is open until 8pm. Well it’s an advantage as long as you don’t want anything from 12-3pm that is. Armed with a good map we walk the sights and have a drink before heading back for BBQ salmon for dinner. Up early the next morning we visit the monastery, built in 888, by Wilfred the Hairy of all people for his daughter, what a dad. The adjoining musee was just amazing and well worth the €3. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Michael and Pam