Pyrenean Picaresque

Last night’s meal in Camprodon was welcome and tasty, if a little insubstantial. The menu was partly in Catalan, so I was grateful for the waiter’s help when it turned out the Gazpacho was ‘off’. But I fell into the same mistake that I’ve made before in Spain: when a Spaniard translates some unknown word as ‘jam’ you should assume he means ‘ham’. I later found out that ‘pernil’ is Spanish for something like ‘haunch’.  My starter of toast, cured ‘jam’, cheese and aioli was good: my main course – I think – was baby goat ribs. When the ‘sweet trolley’ arrived, it was a tray from which I could choose yoghurt, a Magnum or a banana. I took the middle way and finished off with a half-filled tiny cup of coffee.

The background music – repeated today at breakfast – was a mix of 1960s American crooners, Bob Marley, Robbie Williams and Adele. Once the crooners were over, it was rather enjoyable.

Despite the coffee, I slept well but was disappointed at 7:30 to find breakfast didn’t start until an hour later. Breakfast, when the big hand had done another circuit, consisted of more ham, cheese and coffee.

I’ll be back in the Camprodon hotel in a couple nights’ time. I suspect it’ll be the same menu.

Another mistake I fell for was judging the morning a bit grey because the sun hadn’t reached the valley yet.

Today’s walk was billed as taking three and a half to five hours, but I did it in exactly three hours. I didn’t hurry but strolled along at a leisurely pace, though I tend not to stop much. The weather was very pleasant: not too hot for what was a relatively flat walk…

In Corsica, Laurie Chancellor and I used to talk of the sting in the tail of each day’s walk as it became clear that yet again the refuge was at the top of a final steep climb. It’s the same with Mollo where I now am: the last quarter of an hour, as the sun reached the zenith, was a hot and sweaty ascent. Nevertheless, today’s walk needs lengthening.

Tonight’s accommodation is Callitxo Hotel Restaurant: judging by the style of the building, I think I now know the Catalan for ‘chalet’. It is nicely appointed and welcoming with pleasant gardens. The menu here seems a bit more up market than last night’s. I was asked to choose my courses in advance and I’m having a second go – likely to be successful this time – at Gazpacho, this time with mussels. I’ve ordered rabbit served with snails for my main course. I could have had Galician octopus and various other fishy things including bacalao (odious salted cod) amongst various other delights.

Mollo (pop. 339) has a larger role in Spanish history than one might expect. It was from here in Jan-Mar 1940 that about 100000 civilian and military refugees from Franco’s regime in the Spanish Civil War attempted to escape over a neighbouring pass into France. It was a cold, dangerous and exhausting journey and lots of unnecessary weighty pieces of equipment – including vehicles – were simply dumped or pushed over a precipice to stop the enemy benefiting. To keep themselves warm in the freezing conditions, many of the soldiers broke the butts off their rifles and burned them on the campfires.

It was hotter today, so I didn’t have to burn my butt for warmth.

Here are two photos of Mollo.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s