Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tuesday 6 December – Vic and (somewhere near) Olot

Where’s Colin? He’s at Camping La Fageda, which sits in between Olot and Santa Pau in a volcanic natural park. It’s €17 a night (with an ACSI card) including electric and wifi. It’s the first time this trip we’ve had both of those features simultaneously!

We came to realise late last night, when I ventured out to empty the washing up water at the service point*, that the Aire that we believed to be free (per our All the Aires guide) now has a €5/night charge. We opted not to pay, which may seem to go against my rant of a couple of weeks ago, about fee-avoiders, but in this case there was a payment machine that said we didn’t need to pay (due to the time and it being a public holiday) in one place, then implied that maybe we did, via a little slip of paper selotaped over the ‘per hour’ charges (the machine had obviously been intended for/taken from a short-stay car park). We opted to interpret it that the ‘free on public holidays’ notice prevailed over the €5 per night slip of paper.

Not wanting to push our interpretation too far, we moved this morning to a huge, free car park which happened also to be at least five minutes, on foot, nearer to town. There were five other vehicles in that car park when we arrived, but even though it was quiet, it was wide open and felt safe enough, so off we toddled into town.

It turned out that not only had we hit the town of Vic on a public holiday, but it was also the day of the weekly market in the main square and also the last day of the annual medieval market. The latter turned out to be a huge affair. As we later came to realise, it’s also hugely popular.

We may not have been able to appreciate the town itself, as every street in the old town, along the river and some streets in the more modern town, were taken up with the medieval market, which detracted from what lay behind the stalls. However, it was all good fun, with the stalls being kitted out to look old, the wares on sale being mainly appropriate(ish) to the era (i.e. no plastic toys or modern technology), and most of the stall-holders being in appropriate dress. There was many a monk and fair maiden seen serving the public.


Coming across the first stall barbecuing sausages, Mick couldn’t resist and, on the basis that neither of us has any ability with the Catalan language, I nominated Mick to do his own ordering. It wasn’t an easy interchange and thus somehow, despite being only 10am, he came away with not just a foot-long hot-dog, but also a cup of beer:



medieval camp by the river, with archery practice ongoing

Unsurprisingly at such a big gathering, there were plenty of food stalls and later, as we made our way along the river, I succumbed to some patates braves (or, in Spanish, patatas bravas – chunky square chips with a spicy sauce). Along that section of town we came to realise that as well as the stalls and stallholders being in character, there were also other period characters making their way around the town:



What a gorgeous day we had for it too, even if it was a bit nippy when out of the sun (it was 9 degrees in Colin when we awoke, so it probably got down to between 3 and 5 degrees outside overnight):


After a couple of hours or so the crowds had become so dense that it was becoming frustrating to move around, and by then we felt like we’d seen all there was to see, so off we went back to Colin. 


A quieter section, where the blacksmiths’ stalls were set up, complete with fires, bellows, hammers and anvils and with absolutely no personal safety equipment whatsoever

People were still flocking into the already-crowded town as we walked out. There were cars everywhere and we arrived back at our car park to find it beyond full. I’m sure that there was great excitement amongst the circulating cars as we vacated our space, which had been taken before we got to the exit.

Feeling the need for electricity (even my Kindle was threatening to shut down mid book due to lack of power), we set the SatNav for a campsite, but with an intermediate waypoint of a petrol station, as Colin’s trip computer was now refusing to report any ‘miles to empty’ (it does that when it gets below 30 miles, as I learnt earlier in the year when I played chicken with the fuel gauge on the way back from the Lake District). Unfortunately, the SatNav can be a bit hit and miss as to when and where it considers you’ve met your intermediate waypoint and today it was so close to our starting point that it didn’t bother taking us there. By the time we realised, there was no way we were turning back, as the queues of traffic to get into Vic were something to behold. That medieval market really is a major event!

Google helped us out to find another nearby station and Colin’s tank was filled at a cost €8 higher than it would have been if we hadn’t had our refuelling fail yesterday. Predictably, on arrival in Olot we then passed another cheap station. Hey ho.

Much charging** of gadgets has gone on this afternoon, as well as a brief walk up the road to scope out the potential for a walk in this area tomorrow. Provided that the weather plays nicely, it’ll be an outing up to one of the local volcanoes. 

(*as I’ve mentioned before Colin’s grey water draining design is the worst ever conceived; it’s generally much quicker to walk to a drain than to put water down the sink then later have to drain it from the tank at a rate of about one teaspoonful per fortnight (I may be exaggerating slightly on the slowness, but it is poor)

**Finally locating our allocated pitch at the campsite, we searched and failed to find a nearby electric hook-up point. Eventually we gave up and went back to reception to ask. Silly us. We should have known that we were looking for the end of an extension lead, secreted within the foliage of the bush that separates our pitch from the neighbouring one (and I’m not exaggerating that description; that’s exactly how and from where our electric is being supplied.).

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